What You Need to Know About PLAB and MRCP Exams
International medical graduates
often ask about the entry pathways to the UK. To practice in the UK, doctors
need to have medical license from General Medical Council UK. There are three
main pathways by which doctors can secure a GMC license; here we will discuss in detail about PLAB VS MRCP
PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board) Exam
MRCP / MRCS
(Membership of Royal College of Physicians/Surgeons
basis (based on your qualifications e.g. USMLE, recognized post-graduation qualifications etc) (Read about MTI program here)
The exemption basis license
sounds tempting, but you need to have recognized qualifications or land a position
in a designated institute alongwith an assessment process that also comes with
its own assessment fee. Henceforth, we will discuss the common two pathways i.e.
PLAB and MRCP and will cover the license on exemption basis in a future
Is PLAB a Pathway to MRCP?
Which is better, PLAB VS MRCP?
The most frequent question, plab vs mrcp, that
comes to the mind is which one to choose, well the answer is it varies, several
variables can go in favour of one or the other.
If we talk about the PLAB exam it
is an entry level exam based on the medical school knowledge, hence comparatively
easier to pass vs the MRCP which is a post-graduate diploma that requires
in-depth knowledge and specialist level approach as well as hospital based
PLAB is the easier and faster
route to take for fresh graduates, the exam consists of two parts,
The written Exam, part 1, which
the GMC states “tests Your capacity to use your knowledge to provide patient
care, will be evaluated in the exam. It doesn’t assess your capacity to recall
and repeat information. Questions concern current UK best practises and
equipment that is frequently readily hand in UK hospitals. You must respond to
the questions based on published facts, not on the customs in your area.”
The PLAB 1 is a best of five MCQS
based exam, consisting of 180 questions to be done in 3 hours.
The current fee of PLAB PART 1 is
The Part 2, is an OSCE based practical
exam that consists of 16 scenarios based on common ward and patient encounters,
each of 8 minutes.
The current fee for the PLAB part
2 exam is £879.
So to talk about the venues, the
part 1 exam is conducted worldwide by the British council, hence can be given
in the home country while the PLAB part 2 exam occurs only in the UK. This
means additional visa/travelling/accommodation costs for the candidates, even
after passing the exam, candidates have to return to their respective country and
apply for visa again for job purpose.
Other requirements for PLAB, the
other most significant requirement for appearing in the PLAB is the English
language competency assessed via OET or ILETS with the required grade/band
before proceeding with the plab 1 exam. This step was a hurdle for IMGS from non-english
speaking countries but after the introduction of OET, which is based around
medicine and hospital related language, this is now less challenging, though
with a validity of two years only, the timing of the test has to be planned
For the MRCP there is no requirement
for English language testing itself, but for registering with the GMC, the test
Now coming over the MRCP/MRCS,
these are postgraduate diplomas, this can add up to your professional competency
and is a pathway for specialization and is well recognized in several countries
around the world, compared to the PLAB exam which is just a licensing exam,
henceforth has no weightage in career progression or recognition outside the
The MRCP/MRCS consists of three
Part 1, mcqs based exam, that can
be appeared after 12 months after graduation, the part 1exam tests the basic
concepts and application of knowledge related to medicine/surgery respectively.
The exam consists of two parts containing 100 mcqs each, 3 hours for each
Part 2 written, is similar to the
format of part 1 i.e. 100 mcqs based two parts with 3 hours duration for each,
but the part 2 is an advanced level exam, expecting appropriate diagnosis and management
plans expected of a specialist, this exam also contains images, c.t scan, mri
and ecgs in it questions.
Part 2 PACES, part two paces is the
practical component of the MRCP/MRCS exam, consisting of stations with clinical
encounters, PACES is recommended to be given with recommendation of an educational
supervisor and after completing atleast 2 years hospital based work.
The fee for MRCP UK is as follows:
MRCP part 1: £608
MRCP part 2 written £608
MRCP part 2 PACES £1202
The MRCP written
exam is also conducted by the british council in several countries worldwide,
also several international centers for the MRCP paces exam have also been
established hence candidates can complete the whole diploma in their respective
countries without coming to the UK, but it is important to mention here that
there is a huge backlog of candidates for the MRCP Paces exam, hence getting a
seat for the exam can be a challenge.
What are the job opportunities after PLAB/MRCP?
getting registration after PLAB apply for Junior House Officer SHO 1 & Senior House Officer SHO 2 (incase they have done their housejob in their own country, s. PAY is around £37,724/year
Those with MRCP
diploma land on registrar level jobs, henceforth have higher pays and easier
chance of getting a job due to previous work experience. Registrar pay is
PLAB VS MRCP
based on career level?
of passing the exam, easier to get exam slots and lower fee, IMGS at the start
of their career are best to proceed with the plab route, as they will enter the
system earlier and be accustomed to the system.
IMGS already in training
pathways or having completed their specialist training can proceed with the
MRCP pathway, as they have already prepared for their respective post-graduate
exams and have clinical experience hence better suited to pass the MRCP/MRCS
exam, going back and preparing for plab exam can be counter-productive since
their basic medical school knowledge is not that fresh. Doing MRCP and gaining
GMC registration opens up a path for locum jobs as well as further specialization
in the UK.