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Mission Possible: Pass PLAB 1

Updated: Jul 16, 2021

PLAB 1 may be the first UK exam (amongst many in the future!) that you may have to give. The exam consists of 180 Multiple Choice Questions, for which you will have 3 hours to

solve. The syllabus of the exam largely reflects the global medical school curriculum. Does this mean PLAB 1 is easy? Unfortunately, no.


The pass rate for PLAB 1 has fallen over the past 3 years, despite the exam pattern and

syllabus remaining the same. So how can you make sure you pass your exam?

Resources: 1. Dr. Khalid Saifullah's 1700 Questions

2. Dr. Samson's Notes

3. Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine

4. PLABABLE Subscription

5. PLAB 1 Recalls and Mock Questions

Where do I find these resources?

You can find the PDF of most of the notes on the files section of the PLAB groups on Facebook. Otherwise, the hard copies can be found in your local library or be ordered online (e.g., via Amazon).

PLABABLE is an online subscription which you can download via an app on your phone after creating an account on their website. Here is the link to the website:

How should I study for PLAB 1?

The secret to passing an exam formatted and marked in the UK is to study in the pattern that British students study. This includes studying in four phases:

a) Gathering information

b) Problem Solving Exercises

c) Revision

d) Mock Tests

a) Gathering information:

Going through Dr. Samson's notes will give you an idea of the topics that you will be questioned on (eg. Neurology, Paediatrics, etc). You can read the topics (usually less than 15 pages) and make sure you understand the conditions that are mentioned.

b) Problem Solving Exercises:

Next, attempt to solve questions from the question banks (e.g., Dr. Khalid's 1700 questions and PLABABLE). You will notice that you are able to solve a lot of the questions correctly, in which case, move on. If you answer a question incorrectly, read the explanation and try to understand the correct answer. In some cases, you will still struggle to understand it, in which case, you can find the topic and read it from the Oxford Handbook.

Bonus Tip:

Writing down this explanation in your book will help you further retain the information and save you time during subsequent revision sessions.

c) Revision:

At this point, you are familiar with two important aspects:

  1. Topics which are your strengths and those which are your weaknesses

  2. Topics which are commonly tested

If you are weak at a topic which is commonly tested, revise through that topic in more detail through the Oxford Handbook, and if it is still unclear, revert back to the books you have used in Medical School. Davidson's Principles and Practice of Medicine is a book that I personally found particularly helpful.

If you are weak in a topic that seldom has questions regarding it, it is best not to invest a lot of time into that topic, as you will not fail the exam for not being able to answer a rare question on an uncommon topic.

Be sure to go through all your revision material at this stage to make sure that you understand the topics with great clarity.

d) Mock Tests

In the final stage of revision, time yourself to give the mock tests and exam recalls consisting of 180 questions, in 180 minutes. This will give you an idea of how to manage time in the exam and also make you less nervous once you see how the recall questions are remarkably similar to your revision material!

Finally, you are ready to ace your PLAB 1 exam! Congratulations in advance!

For a more detailed explanation, check out this video on YouTube!

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