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How do we set the pass mark for the PLAB test?

Part 1

We set the pass mark for each test using the internationally recognised Angoff method and include one standard error of measurement.

By doing this, we make sure the level at which we set the pass mark is consistent over time. We also make certain that it reflects what we expect of a doctor entering their second year of Foundation Programme training.

After each test a team of experts reviews the question paper in light of how candidates have performed, to make sure all the questions and answers are fair. Candidates are at all stages of their career and there is no expected pass rate or average score.

Part 2

  1. 1. How do the examiners mark the part 2 exam?          
  2. 2. Is there a fixed pass mark for each station?            
  3. 3. How do I pass a station?
  4. 4. Does the examiner know the station pass mark?
  5. 5. How do you work out if candidates meet the required standard of the part 2 exam?
  6. 6. What feedback will I get?

1. How do examiners mark the part 2 exam?

The examiners will mark the part 2 exam using the borderline regression scoring method. Each station will be assessed based on your performance against the three marking domains in it (Data gathering, technical and assessment skills, Clinical management skills and Interpersonal skills).

2. Is there a fixed pass mark for each station?

No, using the borderline regression scoring method, each station has a pass mark, which varies with the difficulty of the station.

3. How do I pass a station?

To pass a station, your score must meet or exceed the station pass mark. If the score is below the station pass mark you will fail that station.

4. Does the examiner know the station pass mark?

No, the examiner does not know the pass mark when assessing candidates.

5. How do you work out if candidates meet the required standard of the part 2 exam?

We add up the pass mark for each of the 18 stations in the exam. We then add one standard error of measurement. This creates the total score for the exam. You must meet or exceed the total score and also pass a minimum of 11 stations to achieve an overall pass.

6. What feedback will I get?

When you have finished each station, the examiner will be able to indicate which of the 10 pre-set feedback statements apply most to you. The examiners must do this if they give an overall judgement of Unsatisfactory, but they will also be able to do so if they judged your performance as Borderline, Satisfactory or Good. You will be told which feedback statements that applied to you in each station. In addition, you will be told:

  • your mark in each of the three marking domains in each station
  • your total in each marking domain by all stations
  • the score required to pass each station and your score in each
  • the total required to pass and the total score you achieved.

See more information on the feedback you will receive.