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PLAB Exam Syllabus: Understand PLAB Exam Format & Blueprint

Updated on 12 September, 2023

Pragya Sharma

Pragya Sharma

Sr. Content Editor

According to the Workforce Report 2022, the number of people joining the medical industry in the UK through the PLAB exam was 25% in 2021. This speaks volumes about the growing reliance on this exam to admit medicine practitioners in the country.

Know More About : PLAB Exam Dates | PLAB Exam Fees | PLAB Exam

The PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board) exam tests the knowledge and proficiency of international medical graduates (IMGs) to practice medicine in the UK. It is a crucial step to embark on one’s professional journey as the exam’s score is also considered for various medical courses in the UK.

International doctors seeking limited registration to practice medicine in the UK must also take the PLAB exam. The exam evaluates their capability to work as a Senior House Officer (SHO) in a UK NHS hospital while ensuring patient safety and adequate treatment. This blog delves deep into the PLAB exam syllabus, format,  and other important information.

PLAB Exam Eligibility

The PLAB exam is primarily designed for international medical graduates (IMGs) who have completed their medical education outside the UK and wish to work in the UK as doctors. 

To be eligible for the PLAB exam, you must:

  • Have a primary medical qualification in allopathic medicine that has been awarded by an institution listed on the World Directory of Medical Schools and is currently acceptable to the GMC.
  • Furnish proof of English language proficiency. 
  • Have completed 12 months of clinical practice or obtained a postgraduate qualification to fulfill the PLAB exam eligibility. 
  • Possess the necessary visas and work permits to work in the UK.

While you check your eligibility, keep a tab on the PLAB exam dates in 2023 to avoid missing out on your chances.

PLAB Exam Format

A thorough comprehension of the PLAB exam pattern is imperative for students undertaking PLAB.  

The test comprises two sections: Part 1, a written exam consisting of 180 single-best-answer multiple-choice questions, and Part 2, an objective structured clinical exam (OSCE) that is practical-based.

To register for the PLAB exam, you must create a GMC Online account and demonstrate that your medical qualifications and English language proficiency meet the set standards. Your credentials will be verified, and if they meet the necessary criteria, you can proceed to book Part 1 of the PLAB exam.

PLAB Part 1

The PLAB 1 exam consists of 180 multiple-choice questions to be completed within three hours. Each question begins with a brief scenario followed by a query, and you must choose the correct answer from five available options. The exam is available in several countries, in addition to the UK, and you can view the available dates and locations upon logging in to your GMC Online account.

PLAB Part 2

The PLAB 2 exam is an objective structured clinical exam consisting of 16 scenarios, each lasting eight minutes and designed to simulate realistic situations, such as a mock consultation or acute ward setting. Part 2 examinations are conducted year-round at the clinical assessment center.

PLAB Exam Syllabus

Typically, the PLAB 1 and PLAB 2 syllabus is derived from the standard medical textbooks utilized in UK medical schools. The exam may also include questions related to awareness of multicultural society, scientific understanding of medicine, disease processes, health promotion, legal ethics, evidence-based medicine, and epidemiology.

Students may also consult the GMC booklets titled "Advice to Candidates," which are available in separate editions for Part 1 and Part 2 of the exam. To understand the PLAB exam syllabus, one can also go through the official blueprint that serves as a comprehensive guide, outlining the exam's subject matter and covering the essential knowledge, skills, and behaviors that candidates must exhibit, both during and after the test.

The PLAB blueprint is available on the official website in the downloadable Excel format. It guides on what can be covered in the questions in part 1 or the scenarios in part 2.

It also covers the four domains in Good medical practice – Knowledge, skills and performance, Safety and quality, Communication, partnership and teamwork, and Maintaining trust. 


The PLAB exam is not only a test of knowledge but also practical skills, and it is essential to demonstrate a high level of competence to ensure patient safety. With the right preparation and dedication, international doctors can ace the PLAB exam and embark on a rewarding career in the UK healthcare system. Familiarizing oneself with the exam pattern, syllabus, and blueprint is crucial to increase the chances of success.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for the PLAB exam?

You are eligible for the PLAB exam if you wish to work in the UK as a doctor but have an education from elsewhere. For this, you must have a primary medical qualification accepted by the General Medical Council (GMC), along with proof of English proficiency and other vital documents. You must also meet all the admission requirements set by the GMC.

What happens after you have cleared PLAB 1 and PLAB 2?

After passing both parts of the PLAB exam, an individual is eligible to apply for registration with a license to practice medicine in the UK. It is required to have the application approved within two years of passing part 2 of the exam. Once the application is approved and the registration is granted, the individual can begin working as a doctor in the UK.

When can you apply for an additional attempt?

After failing PLAB Part 1 or 2 for four times, a candidate can request an additional attempt, but they must wait 12 months before doing so. If you fail in more than four attempts, you are no longer eligible for the test or an additional attempt. 

Pragya Sharma

Sr. Content Editor

Pragya Sharma is a content developer and marketer with 6.5+ years of experience in the education industry. She started her career as a social media copywriter for NIELIT, Ministry of Electronics & IT, and has now scaled up as a 360-degree content professional well-versed with the intricacies of digital marketing and different forms of content used to drive and hook the target audience. She is also a co-author of 2 stories in an anthology based on the theme- women empowerment.

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