What is the PLAB test?

The PLAB test is for doctors who have qualified overseas and wish to practise medicine in the UK under limited registration. The test assesses your ability, as a doctor, to work safely as a senior house officer (SHO) in a UK NHS hospital.

How many parts to the PLAB test are there?

There are two parts:

  • Part 1 is a three-hour exam containing 200 questions. It consists of extended matching questions (EMQ) and single best answer (SBA) questions.
  • Part 2 is a 14-station objective structured clinical exam (OSCE). It lasts for about one hour and 40 minutes.

What are the entry requirements for the PLAB test?

Before taking the test, you must have:

  • a primary medical qualification accepted for limited registration by an institution listed in the World Health Organisation Directory of Medical Schools 
  • taken the IELTS academic modules and attained a score of at least 7.0 overall and a minimum of 7.0 for all of the four language skills. For further information please visit the General Medical Council website
  • 12 months’ postgraduate clinical experience at a teaching hospital.

Who is exempted from providing IELTS test results?

You don’t have to provide an IELTS test result if you are:

  • qualified in the UK or European Economic Area (EEA)
  • a UK citizen who has worked as a doctor elsewhere in the EEA and are exercising your right of free movement under European law
  • a UK and non-EEA national whose EEA-national spouses are exercising their right of free movement by coming to work in the UK.

These exceptions are a matter of European law and are not areas in which the GMC has any discretion. UK citizenship alone doesn’t entitle you to claim exemption from IELTS.

Where can I sit the test?

  • Part 1 can be taken in the UK and in the UAE (Dubai), Bangladesh, Cairo, Bulgaria, Pakistan, India and Nigeria.
  • Part 2 may be taken in the UK only.

How can I apply to take Part 1?

You must apply online through the General Medical Council (GMC) website. To find out how to do this, visit the GMC’s Registration and licensing page

The best way to find out about available places is to create a MyGMC account and look in the My PLAB section.

How many times can I attempt the test?

You can sit Part 1 as many times as you like, but you can only take Part 2 of the test four times. If you fail at the fourth attempt you will have to take Part 1 again.

Do you provide any training for the test?

Unfortunately not. We suggest that you refer to the standard medical textbooks used in UK medical schools. 

You should also take a look at the GMC booklets ‘Advice to Candidates’. There are separate booklets for Part 1 and Part 2

What happens after I register for the test?

After you apply for the test, and once the deadline for application is over, you will receive an email from the GMC confirming your registration, your place, the venue and the starting time of the test.

What should I bring with me on the day of the exam?

You must bring your passport, your admission letter, a pencil, an eraser and a pencil sharpener.

When will I receive my results? 

  • Part 1 results are usually available four weeks after the test.
  • Part 2 results are usually available two weeks after the test.

The exact date for the release of the results is announced on the test date. Results are available on the GMC website the day after they have been sent out by post.

How long are results valid for?

You must pass Part 2 within three years of passing Part 1. Your result is then valid for three years.


The British Council and the examining boards take all reasonable steps to provide continuity of service. We feel sure you will understand, however, that we cannot be held responsible for any interruptions caused by circumstances beyond our control.

If examinations or their results are disrupted, cancelled or delayed, every effort will be made to resume normal service as soon as possible. The British Council’s liability will be limited to the refund of the registration fee or retesting at a later date.

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