Studying for PLAB 1

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Recently the question bank for PLAB 1 seems to have been altered slightly. PLAB 1 in 2018 has included questions with comparatively longer stems. However, if you know how to study for it, PLAB 1 can still be a very easy exam.

Time Required for Preparation

8 to 16 weeks is the ideal time for PLAB 1 preparation. However, even if you have 4 weeks, you’ll pass this exam, with dedication and hard work.

Syllabus for PLAB 1

PLAB 1 only test clinical science and not basic science. Most of the 180 questions are from Medicine. A few are from Surgery, Paediatrics, OBGYN, ENT, Ophthalmology, Psychiatry and Ethics.

What to Study for PLAB 1?

I have organized a list of PLAB 1 preparation sources according to their importance:

A) Free Questions Banks - Very Important

  1. 1700 Questions

    Source: Study Material
    Number of questions: 1700
    Answers: unexplained
    Cost: free
    Importance: you must cover these. You will find multiple versions of 1700 (Dr. Khalid’s 1700, Sush’s 1700 and PLABABLE’s 1700). Each version of 1700 has more or less the same questions; these versions only differ in the explanations provided for the answers. You can go through any version which suits you best.

  2. Mocks

    Source: Files section
    Number of questions: unlimited
    Answers: unexplained
    Cost: free
    Importance: you must cover these. You will find multiple mocks. All of them are equal in importance. Solve as many mocks as you can, as many times as possible.

B) Study Material for PLAB 1 - Important

  1. Samson’s PLAB 1 Notes

    Source: Samson PLAB
    exam-oriented notes
    Subjectwise distribution: 
    Importance: they are helpful but very pricey. They are not vital or necessary. Go through these notes only if you have enough time and resources. This subscription also includes the Samson question bank.


    Type: website for references
    Subjectwise distribution: 
    Importance: this should be your first go-to source of information. Please read only for references. No need to read the whole website.

  3. Oxford Handbooks

    Source: Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine (OHCM) & Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialties (OHCS)
    Type: pocket textbook
    Subjectwise distribution: 
    Importance: please read these only for references. No need to study them cover to cover.

C) Clinchers - Helpful

  1. Clinchers

    Source: Files section
    Cost: free
    Importance: they are one-liners for revision. They are helpful but not vital.

D) Other Free Question Banks - Less Important

  1. Dr. Khalid’s version of 1700 questions

    Source: Study Material
    Number of questions: 1700
    Answers: explained
    Cost: free
    Importance: you can go through them if you want some guidance after going through the unexplained answers of 1700. Explanations are short.
    Origin: these are the same 1700 questions with answers explained by Dr. Khalid Saifullah.

  2. Sush Unity’s version of 1700 questions

    Source: Study Material
    Number of questions: 1700
    Answers: explained
    Cost: free
    Importance: you can go through them if you want some guidance after going through the unexplained answers of 1700. Explanations are very detailed.
    Origin: these are the same 1700 questions with answers explained by the Sush Unity team.

E) Paid Subscriptions - Least Important

  1. PLABABLE’s Question Bank

    Source: PLABABLE
    Number of questions: 1500+
    Answers: explained
    Cost: £20-£25
    Importance: you can go through them if you want some guidance after going through the unexplained answers of 1700. Recent PLABbers feel that PLABABLE’s question bank is very similar to the actual exam.
    Origin: these are the same 1700 questions with answers explained provided by PLABABLE.

  2. Samson’s Question Bank

    Source: Samson PLAB
    Number of questions: 2782
    Answers: explained
    Cost: £200
    Importance: they are very helpful but very pricey. Thus, not advisable. You can easily find other question banks for free or less cost. Also, questions here will be repeated from other question banks. This subscription also includes the Samson notes.

  3. Pass Medicine

    Source: Pass Medicine
    Number of questions: 2756
    Cost: £12-£15
    Importance: Cover this only if you’re done with everything and you have a lot of time.
    Origin: unclear.

You must go through A.
If you have time
, you can go through B.
If you have more time, you can go through C.
If you have even more time, you can go through D.
If you have even more time, you can go through E.

Do not feel discouraged if you have less time. Most people pass their PLAB 1 just by going through A. A lot of people pass their PLAB 1 just by going through half of A.

Books Needed for PLAB 1

You do not need to go through any theory books to study for PLAB 1. The material mentioned above is more than enough to study from. It might be a bit difficult to believe that it is possible to pass PLAB 1 without studying theory, but that’s how easy the exam is. A lot of people make the mistake of studying from theory books and end up failing the exam. If you find this hard to believe, kindly scroll down to check other people’s experiences who have passed PLAB 1.

How to Study for PLAB 1

The main aim should be to practice as many questions as you can and to familiarize yourself with as many questions and as many scenarios as you can. There are only a limited number of scenarios in the world of medicine on which fresh graduates can be tested. Generally, around 50-150 scenarios can appear in the exam from the 1700 questions + mocks. However, this can vary.

Two Approaches

Approach 1: Read the notes. Then start solving questions.

If you start practicing questions without reading any theory, you might not be able to understand answers to all the questions. So it might be better to start your preparation with the notes. You can find them in the Files section of the PLAB Facebook page. These notes are exam-oriented, unlike OHCM and OHCS. After reading the notes, you’ll find it easier to answer questions. But this approach will take a lot of time.

Approach 2: Start solving questions, without reading the notes.

If you’re short on time, do not waste your time with the notes. It is completely doable if you just open the question banks and start solving questions. At first, you won’t understand much. But by the time you’ve gone through 1700 questions and the mocks, you would have a pretty good understanding of all the questions and you won’t need notes. If you get stuck anywhere, you can always check or OHCM/OHCS.

Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine and Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialties

Regardless of your approach, do not waste your time in studying OHCM, OHCS or any other book cover to cover. Check OHCM and OHCS only for reference.

Facebook PLAB Group

Facebook is going to be your best friend in your preparation for PLAB. If you do not understand any question, post it on Facebook and others will help you. Also try to solve other people’s questions when you’re free. You’ll learn by commenting on other people’s questions. By doing this, you’ll also form a group with others. This group will help you the most during your preparation for PLAB 1; they will help you with your visa application, PLAB 2, GMC registration and everything else from then on.

Files Section of the Facebook PLAB Group

Here you will find all the material for your PLAB preparation. You might find files in this section which I haven’t mentioned. Keep going through the files section to find valuable knowledge.

WhatsApp Groups

This option is not for everyone, but it does help a lot of people. You’ll often find posts on Facebook where people would be asking others to join a WhatsApp study group for PLAB 1. You can start a group yourself as well. You and others can post questions on this group and help each other.

Joining an Academy

A lot of people prefer joining an academy for PLAB 1. They provide you with notes, questions banks and mocks. However, there’s no need to join an academy as you can find all of this study material online on PLAB’s Facebook page.

How Much You Need to Cover

It is ideal to have gone through 3,000 questions twice before the exam. Having gone through the notes is helpful, but not vital.

Some Encouragement

I know people who have passed PLAB 1 just by solving 1700 questions and questions on Facebook. I also know people who passed just by going through the mocks. I know people who passed just by studying for a month. And these people were not distinction holders or class toppers. They were average students who worked hard. And if they can do it, then so can you.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many questions should I go through before I take my PLAB 1?

There is no fixed number. But as stated above, it is ideal to have gone through 3,000 questions twice before the exam.

2. Which mocks should I go through?

It does not matter which mocks you go through, as long as you go through them.

3. How many mocks should I go through?

Again, there is no fixed number. The more mocks you go through, the better. But ideally, you should go through at least 5 to 10 mocks before you take the exam.

Published on 10 February 2017
Last updated on 09 May 2019

98 thoughts on “Studying for PLAB 1

  1. Thank you so much for the inspiration and for taking the time to create such a blog! The way you meticulously detailed things out in itself brought a sense of relief to me while reading through it, which I’m sure, is bound to help in the long run 🙂 Thank you Dr. Naseer, and congratulations on achieving this feat! 🙂

  2. Hi . Can I take the PLAB1 when Im in my 4th year ? ( In India it is 4 and a half years plus 1 year internship) and then the second part when im done with internship (house surgeron)?

      1. hey dr naseer, in your blog above, youre saying do 3000 questions twice before the exam and youd be good. what 3000 questions are you talking about specifically? 1700 dr khalids compilation and?

      2. and the notes youre talking about… are these the topic by topic samsons notes? is there a file that has all the notes in one or do we download them seperately?

      3. Yes, I am referring to Samson’s notes. They were in separate files in the file section of the PLAB Facebook group.

  3. Such a great blog! You willl find evrything here and its like a life savior for people on plab journey!

    1. Scroll down in the files section. You will find all the study material. If you can’t find it, send me a Facebook inbox message and I will try to help you. 🙂

  4. Hello Dr Naseer
    Did you had these notes and questions in a printed version ( hard copy ) Or you just used them as PDF ?

    1. Hello,

      I used them in PDF format. I downloaded them in my phone. It was very helpful.

      If you want, you can print them out as well. 🙂

      1. Thank you 🙂 . I was going to do the same but I had to be sure. 🙂
        Another question : You mentiond the Notes and I found 3 notes : Swamy ,Samson , Subject-wise notes . Which on is the best ?
        Sorry for asking too much

      2. Subject-wise notes that I came across were Samson’s notes. So I’ve only seen these notes. I have not seen Swamy’s notes.

        People who have passed PLAB 1 recently, might be able to advise you better.

  5. Hello Nasser. Thanks for writing this great blog. I will be starting my PLAB 1 journey soon. Can i add you on facebook to get in touch with you?

  6. Plzz doctore i am from algeria we used to study medecine with french lunguage,but i am bretty good in english ,i was wondring if we are éligible to subscribe for PLAB and working at the UK? thanks in advance

    1. As long as you pass IELTS, you should be able to sit in PLAB 1.

      And I agree. Your English is good. You’ll make it to the U.K. easily. Best of luck! 🙂

  7. hello sir , firstly thanks for this great blog. you are an inspiration with your journey and the best part is your tendency to share it with perplexed ppl. i have recently completed both my ielts and ukvi ielts and got the desired scores. i plan to write my plab part 1 in uk in september ( i am from india ) . i thought if i do that it would give me more expore and a better chance to finish plab 2 before the turn of the year. do u think its better to come there attend courses ( i had swammy in mind ) and do both plab parts rather than wair for it till november in india

    1. As long as you can get your visa, it doesn’t matter where you take your PLAB 1. But getting a visa on the basis of PLAB 1 is difficult, since they can always object that you should take it in your own country. But people do get visas for PLAB 1.

  8. Thank you so much for your time and work output . I am planning to do in srilanka with November batch as I have to return from uk before june . is it worth going to samsons or swamy while I’m here. I don’t have any confidence I’m quite blank about what to do. ill go through the materials available above to begin with.

  9. Hello dr Khan. I want to make sure that the PLAB 1 note that you were saying was the file titled “Samson note by chapter” from the PLAB facebook, isn’t it? Thanks for all your informations from your blog. It’s really helpfull and encouraging afterall 😀

  10. Dear Khan How can I get & Mock test (1400 questions) for PLAB 1 Although You stated that it is available in file section of FB PLAB group But I could not locate it.
    Please help
    Inderjeet Sohal

    1. You will have to scroll down in the files section and look carefully. Those mocks were shared in 2014. You’ll find them hopefully. Best of luck! 🙂

  11. Hi Naseer, your blog has been so incredibly helpful. I just moved from the states and I felt so lost until I came across your blog. I cant seem to find the PLAB questions. Can you email them to me by any chance? My email address is I really appreciate it!

  12. Hello Naseer, when you mentioned the 7 mocks, do you mean the Sampson ones?

  13. Are Samson notes what you mean by PLAB 1 Notes ?? If not what are the name that I should search for in the files section in Plab facebook group.

  14. i m from pakistan . MBBS final year student . Can we take PLAB 1 after final year before house job ???? In 3 months vacations??

    1. You can register for PLAB 1 as soon as you get your final year MBBS result. You do not need House Job for PLAB 1. You can not take PLAB 1 before passing final year MBBS.

  15. I was looking through the Samson Notes for PLAB 1, they aren’t very detailed, is this all that we need to know? Nothing out of the notes?

  16. Hello,
    Thank you for this great blog!
    I have a question since I’m new to all of this. I have seen a lot of files over the internet labelled as 1,700 questions. Some say “explained by Dr Khaled”, others say “unexplained” and so forth. Which ones are the ones to study from? And when you say 3,000 questions you mean the 1,700 plus what exactly?
    Also, when you say 7 mocks, you mean a particular group of 7 mocks or just any total of 7 mock-exams?

    Thank you!
    جزاك الله خيرآ

    1. They are the same 1700 questions with no explanations or explanations by different people. I used the ones without explanations, as the same questions are repeated in the exams. If you do go for explanations, Dr. Khalid’s explanations are short and enough in my opinion.

      The 7 mocks are by Samson. Each mock has 200 questions. So 7 mocks have 1400 questions.

      1400 plus 1700 make 3100 questions.

      Practice any mocks. Practice as many questions as you can, as many times as you can.

  17. Assalamu Aaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu,

    Dear Dr Naseer Khan

    Its great to have your experience shared among the people. Based on your professional experience you have, i have a personal question and wonder if it would be possible to answer to me, and the question is:

    I got graduated January 2017 from china , i was mostly travelling for the last 9 months and i would like to take PLAB 1 exam in 2nd November, i was wondering if the coaching service in Birmingham and manchester is any good for preparing for the PLAB1 Exam or we can it on our own and can longer gaps be any problem in the future?. Is ther any way i can contact you so that i can further seek your help.

    1. PLAB 1 does not require coaching. The guidance on my blog should help you with PLAB 1. 🙂

      The gaps will cause trouble. As long as you can explain what you did on each day of these gaps, your GMC registration application will be accepted. To find a job in the UK, I would strongly advise you to find a job at your country of current residence and start working.

      If you have more questions in the future, you can post them here or on the Facebook groups. If no one answers on the groups, you can send me inbox messages via my page.

      Good luck! 🙂

  18. Assalam’alaykum.
    Thank you for such a detailed explanation. May God bless you with all the best in this world & the next ^^
    I wanted to ask, so if I start with subject-wise samson notes, lets say cardiology & then attempt the cardiology MCQs from the 1700 Qs by Dr. Khalid, and do this for all other chapters. Is this a good plan? Then, after completing this, start the mock & recalls.
    What do you think?
    Thank you for your time sir.

    1. If you have enough time, this is a fine plan. Otherwise, even if you just start solving questions without going through the notes, you will be fine. Remember that the goal is to solve as many questions as you can, as many times as you can. Because the same questions appear in the exam (with the same four options in the same order).

      1. Thank you ^^
        I was meaning to ask, really sorry to disturb you with this matter, I noticed some sections of Samson notes 2016 are missing, should I go with the 2014 one instead?

      2. Yes, you can go with 2014 notes. But remember that you should focus more on the questions and less on the notes. Good luck! 🙂

  19. I’ve been on a break from studying for quite some time. Reading this really helped me. I have a few questions to ask, please answer these!
    Here goes:
    1. Is it possible to take Plab 1 on a dependant/visit/tourist visa?
    2. Is Plab 1 conducted in Holland?
    3. If I’m in England on a visit/dependant visa and want to take Plab 1 in Holland, would that be possible?
    4. Is it possible to take ielts in England on a visit/dependant visa?

  20. Hi Naseer
    Thank you for your information and time.
    I graduated medical school in June 2016 and I would like to take my PLAB 1 on the 2nd of November. I recently completed my USMLE Step 1. The problem is I have spend this long time between my graduation and now preparing for USMLE and PLAB, also my son was i was waiting for my son who was born in October, and have not done an internship or other clinical work. Will I have any problems with this in the future? Do you advise me to enroll in an internship program immediately or what steps should take?

    1. I would strongly advise you to start your internship as soon as possible. The longer the gap between internship and graduation, the more problems it causes. You will have to give an account of what you did during this gap and each day will have to be explained.

      1. Thank you for the response. I will start processing my internship enrollment immediately. In terms of explaining the gap that I already have, will I have to provide a written statement or oral explaination? And this will be of every single day between graduation and internship? If so I think I will have to start preparing it now..

      2. You will have to explain each day during the last five years in writing. This may include your medical school days too. It’s just important to remember the dates of finishing your school, receiving your degree, taking exams after that, starting your job after that. There should be no gaps.

  21. Hi Dr Naseer! Thank You for the inspiration you hav given to many of us through your blog!
    I would like to know what would be the possibilities in UK after doin post graduation in General surgery in India

  22. Thank you Dr Khan! Stumbling upon your blog has probably been the best thing that ever happened. You cleared so many of my doubts. I feel quite confident already. God bless you!

  23. i have a question , how long to prepare for plab 1 if somebody who had studied USMLE and pass all steps include step 3? I have tried to answer several questions post in the Facebook group and i think it is similar with usmle and the questions are short and not complicated like usmle.

  24. hello sir, this is a very helpfull for us …. sir i am in a last semester of my mbbs course and i am planning for PLAB 1. but sir i hv a lot of questions…sir, in the PLAB 1 how much ques are comming and and how much ques i need to perpare ……. is this exam coming from 1700 ques or ?? i know its sounds kiddish…but i don’t know anything…… from india . navneet kaur

    1. All of your questions have been answered on my website. Please explore. All the best! 🙂

  25. Hello Dr. I wanted to ask you that as you suggested question bank and all important material do i have to use latest one Material , Notes and Question Banks ?

    Any Videos Will you suggest ?

    if latest material or 1700 mcq must be new so where i can find ?

    thanks you sir.

  26. Hello,
    Thank you for all the effort you are putting in to help fellow plabbers and all IMGs. May ALLAH bless you.I have some questions for you.I intend to sit for the plab 1 examination in September in the UK.
    1) Should I apply as a tourist or mention plab 1 as the main reason for visiting the UK in my letter??
    2)Secondly,if I do enter the UK as a tourist and do not mention my intentions to sit for Plab 1 exams,could it cause any unnecessary problems for the next time I apply for UK visa?
    What i mean to say is lets say they grant me tourist visa for 6 months and in this period I manage to clear both parts of the plab.However,I would be required to come to Uk again for GMC registration and get a new visa…so In this case will the visa officials ask me as to when did I undergo my plab exams?? Will It be an issue that I have cleared my exam without mentioning anything about them in my previous visa application letter??

    Your help would be highly appreciated brother!!

    1. 1. Depends on which visa you are applying for. Most people mention PLAB and apply for the PLAB visa.
      2. No, you will be fine.

  27. Thank you for this amazing website!
    It will be great if you can answer a few questions, sir.

    1) Is it possible to give PLAB 1 during internship (I’ve completed final year) or is it only after internship?

    2) Is local clinical experience required? As in working in a hospital? Like electives in usmle.

    3) The duration of postgraduation in Internal Medicine or Surgery is three years, right?

    4) Do non-training jobs pay? If so, how much?

    5) How much do training jobs pay? (Means after I’ve started the post graduation course)

    1. 1. The former.

      2. No.

      3. No.

      4. Yes, check this under the Pay Scales post on my website.

      5. The same as non-training posts.

      1. Thank you for your reply sir.

        1) What is the duration of the postgraduation course for Medicine?

        2) What is the commonest visas IMGs are given?

        3) How many years are we required to stay in the UK after completion of the course?

      2. 1. I assume you’re talking about training in medicine. Because PG courses are different. Training in medicine takes 7-8 years. But it doesn’t matter since we are always paid well and get enough respect.

        2. Tier 2.

        3. You are never required to stay in the UK. You can leave whenever you want.

  28. Dr Dr Naseer I salute your effort on this great site. Please if I want to solve the 1700 questions by myself,please what is this best source of reference to solve the 1700 questions. Thank you so much

  29. Thankyou for this wonderful blog Doctor. i just have one question in mind .

    How long it the validity period to give PLAB 2 after clearing PLAB 1 ? for Example , IELTS has a validity period of 2 years . does PLAB 1 results expire after a duration of time ? if so how many years ?

  30. Dear Dr Khan,
    Thank you very much for this website, you are a rare gem. Please looking at the changes in the last PLAB 1 exam, do you think the study materials as advised on your website are still adequate to prepare for the PLAB 1 exam ?, Is it true that the PLAB 1 exam is now more difficult based on the last exam in July 2018. ?
    Thank you so much

    1. Yes, they’re enough.

      The March 2018 exam started a new change as you can see from this post.

  31. Salam Dr Naseeb!
    And an amazing work ur doing! !
    I wanted you to shed some light on the new exam replacing Plab 1 from 2019, if you have any idea that us.

  32. thank you dr naseer for your help
    I want to know if I start prepration now for November exam is that enough ? ( I have about 12 hour free in my day )

  33. Hello sir, I understand everything that u have told and Thank you very much for helping us without expecting any rewards. But I’m having a small financial doubt from your video. U mentioned it will take 3000-5000£ for the first month coz we will be getting our first salary at the end of the month, again u have mentioned the salary will be 2700£/m. The expenditure is more than the salary ryt. So how can we fix this problem?

    1. For me, this expenditure was only £1,700. So it can vary.

      Also, if your expenditure is high, you might need some loans initially.

      You can also ask your Trust to pay your maintenance or relocation expenses. This might or might not work.

  34. Hello everyone is mentioning how recent immigration laws have made it extremely difficult to get a job in UK that true? I really want to give it my all but I need to know it won’t go to waste.

  35. Sir I am 40 years old now I want to give plab and settle in UK is it possible or is there any age limit. I have done DGO DNB Gynae obstetrics from India and done senior residency for 2 years after that due to burnout I took up job in family planning association of India for last 4 years . Now that a family crisis is over I want to catchup professionaly So what are my chances of job in UK please guide

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