How to Plan for PLAB 2 and Course/Academy

Maybe your PLAB 1 results will come out in a few days and you are sweating OR you have that sweet, sweet email of passing the PLAB 1 (within a month or so after you exam), you are floating on a cloud. For both cases come back to reality. The next big step is to think about a PLAB 2 course or academy.

When do I take PLAB 2?
What are the available dates for PLAB 2?
When do I attend PLAB 2 course?
Do I need “IELTS for UKVI” for PLAB 2 or PLAB 2 Visa?

Now, the first and foremost thing- BOOK PLAB 2.

Do I need to attend PLAB 2 courses or academy?

When we first planned for PLAB 2. everyone said – It is mandatory to join a PLAB 2 course or academy. After passing PLAB 2 and working in the UK for a couple of years, we think it is not mandatory at all. A course or academy can’t teach you anything that you can’t learn by yourself at this point in your career.

Knowing the responsibilities of a junior doctor in the NHS, understanding different organisational structures, keeping in line with GMC good medical practice and national guidelines and at the same time preparing following the GMC PLAB Blueprint is all you need.

Dates available for PLAB 2

Unlike PLAB 1, this exam CANNOT be taken outside the UK, and it happens round the year. That means that PLAB 2 exam dates are available almost every months (less around the August and late December). The available dates for PLAB 2 can only be seen from your GMC Online account after you have passed PLAB 1.

PLAB 2 takes place only in Manchester. So you need the following things to be done immediately after you hear the good news of passing PLAB 1:

  • Find the available dates for booking PLAB 2 from “My Tests” section of your GMC Online account (You can only do that after passing PLAB 1). Decide on a date first that works best for you (don’t just pay and book at once). All your next steps follow this date.
  • Now, booking a PLAB 2 preparatory course. Yes, there are cases where people passed without attending a course – but if you don’t feel confident enough, I will suggest that you attend a course.

Which PLAB 2 course/academy should I choose?

People have a lot of different reasons for choosing a particular course/academy. Maybe their friends are going there, maybe they have found better accommodation nearby. So, many things come into play while choosing a course. But, in my opinion, the most important things to always consider while planning the course are:

  • Course start and end dates that align with your PLAB 2 exam date. The dates of the course should be chosen in a way so that you have at least 3-4 weeks of practice time, AFTER the course and BEFORE the exam date. More explanations are given below.
  • Try and find at least one reliable source to give you a review about the latest situation in the academy. Facebook reviews from the people who attended the course years ago, are of little help.
  • If you don’t personally know someone who attended the course recently, you may have to rely on what you find online. But, keep in mind anyone can be typing anything on the internet.
  • For good measure, always ensure your course teachers hold or have previously held GMC registration. This is important because that means they’ve gone down this road before, they understand where you’re starting at and what you’re working towards, and they’ve also had to endure this type of an exam in the past. It wouldn’t make much sense to have tutors for an exam they themselves have not cleared, wouldn’t you agree?
  • You can search for any doctor on the GMC official website to see what their status currently is on the registry. Whether they have relinquished, got their GMC registration erased, or no longer hold a license to practice. There may be other variations that is not mentioned here, but if a doctor has EVER held a GMC registration, their name will be in the register. Here is where you can SEARCH THE GMC REGISTER.

PLAB 2 courses generally are 12-18 days including review classes and mock tests, so if you choose a course that is in the second week of March, it gives you almost 4 weeks or more AFTER the course and BEFORE the exam on 25th April. I can’t emphasize enough how vital is this to plan beforehand. The course will end and you will need that time on your own to review the materials and prepare yourself through practice.

  • Preparations and application for your UK VISA for PLAB 2. This is huge. I have discussed the whole process in three separate posts containing how to approach the online application, gathering necessary supporting documents and final preparation for applying for visa.

Check out the posts regarding UK Visa application for PLAB 2 here in this category,  UK Visa Guidance for PLAB 2.

An example of how to plan for PLAB 2 & course/academy

So let me clarify with an example, what your actions will be sequentially.

Choosing a PLAB 2 date

Let’s say you choose, 25th April, 2019 for PLAB 2. (Provided in December 2018, you got your November 2018 exam results)

Deciding on a PLAB 2 course

Try contacting your chosen preparatory course academy to know whether there are any available courses in March 2019.

Book the PLAB 2 exam from GMC Online

After your course given a green signal, you go ahead and book BOTH course and PLAB 2 (after paying through the portal like PLAB 1 in the GMC online account, you’ll receive a PLAB 2 booking confirmation email; that’s a very important document).

Start preparing for your UK Visit visa

It should be ending December 2018 by now and the FINAL THING, you start preparing for your PLAB 2 visa. One week or so should be spent in collecting all the necessary documents, and by mid January 2019 you apply for the UK Visa. It ideally takes 15 days to get a decision on a visa. If you it takes longer or less than this time period, do not automatically assume that you’ve been rejected. I have seen a period of 10-21 days for people to get a response.

Summary of the plan for PLAB 2

  • December 2019 – Passed PLAB 1 taken in November 2019
    • [Choose a date in late April 2020 for PLAB 2]
    • [Contact an academy for available courses in early to mid March 2019]
  • December 2019 – Book for PLAB 2 and PLAB 2 course.
  • January 2020 – Apply for a Standard Business Visitor Visa.
  • February 2020 – Shopping and preparations, both mentally and financially.
  • March 2020 – Go to the UK.
  • April 2020 – Sit for the PLAB 2 exam.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is PLAB 2 difficult?

Any OSCE exam like PLAB 2 is undoubtedly a challenging exam. There are so many other factors than your clinical knowledge plays a role here. So, to answer plainly, yes, PLAB 2 exam is never a walk in the park. But, if you practice and prepare well and stick to the Good Medical Practice and being a safe doctor, you will pass with flying colors.

How long does it take to prepare for PLAB 2?

You should at least invest two months to prepare for PLAB 2 including academy/course and your own practice time. Taking a long preparation time has a common pitfall. You start to memorize rather than actually performing in the station. So take your time to understand how the PLAB 2 exam is structured, the basic principles to follow, revise on clinical methods and practice with your friends and colleagues. You are ready!

What happens if you fail PLAB 2?

You have to pass PLAB 2 within 2 years of passing PLAB 1. On the other hand, if you want to get GMC registration done on one IELTS/OET, then you have to pass PLAB 2 (thus making yourself eligible to apply for GMC registration) within 2 years of completing that IELTS/OET. If you fail, you can instantly book another exam via your GMC online account depending on availability. Please reconsider your approach if you are re-taking it, this article on Failing PLAB 2 : Dealing with unfortunate results might be of help.

Can I apply for a visitor visa without booking (paying) for PLAB 2?

Short answer, No. Long answer, depends on the reason for your visit visa application. If you are applying for visit visa showing that taking PLAB exam is your main reason for visit, then you have a booked date prior to your visa application.

Do I need “IELTS for UKVI” for PLAB 2 or PLAB 2 Visa?

No. To appear in PLAB 2, you won’t have to take any sorts of IELTS again nor for the application for Standard Visitor Visa for PLAB 2.

To know more about IELTS and IELTS for UKVI and UK NARIC, check this English Language Proficiency for PLAB, GMC Registration & Tier 2 Visa.

Now that you have a tentative outline on how to go about planning for the PLAB 2, there should be no reason for you to worry. Good luck!