After two and a half years of PLAB 1, two visa rejections and my subsequent battles with depression, I’ve finally managed to pass PLAB 2, with a wonderful score of 155 out of 216.
Why I Chose Common Stations:
Apart from my family, the person who deserves more credit than anyone else for this is Dr. Hamed. He made the journey very, very easy for me. It was a walk in the park for me.
I am someone who sits at the back of the class, studies just before exams and manages to pass exams by a small margin. However, Dr. Hamed made everyone interact in his class; he spoon-fed all of us; he told us exactly what we needed to know for the exam, nothing more, nothing less. I followed him blindly. And here I am today.
Dr. Hamed is dedicated, he loves to teach and he’s a very kind person. Honestly, I’ve never had a better teacher in my life.
Except for the first two stations of my exam, I was not stressed at any point during, before or after the exam. I’ll tell you about my PLAB 2 experience in detail.
Before leaving for the UK:
I did not study absolutely anything before I reached the academy and started taking classes. I went there with an open mind. And honestly, there’s not much that you can study before your classes begin.
Reaching the UK:
I reached the UK two days before the start of my course. It was important to reach 2 days before. On the day of my arrival, I did not have time for anything. I just had a warm meal and I went to sleep. The next day, I went out for some grocery shopping. I bought a warm jacket, since I did not have any (as it never gets cold in my hometown, Karachi). I slept early, to be mentally ready for the intense course starting from the next day.
Our classes used to begin around 10 AM every day and end around 10 PM or 11 PM, depending on how tired we were and how much we needed to cover (this has changed since then. Now Dr. Hamed ends his class around 8 PM).
In my time, lunch break was always for two hours. Now I hear that it is for only an hour. I always tried to study during the lunch break, but I never succeeded. I felt guilty about not studying during the lunch break, but I should not have. It was completely okay to relax and to have lunch during the lunch break. So my advise would be to just relax during the lunch break and to have a good meal. You need enough calories to survive the long hours during the class.
After the Class:
Dr. Hamed always stressed upon studying at home each day, after the class. He was right. He used to say, two hours of studying after class would equal to 2 days of studying later on. Because after the class, whatever you have studied, is still fresh in your mind; it is easier to grasp.
For the first five days, I did study after the class. But after that, our class started to end around 10:30 PM or 11:00 PM and I did not have any time after getting home to study. I used to have dinner and go straight to bed.
I felt guilty about not studying after the class, but then again, I should not have. It was completely okay to relax after the class. After 12 hours of being in class, I deserved a break.
However, if your class ends at 08:00 PM, then you must study for at least a couple of hours after the class. If you can study for longer, that would be great. If you have your exam in two weeks or less after the course ends, then it’s a must for you to go over each day’s notes after the class ends.
I saw some of my classmates practicing stations during the lunch breaks and before the start of class each day. I always felt uneasy by watching them. Because I felt I was not ready to practice yet. I had not studied the stations. I was surprised that they were already ready to practice. I felt I was behind them. I felt guilty and I felt bad. But I should not have. It was great that they were practicing. I should have joined them. I realized this very late.
I wanted to read all the notes before I started to practice with my classmates. I was wrong. This was not the best approach. As I’ve explained in my post Studying for PLAB 2, it’s best to start practicing as early as you can; this would have increased my exposure to the stations.
Choosing Mock Dates:
I made another mistake. After the course ended, we were asked to choose mock dates. At that time, each mock used to cost us 75 GBP. I felt it was very expensive. So I picked only two mocks. This has changed now and they offer two mocks for free at Common Stations. You can purchase more mocks if you want.
I realized before and during my exam that this was a mistake. I should have taken all four mocks for 300 GBP. I feel that I should’ve taken all four mocks, even if they were for a total of 1,000 GBP.
Taking as many mocks as you can is important because it is your mocks that are going to prepare you for your exam. By the time your exam arrives, I’m one hundred percent sure that you would have studied enough and you would remember all the stations. The most important thing on the exam day is your confidence and being mentally ready for the exam. Nothing will prepare you for this like mocks would.
So my advise would be to take as many mocks as you can.
This was not a part of the two mocks that I bought. This was a 9-station mini mock, for free, as a part of the course.
We had our mini mock only a day or two after the course ended. Since I had not studied anything, I was not ready for it. I did really bad in my mini mock. I again felt bad. My friends who had been practicing during the classes, did pretty well.
Al though, I should not have felt guilty for not doing well in my mini mock, I now feel I should have practiced like others, during the course days.
I seriously thought about skipping this mini mock and a lot of my friends did skip this, as we were not ready for it. But not skipping it was a good decision. I found out where I stood.
Time Before Exam:
After the course, the mini mock and the revision classes ended, I had four weeks before my exam. This was a very comfortable margin for me. I knew I could study while being relaxed. I had planned things months in advance, to make this schedule for myself. Like I advised in my PLAB Visa Guidelines post, planning things in advance, helped me a lot.
If you have four weeks or more before your exam, it’s ideal to take a break for a day or two. You deserve this break. If you do not take a break, you’ll be exhausted and you would not be able to study.
I would be lying if I said I did not take a break for a week after the course ended. This break was way too long. It was in fact longer than a week. And I did not think I deserved it. But I was just tired and I was not in the mood to study. I felt guilty every day that I was not studying. But I felt I was not ready to study.
When I joined the academy, I did not know anyone in my class. Even during my course, I was not sure who I was going to practice with. On the final day, I asked a class mate if she wanted to practice with me and we formed a group of two. I practiced with her for a week or so. We went through each station once. We could not practice more, as she had her exam then (she passed comfortably). So I wished her luck and I went to the Academy the next day to look for more partners.
More Study Partners:
I was lucky enough to find two more people. I practiced with them for 3 days. I was able to go through all the stations in these 3 days.
First Major Mock:
By now, I had gone through each station twice. I was better prepared than before. But this mock did not go as well as I would have liked it. I was nervous, I was hesitant, I was not confident. If I had performed like this in my exam, I would have failed. But I was not too bothered, because I knew I was not fully ready yet.
More Practice and Self Studying:
I spent the next four days in the library, studying along and sometimes with a partner.
Second Major Mock:
This mock went really well. I was confident. I got good reviews. I was told I was ready for the exam. I felt I was ready for the exam. It gave me a confidence boost.
I read everything once more, as much as I could. I went over my weak points. At this point, I felt good about my exam. But I still felt that I had not worked hard enough for this exam.
Review Class and Packing:
On my final day in London, I attended Dr. Hamed’s review class. There had been no new stations. So there was nothing to learn here. But seeing Dr. Hamed always gave me confidence. I said my goodbye to him. I packed my stuff and I went to bed.
Train to Manchester:
This was my third mistake. I booked a very early train to Manchester. My train was leaving from London at 08:10 AM. I had to wake up at 04:30 AM for this. I nearly missed my train. But reaching Manchester early gave me more time to revise.
I woke up at 05:00 AM again. I was finished with my fifth and final revision by noon. After that, I went out for lunch. I had a good meal. After coming back to my room, I packed everything, I saw a friend for an hour and I went to bed at 07:00 PM.
I woke up at 05:00 AM as usual. I took a long, relaxing shower. I wore grey pants, white full sleeves shirt, with rolled up sleeves and no sweater.
I reached the GMC building at 08:25 AM. Upon entering the GMC office, we had to show our Passport (proof of ID) and an exam confirmation email. After that, we were made to sit in a waiting area. One by one, we were called for an ID check, which included finger print scanning and taking a picture.
Next, we were taken to a hall, where we were given lockers to keep our stuff.
Next, we were taken to a refreshment room, where we were offered water and biscuits. We were given instructions for the exam in this room.
Next, we were taken to a hall. I realized that this was the examination hall. I remember feeling that I was not ready yet. I was not told that the exam was about to start.
I was asked to stand outside room number 6. So I did. I had my back to the examination room. I noticed that some people were already reading their tasks. I asked an invigilator if I could read my task. She told me that the exam had already started and I should read the task.
I felt panicked. I had enough time to read the task. But I was not mentally ready for the exam yet. I was expecting some sort of a warning or a bell to ring before the start of the exam. In my panic, I messed up the first two stations. I did end up passing the first station though.
My tenth station was a rest station. I looked back at my exam during this station. By now, I had been through nine stations. Only five of them had gone well. Two were only okay (I passed them by scoring 7 or 8) and two were bad (I did fail them by scoring 4 and 5).
During this rest station, I felt guilty, I felt nervous, I felt panicked and I felt I was going to fail the exam. But I made myself calm. I remembered what Dr. Hamed had told me. He had told me that everyone makes mistakes and I was going to make them too. And that it was okay to make mistakes; I only had to score 50% to pass the exam.
I realized that I could still pass the exam if I did well in the remaining nine stations. I did not do well in the remaining nine stations, I did brilliant. I was confident. I was positive. I was ready. And I performed my best.
After the Exam:
I was not sure if I was going to pass. But all I could do was wait.
I passed my exam by scoring 155/216, which is a really good score. It was hard to believe. No one deserves more credit for this than Dr. Hamed. When I went to him, I knew nothing. He prepared me for my exam. I will forever be thankful to Dr. Hamed.
PLAB 2 is not a difficult exam. But it’s not easy either. As long as you stay confident and calm, you’re going to pass your exam.
Keep the following things in mind:
- Reach the UK two days before your course starts.
- Try to study each day after the class.
- Take a well-deserved break after the course ends.
- Practice as much and as early as you can.
- Take as many mocks as you can.
- Reach Manchester two days before the exam.
- Don’t book a very early train to Manchester.
- Be mentally ready to make mistakes during the exam
- Stay relaxed.
- YOU ARE GOING TO PASS THIS EXAM.
(This post was originally published by me on 22nd February 2017 for this blog)