The PLAB test

How we assess international doctors

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

International doctors 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 or the OET (medicine version).

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 and candidates must pass both parts of the test within a maximum of four attempts at each. 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 our clinical assessment centre.

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 2021.

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 guide.