How to prepare for PLAB 1

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How do I prepare for PLAB 1?
What books do I study?
Where can I get free PLAB materials from?

The whole preparation for PLAB 1 can be taken by yourself, as a good majority of the materials you need to study with are available for free. Provided that, the social media, Facebook is also a big and easy gathering to discuss about any question you might have and also share your input.

Disclaimer: I have not compiled any notes, documents or anything I’m providing here, myself. I have tried to mention those who’ve done the hard work and made it available to us. May they have good returns!

Is the PLAB exam hard?

PLAB 1 isn’t a walk in the park. Yes, there are question banks and free materials everywhere but please don’t take the preparation lightly thinking questions will repeat exactly the similar like past papers/recalls. The aim of the preparation is to always understand why the other four in the options are not the answer.

There are Facebook groups like:

PLAB,
PLAB Forum,
Dr. Khalid’s PLAB 1 discussion forum,
PLAB Part 1 Preparation forum,
PLAB for Bangladeshi Doctors etc.

Bottom-line, the purpose of getting into a Facebook group is to utilize your time well, and also to clarify your confusion about a question if you have any.

Now, how to effectively use a facebook group?

In my opinion, never browse lazily through the posts/questions people put up. That’s not targeted studying. To effectively use a group, you need the 1700 Questions.

What are the 1700 questions?

This is a QBank from the past PLAB 1 tests. This pool of questions in 1700 has been studied a lot by Plabbers and some of them has organized the questions according to their own need, with their own explanations.

  • The first one is by Dr. Khalid Saifullah. He compiled, arranged, and explained the questions, and later on others worked on his initiative. Download THE Latest UNCATEGORIZED 1700s explained by Dr. Khalid Saifullah (August 2018 edition).

If you’re not a fan of PDF and would much rather study from a book, Dr. Saifullah’s 1700s are available on Amazon. If you want it faster with still free shipping, you can use this link for a FREE 30 day trial of Prime.

  • Secondly you can find a categorized version made by PLABZILLAS which has the same questions and explanations as above, just divided into pertinent sections. Download THE CATEGORIZED 1700s PLABZILLAS.
  • Also of interest to you may be the another PLAB 1 question bank, which consist of questions and explanations from PLABABLE, offline- for free. You can easily find that on the internet. Search- “Subjectwise PLAB Doable“. That also can help you prepare after you’ve completed your prep with the 1700s. I want to mention that everything in this compilation is a result of serial copy pasting from OHCM and other textbook source, along with the work of Dr. Khalid Saifullah’s 1700s.

If you are having trouble downloading files from MEGA in your phone, I suggest you use any standalone browser like Chrome, Firefox etc and open the desktop site. Click here to see how to download from MEGA in your phone using Chrome browser.

Can I pass by ONLY reading this 1700 questions with explanations?
Does GMC exactly repeat these questions?

Yes and No.

They don’t repeat exactly, but the themes of the questions stay similar to a great degree. That’s why the best way to solve these questions is never to memorize which one is the answer right away, rather to understand why the other four are not correct. You should look to utilize as many question banks as you can find, and also implement a strict study plan to ensure you can review everything.

Books for PLAB 1

Sometimes the explanations won’t satisfy your curiosity or clarify the question. That’s where the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine and Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialties come in. The former more than the latter, in my opinion. It’s not necessary to know everything from these books. But if you can grow the habit of looking up the question related topics, then by the end of your prep, you will see you’ve read a lot of this book. But don’t go crazy and try to cram everything. These should be only the ultimate reference book when you are stuck with a question. Use free materials like Patient Info or NICE guidelines if you still have doubts.

GMC has also provided a Blueprint so that you can have a general understanding of what topics to expect in the exam. The blueprint will tell you what you can expect to be covered by the questions in part 1, but it won’t tell you what questions or scenarios you will face on the day you take the tests.

Notes for PLAB 1

Again, these Qbank solving and reference book may seem two extremes for preparation. What’s the middle ground? Here comes the Notes For PLAB 1. These are from 2014, but I read it and found it helpful for quick reviewing.

Also, ECG for PLAB 1 may help you prepare with the related questions.

Disclaimer: I have not compiled any notes, documents or anything I’m providing here, myself. I have tried to mention those who’ve done the hard work and made it available to us. May they have good returns!

Mocks for PLAB 1

Another useful thing are the mocks. These are practice tests you can do to judge your preparation before the exam.

Last but not least: CLINCHERS. These are condensed information for rapid review. Find them here.

And after all these still there are so much more materials out there- recalls, mocks, ecg notes, clinchers etc and etc. Let me tell you about the GOLD MINE.

** The FILES section of the Facebook groups.**

files section for PLAB materials

How long does it take to prepare for PLAB?

As I have mentioned earlier, targeted studying based on qbank solving should be the way to prepare. Starting head on with an aim to finish the entire oxford handbook is the WORST way you can do it, in my opinion. As the books are not written for with the purpose of an MCQ exam.

Ideally it shouldn’t take more than one and a half months for anyone to finish preparing thoroughly the first time. If you are working, then I would suggest you make a target for two months for the first revision. And while doing it, a very useful tip- mark the questions you think you need repeating. I even ended up marking 10-15 questions in a row, but trust me, marking helps, even though in the beginning it may feel like your marking all of them.

If the first time it took you 1.5 months, you can basically repeat it for the second time in <1 month. And a third time, even less as you should make the habit of reviewing the marked questions. After the qbanks are done, you should do mock exams which will enable you to judge how you perform. But remember, the mocks are NOT the predictor of the real exam. The questions in the mocks are smaller in size than the real exam, it’s just for the practice of sitting at one place and solving questions in a row.

So, if you take it seriously, easily you can fully prepare for PLAB 1 within 3-4 months. Different people have different paces of studying, so it varies from person to person.

  • Understand the questions and the answers from the qbanks, as well as why other options are incorrect.
  • Don’t rush yourself and try to simply memorize answers.
  • Create a timeline within which you dedicate how many questions per day, etc.
  • Allow time for reviewing adequately before the exam, and make sure to use the reference books for clarification.
  • Manage your time by doing mocks right before the exam in proper exam-like settings (ie time yourself, be in a quiet room, etc).

What I can expect the day of PLAB exam?

As already mentioned, the PLAB 1 exam is an MCQ based exam with single best answer questions (SBAs), and is a computer-marked written multiple choice type exam. Each question starts with a short scenario followed by a question eg ‘What is the single most likely diagnosis?’ You need to choose the right one out of five possible answers, labelled A to E.

For a complete breakdown of what to expect for PLAB 1 & 2, as well as what you need exam day, check out our extensive article discussing how you can be fully prepared.

To summarize,

How to prepare/study for PLAB 1

Study time required (minimum) 45 days.
The duration of preparation, as mentioned earlier, depends upon you own planning and pace. But remember to tick box the following steps:

  1. Get yourself in the related groups for PLAB 1 preparation

    Even if no one replies to your query, you can always search in the discussion section of the group, maybe years ago there was a discussion about the very question you are having now.

  2. Download the 1700 Qbank and other related materials

    You know by now from the above post, what is what and what do you need

  3. Set a target of questions per day

    It proportionally depends on how many days you are taking for the preparation. I would strongly recommend you to go through the qbanks at least twice.

  4. Mark the questions you think need reviewing

    This one simple habit will save you hours and hours of going through easy questions when you are reviewing.

  5. Look up the references

    Don’t believe the key or explanation in the qbank 100%. If you are even slightly unsure, do not hesiatate of be lazy to look it up in the reference books like oxford handbooks.

  6. Take adequate rest

    When you are tired your brain will make you just sift through questions without thinking about it. So, take small breaks in solving questions and utilize that break in reading notes or a few important topics in the reference books. 

  7. Attempt as many mock tests

    Try to assess yourself at the end of you preparation. Take as many mock tests as you can, putting yourself in an exam hall scenario, timing yourself and all.

  8. Keep reviewing your marked questions

    Till the last minute I believe reviewing what you got wrong first, is the best way to go. 

It’s really not that tough preparing as the syllabus for PLAB 1 is not extensive. If you can implement all the resources that is there for free, effectively, success is sure to come.

If you have any further questions or need any more clarification about the PLAB and its structure, be sure to check out our interactive session so that you can appear in the exam with any confusion. Good luck to everyone.

Good Luck!

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