PLAB: Top 4 Tips From a Survivor

Hello PLAB candidates!

Today we are joined by Taimur, who we met on our PLAB 1 and PLAB 2 online courses last year. Taimur made it through his PLAB examinations and is getting ready to start his post at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. We caught up with him earlier this week and asked him to give us his top 4 tips based on his experience.

Tip 1: Answer in accordance with the guidelines

The NICE Guidelines are a very important foundation of knowledge for any potential PLAB aspirant to know about. They contain the protocols that one would be following when making management decisions. Make yourself familiar with these guidelines and their protocols. Whenever you answer a question in PLAB 1, especially one asking you what the next step would be, you will be able to select the most appropriate answer if you know what the guidelines recommend.

The problem is that they are very long and it is simply not possible to study all of them in detail in time for your PLAB. The solution is to find a resource that summarises the guidelines and is constantly updated, as the guidelines change very regularly as new scientific evidence comes to light.

Tip 2: Be careful about listening to those who say ‘it’s easy, I hardly prepared’

Okay, let’s get this one off the bat right now. It is definitely not easy. When I was preparing the first time around, there was so much chatter about ‘don’t worry’, ‘I hardly prepared’ and ‘I did not consult anyone’. Please do not pay attention to these self-proclaimed ‘PLAB gurus’.

The PLAB is not a walk in the park. The medical school I went to did not have a strong focus on some of the topics. The extra expert guidance and teaching I received during preparation really helped refine my approach.

Prepare! Make sure you have a solid study timetable, consult a wide range of resources, and consider attending a course. Make sure you give the exam your best shot and not a half-hearted attempt.

At the same time, beware of fear mongers lurking in PLAB Facebook groups. They will spread rumours about the PLAB, scare you and make you nervous about the exam. The PLAB is an examination that you can totally pass with the right approach and preparation; be confident!

Tip 3: Be aware of the GMC’s ethics and law rules

I come from a country where cultural attitudes are very different from the UK. You may also be in a similar position. You should take some time to read the GMC’s Good Medical Practice; a vital document explaining how a doctor should approach their patients while practicing in the UK. These aspects are tested in the PLAB 1 and PLAB 2; you will definitely get a challenging scenario such as an underage patient becoming pregnant or working with people with different sexual orientations. You must be aware of what is expected of you in order to ace these parts.

Tip 4: Clinical Communication is so important

I had a very weak clinical communication base. If English is not your first language and you do not speak it on a regular basis, this area is harder than you think. The best thing I can recommend to you is to try and practice difficult scenarios with a native English speaker. One of the areas that would catch me out would be scenarios related to counseling, which require a lengthy conversation. Here, my lack of practice and experience really showed and it was an area I had to work hard on during my PLAB 2 online course. Again, you must practice and make an effort to perfect your approach.

Thank you all for reading my post and thanks to the Docty team for giving me this opportunity to write this article. I am very excited to be starting my new job and life.

I wish each and every one of you the best of luck. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below!