PLAB 1 validity and English language evidence

To reflect the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had across the world, we’re being more flexible with both the English language evidence required to sit our PLAB 1 test, and the validity of PLAB 1.

PLAB 1 validity

We understand that some doctors’ PLAB 1 results will expire before they can sit PLAB 2. If you passed your PLAB 1 assessment from 15 March 2018 onward, we’ve extended the validity of your test pass from two to three years to give you more time to book onto PLAB 2.

English language evidence for PLAB 1

Your English language evidence must be less than two years old on the day you sit PLAB 1.

Because not all countries are currently holding in person English language exams, we’ll accept the online IELTS indicator test as an additional option when booking your PLAB 1 test. Indicator tests are accepted for PLAB 1 only and won't be accepted as evidence when applying for registration.

We’ll also consider, on a case by case basis, whether it is possible to extend the validity of English language evidence for those who’ve been disadvantaged by PLAB cancellations and who need to book a further PLAB 1 test. 

We’ll review this temporary arrangement when we have more information about the re-opening of test centres.

You may also use the OET@Home service to demonstrate English language proficiency for both PLAB and registration.

English language evidence for registration

Your English language evidence must be less than two years old when you register with us. 

Your ability to communicate safely with your patients in English is fundamental to safe practice, so we need to make sure your language skills are up to date. A good level of English will also help you to settle into your jobs in the UK and build strong relationships with colleagues.

Language skills can start to deteriorate after two years if they’re not used regularly. That’s why it’s vital that you’re able to evidence your ability to read, write and speak in English within that period.

We know that for some candidates, delays in taking PLAB 2 could mean that their English language evidence will expire before they can register with us. If you’re in this situation there are several different ways you can demonstrate your knowledge of English.

If my English language evidence is due to expire before I can register, what are my options?

If your OET or IELTS result is more than two years old, you can still demonstrate that you’ve kept your English language up to date. You can do this by sending us your expired IELTS/OET certificate and one of the following:

  • a reference from a tutor/lecturer of a postgraduate course or from an employer who is based in a country where English is the first and native language,
  • evidence of a language test you’ve passed for registration with a medical regulatory authority in a country where English is the first and native language. This must be less than two years old,
  • if you have a UK job offer, a Structured English Language Reference (SELR) Form completed by the doctor who appointed you.

The evidence you provide must cover the period from when your language test expired to when you apply for registration.

You can also retake IELTS or OET again. However, we know that this has financial implications and not everyone will have access to these tests.

If your original evidence has expired and you’re not able to take another IELTS or OET test, we’ll consider any other evidence that you may want to submit to demonstrate your English language competence at the point of registration.

This evidence will need to show how you’ve maintained your language skills from the expiry date of your original evidence up until your application for registration. Your evidence must:

  • clearly demonstrate that you can read, write and interact with patients and healthcare colleagues in English,
  • be recent, independent and objective,
  • be able to be verified by us e.g. by contacting recognised medical institutions, healthcare employers or other relevant organisations. 

The evidence will be reviewed by a decision maker to decide if it meets the required standard.

In these unprecedented circumstances, we’re being as flexible as we can be while upholding our responsibility for patient safety and making sure all doctors practising in the UK have the required English language skills. We’ll continue to keep the situation, and our processes under review, for the duration of the pandemic.