I decided on the PLAB route in my third posting in housejob at the University College Hospital, Ibadan and took and passed the IELTS shortly after deciding in September 2019. I registered for the PLAB 1 of March 2020 in Lagos, Nigeria.
Depending on the phase of the journey you are in, follow the table of content to jump right in.
Table of Content
- GMC PLAB 2 Guide
- IELTS Preparation
- Opening a GMC Account
- PLAB 1
- EPIC Verification
- Applying for a UK Visa
- PLAB 2
GMC PLAB 2 Guide
This extensive document from the General Medical Council (GMC) should be read during your PLAB 2 preparation after completing PLAB 1. I put it high up in the table of content to emphasise its importance. Click the button below.
The page linked below directs you to an article and resources I have put together for IELTS preparation.
Opening a GMC Account
After passing the IELTS exam, you should create a GMC account to book the PLAB exam. The article below contains a video describing the process.
I prepared for the PLAB 1 with the Plabable application, using a 3-month 20 pounds subscription. Patient.info and Oxford Handbook of Medicine were sufficient reference materials for preparation.
About a month before the exam, I started the Plabable mocks and consistently scored above 90%. This made me feel confident about going in for the exam. I took the exam on March 10, 2020, just before reporting to Gombe for my NYSC camp.
The country went into lockdown and NYSC camp was shut down barely 7 days after the examination.
After the examination, I joined a Whatsapp group page of recent PLAB 2 candidates, who put us through the entire process of PLAB 2, from visa application to simulations for the exam. We had some practice sessions with them and this really helped put me in the right mindset for the next step.
My PLAB 1 result was released in April 2020 and I planned to take the PLAB 2 just after my NYSC in April/May 2021.
This should be started after you pass the PLAB 1 exam. I started mine in February 2021 completed the whole process in under 10 days.
Applying for a UK visa
The article describes the process of Visa application.
I got a date in early February 2021 for an exam date on the 26th April 2021. At this point, dates for PLAB 2 were difficult to come by and my application to the F2 standalone programme with the NHS made the GMC prioritise my booking and offered me and other standalone applicants reserved dates. (With a job offer or in the process of getting one with evidence, GMC usually encourages candidates to mail them so they can prioritise your PLAB 2 booking).
The application to this programme opens in January and remains open for about 3 weeks. You can apply with just a PLAB 1 pass. The only limitation is that you need an IELTS score of at least 7.5 in all categories, unlike GMC which accepts a minimum of 7.0. (OET for F2 standalone is a minimum of 400 in each category compared to GMC – 350).
Download the Application Guidance for F2 Standalone 2021 (It is updated every year with a new guide for the application year)
PLAB 2 Cost
The examination is very cost-intensive. It cost me 875 pounds to register for the examination. This is in addition to all the other costs incurred above. I would still need to book a return flight to the United Kingdom and pay for numerous COVID tests.
The prohibitive cost of undertaking this examination is in itself a triggering factor to offset your preparation and induce crippling anxiety towards the exam itself – a recipe for poor performance.
I forgot to add 599 pounds for an academy. I could not afford an academy, I absolutely did not have the money for it. However, I tagged closely with a friend who was in a reputable one and we practised really frequently.
My PLAB 2 Preparation Process
I found a 100 pounds online academy by Dr Siddhartha which had 230 PLAB 2 scenarios prerecorded in 35 zoom sessions (about 2 hours each) hosted on Google drive. I used this resource in addition to the publicly available PLAB 2 academy notes to cover the common exam topics and had my knowledge base at the same level as someone in a standard academy. He also simulated 2 mock examinations online for me, each containing 5 stations and gave me really important feedback that improved my practice and confidence. (Dr Siddhartha’s Telegram Page).
YouTube Video Samples from Dr Siddhartha
PLAB 2 Practise
I joined numerous practise groups on Whatsapp and Telegram and got partners from all over the world to practice with. This Facebook page was really important in helping me link up with people who had the PLAB 2 examination in April 2021. We formed private pages and practised together.
Duration of Practise
I actively prepared for the exam for about two and half months.
I spoke to a number of colleagues who passed the exam recently and I found out that the most important thing after getting an adequate knowledge base for the exam was to build your confidence. They advised me not to get flustered, and that I should go into the examination like a normal clinic day where I was seeing VIP patients that I had to be really extra nice to.
Academy Or Not?
A standard academy is advised to structure your study and practice. It will also provide you with plenty of dedicated practice partners with synchronised examination dates. Plus, you have access to do standard mocks that simulate the real examination situation, so your examination feels just like another mock.
However, if you can not afford it, you can pass without attending one (Check out the GMC’s thoughts on Academies). However, you would need to be very intentional about your practice. Three (two British-Pakistanis and one Malaysian) of my practice partners who wrote in the same week, did not attend any academy and we all passed.
My Examination Experience
I was having serious anxiety towards the examination and tried a lot of things to calm myself down. Thankfully, I was able to remain calm throughout the examination and essentially saw that I reverted to most of my reflex knowledge and clerking skills from medical school with some PLAB 2 tips coming in handy occasionally.
No matter how you do in the examination, it is unlikely that you will feel confident after the examination.
After a gruelling 4-week wait, the good news came to me through my good friend and practice partner, Dr Musaab, that the result was up. I opened my GMC online account and was beyond pleased to see that I passed.
This article will not be complete if I do not thank every member of my Whatsapp and Telegram PLAB 2 practice groups. Temi was an angel sent to help me with this journey and I am really grateful for her.
I wish you all the best as you progress in the journey.