That title must have really caught your eye, am I right? In 6 months, how can one possibly begin to think that it is feasible to clear both PLAB 1 and 2 exams, and that too while being in the UK on a single visit?
Let me first get the disclaimers out of the way:
- You don’t have to do this. You can take as much as you’d like to complete the PLABs, it’s not a race. As far as GMC has mentioned, PLAB will be replaced in 2023 by UKMLA.
- A lot of luck, planning, and financing are required in order to pull this off without a hitch.
- If you are unable to clear your PLAB 1 in the first attempt, this entire plan will be unexecutable.
- There is always a chance that you will not be able to find a PLAB 2 date within a good time margin between your results from PLAB 1 and booking PLAB 2.
- At the end of the day, do what works best for you and never feel pressurized because ‘everyone else is doing it’ or ‘it will never work’. It’s your life, it’s your decision.
Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
Step 0 : Preparation
How prepared are you to get FULL GMC registration with a license to practice?
Some questions to be asked before you embark on a long journey to the UK to appear in both PLABs.
- Have you completed the EPIC verification? (No, it is not required for PLABs, but if you keep it done, won’t it be one less thing to worry about after your PLABs are done?)
- Or gathered all the required papers or made plans for the evidences required for GMC registration?
- Finances for the PLABs are checked and planned?
These plannings and preparations will make your road smoother.
Step 1 : Booking PLAB 1
PLAB 1 happens twice a year in the most overseas centers (March and November), BUT four times (March, JUNE, SEPTEMBER, and November) in the UK. So, you are most likely targeting June or September if you are planning to do both in one visa period i.e. 6 months. Just like PLAB 2, before doing everything, booking the PLAB exam is the first thing you should do as the booking confirmation is the main paper you need for the following process.
Step 2: UK Visa Application for PLAB 1
Online Visa Application
This is done exactly the same way as if you were to apply for this visa for PLAB 2. The subtype, information to provide- all of it is the same. By following the Online Application for the UK visa for PLAB that has already been outlined before, you’ll be fine.
The visa is “Standard Visitor Visa” and the reason is “Business…” and the main reason is to “Take the PLAB Exam“.
Now regarding supporting documents, here too much is the same as for the PLAB 2 visa, but the differences are:
- Cover letter explanation
- Length of the trip can be shown shorter as you’re not attending any course BEFORE the exam. (That way your cost of the trip can also reduce a lot)
Here is a redacted copy of a cover letter by one of our dearest friends, Dr. Afzal Abubakker, who managed not only the both PLABs, but also GMC registration, and land an NHS job in the 6 month period.
Entry Clearance Officer
British High Commission,
Subject: Cover Letter requesting to grant Standard Visitor Visa (Business Visit for PLAB examination)
I, Dr. [Name] bearing the [Nationality] passport number [Number] (Visa Application Reference Number: [Number]), is applying for the Standard Business Visitor PLAB Visa for PLAB Part 1 examination. I plan on taking my PLAB Part 1 examination on [PLAB 1 Date] at London, UK.
I am a fully qualified MBBS doctor registered with the [Your Medical Council] (Registration no: [Number]) hence having a license to practice Medicine in [Country] (I have attached the registration certificate and MBBS degree certificate for your kind reference). I am currently working as a [Job title] in [Hospital].
I have a reference number under General Medical Council (GMC) UK, as a candidate to appear for the PLAB examination. My GMC Reference Number is [Number]. I have also attached documentary evidence for this.
My Reason for applying for the Visa:
I am applying for the above mentioned Visa in order to appear for the PLAB Part 1 examination. I have already booked the PLAB Part 1 examination on [Date] at London, UK. It is part 1 of the licensing exam for International Medical Graduates who wish to practice medicine in the UK.
Why do I want to give PLAB 1 exam in the UK:
PLAB 1 exam is conducted outside UK only in the month of March and November. There is no overseas exam from April to October.
I have made preparation for the current pattern of PLAB exam, and hence I want to complete my PLAB exams before this current pattern is replaced by UKMLA. This is possible only if I give PLAB 1 as early as possible. As I have mentioned before, currently there is no overseas exam, and thus I am left with no choice except to give PLAB 1 exam in the UK.
Why do I want to take the PLAB exam:
To be a better doctor, I strongly believe that I have to practice and work in the best health systems in the world, where I can learn from the brightest minds in medicine and effortlessly carry out the current best practices in medicine. There is no doubt about the fact that the UK’s healthcare system is one of the best healthcare systems in the world. After gaining this knowledge and experience, I would like to come back to put all the knowledge I have learnt into practice and help uplift the healthcare system of my country like many other doctors have done.
PLAB Part 1 Examination Confirmation:
I have booked my PLAB Part 1 examination for [date]. The fee (230 GBP) for this exam has already been paid. I have also attached a confirmation from the General Medical Council (GMC) in UK for my exam invitation. The General Medical Council of UK has invited me at Royal Horticultural Halls and conference centre, 80 Vincent square, London, UK at 10.00am in order to appear for the exam.
No Objection from my Employer:
Make sure the No Objection Certificate mentions the reason for your leave is to go to the UK for the PLAB exam.
My Personal financial status:
If you're employed then explain your income and savings here.
My Family circumstances:
Introduce and explain the circumstances (e.g. their job) of your family members here.
Financial Support for my UK visit (Sponsorship):
If you have a sponsor for your visit you can simply mention that here and also state that you have added a letter of support from your sponsor which will explain the cost of the trip.
Accommodation during my UK trip:
Provide a plan. It can be booking of a hotel or a place where you will actually stay.
My Itinerary for the UK Trip:
[Mention dates and provide explanation where necessary]
Day 1 - Will reach at the [Airport]
Day 2 until Day 4 - Settle down at the accommodation and last minute preparation.
Day 5- PLAB 1 exam
Day 6 - Rest for a day. Maybe roam in London.
Day 7- Return back home from the [Airport].
I would like to reassure you that I am going to leave the UK after the end of my visit as I am a resident of [country]. I would like to come back and stay with my family and [explain your circumstances e.g. job or property etc]
(You can show here 5 days approach too. It's up to you)
Summary of My Visa Application:
I am an honest person and a law-abiding citizen. I am well aware of the consequences of doing anything illegal and hereby solemnly affirm that I shall abide by the rules and regulations set by the Government of the United Kingdom.
I have genuine invitation from the General Medical Council, UK to attend the PLAB 1 Examination, and hence am genuinely seeking entry into the UK as a visitor. You can confirm my registration details with the GMC, UK and my exam invitation from the General Medical Council by calling them at +44 161 923 6602 or emailing them at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I also confirm that I will return from the UK within the specified time frame and I shall not overstay my visit.
Current Valid Passport
Confirmation letter for PLAB 1 from GMC
Accommodation Invitation Documents:Booking confirmation from a Hotel, OR
Letter of invitation from my family friend in UK
Letter for confirmation of accommodation from the Inviter
Passport of my Inviter
Council Tax Statement of my Inviter
My Employment Documents:
My Bank Account Documents
Proof of Home Address:
MBBS Degree Certificate
Medical Council Registration Certificate
UKMLA documentary evidence
Hopefully the aforementioned documents will be sufficient enough for the processing of the visa.
I would be highly grateful to you if you grant me visa clearance and make a success story out of my life.
If you have any questions, I would be more than happy to answer them.
Thanking you! Have a nice day!
P.S. All INR to GBP conversions in my cover letter were done by taking rates from www.oanda.com on 25/July/2017 (83.77 INR= 1 GBP).
To know about proving financial sponsorship, have a look at Financial Sponsorship Fiasco.
Step 3: Attending a PLAB 2 Course
After you are done with your PLAB 1, you have 1 month or so wait for the results. Half of it you can spend roaming the country (if you can budget for it), and the other half attending a PLAB 2 course.
There are several PLAB 2 courses in the UK. Ask your colleagues, friends, or look for recommendations in the social media – any which way, decide on a course and attend. Learn the methods and keep practicing till your PLAB 1 results come out. Or check out how to plan for a PLAB 2 course so that you stay ready.
Step 4: Booking PLAB 2
As I have mentioned in the disclaimer at the beginning, the whole plan depends a lot on your PLAB 1 results. Unfortunately if you fail, I would say take it sportingly and go back and attempt for PLAB 1 the next time. And if you pass, celebrate it later – book your PLAB 2 first. This can also be a hitch as you may not find available dates that close. But, as you’ve already attended a course and practicing on the materials one should assume you are already prepared to take PLAB 2 in a week. So, PLAB 1 results out > Passed > Book PLAB 2. Keep in mind that failing PLAB 2 will also throw a wrench in your plan. It will be nearly impossible to manage another date within your visa.
Please see your options if you fail in What to do if you fail PLAB 1.
Step 5: Additional Steps
The target was to appear in both PLABs in one stay. After that being achieved, if you can afford to stay further and your visa still permits, you can start thinking about your GMC registration and NHS job application after your PLAB 2.
Please have a look here to find out more about what to do after PLAB 2.
Summary of the plan
- Book your PLAB 1 date.
- Book a PLAB 2 coaching course as soon as you can, preferably within a few days of taking your PLAB 1 exam.
- Take PLAB 1.
- As soon as your PLAB 1 results are released, book a PLAB 2 exam date. You can expect it to be 2-3 months later.
- Keep an eye out for date swaps which you may find more suitable for yourself, but don’t forget that there is a cancellation fee which is incurred when you swap.
- Take PLAB 2.
- While you await your results, find out what you can do regarding the online application for GMC registration.
Step 6 (bonus): GMC Registration & Job applications
GMC making the PLAB 2 as the ID check and abolishing a separate ID check makes life a lot easier in this plan. If all your evidences needed to support your GMC registration application is ready, you can make the application for GMC registration and potentially start applying for jobs in the NHS.
Things that can throw off your plan
If you are taking the June PLAB 1 in the UK, the next one would be in September, which is 3-4 months away. You may need to rebook, which would make PLAB 2 on the same visa impossible.
After March and November PLAB 1 exams, people book PLAB 2 dates months and months in advance and that’s what at any point of time it is difficult to guarantee that you will get a PLAB 2 date within the next 4-5 months time.
If once you attempt for PLAB 2 and couldn’t pass, it might not be possible to get another PLAB 2 date within your visa period. So, you might want to reflect on What to do if you fail PLAB 2 and try again.
Visa rejection always puts you off your plan. Most of the rejection are related to financial issues. Please have a look at UK Visa Financial sponsorship fiasco to know the dos and dont’s in your visa application.
I’m sure you’re realizing now what I meant earlier when I said this plan requires a lot of luck and near perfect planning. You must be meticulous in your approach and secure in your finances to make certain you don’t miss a trick and you are able to pull this off without a hitch.