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What is the PLAB Part 2 Test?

  • PLAB 2 is an objective structured clinical exam (OSCE). It’s made up of 18 scenarios, each lasting eight minutes and aims to reflect real life settings including a mock consultation or an acute ward.

What does the PLAB Part 2 Test cover?

  • The exam covers everything a UK trained doctor might expect to see on the first day of Foundation Year Two (F2).
  • It tests your ability to apply knowledge to the care of patients, not how well you can remember and recite facts.
    • All the questions relate to current best practice. You should answer them in relation to published evidence and not according to your local arrangements.
    • Names of drugs referred to in the exam are those contained in the most recent edition of the British National Formulary (BNF).
  • The PLAB blueprint sets out the scope and content of the test. It includes the topics, skills and procedures that a doctor who passes the test would need to know and be able to do. It also provides details of the professional qualities expected of a doctor working in the UK.

How do you answer the questions in PLAB Part 2?

  • The whole exam will take around three hours and 10 minutes.
  • You’ll have one and a half minutes between scenarios to read the instructions and patient information.
  • There will be at least two rest stations, allowing you to take breaks.

How will you be tested in PLAB Part 2?

  • The domains you will be marked against:
Details of areas covered by the three domains of the PLAB 2 exam
DomainWhat this domain covers
Data gathering, technical and assessment skillsHistory taking, physical examination, practical procedures, investigations leading to a diagnosis
Clinical management skillsFormulating a diagnosis, explaining something to the patient, formulating a management plan
Interpersonal skillsHow you approach the station: whether you establish a rapport with the patient, how you use open and closed questioning, involving the patient and demonstrating your professionalism and understanding of ethical principles
  • When marking against the domains the examiner will assess your competency across a number of skill areas.

Clinical examination:

  • The examiner will assess you on your ability to conduct a physical examination of a simulated patient. This will be an actor who is trained to display signs when required.
  • Where a station includes uncomfortable or intimate examinations, the board will use an anatomical model.
  • The board expects you to be able to carry out any basic physical examinations, such as examination of the abdomen, breast, chest, hand, heart, and joints. You must be able to perform a rectal or bimanual vaginal examination. You must also be able to use the appropriate equipment in carrying out an examination of the ear, eye or nervous system.
  • You may be required to perform an examination or other procedure on a high-fidelity simulator which can be programmed to show normal and abnormal clinical signs. A role player may speak from outside the room using a microphone connected to the simulator. You can find more information and a video on the manufacturer’s website.
  • Examination of someone’s mental state is a form of clinical examination for the purpose of the PLAB 2 exam.

Practical skills:

  • The examiner will assess you on your ability to perform common practical procedures. Again, the board may ask you to deal with a simulated patient or an anatomical model.
  • The practical skills may include:
    1. checking blood pressure
    2. performing venepuncture
    3. inserting a cannula into a peripheral vein
    4. calculating drug dosage
    5. giving intravenous injections
    6. mixing and injecting drugs into an intravenous bag
    7. giving intramuscular and subcutaneous injections
    8. basic cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (adult and child)
    9. suturing
    10. interpreting an electrocardiogram (ECG), X-rays or results of other investigations
    11. interpreting basic respiratory function tests
    12. performing urinary catheterisation
    13. taking a cervical smear
    14. Safe disposal of sharps.

Interpersonal skills:

  • The board tests these skills by observing the interaction between you and another person, usually a simulated patient or occasionally the examiner. The examiner will assess your approach to the patient all through the examination.
  • This may include:
    1. explaining diagnosis, investigation and treatment
    2. involving the patient in the decision-making
    3. Communicating with relatives
    4. communicating with health care professionals
    5. breaking bad news
    6. seeking informed consent/clarification for an invasive procedure or obtaining consent for a post-mortem
    7. dealing with anxious patients or relatives
    8. giving instructions on discharge from hospital
    9. giving advice on lifestyle, health promotion or risk factors.
  • As the board may use an anatomical model in some stations it’s important to remember the following.
    • Don’t speak to the model as you won’t gain any marks for doing so.
    • Tell the examiner what you are doing and why only if the instructions tell you to.
    • Don’t perform any actions on an anatomical model that would be unsafe or painful to a real person.

Where can you take PLAB Part 2?

  • You can take part 2 at the clinical assessment centre in Manchester, UK.

How do you book or cancel a place in PLAB Part 2?

If you haven’t graduated yet, the board will need confirmation you have passed your final examinations and are eligible for the qualification.

  • Book using your GMC Online account :
    • Go to GMC Online. You can view available dates and book under the ‘My Tests’ section.

How much does it cost?

  • The current fee for the PLAB Part2 Test:  £860 until 31 March 2020, £875 from 1 April 2020.

Cancellation fees:

Cancellation fees and notice periods for PLAB 2 cancellations
Period of noticeCancellation fee
Over 83 days before the examNo cancellation fee
Between 83 and 43 days before the exam50% of the fee paid
Less than 43 days before the exam100% of the fee paid

Are there any concessions for refugees?

PLAB Part 2 test dates:

  • The board is runs PLAB 2 test dates throughout the year. You can view available dates and book under the ‘My Tests’ section of GMC Online. You can only do this once you have your PLAB Part 1 results.
  • The number of places in our part 2 exam is not linked to the number of jobs available.

What reasonable adjustments can the board make?

  • If you have a disability, such as a visual impairment or dyslexia (see Equality Act 2010), the board may be able to make adjustments to the exam arrangements, such as producing information in large print. The board won’t be able to change the standard of the exam.
  • The board will also consider making adjustments to make sure the exam is fair for other groups of people. For example, if you’re pregnant.
  • To make a decision on any adjustments you must send us the following information:
    • Details of why you require a reasonable adjustment, such as the nature of your disability
    • What adjustments you require or the barriers you need the adjustments to address
    • An original letter, certificate or medical report, from your consultant or specialist confirming the nature of your disability and the functional impact of the disability in an exam environment
    • The letter, certificate or medical report must be addressed to the GMC and highlight which assessment the report is taking into consideration – i.e. part 1 (a multiple choice written exam) or part 2 (an OSCE examination)
    • The letter, certificate or medical report must also include recommendations for adjustments the board could make.
  • If the board receives a request without this information it will delay a decision being made. This may mean the required adjustments are not made in time for the assessment you have booked on to.
  • Please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your requirements.

Examples of adjustments the board has made:

  • These are examples of reasonable adjustments the board has made to the practical arrangements at the request of candidates. The board makes these on a case-by-case basis.
Candidate requirement Reasonable adjustment made
Wheelchair user and impaired visionCandidate visited the Clinical Assessment Centre before the test so they could see what adjustments were necessary.

All written material was placed at appropriate heights and in large font size.

The examination time began when the candidate’s wheelchair was in position.

The board provided an assistant to help move the candidate between stations.

Manual dexterity difficultiesThe examiners opened packages if requested.

If the station required gloves, we did not require the candidate to put them on.

Pregnant or those with mobility difficultiesThe board placed the resuscitation manikin on a couch rather than on the floor.
DyslexiaThe board arranged for the station instructions to be printed on a colour of paper and in a font size of their choosing.

What can you expect on the day?

  • You should allow plenty of time to travel to the assessment centre. If you’re late you won’t be able to take the exam.
  • If you have to cancel a place you have already booked, you’ll have to pay a cancellation fee.

When you arrive?

  • Your documents will be checked and your photograph taken. You’ll be given an ID badge which you’ll need to wear throughout the exam.
  • You won’t need to take anything with you into the exam circuit, not even your own medical equipment. Everything you need will be provided.

During the exam:

  • You’ll find some scenarios will have manikins or other equipment. Others will use an actor to play the part of a patient. During each of the exam stations you will be observed by an examiner, either in person or via a remote camera. Your exam won’t be recorded and examiners will not intervene, except in very limited circumstances.
  • You can’t talk to other candidates or write down or copy any details about the exam while you’re taking it. You can’t bring books, a mobile phone or smartwatch into the exam.

What should you bring with you?

  • Identification: Bring proof of identification with you. The board accept any one of the following
    • Passport
    • UK driving licence
    • EU identity card
  • *Those with refugee status may also provide a biometric residence permit
  • If you don’t have one of the above you can take the exam but you’ll need to provide your identification document or evidence of change of name later in the process.

Booking confirmation:

  • Bring the booking confirmation that includes your GMC reference number.
  • If the name on your identification document is different from that on the booking confirmation from the GMC or British Council, you must bring with you original evidence that you are the person named in that letter. The board will accept:
    • marriage certificate
    • a declaration from the awarding body which granted your primary medical qualification, stating that both names relate to you.

What is the dress code?

  • Dress as you would to work in a UK hospital ward or other clinical setting. This would normally mean bare to 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. You must be prepared to respond to a patient’s individual needs.
  • Role players are told that they must make it clear if a candidate wearing a veil is unable to communicate effectively and examiners are told that they should mark the candidate accordingly.

What conduct is expected during the exam?

What do you do if you are absent or sick on the exam day?

  • If you cannot attend the examination because of serious illness or another overwhelming problem, the board will make a full refund of your fee. You must provide the following evidence:
PLAB 2 examples of evidence to provide before the board will issue a refund if you cannot attend your examination
CircumstancesEvidence  
IllnessMedical certificate or letter on appropriate headed paper covering the day of the examination
Death or serious injury of family memberDeath/medical certificate
Immigration difficulties, such as refusal of visaA document from UK Visas and Immigration
Any other difficulty you could not have foreseenA letter of explanation (for example, from an employer)
  • Please send copies, not original documents.
  • By presenting yourself for the exam, you deem yourself fit to be assessed. Should this change at any point you must tell an invigilator immediately. Please remember that if you do not declare any illness or issues, this cannot be taken into account once the exam has finished.
  • If you are taken ill at an exam, it will not count as an attempt. The board will book you a place in the next available exam if you wish the board to do so.

Misconduct procedures:

  • These procedures apply to all candidates for PLAB 1 and PLAB 2 whose conduct is under consideration for incidents on or after 1 February 2014.

What is misconduct?

  • Misconduct includes, but is not limited to:
    • sharing exam content in any way, including on social media and other online forums
    • not complying with the reasonable instructions of an invigilator or other examination official
    • viewing the work of another candidate, or attempting to do so
    • removing materials or content (including the use of recording devices) from an examination other than those specifically permitted
    • bringing materials other than those specifically permitted into the exam
    • releasing content from any exam to a third party/commercial organisation
    • communicating with another candidate whilst under exam conditions
    • gaining information about the exam questions in advance of your exam date
    • impersonation of a candidate
    • bribery, or attempted bribery, (of another candidate, exam official, simulated patient or other relevant person)
    • disruptive behaviour during an exam
    • aiding or abetting any of the above.

Who reports suspected misconduct?

  • Suspected misconduct may be reported by invigilators, examiners, candidates, simulated patients, our staff or any other person who becomes aware of suspected misconduct.
  • The board also use Anomaly Monitoring System (AMS) computer software to detect cheating, by automatically reviewing all candidates’ answers after every examination to identify correlations in response patterns between pairs of candidates beyond what could be expected to occur by chance.
  • The board will only act on anonymous reports of misconduct if there is supporting evidence.

What happens if you are suspected of breaching exam rules?

  • The invigilator or duty manager will:
    • confiscate any unauthorised material in the possession of the candidate for the duration of the exam
    • document clearly the time when the alleged breach was discovered
    • allow the candidate to continue the exam and inform the candidate at the end of the exam
    • allow the candidate the opportunity to respond either in writing, or by recording verbal statements
    • prepare, within three working days of the exam, a written report on the alleged incident and send it to the board.

What is the misconduct investigation process?

  • The investigating officer will review all reports of the alleged misconduct and, after consulting where necessary with other members of staff, shall determine whether there is sufficient evidence for the allegation to be pursued.
  • If the case is not pursued The board will inform the candidate accordingly, where applicable. In all other cases, the board will inform the candidate in writing, of the allegations that have been made against them.
  • The candidate then has the opportunity to provide a response to the allegations. During this time the results will remain unconfirmed until the board has considered the allegation.
  • If the investigating officer decides to refer the case forward, they will submit to the assistant director witness statements, the responses of candidate and any other relevant information. The assistant director will consider whether the disputed facts are proved.
  • The board will inform the candidate by email of the decision and any penalty that has been applied.

What are the penalties for misconduct?

  • Standard penalties can include:
    • written advice
    • results of an examination to be annulled
    • candidate barred from entry to future examinations for a specified period
    • reporting the matter to our registrar so he can take it into account as a matter of good character when considering a future application for registration with a licence to practice
    • any combination of any of the above
    • no further action.
  • No candidate whose misconduct has been proved shall be permanently barred from entry to any future examinations.

Will you be able to appeal the outcome?

  • Where the board considers the candidate’s appeal fulfils the requirements, the material considered by the assistant director will be passed to the relevant director who will consider whether the disputed facts are proved and whether the penalty applied is proportionate to the misconduct.
  • The director’s decision will be final.

Also Read:

  1. An overview of PLAB Test
  2. PLAB Part 1 application & Test day
  3. PLAB Part 1 results & related
  4. Eligibility for PLAB Part 1
  5. English requirement for PLAB Part 1
  6. Guidelines to prepare for PLAB Part 1
  7. PLAB Part 2 Results & Related
  8. Guidelines to prepare for PLAB Part 2

Also Watch:

  1. PLAB 2 EXAM – All you need to know! from youtube channel “Mr health Paradox”

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