(This post was originally published on 24th December 2014. It was added to my blog by taking permission from the writer. Thank you, Dr. Husam Jamil, for allowing me to add your post to this blog)
It was the year 2004 when I was in grade 10th of Pakistan’s prestigious Cadet College Hasan Abdal, when i first heard about the exam PLAB as one of my family friends had passed it, and i wondered how it felt like after passing it. Well 10 years on, as i have passed the part 1 of this exam, i am joyful, Alhamdulilah. Forget about the possibility of getting a training post in the UK in the field of your choice, just think about this achievement. If you have passed this exam, you are now just one step away from being registered to the medical coucil of the super power of the world,the leader nation of Europe, the ultimate king of the world in the past,Great Britain. They are now ready to accept your medical qualification (which you obtained probably from a third world country) to issue a license to practice in their country.
In this document i would give a highlight about how to prepare for the exam if you are willing to pass the exam in the most convenient way.
1) The preparation structure:
We live in an era where internet and social media has revolutionised our lives. Facebook had an immense role in my success, and not much from the books. I think that the following structure is important to be kept in mind :
Facebook page of PLAB + 1700 swammy file + Mocks (super important) +very limited topics from OHCM & OHCS.
Let me give you a detailed review of how to use this structure.
2) The facebook page of PLAB:
If you type PLAB on the search bar of your facebook page, many pages would appear in the options. Chose the one which has PLAB in capital letters and has above 25000 members. If you are reading this article, you are already on this page. Getting subscribed to this page is perhaps the most wonderful thing that you can do to prepare for Plab. Its like dating the prettiest girl in the finest restaurant, or getting the fastest and heavily armed fighter aircraft to bomb enemy targets. Joining this page is free, however, unlike a date or the aircraft.
Now listen up carfully. On this page, the most brilliant minds from Indo Pak subcontinent and the Arab world discuss mcqs and give explanations. This is the shortest way you can quickly memorise a topic. Just read the mcqs for the first week with their explanations given in the comments to make yourself familiar with the idea about the baseline mcqs asked in the exam. You would rather learn that very quickly. Then start participating by giving your opinions on mcqs. Just dont feel shy at all that your suggestions would be wrong, i was a total “DUMBO” in start and heard some sarcastic comments from others, but i ignored and carried on till i stabilised myself. The mcqs posted here are from the 1700 mcq file of swammy or from mocks, and are usually the ones which are difficult. So you can hit on the hard ones right from the start. Just keep in mind that you dont have to be selfish, if you see that others are helping you out on your mcqs that you are posting, help others out too when you know the answer v well !!
The greatest luxury this page has to offer is its “FILES” section. Its a treasure! you can get all the mocks, the 1700 mcq file with keys , and so many many other things here for free… Scroll down thoroughly from here and load up your laptop or cell phone with such files.
Another great option is that with passage of time you can chose a couple of people which you like and make a watsapp group with them to have a more private prepration group.
I swear, had there not have been this group, i wouldnt have done well in the exam, thats all i can say for now.
3) 1700 Swammy file:
This file is available on the PLAB page. Download it. Its a very very important file, which is basically a cluster of swammy mocks of the past 2-3 years. The keys given in this file are sometimes totally wrong, but thats a blessing in disguise i would say…. Copy paste the mcq which you deem doubtful on the PLAB page and you would get a fantastic discussion quickly. I would say that about 20% mcqs in the real exam were from the 1700 file.
4) The MOCKS:
Oh dear….. I just cant emphasise the importance of this entity enough. MOCKS MOCKS MOCKS !! DO THEM ! EAT THEM ! SLEEP WITH THEM ! MEMORISE/RATTAFY THEM ! i remember that there were certain mcqs which were such ditto copy of the mcqs from the mocks that i was smiling while solving them and took a fraction of a second to solve them.
There are two groups of mocks which you need to do, Swammy and Samson. On a pesonal note, i found the mocks of Samson a bit confusing compared to swammy .. but then again you have the PLAB page, discuss all your confusions there….
5) OHCM & OHCS:
If you meet a plab passer before the facebook era, he would always emphasize the importance of OHCM and OHCS in the prep of this exam.
Well next time he says so, tell him very politely and decently to go screw himself.
OHCM and OHCS , other than some selected topics which i would mention in the end, is an utter waste of time, an absolute disgust, an obstacle in passing the plab exam, a worthless load in your prepration materials for PLAB, something which only nerdy girls can do and boys should NOT ! The only reason you should open this book is when an mcq is so retarded that no one can give a logical answer.
Please, i request in the most humble capacity, dont study from these books. Life is beautiful and you deserve better.
6) The FINAL PLAN:
I think that being a “fresh graduate” has an advantage is just a myth. Medicine is a volatile substance, it fades away very quickly. Even if you are appearing in this exam after 10 years of graduation, you can still ace it by the technique i told you above. Now i would give you a plan which you can alter or modify for yourself according to your circumstances :
“The 40 day Plan”
—-First 7 days: Just go through all mcqs posted daily on the facebook PLAB page.
—-From 8th day onwards: Start solving the 1700 mcq file and copy paste the doubtful keys on PLAB page, finish the file in 12-14 days.Continue watching the plab page mcqs.
—-From day 20 onward: now you have mastered the 1700 file, switch quickly to the mocks…. do as many mocks as you can , post the tricky ones on PLAB page.
—-Last 5 days: Stop using facebook now and just do mocks, try memorising some of the mocks qs, they would difinitely be repeated in the exam.
—-The last day: just relax, you have done great, do the questions you marked as the toughest ones in 1700 file and mocks, sleep at 10 pm at night, wake up fresh in the morning.
>>>>> Disadvantage of the above plan: without a doubt this plan is very simple one, and therefore you will have a constipated tummy on the day of the exam when you would see other candidates discussing super tough non sense.
>>>>> Advantage of the above plan: As soon as you will start solving the paper, your constipaton will be relieved as you will find that the paper is easy and you can do it.
And those who memorised super tough non sense, when would come out of the exam hall, would realise that perhaps they should have done something better other than studying OHCM,OHCS, patient.co.uk.… Something like watching Gay homosexual scenes of “How to get away with murder” serial.
7) Some DOs :
—- Exercise daily. Boys should go for a jog or gym, girls should wash dishes or serve their mother-in-laws.
—- Pray. Talk to Allah, Jesus, Krishna, whichever religion you are into. If you are an aetheist, take and ouija board and try capturing and taking tips from Charles Darwin. Dude had an evolutionised brain.
—- Do make friends. You will come to know about very bright minds from different countries. Talk to them, know them, make this prepration a memorable experience.
—- Every now and then someone, more likely a girl, would post on fb page that she is depressed and not happy from her prep. Console her.
8) Some DONTs:
—- Donot study too much from OHCM and OHCS
—- There is no need to use an online website like on examination etc. i used MCQ Bank website only to realise that it was a waste of money. These websites are of MRCP/MRCS residency level. PLAB exam is of housejob/internship level.
—- Donot flirt around on facebook page. There are better ways of losing self respect.
—- Dont be stressful.
I would like to conclude here that what matters in the end is the TECHNIQUE and not the quantity of what you prepare. The technique should be a simple one. I swear im just an average graduate and im proud of what i am ! On the facebook pages of plab prep, everytime my cohort members made a post of involving others in an mcq or thanking others, i was never tagged in their list. Alhamdulilah, alhamdulilah, i still scored much higher than many of those big guns by a 148/200 ! Im not crying like a kid when i say this or trying to belittle them, im just trying to convey the message to the future plabbers the superiority of my technique which brought me success and would bring to them too in sha Allah…..
I wont bore you guys anymore. Start preparing from today. All the very best.Allah o Akbar.
Dr Husam Jamil