You need to know the requirements for taking the PLAB exam (IELTS/OET etc.) and how to plan for it. Look no further. In this post, we will discuss all the steps.

Requirements to take PLAB 1

To be eligible to sit for PLAB 1 you need the following things:

  1. Completed Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ)
  2. The required score obtained in IELTS/OET

You DO NOT need to have your house job/internship completed to sit for PLAB 1 as long as that is post-graduate. If your house job/internship is part of your graduation (i.e., pre-graduate) that means you can not take PLAB 1 before completing that. You will not be a medical graduate before completing that in the eye of your awarding institution.

Primary Medical Qualification for PLAB 1

Your Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ) is the degree that allowed you to be a doctor. The title of the degree differs in many countries. For example, it was MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery) for me.

To be eligible to take PLAB 1 exam, you need to have passed the final exam which awards you that degree. You don’t need to have the decorative diploma at hand. You need to have your results out that you have passed the final exams for your PMQ degree.

How to know whether your PMQ is approved by GMC? Read this article on How to get your Medical Qualification (PMQ) recognized by GMC.

English Language Proficiency

GMC approves two different types of tests for taking PLAB exams:

  1. IELTS (Academic)
  2. OET (Medicine)

We have a detailed article written on this topic – IELTS/OET for PLAB, GMC & Skilled Worker Visa. It discusses nooks and crannies of these two tests.

Planning on the dates

  • You will have to choose the month you want to sit for the PLAB 1 exam. Generally, the exam takes place in March and November in overseas centers. Some overseas centers have even started taking PLAB 1 in June & September. In the UK it takes place four times a year, March, June, September & November. Your plan for IELTS/OET follows that decision.
  • Getting the required scores in IELTS/OET in the very first attempt, although it may seem daunting, is not impossible. Keep in mind, that if you’re unable to clear it, you will have to take it again. So, if you aren’t confident enough, you should start taking the English language exam earlier.

PLAB 1 timing has changed significantly over the pandemic years. I will advise following GMC on social media to keep yourself up-to-dated with the timings.

Plan for booking PLAB 1

IELTS takes roughly 2 weeks (13 days) to publish its results. OET tends to take 7-10 business days. Overseas closing dates for booking PLAB 1 usually closes 1 month before the exam. But in reality, the probability of getting booked exactly 1 month beforehand is risky.

To be safe, it’s better to book 2 months before the actual test date of the PLAB 1 exam date or sooner. The sooner you book, the better. (By booking, it means already paying for the test on that date, at that test center.) To book for PLAB 1 test, you need to have a GMC Online account.

Plan for booking IELTS/OET

For example, you have decided to attempt PLAB 1 in November 2019. Ideally, by September 2019 you MUST have obtained the required band scores in IELTS/OET. If you’re unsure about your proficiency in English, you should start prepping for it in June 2019. Start your IELTS/OET attempts from August 2018. By mid-August, you’ll get your results.

If you get the required score, well and well. If you don’t, then attempt within 2 weeks. By mid-September, you’ll see the results (hoping two attempts are enough, if not—plan for the following March PLAB 1). Then book for the exam in November 2018. Book your IELTS test under the British council—Book an IELTS exam. And book an OET exam—Apply for OET.

How to Plan for IELTS/OET and PLAB 1

To summarize, how to plan for IELTS/OET and PLAB 1:

  1. Fulfill the requirements
  2. Decide on a PLAB 1 date
  3. Estimate time for IELTS/OET preparation
  4. Book IELTS/OET
  5. Start IELTS/OET & PLAB 1 prep
  6. Book PLAB 1

An example with a timeline

You decided that you will take PLAB 1 in November 2019. And you aren’t that confident with your English language skills.

May 2019 IELTS or OET preparation started
June 2019 Continued (Only if you think you need that much time)
July 2019 Take IELTS or OET (first attempt)
Start preparing for PLAB 1
Mid-August 2019 You’ve scored well. Relax.
September 2019 Ideally, you’ve cleared IELTS/OET, or you can retake now.
Open a GMC Online Account and Book for PLAB 1
November 2019 Take PLAB 1

You may also wish to attempt the PLAB 1 in the UK itself if you’re in between the overseas dates. So check out PLAB 1 & 2 in 6 months if you’re keen to complete your PLAB exams in one visa.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take IELTS/OET when I’m a medical student?

You can take them whenever you want. But, as IELTS/OET stays valid for 2 years, it is logical to take IELTS/OET after finishing medical school.

Can I take PLAB 1 during medical school?

No, you can’t. PLAB 1 requires you to have your primary medical qualification, which you obtain after passing medical school. It doesn’t mean you have to have the main decorative diploma. I will suggest keeping a provisional one with you until you get the main one.

Can I take PLAB 1 while I’m doing my internship/house job?

Yes, you can. And, I think if you decide to be a doctor in the UK, an internship/house job is the best time to start your journey.

Will I be able to book a PLAB 1 seat without IELTS/OET?

Unfortunately, it is a prerequisite to clear IELTS/OET with the required scores before you can book PLAB 1.

When should I start the EPIC verification process?

I would say it’s better to start the process after you get your PLAB 1 results. Find the details about the process—’EPIC’ for GMC Registration.

Plans about the financial support you need for this road to the UK are as important as planning when to take it. Check here to see how to plan to fund your PLAB journey. Also, to have an overall look at the entire path, please have a look here, planning your PLAB journey.

Good luck to you all.