So many of us have started to consider making a career in the UK by taking PLAB, but it’s hard to do so without having everything in your journey laid out in front of you. We will outline every step towards your PLAB journey and guide how to plan it ahead.

Where do I start?
What will I need?
How do I plan and map out the entire road to the UK?

1. Getting your Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ)

You can’t sit for the PLAB exams without your PMQ (primary medical qualification, e.g. MBBS). That means you can’t sit for PLAB being a medical student. You don’t necessarily need to have the main diploma/certificate in order to appear for PLAB, but you will need them before you apply for GMC registration. Just a pass result in your final exams will make you eligible to embark on the PLAB route. But I will highly suggest getting a provisional MBBS degree until you get the main one.

That being said, for International Medical Graduates (IMGs), it’s highly recommended to apply for GMC registration AFTER completion of the internship/house job, as that makes one eligible for FULL GMC registration.

Check this article to make sure your medical college/university is accepted by GMC or not – How to get Medical Qualification (PMQ) recognised by GMC.

2. Completing an acceptable pattern of internship

Internship is not needed to appear in the PLABs. But, an acceptable pattern of internship is necessary for FULL GMC registration. Those who haven’t completed any form of internship after graduation can clear PLABs and get provisional GMC registration, but that’s only suggestible if you intend on getting into UK medical graduates’ internship- UKFPO Foundation programme . Otherwise, getting a provisional GMC registration means nothing if you are not going to get into UKFPO. Your best bet will be complete an acceptable pattern of internship elsewhere than UK.

3. English Language Proficiency

Before you can take PLAB 1 exam, you need to have the obtained required score in either IELTS or OET.

Looking for materials for IELTS or materials for OET?

4. Taking PLAB 1

Overseas, generally PLAB 1 takes place twice, in March & November. Take a look here to find the overseas centres for PLAB 1. In the UK, it happens four times a year; March, June, September & November. There is no hard and fast rule like if your country has centres that you can’t take PLAB 1 in the UK.

5. EPIC Verification of your credentials

It is best that you complete your EPIC verification of your PMQ after your PLAB 1 pass results are out. You can also do it any time before that, but it would be wise to make sure your have your EPIC verification done by the time your PLAB 2 results are out.

6. Booking PLAB 2 and applying for UK Visitor Visa

This is a huge discussion and there is a dedicated category containing related posts to it in our blog. It is highly advisable to read through the posts and ask in the comments if you need anything to be clarified. Here is the category link, UK Visa Guidance for PLAB.

  • PLAB 1 can be taken by your own preparation, but for PLAB 2 many attend different courses/academies. Planning for them is crucial as you would want to get everything (up to your GMC registration) done in one visa (6 months) time period, so know how to plan for PLAB 2 & course.
  • Before going for PLAB 2 and potentially completing your GMC registration in the same visa period, you should ensure you have all the papers needed for GMC registration.

7. Visiting UK for taking PLAB 2

The standard visitor visa you will be assigned will last for 6 months, during which so much can be completed:

  1. PLAB 2 academy and self-practice before the exam
  2. PLAB 2 exam itself.
  3. Waiting for the result. Fun times!
  4. Application for GMC registration
  5. Applying for jobs online
  6. Attending job interviews in person or online

Related posts in our blog will help you handle all of these things smoothly:

You potentially can return to your country after you are done with PLAB 2. Applications for GMC registration, jobs and interview can all be done online.

8. Applying for GMC registration

If you are in the UK when your PLAB 2 results are out and you have all the evidences required for GMC registration at hand, you should apply for GMC registration. GMC registration is applied from the same GMC online account and the payment can be done by anyone’s credit card.

You technically can bypass most of the above steps if you are making your GMC registration on the basis of your GMC accepted PG qualification. You don’t have to take PLAB, if you have any of those accepted degrees (but IELTS/OET and EPIC still applies).

9. Looking for jobs in the NHS

Once you obtain FULL GMC registration with a license to practice, you officially can be appointed as a doctor anywhere in the UK. Congrats! So, that’s when your job hunt will begin. It is always advisable to start at a non-training job like LAS or trust grade post to get into system rather than jumping into training application without any NHS experience.

10. Applying for Tier 2 (work) Visa

You have aced your interviews and landed a job. Congrats again! Now the last thing on your plate is to apply for a S killed Worker Visa . The process is much easier compared to the standard visitor visa. And guess what? We have a dedicated category containing related blog posts for it as well. Please have a look at our Tier 2 Visa Guidance.

To summarize

How long the entire PLAB journey can take?

Let’s take a look back at all the steps in a timeline, with allowances for a hassle free approach:

  • December, 2018 – Took IELTS.
  • January, 2019 – IELTS results came out.
  • March, 2019 – Took PLAB 1.
  • April, 2019 – Passed PLAB 1.
  • June, 2019 – EPIC Verification completed. (You can start the process in March, after appearing PLAB 1)
  • July, 2019 – Booked PLAB 2 exam in October, 2019 and course in mid to ending August, 2019. Applied for Standard Visitor Visa.

~ UK Visa for 6 months starts ~

  • August – September, 2019 –  Course and self-practice for PLAB 2 exam.
  • October, 2019 – Took PLAB 2.
  • November, 2019 – Passed PLAB 2. Applied for GMC Registration. Job application via NHS Jobs website.
  • December, 2019 – January, 2020 – Job application via NHS jobs continues. Attending interviews in person if possible.

~ UK visa for 6 months ends ~

  • January – February, 2020 – Application for jobs and possibly a few successful interviews by then.
  • March – April, 2020 – Tier 2 visa application and commencing as a doctor in the UK.

Please keep in mind that this is a general timeline. You don’t need to follow it to a T. As you can see, in this timeline, it shows March 2019 to March 2020, a year from your taking PLAB 1 until you start a job. You can cut short the entire process to a minimum of 6-8 months. How?

  • Get EPIC verification done way before you embark on your PLAB journey.
  • Take less time preparing for PLAB 2 exam.
  • Take PLAB 1 in the UK and PLAB 2 in the same visa. Read more to know the associated risks involved in completing PLAB 1 & 2 in 6 months.

To keep it simple, it is safe to say that your PLAB journey should not take more than 1.5 – 2 years if you are diligent in your planning and approach. But, yes, failing in any of the exams like IELTS, PLAB 1 or PLAB 2- can push you back a little in the timeline, but as the saying goes – Good things come to those who wait.

How much it can cost?

The total cost of PLAB is a matter than needs to be understood and sorted before you begin your road to the UK. You can have a step by step cost breakdown from how to plan funding for the PLAB Journey

To sum, many may think this is the road less travelled, the road of hurdles and uncertainty, but rest assured that it is doable, especially when we are there for every step of your journey.

Good luck!

76 thoughts on “How to plan your PLAB journey: A complete guide for IMGs”

  1. No one would have been able to explain all of this in this easy manner. Had lots of thoughts, lots of countries, and now, I can tell, Yeah, PLAB is better than all I guess. Thanks a lot for clearing everything out well. I hope I can make the most of it.

    1. We are really happy that we could be a part of your decision making. That is our goal – to support IMGs like you, IMGs like us.

  2. Hello
    I’m 3rd year Medical Student , should i start preparation for PLAB or i should wait until last year ?

    Thank you

    1. I would advise to go through your medical education thoroughly. PLAB exam preparation is medical knowledge in the end. You can start targeted prep when you are more close towards taking the actual exam.

  3. Silvin Khatri

    I am a 3rd year MBBS student
    I am planning to give plab1 in my internship . Is there anything I should worry about .

    1. There is nothing to worry. Concentrate on your medical studies first and start picking up question banks in your final year. You can start preparing for English language exam and work on your spoken and written proficiency.

  4. Hi Sir ; Ma’am,
    Thank you for your guidance,
    I just took my 4th year MBBS exams.
    Do I need to start preparing for OET now or I should wait till my final year ends..?
    And if someone gets a supply or gets detained , will it , in any way , effect the chance to take PLAB or working in UK..?

  5. Hi,
    I am currently pursuing a Masters’s degree in General Surgery in India. I would like to continue my practice and education in the UK and I would like to know the process and next steps I should be taking.

    Thank you

  6. Respected Sir/ Ma’am did you give your plab exams during your internship or
    after completing it and when you were working elsewhere?

  7. Dear Ibreez,
    I am a third year mbbs student in India, due to some bond signed with my college I am bound to serve as an Army Doctor for 6 years after my internship without pg.
    I wanted to know whether PLAB is feasible for me after this bond period of 6 years for me or should try for some other pathway?

      1. Thank you so much for responding
        Yes I can towards the end of it. So should I prepare for MRCP instead ?
        Isn’t it tough without a PG training?
        And are you eligible to give MRCP without a PG degree in first place?

        1. You don’t require any PG degree for MRCP and it is suggested (not mandatory) to have clinical experience which you will be having anyway. I think this is the best solution for you. Do take advice from others as well and weigh your options.


    Dear Ivan,

    Thanks very much for the information given for the duration of time needed to stay in the UK to do PLAB.

    I have a idea which may need your advice. I may be thinking of doing a 1 year academic Masters pertaining to the medical field, lets say in Sept 2021.

    Is it possible to do the PLAB 1 exam in June 2021 overseas or in the UK. and while studying for a 1 yr UK Masters course, carry on preparing for the PLAB 2 exams? . The Masters student visa is for one year and the post study visa/work visa is for 2 years due to be officially announced by the UK govt.

    The additional time granted would be put in to good use by completing the PLAB exams and applying for GMC registration.

    Simply put, studying for PLAB exams and M.Sc concurrently with consideration to the additional time given at the end of the M.SC study.

    There is no hassle of travelling up and down to the UK. The budget for this method is of course much higher.The additional benefit is the acquirement of a M.Sc and PLAB more or less at the same time.

    Your comments which are both positive or negative is very much welcome.

    1. If you really want to have that MSc done with that added cost you surely can go for that. But remember when you get a job, you might have to come back to your country for the work visa application.


    My country does not have PLAB 1 exam centre . Therefore, I may have to come to UK to sit for PLAB 1 and 2 exam for more than a period of 6 months. Budget is not a main concern as I am able to find suitable lodgings.

    Question. Do I have return back to my country to renew my visa before the 6 months period or can I reapply for an extension within the UK itself.

  10. Hello. firstly i would like to thank you for making this site.
    I am a final year student here in india and planning to give plab. i want to ask whether i can give plab 1 and 2 during my housejob or internship, and then after my internship go for epic verification and full gmc registration to save time… what will be the cons of this type of process. kindly help…

  11. Hi, I am a graduate and have completed internship. After passing the PLABs, will I need to do compulsory FY2 or can I apply for a non training job and then do fy2 later. Thanks in advance

  12. I am towards my end of third year of MBBS. I’m now clear that I will give the IELTS/OET and then PLAB after my graduation. How do you suggest, I should study in my remaining two years here in Pakistan? Which books and courses should I take lessons from?

  13. My medical school is on the world directory but not on the gmc list. It’s a new medical school. How do I get a copy of the forms?

  14. sir, could u please tell me how many months working experience in england is required to work in australia as a gp after passing plab 2.

    1. I think you would need to be a GP in UK before you can be a GP in Australia. The GP training is 3 years long and there is a competitive recruitment process to get into GP training in the UK.

  15. Rizwana Rajmohamed

    I have passed my final year exams in India. I will get my medical degree certificates and permanent working number after completing internship. Can I take the PLAB 1 exam during internship( using my provisional working number)?

    1. Yes. To take PLAB 1 you don’t need registration or even the certificate.
      You only need to have passed the medical degree.

    1. Yes you can, but I’d suggest completing your internship and then attempting PLAB 2 so that you don’t end up with a gap in your internship.

  16. When do booking for PLAB 1 open?
    I can see that for March 2019 session, all centres of India are already booked! And the booking for November 2019 are open (don’t know since when are they open)!
    So anyone who is planning for plab should book about 10 months in advance!?

    1. They tend to open a few months in advanced, but March usually fills quickly as there is a gap between March and November for the overseas dates.

  17. Leonard Chinwekene

    Thanks a lot for the guides.
    Please what is the fate of HbSAg positive doctor as regards to practicing in UK.Will it affect ones visa securement, GMC registration and securing job over there in UK.
    Need ur pertinent reply. Tnx

    1. This will ultimately be at the discretion of your occupational health department, but it is not a strict barrier to keep you from working in the UK.

  18. Hello,!i was thinking of giving plab but November is too late and March is too early ,since I have not started the language class …can’t we go uk in some other kind of visa and with no tension of 6 month visa timeline and pressure of completion of both plab 1 & 2 within 6 month ,complete plab 1 and 2 ? Is there any other kind of visa with little more timeline……plz reply me ..thank you in advance…

    1. It’s always good to plan. But remember rules/pattern may change when you are actually qualified. So keep your ears opens and stay updated. Enrich your English language skills. That would do!

  19. Hello,If we happen to be in UK during June,can we give PLAB 1 on a visitor (tourist) Visa? Or it will cause troubles later on with the UKBA? The thing is that I am planning my journey in such a way that I give IELTS in March and then PLAB 1 in June 2019(on visitor Visa),and later on MRCS A and PLAB 2 in January-March 2020(om standard PLAB Visa) .Does this plan sound feasible in terms of Visa status and immigration? Or I am breaking/bending a few laws.Thanks

    1. Yes you can. No it won’t. Yes you can do that, it won’t be an issue, but obviously it is easier to apply for the visit visa for the exams as you can prove everything in that regard vs just tourism.

  20. Im starting my internship year early next year in ksa, so can i take my plab1 during my internship year or should i wait after i finish, and will i be able to get a Fy2 training post in uk easily?

    1. If you are a medical graduate, you can take PLAB 1. So, if your internship is included in your graduation, you technically can’t take it during then.
      And as for International medical graduate, the target is not getting into FY2 training starlight away. It’s better to start with a non-training job to gain experience in the NHS and then look for core/specialty training. This will give you further idea about training in the UK, Specialty Training in the UK

  21. I put my oet result in the test results section, then i tried to book the exam by my own credit card, but website is saying transaction not authorised. Do I need to wait for any confirmation for the oet test result verification?

    1. If you went up to payment that means the OET verification must have been completed. You need to talk to your bank why the transaction is not going through.

  22. Hi sir thanks for all this amazing info ; I was wondering if I do my CMT 1,2 and MRCP and come back to India will this be equivalent to MD ? Would that let me do my DM here ?

    1. MD is a master’s degree, it is an academic degree which can be obtained by getting into the course as you did while doing MBBS (a bachelor’s degree). On the other side, core medical training or specialty training are clinical training, they are equivalent to any academic degree. And, MRCP is a membership examination for Royal College of Physicians, also not an academic degree or equivalent.
      I think this post will help you understanding what PG diploma and masters degrees are meant.

  23. So if I want to come back to India and practise after GP ST1-3 what qualification will I have?
    What degree will I get after completion of GP ST1-3?

    1. You will have the membership of the Royal college of GP, MRCGP (UK).
      The idea of “degree” is a very common misnomer among doctors. Your training and affiliation with organizations is what matters.
      You can do so many degrees and courses if you have the money to pay for them, but if you don’t go through proper training, your career will stay forever incomplete.

  24. Is a general practitioner equivalent to mbbs or a MD?
    If I take the route of GP ST1-3 after clearing plab and come back to India will I be considered as a MD doctor in India?

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