Strengthening our assessment for international medical graduates

14 March 2016

The GMC assessment for international medical graduates seeking to work in the UK is becoming more rigorous and more reflective of real-life practice.

Prospective candidates can now book a place on the new version of the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test, which will start from September 2016.

What is changing?

  • New questions and practical scenarios: these will have a stronger focus on the professional values and behaviours expected of doctors working in the UK, testing candidates in areas other than their clinical knowledge and skills. For example, doctors should understand a patient’s right to make a choice about their care and how to manage situations beyond their level of knowledge.
  • A revised practical assessment, including more and longer scenarios. These will reflect how doctors apply their knowledge and skills in practice – for example, candidates will carry out a practical procedure in a mock consultation setting, rather than demonstrating the procedure alone. Along with a new way of setting the pass mark, this will enhance the accuracy of the test.
  • Giving all candidates more feedback on their performance in each section of the test: this will help them address any knowledge gaps in preparation for work.
  • The exam regulations will change: from September 2017 there will be a limit on the number of times the PLAB test can be taken, and a two-year limit on the time doctors have to apply for registration with a licence to practise after passing.

To pass the assessment, candidates must reach the level we expect of doctors entering their second year of the Foundation Programme. We continue to offer the Welcome to UK Practice programme to doctors who have passed the assessment.

Why are we making these changes?

The PLAB test is taken by many (though not all) international medical graduates and it does not include doctors from the European Economic Area. The test must be valid and reliable as it is designed to assess their knowledge and skills before they can apply to practise in the UK. The changes follow an independent review of the PLAB test (pdf).



ehab (1 year ago)

So, what are right sources to practise the new type of questions of the exam ?

GMC moderator (1 year ago)

Hi Ehab,

Thanks for your question. Both parts of the exam test your ability to apply your knowledge to the care of patients, rather than how well you can remember facts. Because of this, we don’t publish exam papers. But there are some example questions/station scenarios on our website, which give you an idea of the style of both parts of the exam (

You can also look at our useful resources webpage to find resources to help you prepare for PLAB ( One of the main tools that you can use is known as the test’s ‘blueprint’ – this is a guide to what the test covers (

And you can test your knowledge of our professional standards with our interactive tool 'Good medical practice in action' (, where you can choose what you think the doctor should do in different scenarios.

We hope this information is helpful.

Jaya (1 year ago)

The education standard may be equivalent in other EU countries though there is no evidence or data to confirm this. However many EU country graduates are not English speakers. The new standards of exams propsoed by the GMC is placing lot of importance on comminication which needs to be tested in an European graduate who qualifies in a language other than English

Hans (1 year ago)

To Mahmoud: Why is it morally wrong? The British doctors do not pass any PLAB, as well. Their education is recognized in other European countries and the other EU nationals have recognized medical education in the UK due to the fact that the EU universities fulfill the UK standards. Even a big part of UK doctors are EU graduates. Do you have any staggering evidence that the education of the other EU nationals are less valuable? If so, show it.

Sanjay Saraf (1 year ago)

PLAB for IMGs but not for EEA doctors. This impies EEA doctors are at par the standards of UK requirements which is completely wrong. Even some EEA doctors can't speak English properly- so important for good communication. This reflects that we need to be politically correct over safe and effective patient care.

Mohamud (1 year ago)

I think it is morally wrong for the European doctors Not to sit for the PLAB examination.

Abid (1 year ago)

R u serious, why doctors shud not work somewhere else rather than UK.

Gufus Rivstock (1 year ago)

Rigorous for non EU img but no exam for EU grads..discrimination, double standards and frankly shambolic!