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This is it. The time has come.
Your exam date is only a few days away. You’re calm, cool, and collected, knowing everything is set for your trip to Manchester, Cambridge, or London, your ultimate PLAB 2 journey destination.
It is, right? You’ve booked a place and a way to get there, didn’t you? If not, I have some tips and suggestions on the different routes. This will help you finding the easiest and cheapest way to stay in Manchester, Cambridge, or London while you take the PLAB 2.
Where are the exam locations?
3 Hardman Street
Clinical Skills Unit, Deakin Centre, floor 2
Cambridge University Hospitals
Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Hills Road
Cambridge CB2 0QQ
30 Euston Square
Where to stay?
If you have to travel outside your current accommodation, the most ideal option would be to look for a short term, 1-2 day room that is quiet and nearby. I’d suggest searching via AirBnb for less expensive options, but you can always look at websites like trivago, booking, or kayak.
Personally, I stayed in a AirBnb that had a kitchenette (basically a microwave, fridge, kettle, and sink) in what was essentially a studio apartment (just one room) because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of having to go out and find food, or potentially sharing a fridge/kitchen with other people if I had a shared living arrangement.
Also, the plus side was that no one bothered me, and it was nice and quiet. I chose a place just outside the city, roughly a 15 minute bus ride, but again, this is down to personal preference. Some people want to be as close to the center as possible, and you can always find a place to match that need.
When to travel?
I booked for Manchester, and had my exam on the 11th, so I travelled to Manchester on the 9th, settled in, did a little reviewing on the 10th, appeared for the exam on the 11th, and left back to London on the 12th. I chose this way because I didn’t want to reach Manchester being tired the day before my exam, and having a day to set up and unpack a little beforehand eased my anxiety about being ready. Luckily the place I stayed had an iron, so I kept everything pressed and hanging on the 9th itself.
You could go back on the 11th, but since the way my room payment was written up, I was already paying for the 11th, so I thought I’d just spend the time after my exam seeing the city and then leave early the next morning. Again, this is up to you.
How to get there?
There are four ways you can travel within the UK; you can-
- Take a train
- Take a bus
I’ll talk a little about each and you can decide what’s best for you.
Airfare within the UK isn’t terribly priced, you can easily find a flight for around £60 round trip if you search early enough. Of course, you’ll have to take into account the potential cost of getting to the airport, and there may be restrictions on what you can carry with you, but the flight itself won't be long and that may be something you’re looking for if you want to quickly get there and back.
If you know someone within the UK who would be willing to take you, then you’re all set! Your other option would be something known as a minicab, which will pick you up from your location and drop you off at your place. It has the potential to be quite pricey (e.g. total £250+ roundtrip for 4 people), but it offers the most convenience, cost can be shared depending on how many are going, and tends to take about 3-4 hours. Follow this link for a discount off of your first trip!
Most people choose this route. You can book a train via this link, and the earlier you book, the cheaper the fare. Roughly, you can expect to pay £50-£80, and you will have to take into account the cost of reaching the train station, either by bus or the Tube.
Alternatively, if you're already in the city of your exam, check on Google maps/Citymapper for ideal Tube/tram routes.
(this was my choice)
The buses in the UK are a sight to behold. They are quite comfortable, have a bathroom (yes! the buses have a bathroom), and often offer some form of entertainment too (WiFi, movies, etc). Book a ticket with National Express here. You will again have to take the Tube or local bus to reach to and fro the coach station, but the overall cost of your round trip ticket will be about £10 and you’ll be dropped off at the city's bus station. Here again- the earlier you book, the cheaper the fare.
Alternatively, if you're already in the city of your exam, check on Google maps/Citymapper for ideal local bus routes.
If you want to compare fares between buses and trains, or perhaps make a journey with both modes of transportation, I would suggest to look at GoEuro for a good deal.
As for actually get to the exam center the day of, you can look into Uber if you don't want to rush yourself by finding a bus or you aren't staying close enough to walk. If you follow this link, you can get a £3 discount off of your first trip.
If you'd like to know more about what you can expect on the exam day, please read more at what to expect for the PLABs.
So there you have it. A (hopefully) comprehensive guide on how to get to your exam center without a worry. Good luck for your PLAB 2 exam and have a safe journey!