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Top Tips for Passing the PLAB 2

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While registering with the GMC, the step I feared the most was the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board 2 exam (PLAB 2).

As you may be aware, this is an OSCE-style exam that consists of 16 stations in which you have 1 minute 30 seconds to read a task outside the cubicle and then another 8 minutes for your consultation (it’s important to note that the timer begins when you’re outside the cubicle, so every second really does count).

When preparing for the PLAB 2, I had many questions running through my head, such as “How will I complete a physical examination or a practical procedure in so little time?”. But now that I’ve successfully passed the exam with good marks, I feel able to reassure you that, yes, 8 minutes is enough and yes, you will be able to interact with the simulator as if it is just another patient.

In this blog post, I’m going to share tips that should help you prepare for and pass the PLAB 2. I understand that due to COVID-19, there is a lot of uncertainty. but I am confident that the guidance here will still apply to whatever the future brings for the PLAB 2.

We offer a collection of 1300+ practice OSCE stations to help you prepare for and pass your PLAB 2 exam.

It is not an English test

The PLAB 2 is not an English test. Your English has been tested (either with OET or IELTS), so don’t overcomplicate it by using elaborate vocabulary.


Practice

Although this may sound obvious, regular practice is absolutely essential to passing the PLAB 2.

Practising with a timer allows you to refine your clinical skills to make sure you’re able to carry out all of the necessary steps of a procedure or examination within 8 minutes. So my advice is to find a group of fellow doctors preparing to take the test and practice your consultation skills with each other.


Don’t be afraid of admitting when you don’t know what’s going on

One of my biggest worries about the PLAB 2 exam was not knowing what to do. What if I couldn’t remember the dosage of the medication? What if I couldn’t diagnose the patient?

I had a lot of β€œwhat ifs” running through my mind. However, the reality is that the GMC has assessed your medical knowledge on the PLAB 1Β  exam, so they are not focused on whether you can memorise a specific dosage or medication. Instead, they want to assess how you interact with patients.

In real life, we often encounter medical scenarios we aren’t sure how to deal with, so don’t be afraid to admit when you need help. As long as you have done everything you can, including informing and reassuring the patient, you will be fine.


Two-way conversation

During the exam, we want to show the examiner how much we know; we want them to see that we recognise the disease, possible complications, the treatment and so on, up to a point where it is only us talking. This could be the reason why you fail the station.

Always remember that we are dealing with another human being, who may not want to know what antibiotic you will prescribe for their infected wound, but they will want to know when they can go back to work, so make sure you have a two-way conversation, in which you listen to the patient as much as you talk to the patient.


Know where you are

Adapt your consultation accordingly. Are you in the A&E? Are you in the medical ward? Or in the GP surgery? The pace of your consultation will ultimately depend on the location of the scenario, so keep this in mind.


Make sure that the patient is comfortable

Before performing any clinical examination or procedure, ensure the patient is comfortable and happy for you to proceed.


Don’t rush

It’s easy to rush things under pressure in a timed exam such as the PLAB 2, however, this should be avoided wherever possible. If you rush through an examination or procedure, you’re not going to communicate well with the patient, and you may miss out on key steps.

Try to maintain a steady pace so that you can perform the task within the time limit whilst communicating appropriately with the patient.


Physical examination

As we are already doctors, we often assume that those stations in which we have to perform a physical examination will be the easiest, right? We think we know how to do them because we’ve already done them in real life with real patients.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as the style of clinical examination in the UK can be very different from what we are used to. What did help me enormously was watching the physical examination guides provided by Geeky Medics, as they showed me not only what to do but also how I was expected to communicate with the patient whilst doing so.


Be yourself

When practising, we can often create a fake persona for the assessment that doesn’t reflect who we really are. This can sometimes cause us to be perceived as ingenuine, so try your best to be your authentic self. In addition, avoid memorising long pre-rehearsed phrases as they often end up sounding very unnatural.


It is just another day at work

Finally, my top tip is to try and think of the PLAB 2 as if it is just another day in the clinic. This mindset can help you quickly develop a rapport with patients and communicate more naturally with them.

Try to remind yourself that you are a doctor, you know what you’re doing, and you’re going to be fine!


UKMLA and PLAB 2

The PLAB content blueprint will be replaced with theΒ MLA content mapΒ inΒ 2024. The PLAB exams will comply with UKMLA requirements:

  • ForΒ PLAB 1, all exams on or after 8th August 2024 will be based on the MLA content map.
  • ForΒ PLABΒ 2, all exams on or after 17th May 2024 will be based on the MLA content map.

The PLAB content blueprint will be replaced with the MLA content map. The practical aspects of the PLAB examinations will not change, and there are no plans to change the eligibility criteria.Β 

In other words:

  • PLAB 1Β will meet the requirements of the UKMLA Applied Knowledge Test (AKT)
  • PLAB 2Β will meet the requirements of the UKMLA Clinical and Professional Skills Assessment (CPSA)

You should be familiar with the UKMLA content map and use this to guide your preparations for PLAB.


Resources for PLAB 2


 

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