Working with doctors Working for patients

How do I prepare for Part 1?

Find out how to prepare for the Part 1 of the PLAB test including what the exam covers, the resources available for candidates, the format of the test, examples of a test question and what to do if you have a disability of particular requirements.

What the PLAB Part 1 exam covers

The exam tests your ability to apply knowledge to the care of patients rather than how well you can remember and recite facts. Questions relate to current best practice in the UK (and equipment routinely available in UK hospitals). You’ll need to answer them in relation to published evidence and not according to your local arrangements. The exam covers the common, important or acute conditions (common in emergency departments) seen by trainees entering the second year of the Foundation Programme (F2), and the management of long term conditions seen in primary care. It excludes the advanced duties of a general practitioner (GP).

The PLAB blueprint sets out the scope and content of the test in terms of the topics, skills and procedures that a doctor who passes the test would need to know and be able to do, and the professional qualities expected of a doctor working in the UK.

The format of the test

It’s made up of 200 single best answer questions (SBAs). It’s a multiple choice type exam question also known as best of five or one from five. Each starts with a short scenario followed by a question eg ‘What is the single most likely diagnosis?’ You need to choose the right one out of five possible answers labelled A to E. Some of the other answers may be valid but you need to choose the best one. If you enter more than one answer on the answer sheet you’ll gain no mark for the question.

You'll be given one double-sided answer sheet at the exam with instructions on how to complete it. You must complete the information required at the top of the sheet (seen in pink below).

PLAB answer sheet

Resources to help you

You can find a range of resources to help you prepare which include Good medical practice (our core advice to doctors) and the PLAB blueprint.

You can find examples of SBA questions on our specimen questions page.

Adjustments can be made for candidates with a disability or particular requirement. Find out more about reasonable adjustments to the PLAB test.