Before you decide between PLAB or USMLE, you should know the differences between them. You can also view a video of my lecture explaining these differences.





If all of the above is a bit confusing, I’ll try to make it a bit simple.

USMLE vs PLAB Summary 1USMLE vs PLAB Summary 2

There is a small difference in the job map, though. When you get a match after USMLE, you can immediately start a training job in the USA. When you pass PLAB 2, you can find a training job immediately. But for most people, it takes them a year or two before they find a training job in the UK. Until then, they work as doctors at non-training posts.

My post Training in the UK might help you in understanding the training structure.



Make a well-informed decision, based on all the information that you have. Do not make a decision under peer pressure.


Frequently Asked Questions


1. Should I go for PLAB or the USMLE?

This is a personal choice based on individual circumstances. However, the above-mentioned information might help you in making your decision.


2. If PLAB is so easy, then why do most doctors choose the USMLE over PLAB?

Choosing which exam you want to take is a personal decision. However, most people choose the USMLE over PLAB for the following reasons:

  • Lack of awareness about the UK pathway
  • Peer-following
  • The USA looks more attractive
  • Better pay for consultants in the USA
  • Arguably better training in the USA
  • Direct entry into training in the USA
  • Shorter training duration in the USA


3. Where can I get more information from about PLAB?

Kindly scroll down and you will find all the information that you need.


4. How much pay is enough in the UK?

It depends on your lifestyle and it depends on where you are living. For example, big cities like London and Manchester are more expensive than small towns like Blackpool. But the following might give you a general idea:

£1,900/month is more than enough for a single person and just enough for a couple.

£2,700/month would be more than enough for a couple.


5. Would I be able to save money in the UK?

Again, that depends on your lifestyle and the area where you choose to live. And, of course, it depends on your salary. It also depends on you being single or living with a spouse.

I’ve seen people with £2,700/month, save £1,000/month for a whole year and I have seen people with £1,900/month not save anything for a year. So it depends on each individual and how they live.


6. How much tax would I have to pay in the UK?

The numbers mentioned in this article are exclusive of tax. These are the take-home salaries, after tax deduction. However, to learn more about pay scales and taxation in the UK, you can click here.


7. What is the difference between a training and a non-training job?

A training job is one in which there is career progression. In a non-training job, there is no career progression. Our internship (also known as House Job in Pakistan) and specialty training jobs (also knows as Residency in Pakistan) are training jobs.

115 thoughts on “PLAB vs USMLE”

  1. So if you qualify PLAB and work in UK for some years, After some years if we decide to go to US, do we have to pass USMLE ?


  2. If i pass plab and do my post graduation there and work there for some years and want to come back to india do i have to clear MCI and i have done my MBBS from china.Does Plab can allow me to work in India after doing my PG from UK or separately i have to clear MCI


    1. Yes Indeed you have to pass the MCI exam, as the degree is not acceptable without this licensing exam. if you had done your mbbs from UK/ AUS/ USA/ NZ/ Canada then only u are exempted.


  3. In which scenario it is easier to get a citizenship after the required exam and job?? i have heard its difficult to get uk nationality as compared to usa! Is it??


    1. Plus how are the circumstances if a single girl wants to do plab and live in uk! I heard that it’s difficult to live n get a job in uk for a single girl! is it true? Thanks!


      1. It depends on your own personality. If you don’t mind being alone, then you won’t face any problems. However, for most girls AND for most guys, it’s difficult to live alone. Because we are used to a family life. But apart from this, you won’t face any problems. You will never face job problems in the UK because of being a single girl.


  4. What is your designation after passing PLAB? Someone said its equivalent to a (Pakistani) house officer. How much do you earn after passing PLAB and before getting a training job? And how much would you earn after getting a training job?


    1. You can have different designations after passing PLAB 2. But all of them are equal to Resident Medical Officer (post-internship non-training job) from Pakistan.

      Before training, you earn £1900/month without nights and £2700/month with nights (In the UK, night shift is only a 12-hour shift).

      I am not sure about training wages. I will try to confirm them and let you know. 🙂


      1. Ok. Thanks a lot 🙂
        What if someone wants to return to Pakistan after doing PLAB? Does it help him/her in any way i.e. does PLAB hold any importance in Pakistan?


      2. You said you would try to confirm the training wages and then let me know. Its absolutely fine if you could not confirm them yet, but just to be sure, the training wages are more than non-training wages, right?


  5. Thank you for the info. I just have a tiny doubt…. if I pass my plab 2 exam.. will I be guaranteed a job in the UK and how long should I wait for my appointment after passing the exam?
    FYI.. you have more than convinced me to do PLAB! 🙂


    1. Hello! You will not be given any signed document stating a guarantee for a job. However, 100% people who pass PLAB, get jobs after their GMC registration. The reason being that the UK has been seriously short of doctors for the last few years.

      The hospitals want you to start working as soon as you can. However, documentation for GMC registration and applying for your work visa usually takes a little time. So it takes 3-6 months after passing your exam for you to be able to start your job.

      Thank you for visiting the blog and for reading the posts. If you have any more questions, I will be here. 🙂


  6. Hello sir,
    Thanks for ur valuable information about plab
    I’m a fresh graduate (ug) from India.I would like to know whether there is any study material or guiding Center like kaplan and becker for usmle!!!!
    I’m interested in clearing Plab need some proper guidance, like how to apply for Plab exams and preparation techniques…..
    Kindly do the needful.
    Thank you


  7. Hello Doctor ,

    As per my knowledge many doctors quit the job from uk and now shifted to australia . As they don’t need to go through AMC exam . Can you put some more light over it if someone want to work in australia , is that doctor eligible for both UK and Australian Medical licence .


  8. Appreciate the swift reply, thank you once more. Just a followup question..emm could i know how much would I be receiving on a monthly basis, let’s say if I want to start of my career rightaway after passing the plan2.
    In addition to the Plab.. I would genuinely be glad if you could come with a fight between doing the PLAB vs doing the Australian Medical exam? The advantages disadvantages…


    1. In the beginning of your career in the U.K., at a non-training job, you would be earning £1900/month without nights and £2700/month with nights.

      Night shift is a 12-hour shift in the U.K.

      £1900/month is more than enough for a single person and just enough for a couple.

      £2700/month would be more than enough for a couple.


      1. I am talking about UK. I have heard 55% of your pay is deducted in UK, because of the taxes.


      2. Taxes in the UK are somewhere between 25% to 40%, depending on our pay grade. Junior doctors earn £30,000 to £40,000 per year. This equals to £2,600 to £3,400 per month. After tax deduction, the salary is around £1,900 without nights and £2,700 with nights.


  9. Hello! I am still in med school and graduate in 2019. I heard that the PLAB exam format will change in 2019. Can I write the exam before graduation? ? And if it changes, do you think it will be easier or more difficult? ?


  10. I have done my pg degree in it possible to write plab ? Should i have to do my reqd degree for 3 years again here ? Is there a specialist pathway for plab ??


    1. You are eligible to appear in the PLAB exam. There is no specialist pathway for PLAB. But there are training and specialisty pathways to the UK.

      Training pathway:

      There is the pathway for consultants, known as CESR or Article 14:

      These are the acceptable post-graduation qualifications in the UK:


  11. Hello Mr. Naseer,your blog is helpful so much informative.I am a 4th year MBBS student & will complete my MBBS early 2019.As far i know,PLAB exam will be changed & gonna more harder from/after 2019.If u provide me the absolute info,i would be grateful. I have
    my long cherished dream to practice Medicine in UK.Thank You.


  12. Dr. Naseer Khan, you have done a most amazing service with your blog. Cannot begin to express how grateful we all are for this guidance.
    My question is one which might be a bit confusing but pls bear with me.
    Im done with my usmle step1 exam and scored nicely. However due to the time it took (1.5 years) and amount of years I am away from my year of graduation in 2013, I m having serious doubts about undergoing the rest of the journey with time and expenses for the match, the outcome for which is uncertain, and would leave me with heavy debt and nothing to show for my years of sacrifice and hard work. Ive finished my housejob and cleared FCPS1 by 2015.
    Someone advised me to look up MRCP as an alternative and pursue, I looked over the qbanks and since material was similar to step1, I felt I can get this prep done and pass the MRCP 1 exam, however I have no clue about the future job/consultant position availability regarding this path, but after going through ur blog its given me positive vibes.
    I want to ask if I give MRCP 1 and 2 from Pakistan and clear PACES from the UK, would that exempt me from PLAB? where will be my position in the structure? Will this give me GMC registration? To start training, do I need a post-internship, non-training job if so then for how long? What are the chances I get a job or training position in the UK after these exams are done?
    As you can tell my basic question abt guidance without PLAB and just MRCP for job or training placement.
    We r a married couple (no kids) and living in Pakistan has become difficult due to sudden unexpected downward change in circumstances and financial constraints and since the residency/training system here is horrible, it only adds to leaving and living abroad. I’ll also need the money to apply for MRCP part 1 for which I can start a MO job here.
    But since the rest of these exams are expensive (esp PACES) how can I earn while preparing, do u think Ireland or Abu Dhabi would be good options? Would they count towards CT-training time? It would certainly help move away, which is a dire need of the hour.
    Im sorry for the length of the post, but having a career-crisis and your guidance would be so helpful. JazakAllah for all that you r doing =)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I want to ask if I give MRCP 1 and 2 from Pakistan and clear PACES from the UK, would that exempt me from PLAB?

      where will be my position in the structure?
      Non-training (Registrar) at first. After you get your competencies signed, you can enter ST3.

      Will this give me GMC registration?

      To start training, do I need a post-internship, non-training job if so then for how long?
      Yes, you will have to work at a non-training post for at least 3 months to get your competencies signed.

      What are the chances I get a job or training position in the UK after these exams are done?
      After MRCP? I think I already answered this question.

      I am not sure about working in Ireland and Dubai. I do not have a lot of information regarding that.

      I think going for PLAB might be better for you as it is an easier exam, takes less time, money and effort. It gives you an early start. And PACES is hard to paces without having worked in the UK.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Clinical Attachment helps in the following ways:

      1. It makes you familiar with the NHS.
      2. It gives you valuable experience for your CV.
      3. At the end of your attachment, you often get an employment contract offered.

      However, not having an attachment makes no difference on your job prospects. Most candidates do not have attachments and still find jobs. I myself did not have any attachments and I am still getting job offers.


  13. Mr.naseer, I would like to ask about pathology residency in uk is it a competitive specialty for img ?!
    and what pathway is easier FRCPATH vs plab?
    And thanks for sharing these valuable information !
    House officer from sudan .


  14. Quick note for statement “Only 52% IMGs got a Match in 2016”
    Only 52% of IMG WHO GOT INTERVIEWS did match , there are many others IMG who didn’t actually receive interviews


  15. Hey buddy… really.nice blog… i truly appreciate u helping us every now n then… ur blog is so so so informative. I hav got many answers to my doubts which no one cleared it so easily.
    Just one more query i have if u could….
    I have done my mbbs from.india. completed my grad in 2013. And since i am preparing for indian pg exams in which i havnt had much luck. And due to this prep i havnt done any jobs for past 4 years.
    So can u pls tell me that without any work exp and 4-5 yrs gap aftr completing graduation, will my chances of getting job in uk are slim ??? Does that effect my job oppurtunity once i clear plab 1 & 2 with good scores???
    Pls do reply…


    1. You’ll find a job for sure. It might take you a few days or weeks more than others, but the shortage of doctors means that you’ll find a job for sure.

      I would advise you to find a job now and start working ASAP.


      1. Hello sir! After going through plab, we get a training job or a residency/PG in different fields? Like in usmle, Depending on scores we can decide which fields we have a chance in (surgical residency requires High scores). So is it the same way?


  16. Although i am planning to start a job soon and prepare for plab as well so that atleast i ll hav something to show as work exp but still i am sitting with a gap of 4 years !! Pls guide..


  17. hello mr. Naseer, it is very informative blog regarding plab and my almost all questions are cleared here.
    Now my concern is that i graduated in 2005 but i was doing job as medical officer in dermatology in pakistan. In sep2016 i had to leave my job and shifted to paris. here i cant practice medicine so i am thinking to take plab. is it possible for me ? I mean my duration of graduation matters or not. thank you very much in anticipation.


  18. is there any good probability of getting training in surgery and allied ….bcz about us we have heard they dont give surgery to imgs …is it the same in uk ?
    i mean what special they consider for surgery


  19. Hello, Dr.Naseer.
    I have a few questions about the PLAB exam and Post grad degrees in general
    1.What is difference between Training and non training posts? Is house job a non training post?
    2. Is it important for pakistani graduates to give FCPRS to secure their positions in here?
    Meaning if I dream on going to UK, I’ll have to give PLAB but if I want to make sure I am as legible to be a practicing doctor here in pakistan as in UK, I must give FCPRS and MCPS,too?
    3 Currently I am in 2nd year MBBS.. If you could advice me on what I should be doing right now to help me later on for my medical career in UK.. And in Pakistan


    1. 1. Training job has career progression. House Job is a training Job. RMO or MO is a non-training job.

      2.I think you mean FCPS. If you want to work in Pakistan later on, your qualification from the UK might be acceptable in Pakistan. But I am not sure about Pakistan.

      3. Right now you should just keep an eye on the news relating to the UKMLA.


  20. Aoa kindly guide me which one is better bw PLAB or MRCP ???as I m already doing FCPS training in medicine in Pakistan n hav completed almost 2 yrs …at this point what vll u suggest me which option z Better fr me MRCP or PLAB?


  21. This is such an amazing blog.It cleared all my doubts I had been having for so long a time.But Someone told me that even after you clear Plab 1 and 2 you have to stay in UK and wait for an opening that can even take a year and sometimes its not even confirmed you’ll get one.How much expense does it cost when you’re waiting for a job to open?And also they see your Bank balance to let you apply and it completely exhausts you financially.Can you guide me a little on that?


    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and for visiting the website! 🙂

      What you’ve heard about waiting for a job is not true AT ALL. Most people take 4 to 8 weeks after PLAB 2 to finalize a job. I also know someone who finalized his job 3 days after passing PLAB 2. I myself said yes to a job 5 weeks after passing my PLAB 2.

      Your balance balance is only looked at while applying for your PLAB visa.

      This might help with finances for visa:

      This might help with total expenditure for PLAB:


  22. Dear Dr. Naseer!! I would like to ask you about new exam UKMLA. Will it really be much harder to pass it? I have one year more studing in university, during which I’m going to pass IELTS. After that I wish I could pass PLAB exams, but now I’m afraid that till 2019 there will be no PLAB exams and I don’t know what I should plan for myself. Could you be so kind and give me some advices about it? Thank you in advance.


  23. Hi.Thanks a lot for this valuable information Dr Nasser.
    I am a graduate of 2013, I did my house job in 2014.I am done with usmle step 1 and now I am preparing for CK.I also want to take PLAB and MRCP but I am confused as I have heard that very few people get into training in UK.Also I have a two year gap after my graduation, will that effect my chances of getting into training in UK? I hope you could guide me regarding paediatrics training.It will be a huge favour.
    Thankyou 🙂


    1. Hello,

      Finding training in the UK depends entirely on which specialty you want to apply for. All of my friends who applied for medicine, found training this year, all of them.

      As long as you start working now; so that by the time you start applying for jobs in the UK, you may have 6 months of recent clinical experience, you will be fine and your previous clinical gap will not be a big issue.


  24. Hi.Thanks a lot for your reply.Yes I am working now in a hospital.
    Can you guide me regarding application process of PLAB 1?
    Also if a person pass plab 1 and 2 and then pass mrcp too then it’s easy to get into training job?
    Thanks a lot again for your valuable feed back.
    Good day


    1. 1. Kindly go to GMC’s website and register yourself on GMC Online to begin your application process. 🙂

      2. Yes, passing MRCP helps a lot for sure. But if you want to enter pediatrics, then you should go for MRCPCH and not MRCP.


  25. Thanks a lot for your hard work in helping us understand the plab system!

    I will be graduating this july and in my home country there is a 9 month wait for internship. So I was hoping to do plab and start my medical career in the UK.

    My question is, if I do pass plab, can I join internship in the UK? I’m afraid if I wait to take exams, it will be changed to ukmla by the time I am done with internship.

    Thank you so much!


    1. You can try to apply for FY1 in the UK, but it’s difficult to find FY1, unless you’re a British National. If I were you, I would’ve taken PLAB 1 and PLAB 2 during that 9-month gap. I would’ve used time right now to make a very strong case for my visa application.

      I would’ve gone for my internship in my home country.

      Or you can delay your PLAB 2 until after your internship in your home country. It seems like the UKMLA will not begin before 2022.

      Kindly read the following two posts:


  26. Dr Naseer,

    Do you need clinical experience as in do a couple of electives or clerkships like we do for USMLE to ensure your job.
    Also how much is the pay once you find a job after Plab2?


  27. after getting non traraining job, will my sslary increse with time??after getting citizenship cann I apply for my parents immigration??do they have to give test?pls help me by replying this.


    1. 1. Only marginally, every year. Salary increases more significantly in training jobs.

      2. I’m not sure about immigration, but you can apply for visit visa for them.

      3. They do not have to give any tests.


  28. Why are fees for USMLE so high? Are there fees other than those for steps?
    One more question, do you think it’s important to have some funds in the bank when applying for US Visa? if so, how much?


    1. USMLE is a more expensive exam and requires more traveling.

      I am not sure about the US visa. I can guide better about the UK visa.

      For queries relating to the USA/USMLE, you can post on the follow Facebook group and someone will guide you there:

      USMLE Step 1 Preparation Forum


    1. I am very sorry but I have not taken the USMLE myself so I will not be the best guide for more detailed guide or preparation for the USMLE. You can post your query on the USMLE Step 1 Preparation Forum group on Facebook.


  29. A big Thanks and Warm Greetings to you Dr Naseer.
    Doing this despite your busy schedule will only send blessings your way. Amin
    Now i have a few questions:
    1. I will begin my internship this October. and i am currently prepping for plab 1 (Nov), i intend to pass plab 2 in march and prep for MRCP 1. is it advisable to apply for gmc registration after internship before taking the mrcp 1 or do you reccomend doing it after?
    2. I have my sights set on dermatology after CMT Insha Allah, is this a realistic dream in the U.K due to its competitive nature? do they even give positions to IMGs? i intended on doing a masters in Aesthetic Medicine to boost my resume before intake for specialist training. what do you think? there is only so much you can know as an outsider? must i settle for internal medicine? i’m aware it is almost impossible to get into surgery, does the same apply to dermatology? (for derm i read either direct route or via pediatrics, do you know any dermatologist i can ask more questions?)
    3. what other way do you think i can add useful things to my resume before that time, as i would like to plan accordingly?
    4. What is the difference between round 1 and round 2 intake for core medical training? i hear round 2 has only a few specialties applicable and is only applicable to IMGs. how does one prepare to apply for CMT to ensure placement?
    Please pardon my many questions. i like to have a clearer picture and plan well emotionally, academically and financially.


    1. 1. After internship.

      2. Best to post this on the Facebook groups. I do not know any IMG who’s made it into dermatology, but my knowledge is limited.

      3. You’ll get to know this once you get into the UK. Right now, I don’t know myself, apart from what is mentioned here.



  30. Dr Naseer,
    Im currently a final year medical student from philippines but since I’m an IMG in Philippines I can’t do my internship in thr country.I am very keen to sit for plab n do my internship in UK itself though I heard its quite though to get into internship programme therr.Please advise me in this matter Sir. This is the only option I have so far..where do I get info about the internship in many years? What are the chances for me to get into internship? Hours of working? Is it paid or non paid.Your reply is greatly appreciated. Thank u sir


  31. Hello
    I wanted to ask that many students in our medical college ate taking english paper separately to obtain a Bsc degree will it be helpful for resudency program in uk


    1. It will give them 10 extra marks when they apply for Core Medical Training. But all of my friends who applied for Core Medical Training found training even without an additional degree.

      So if you can get the degree, great. If you can’t, don’t worry about it.

      Good luck! 🙂


  32. Hello doctor ,
    I have some questions
    Taking Plab will require travelling to UK to do plab 1 and 2 exams?
    After taking plab I’ll be able to work in the UK directly like USMLE?or I have to search for job by myself .


    1. PLAB 1 is held four times in the UK every year and twice internationally.

      PLAB 2 is held only in Manchester, every month 2 to 4 times.

      You’ll have to search for jobs yourself but finding a job is VERY easy in the UK.


  33. Hello doc,please I have a few questions.whats next after plab and GMC registration? I don’t live in the UK so if I pass plab 2 can I get a visa to remain in the UK? Also if I get a job in the UK can I apply for my children to join me and how long before I can apply?are there other countries where I can use plab to practice?is there a form of update course one can attend before taking plab 2 and for how long?


  34. Hello Dr. Naseer

    Thankyou for all the information that u have shared.
    I still have some questions though.

    I have done my schooling in Oman, but through an Indian school
    And now im done with my Mbbs in India,

    So do i still have to give IELTS?
    And do i need to prepare for it separately?

    And another question is that
    Do i need to join a coaching for PLAB or could i just study from the books and clear it?

    Also i’ve heard that getting a surgical branch is difficult, the Indians have a lesser chance of getting a surgical field? Is that true ?
    I have heard that incase u dont get a surgical field, you can take up general medicine for a year and then switch the next year to which ever field u want ??

    Please help me out !



    1. 1. Yes.

      2. I did not understand what you mean by “separately”. But this might helP:


      4. Getting into surgery is difficult for any IMG, but not impossible.

      5. Theoretically, it is possible. But I do not know anyone who’s done this.


  35. Hello Dr. Naseer,
    I am Canadian, graduated from an Irish school, and have no UK status. I hear that non-UK status applicants have very slim chance of getting a Foundation placement. I feel I’ll have better chance in the US, but the exams are more difficult. Do you have any insight on non-UK applicants choosing between PLAB and USMLE? I’m trying to both but will have to sacrifice my step prep to prepare for PLAB.


    1. Yes, that is correct. It is very difficult for non-national to get into FY1 training. FY2 training slots can sometimes be found.

      But this shouldn’t be a worry as we can enter the training from CT1/ST1 level.

      I feel PLAB is a lot more convenient pathways since it’s easier, shorter, takes less time, money and energy. That’s why I chose PLAB for myself.


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