UKMLA

UKMLA: United Kingdom Medical Licensing Assessment – What is it?

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Are you a medical student looking to sit the UK Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA)? If so, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about the UKMLA exam, including the format of the test, what topics it covers and how to revise for it

The UK Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA) is a new examination that will be available in the near future. It will assess the fundamental knowledge, abilities, and behaviours required to practise safely as a doctor in the United Kingdom. The UKMLA will take the place of the present Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) exam, and all UK medical students will be required to sit the exam in order to graduate. If you intend to practise medicine in the United Kingdom, it is critical to understand the UKMLA and how to prepare for it.

The implementation of the UKMLA exam will enable the GMC to maintain high standards for UK medical students and guarantee that they are adequately equipped to practise medicine. Additionally, the UKMLA will contribute to patient safety by ensuring that doctors have the information and skills necessary to practise safely.


What is the UKMLA, and how will it function?

The UK Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA) is a new, two-part assessment: the AKT (Applied Knowledge Test) and the CPSA (Clinical and Professional Skills Assessment). Both components will assess a range of knowledge and competencies, outlined in the MLA learning outcomes.

It is planned that the UKMLA AKT will be composed of 150 to 200 single-best-answer (SBA) questions chosen from a question bank prepared by the medical school. This exam will be used as part of the medical finals assessment for students in the United Kingdom.

The CPSA will also feature as part of UK medical schools’ final exams. It is proposed that the CPSA should be run alongside existing practical examinations (e.g. OSCEs or OSLERs) during a quality assurance period in order to determine whether it complies with GMC requirements, thus enabling it to be fully integrated into the existing exam system.


United Kingdom Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA) for International Medical Graduates (IMGs)

The UK Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA) is a new exam that international medical graduate medical students (IMGs) must take in order to be licensed to practice medicine in the UK. The GMC, which is responsible for licensing doctors in the UK, created this exam with the goal of maintaining a high standard of medical education in the UK.

International Medical Graduates who previously completed the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB test) will begin taking the UKMLA in early 2024 if they are applying for registration with a licence to practise in the United Kingdom. Additionally, UK medical students graduating in the academic year 2024-25 in the United Kingdom will be expected to pass the MLA as part of their medical school degree in order to be eligible to register as doctors.

The GMC strives to treat all candidates fairly, regardless of which medical schools they attended. As a result of the MLA, patients and employers will have greater confidence in doctors new to the UK, regardless of where they were trained or educated.


When will the UKMLA exams start?

Officially, the assessment will roll out in early 2024 (for students graduating in 2025), but the GMC will be pilot testing the exam in the meantime. PLAB will be replaced by UKMLA in 2024.

The MLA was planned to be rolled out earlier, but this has been delayed secondary to the COVID-19 pandemic’s interruption. As a result, students graduating in 2025, rather than 2024, will be the first to sit the UKMLA exams, with UK medical schools eligible for national pilots in the meantime.


Do I need to sit the UKMLA exam?

The UKMLA will provide a uniform standard for safe medical practise in the United Kingdom. If you graduate from a medical school in the United Kingdom in the academic year 2024-25 or later, you will take the MLA as part of your degree.

Students will take and hopefully pass the MLA as part of their medical finals, after which they will be able to apply to join the GMC’s medical register. From 2024, before applying for registration with a licence to practise, IMGs who need to take the MLA will be required to pass both parts of the MLA and meet the GMC’s other conditions, including providing evidence demonstrating that they have an acceptable primary medical qualification, clinical experience and the necessary knowledge of English.


What is the format of the UKMLA?

The applied knowledge test (AKT) 

Both UK and IMG candidates will take this test. Exams will be held four times a year, and the GMC will determine the pass standard. IMGs can take the exam in selected locations around the world, while UK medical students will take it at their university. All candidates will take a computer-based test. 

The AKT will be a multiple-choice question format based on single best answer (SBA) questions. Questions will be similar to those on the current Section 1 of the PLAB exam. The total number of questions will range from 150 to 200

The clinical and professional skills assessment (CPSA)

The CPSA will be similar to the PLAB 2 exam and will be administered at the GMC’s Clinical Assessment Centre in Manchester (if you are an international medical graduate). This is a practical exam that assesses clinical skills and professionalism. The CPSA-type exams may be referred to via a variety of different terms such as an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) or an Objective Structured Long Examination Record (OSLER).


How is the UKMLA different to MSCAA exam questions?

The MSC Assessment Alliance (MSCAA) examination is a shared bank of medical finals examination questions available to all partner medical schools. These questions are developed collaboratively by assessment experts from medical schools, and then rigorous quality-assurance procedures are implemented. Medical schools can use the question bank to plan their formative and summative assessments. In the future, the UKMLA exam will replace the MSCAA questions.

The current MSC Assessment Alliance has been recruited by the GMC to oversee the new UKMLA question bank curation and creation. This means that the future UKMLA exam questions are likely to be a modified and curated hybrid of the existing PLAB and MSCAA examination question banks in terms of content and depth. 


How much will the UKMLA cost?

The GMC has not officially stated the fees for the MLA yet. Prices depend on the type of registration you are applying for.

In the United Kingdom, the medical school should bear the costs (but not necessarily the cost of a resit). International graduates will be required to pay an additional charge. If we look at the fees for PLAB parts 1 and 2, an estimate of roughly £1,000 seems likely.


What will happen with my results?

The General Medical Council has stated that it will share information in order to better medical education and training. Whilst the GMC has stated that individual student scores would not be released, it appears to imply that certain data will be made public. According to the current phrasing on the GMC website, it appears that medical schools will be able to rank themselves and construct league tables based on student performance.

Although it has not been confirmed, the UKMLA is widely believed to be a pass/fail exam. Similarly to the recent planned revisions to the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) – which previously ranked students based on their score. This is because the exam it is intended to replace, the PLAB, operates similarly.


References

  1. GMC. Medical Licensing Assessment. Available from: [LINK

 

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