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Information for employers

Find out more about how we assess international doctors before we license them to work in the UK.

How we assess international doctors

Our job is to make sure international medical graduates (IMG) have the necessary knowledge and skills to be granted full registration and a licence to practise medicine in the UK. The majority of IMGs demonstrate that they can meet our requirements by taking the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test.

IMGs must also show us they have the necessary knowledge of English before we allow them to take the PLAB test. Most do this by obtaining our minimum scores requirements in the IELTS test

The PLAB test is designed to assess what we expect a doctor entering the second year of their Foundation Programme training would know and be able to do. This includes the professional values and behaviours required of doctors, which are fundamental to delivering excellent care for patients.

The test has two parts. Part 1 is a written knowledge test which is held at various locations around the world. Part 2 is a practical test – an Objective Structure Clinical Examination (OSCE) of clinical skills. The OSCE is held at the GMC’s Clinical Assessment Centre in Manchester.

Passing the PLAB test means a doctor can apply for full registration with a licence to practise.

What the PLAB test covers

We set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours PLAB candidates are expected to demonstrate in the PLAB test blueprint. The blueprint shows how the test is mapped against our core guidance Good medical practice, the Outcomes for provisionally registered doctors July 2015 (originally published in The Trainee Doctor) and, the UK Foundation Programme curriculum 2016.

Find out more about what we assess IMGs on during the PLAB test and what we don’t.

Recent developments

We’re strengthening the PLAB test by introducing a number of changes (pdf) to make it more rigorous and more reflective of real life practice.

The practical Part 2 exam now includes more and longer scenarios, redesigned to more accurately reflect real life consultations. There are also new questions and scenarios that will assess candidates’ professionalism and understanding of ethics as well as their clinical skills.

From September 2017, candidates must pass both parts of the test within a maximum of four attempts at each.

Help and support for employers

Employers have a vital role to play in carrying out pre-employment checks on doctors, making sure those they employ, have the relevant qualifications, skills and experience required for the role.

Our Employer Liaison Service gives help and support to employers and healthcare providers. To find out more about their work, please visit the Employer Liaison Service page.

To check a doctor’s registration status, find general information about registration and licensing and our guidance on pre and post-employment checks, please visit our Employing a doctor page.