Before you decide between PLAB or USMLE, you should know the differences between them.

  • USMLE: licencing exam for doctors wishing to work in the USA.
  • PLAB: licencing exam for doctors wishing to work in the UK.

I have summarized the differences in the table below:


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 1Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 19.22.56

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.


Useful Links


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. What is the difference between the pay scales in the UK and the USA?

Starting salary in the UK and the USA is almost the same for junior doctors.

  • The UK: £2,700 ($3,500)
  • The USA: $3,200 (£2,500)

(this is the take-home pay, after tax-deduction)

5. How much pay is enough in the UK?

It depends on your lifestyle, location, number of dependents and a few other factors. But the following might give you a general idea:

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

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

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

Again, it depends on the factors mentioned above. So savings can be different for every individual.

I have seen people save £1,000/month for a whole year and I have seen people not save anything even after a couple of years. So it depends on each individual and how they live.

7. 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.

8. 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.

Published on 8 February 2017.
Last updated on 21 July 2018.

135 thoughts on “PLAB vs USMLE

  1. Dr.Naseer. My question is, if you do postgraduate specialisation of 3 years in India and also clear MRCP exams in the meantime, can you directly apply to work in uk after GMC registration? Or do you have to repeat your specialty training again?

      1. Great. Thank you, Sir. And another question in that line. If i clear MRCP exams without doing PG, will i get into specialty training directly or i have to do non training jobs first?

  2. Sir if i take preparation for USMLE step 1 ,is that gonna help me passing PLAB 1 too?

    1. No, it won’t. As Step 1 includes basic sciences and PLAB 1 includes clinical sciences.

  3. Naseer bhai i want to know the situation in u.k for muslims and pakistanis. Like punish a muslim day and all. I want to convince my family for plab but they are concerned about the situation there. Can a muslim couple live there peacefully?

    1. I live in London. Muslims live here peacefully. I am aware of the “Punish a Muslim Day” but I am not aware of a single incident happening on that day. People here are generally very nice and welcoming. No one will judge you based on your religion or country of origin. There are no safety issues in the UK.

  4. How much consultants can earn upto in uk? And how many years it takes to be a consultant in uk?

    1. £75,000 to £100,000 per year.

      Different training programs have different lengths. Please scroll down and check my posts related to working and training in the UK. 🙂

  5. Very helpful post,i have a question.If someone complets plab 1 by 2020december,will he or she require to go through UKMLA ?

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