Booking PLAB 2
My Plab 1 result came out in mid April. I immediately looked at dates that were available for Plab 2, I saw a few dates in July & August, which were the months I was initially looking at.
I made the mistake of not booking the test on that day. I went to sleep and when I woke up, all dates until September 13th was taken. So I booked that day for my Plab 2.
My advice would be to book your date as soon as possible or you will have to wait a few additional months.
Everyone receives their plab 1 result at the same time, which is why dates go by quickly.
Visa for Plab 2
One thing I think people can consider is doing their Plab 1 and Plab 2 on the same visit visa. I went to the UK to do my plab 1 as I was in the US and the closest place to do the Plab was either UK or Canada. Since I was going to have to go to the UK for Plab 2 anyway, I decided I will do plab 1 in the UK as well.
The advantage of this was that you can do both plab 1 & plab 2 on the same visa and you don’t have to worry about getting your plab 2 visa after your plab 1 result comes out. You can also then go to the UK as early as you want before your course before plab 2.
I had a 6 month visitor visa which was multiple entry. I did my plab 1 in March and then did plab 2 in September. If you get a visa that is 3 months, then obviously that will probably not be enough time to do the plab 2 exam.
PLAB 2 Preparation
Format of Plab 2 Exam
- 18 clinical stations in the OSCE style
- 2 rest stations
- Total stations – 20
- Each station is 8 minutes
- Duration – 3 hours and 10 minutes
- Samson Course – 20th August to 3rd September
- PLAB 2 exam – 12th September
Background & Finding a place to stay
PLAB 2 is a practical exam. It is entirely different to the Plab 1 exam. The biggest advantage I had for Plab 2 was that my medical school’s exams were exactly like the Plab 2 OSCE format, we did not have 18 stations but we had 12 stations.
My biggest disadvantage was that I was out of clinical practice for 2 years whilst I was getting my Masters degree.
Place to stay
I found a place very close to the academy, around a 5 minute walk by using the spareroom.co.uk website. The rent was 600 pounds with everything included for 2 months. I shared the house with 3 other people who were all working in the UK. I think having a place so close to the Academy was really beneficial, I could wake up at 9 and then be at the academy in time as I only lived 5 minutes away.
- Samson Clinical Academy in London
I enrolled in the Samson Plab academy in London before my Plab 2 exam. I chose this course because of two reasons. Firstly, I had a 2 year gap so I was not as good with my examinations and histories as I was during medical school and secondly one of my friends went through the academy and passed the exam.
This is a 14 day course with no breaks where you go through all the likely stations that might come up in the exam. The days are very long, from 10am to 6pm, and sometimes to 8pm. You will feel like the days do not end, but in my opinion, it is worth it for the following reasons:
- The Academy has 4 mock exams for you before your PLAB 2 exam, these 4 mocks are as close to the real exam as possible. For example, my first case in my mock was TIA and I got a very similar case in my actual Plab 2 exam.
- The mock exam will also make you used to 18 stations, if you are not used to it you will start getting tired on the day of the exam as it is 3 hours long.
- You get to practice with the mannequins and the equipment that they have at the academy, this is hard to find outside the academy.
- You will meet people that you can practice with after your course gets over. During the course, you should try and meet people who have the exam at the same time as you do, that way you can practice after the course is over.
Some people don’t do the course and still pass, I know at least one person who did that but I knew I couldn’t, which is why I opted to take the course.
After the course
It is usually recommended that you have at least 2 weeks after the course is over before your plab 2 exam. In these two weeks, you can practice all the material you have covered during the course.
Also, if you choose Samson academy, you will have a mock 2-3 days before your actual exam, I found that this was really helpful for my exam.
In my case, I only had 8 days from the end of my course to my exam. I did not practice with anyone during these 8 days, I just studied up all the material we had covered. Even though I passed, I would not recommend this.
I would recommend finding a few people to practice with, especially if you feel like your communication skills & clinical examinations are lacking.
I had an advantage in that my medical school exams were very similar, if not the same as these OSCE stations so I was used to the format, but if you are not used to it and you are not used to communicating solely in English with your patients, I would recommend finding partners to practice with after your course.
I took the train to Manchester from London 2 days before the exam ( you can book tickets here) There is a free bus from Manchester train station that you can take, it took me right to my hotel. I stayed at the Jury’s inn, Manchester.
I would recommend having a decent breakfast before the exam, it is quite long and it will tire you out.
On the morning of the exam, I took an uber over to the exam center. It took only 5 minutes. The exam was quite long and I certainly failed a few stations.
I think what had hurt me was not practicing with other people & not having enough of a gap after my course ended. I still managed to pass.
- If you do the course, pay attention during the days as much as you can and volunteer to go up and do the histories/ exams during the course. This will help your preparation. Do not feel bad if you cannot revise the day’s teaching after the day ends. The days are very long so it is hard to do this. Instead, pay as much attention as you can *during* the course.
- Ensure that you have at least a 2 week gap after your course before the plab 2 exam, lots of people have lesser than 2 weeks ( I only had 8 days), but if I were to do it again, I would have liked 2 weeks.
- Make friends during the course & practice with them after your course is done.
- Try and practice all the mannequins at the academy a few days before your exam so you are familiar with all the equipment ( I had trouble with the plastic speculum during my plab 2 exam)
- Try and be confident & clear – this is hard as we are all nervous, but you have done all of these things before and if you have used the academy, you have at least practiced most of the stations. The Plab 2 exam is certainly about medical knowledge, but it is also about conducting yourself as a doctor should. This includes communicating properly with the patient or their family members.
- You will likely get 1-2 stations you have not encountered before, do not panic! Try and remember your approach to all stations and go with that. One of the new stations in my exam didn’t even have a patient.
- Read through these posts, by Naseer Khan and Omar