What to do if you fail PLAB 1

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Winston Churchill wants you to continue

It is not an easy thing to suffer failure, especially when the exam is apart of the goal, the dream that you’ve set out before yourself to accomplish. You must have heard ‘It’ll be okay’ or ‘Better luck next time’ a thousand times already. Let’s look beyond that to see what options you have now.

Retake the exam

If you fail PLAB 1, you can book to take the exam again provided you still meet all the requirements (e.g. valid IELTS). You can attempt the exam a maximum of four times.

If you’ve failed the exam four times, you can apply for one final attempt. You will need to demonstrate evidence of additional learning over a 12 month period and make an application to GMC.

ugh of failing PLAB 1

Reassess your approach

Perhaps the first time around you rushed. You booked quickly without thinking you’d need a lot of time to prepare. Setup a structured, well thought-out format that you will diligently follow for your next attempt and make sure you give yourself enough time to study.

You must have read our post about How to prepare for PLAB 1. We always try to keep it updated.

A lot of the time people think they can just memorize the past questions/recalls and that will be enough to guarantee a pass. That is not smart studying. This exam is quite straightforward if you ensure that you not only understand the questions in the question banks, but also the answers given. Make sure you know why the correct answer is correct, and why the incorrect answers are incorrect. This will benefit you greatly in the exam hall.

Also, time management is EXTREMELY important. Practice in mock examination settings with a timer and ideal conditions to ensure you will work efficiently during the real exam.

So again:

  • Understand the questions and the answers from the 1700s, 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).

Don’t stress

Easier said than done, right?

But seriously, stressing will not help you at all. Don’t give up on your dream either. As medical students, as doctors, we are faced with many exams. It’s just a bump in the road, another hurdle to cross. Don’t become disheartened so easily.

Opt for a recheck for PLAB 1

Let’s get one thing clear. Recheck doesn’t mean reevaluation. It just means the GMC will verify if your marks were transcribed correctly. You must email GMC within 28 days of obtaining your results if you wish to recheck. The cost is £45. GMC typically responds within 10 working days.

To sum, don’t let this minor hiccup throw you off from your road to the UK. Instead, let it be a learning tool for you to strengthen your resolve to make it. Tomorrow when all is said and done, no one will ask how many attempts it took your or what marks you attained. So don’t let it affect you.

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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