What is the UKMLA?

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What is the UKMLA?
I hear PLAB will be replaced?
When will this happen?
Do I still plan for PLAB?
Should I give up my road to UK dream?

How many times have you seen these questions floating around the various forums and groups on the net? Many of you must be (rightly) confused what this all can mean for you, and just what you need to expect for the future. Never fear, we’ll discuss everything here.

UKMLA

It is the United Kingdom Medical Licensing Assessment. It will be a requirement for both UK graduates and well as international graduates, unlike the PLAB exams. There will be two parts.

  1. The Applied Knowledge Test (AKT). This test will be the same for all UK students and IMGs. GMC will decide the pass standard,, and the exam will be held four times a year. For UK medical students, we will provide the test paper to medical schools. UK medical students will face the exam in their schools, while IMGs will be able to take it at select locations around the world. It will most likely be a computer-based test for all candidates.
  2. The Clinical and Professional Skills Assessment (CPSA). This will be similar to PLAB 2 and GMC will take it at their Clinical Assessment Center for IMGs.

When will it be instated?

Officially it will roll out in 2023, but GMC will begin pilot testing and check the MLA assessments until then. PLAB will be replaced by UKMLA in 2023.

The requirement to have passed the MLA will apply to UK students entering their final year in Autumn 2023 for graduation in 2024 and after.

To summarize

UKMLA

Frequently asked questions

I’m already registered with the GMC. Will I need to appear in the MLA?

No. The exam is only for those applying for registration.

What will the exam format be like?

As stated before, there will be two parts, which will be as follows:
1. A test of applied knowledge. The test will be computer-based, and set, administered, and marked by the GMC.
2. An assessment of clinical and professional skills. For UK students, this will be delivered though their medical school’s clinical and professional skills assessment (CPSA). GMC will assess these against a set of key performance indicators to decide if they demonstrate that students meet the MLA threshold. For international medical graduates, this will be delivered through a GMC-run CPSA.

Will the MLA be more difficult than the PLABs?

GMC has stated that the burden of assessment for international medical graduates will be broadly the same as the current PLAB tests.

How much will it cost?

As yet, GMC has not stated the fees for this exam for international students, but UK graduates will not have to pay anything.

What if I’ve passed PLAB 1 and then UKMLA is instated??

As yet GMC has not made a final decision regarding this, but they have said that what they wish is that no one become disadvantaged by the switch.

What if I’ve cleared both PLABs but not gotten GMC registration and UKMLA is instated??

Again, as yet GMC has not made a final decision regarding this, but they have said that what they wish is that no one become disadvantaged by the switch.

But I want to take PLAB! Why has GMC done this??

When a doctor applies to join the medical register, GMC must be sure they are safe to practice. They already confirm this in a number of ways. The MLA builds on their existing assurance work by setting a common threshold for safe practice. This means that GMC and the wider community can be assured that doctors joining the medical register with a licence to practice meet that threshold. The threshold will be the same no matter where you have obtained your medical degree.

But isn’t it unfair?

On the contrary, as the UK graduates are also taking it, it is but more fair. The other benefits of UKMLA:
1. Fairness to candidates, whichever medical school they attended, and whether they come from the UK, Europe, or the rest of the world.
2. Supporting GMC to maintain the high standard of UK medical education as more students and potential new schools are added into the mix.
3. Sharing best practice between medical schools and the GMC.

Will EU/EEA graduates have to appear in the UKMLA?

At the moment, the law says that doctors from the EEA may register on the basis of their qualifications alone. Any change to this is subject to the outcome of negotiations on the UK leaving the EU. Once these are complete, GMC will be able to decide about this.

Is there anyway to be exempt from appearing in the UKMLA?

Currently, there are ways in which individuals may be exempt from appearing in PLAB. As yet, GMC has not made a formal ruling on if these same rules will apply to UKMLA, but one can assume it will be the same.


I still have a lot of questions!

That’s completely understandable. If you are still unsure about something, you can always email GMC’s MLA team at mla@gmc-uk.org.

Good luck!

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Two international medical graduates who work as Internal Medicine Trainees in the UK write this blog with the aim to guide others around the world.

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