At the PLAB Part 2 examination
Part 2 is an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). It takes the form of 14 clinical scenarios or 'stations' as well as a rest station and one or two pilot stations.
A pilot station is one where we are checking whether the station can be used in future examinations. We will not count the mark for this station towards your result. It is important, however, that all candidates complete the station because without the information gained from this we cannot evaluate the station properly. For this reason we do not reveal which are the pilot stations.
Each station lasts five minutes. Three sets of candidates take the examination in a day. The stations do not change so it is important that we keep candidates who have just taken the exam away from those yet to do so.
The examination is held only at our purpose-built Clinical Assessment Centre in Manchester.
1. What should I expect on the exam day?
2. What should I bring with me?
3. In the exam
4. What subjects will I be asked about?
5. What if I have a disability?
6. Is there a dress code?
7. What conduct is expected during the examination?
8. How is the exam marked?
What should I expect on the exam day?
We have made a short briefing video that shows you what you can expect on the day. View the candidate briefing video.
You must be sure you are not prevented from attending the examination by events you could have foreseen, such as transport problems. If you have to cancel a place you have already booked, you will have to pay a cancellation fee.
If you need accommodation, one source of information is the British Tourist Authority website.
The examination will last about one hour and 40 minutes, although you will be in the Clinical Assessment Centre for considerably longer than this. If you are taking the examination in the afternoon, it will not finish before 15.45.
When we have confirmed your place, we will tell you what time to arrive at the Assessment Centre. This will normally be at 08:00, 09:00 or 10:00, depending on which circuit you are placed. If your examination is in the afternoon, we will provide a sandwich lunch for you, including vegetarian options.
Please allow plenty of time to travel to the Assessment Centre, bearing in mind that rush hour traffic is likely to be heavy. If you are late you might not be able to take the examination.
Smoking is illegal in enclosed public spaces and workplaces in the UK. There is no opportunity for you to do so once you are in the Assessment Centre.
When you arrive, we will check the documents we have asked you to bring. Once all your documents have been checked, your photograph will be taken and stored on our database. We store your photograph so we can prove that you are the person we saw in case of identity theft. A photocard will be produced which shows the number of the station at which you will begin the examination. You must wear the photocard at all times.
When you enter the assessment centre, you will be asked to store all your belongings in a locker before moving to the candidate rooms. Once you have entered the Assessment Centre, you will not be allowed to leave until your examination has finished.
Before the examination you will be briefed on its format and will be shown the candidate briefing video.
If there is a fire alarm, follow the directions of GMC staff to the nearest fire exit. If you are in the exam, you should remain with your examiner at all times.
Staff will direct you to an assembly point and will conduct a roll call to make sure that all examiners, role players and candidates are gathered together.
You must not speak to other candidates during an emergency evacuation. We will direct you back to the Assessment Centre once the all-clear is given and will give instructions about the resumption of the exam.
You can bring books to the Assessment Centre if you have a place in the second or third circuits, but you must put them in your locker when we tell you to do so shortly before the examination starts.
What should I bring with me?
We will check your identity at the examination. The following are the only forms of identification we will accept. Whichever you choose, it must be original, current and bear your photograph.
Your UK Immigration and Nationality Department identification document
Your Home Office travel document
Your UK driving licence
Your EU identity card
If the name on your identification document is different from that on the confirmation from the GMC offering you a place in the examination, you must provide original evidence that you are the person named in that letter. We will accept:
Your marriage certificate
A declaration from the awarding body which granted your primary medical qualification, stating that both names relate to you
If you do not bring one of the documents listed above, or if the document does not bear your photograph, you will be allowed to take the exam.
You must bring the correct form of identification document or evidence of change of name to our London office or Manchester office as soon as possible, but at the latest when you apply for registration with a licence to practise.
You should also bring:
Your primary medical qualification certificate - If, when booking the PLAB test, you entered details of a primary medical qualification that we accept but you do not hold, you will not be allowed to take this exam
Your IELTS test report form
Your certificate of good standing
Evidence of your internship
Your booking confirmation (which includes your GMC reference number)
You do not need to bring any other equipment.
In the exam
In stations which involve demonstrating a practical skill, or in which you are required to carry out a painful or invasive practical procedure, you will find a manikin or other piece of equipment.
In stations that require you to take a history or talk to a patient, and in some stations requiring you to perform an examination, an actor, who has been provided with a detailed script beforehand, plays the patient. You should treat the simulated patient as you would a real patient in the real world. The examiner will observe you and will not intervene, except in very limited circumstances.
You have one minute before entering the station to read the instructions. You must clean your hands thoroughly using the alcohol gel outside the station at this point. Hygiene is an extremely important issue in NHS hospitals.
You may be asked to examine a patient, take a history and give a diagnosis, or to carry out a practical procedure. The instructions also give basic information about the patient, such as name, age and major symptoms.
Each station lasts five minutes, and there will be one minute for you to get to your next stations and read the instructions posted on the wall outside. The stations will be numbered clearly and staff will be there to help you move from station to station.
There are 16 stations in which you must perform a task and one rest station. Only 14 of the stations will count towards your final mark. Two are pilot stations where we are ensuring that the stations are fit for use in future examinations. We will not tell you which are the pilot stations.
The Chief Invigilator (the senior examiner on the day) will observe the exam remotely through a camera system. Each station has two cameras installed to allow observation, reducing the need for observers to enter and sit in stations. The cameras do not record the exam and therefore cannot be used to review the exam afterwards.
If you see examiners or role players after the examination, please do not ask them about your performance.
What subjects will I be asked about?
See our section on how to prepare for the PLAB 2 test.
What if I have a disability?
See the reasonable adjustments we may be able to make for you.
Is there a dress code?
We advise that you dress for the examination as you would to work in a UK hospital ward. This would normally mean bare below the elbow with no watches, bracelets or rings. Male candidates would be expected to wear a collared shirt with short or rolled sleeves and no tie. Candidates should not wear jeans, shorts or sandals.
It is important that patients feel able to build relationships of trust and communicate freely with their doctors.
Some patients, for example, may find that a face veil worn by their doctor presents an obstacle to effective communication and the development of trust.
You must be prepared to respond to a patient's individual needs and take steps to anticipate and overcome any perceived barrier to communication.
What conduct is expected during the examination?
You will be provided with all the materials you need during the examination. You must not:
use or refer to any other materials or try to communicate with other candidates during the examination
take any books, pens, papers, mobile phones and other electronic equipment on your person on to the exam circuit
take any examination materials out of the Assessment Centre
write down or copy by any means the details of stations to take out and
obtain information about stations from any source including other candidates.
If you do any of these things we will report your conduct to the Professional and Linguistic Assessments (PLA) Board.
If the Board determines that you have given or received help your examination attempt may be declared invalid and your actions considered as a question of good character when you apply to us for registration with a licence to practise.
Please see the examination regulations for further information.
How is the exam marked?
Each station has a number of objectives, such as past history, technique, and diagnosis. You will not see what the objectives are, but they will be on the examiner's marksheet.
The examiner awards a grade between A and E for each objective. The examiner also gives a judgement of each candidate's overall performance as Pass, Borderline or Fail.
Each objective is weighted, with the total weightings for each station adding up to 100%. The examiner is not aware of the weightings for the station. An overall score is calculated for each station.
The examiner enters your scores on a sheet that is read by an optical mark reader.http://www.gmc-uk.org/doctors/plab/23453.asp