(This post was originally written for my blog on 23rd Feb 2017. It was added to my blog by taking permission from the writer. Thank you, Dr. Murk Memon, for allowing me to add your post to this blog)
I had exactly 2 months to prepare for my exam as I got busy due to having to attend family weddings soon after clearing my IELTS (I tried to study during that time but I couldn’t concentrate). Again the time needed to pass differs among individuals. Many people pass this exam with 1 month of preparation. I think 3 to 4 months are enough to ace this exam if you are starting it very slow. The first thing that all of you should do is to organize the data that is available to you. It takes a few days to gather all the information and to organize that into the respective categories. The material you need is all in the Facebook PLAB group’s Files Section.
MATERIAL/FILES REQUIRED TO PASS:
- 1700 MCQs File (solved and unsolved).
- Samson’s Notes.
- Swammy’s and Samson’s Mocks.
- Previous Exams Recalls.
- Oxford Handbook Of Clinical Medicine (OHCM) and Oxford Handbook Of Clinical Specialties (OHCS). You don’t have to read these books from cover to cover. A few friends advised me to do so but believe me it’s a waste of time as it is hard to retain the information and in the end you will keep on forgetting things. You only need to read important topics from Oxford books. However, you can use these as your reference material.
- Patient.co.uk (professional Leaflets) and Nice Guidelines serve as excellent references as well.
- Pass Medicine Subscription (Its optional. Do it if you have time and if you want to clear your concepts as this subscription has high level questions. I took the subscription and solved a few questions but again due to a lack of time I stopped doing these questions).
HOW TO START:
1. Samson’s Notes:
I started with Samson’s notes because I always prefer to have some information on the topic before moving on to actual questions. Samson’s notes are good for the need to know information on the subject. You may find these beneficial as these will provide you with some basic knowledge to solve 1700 file and mocks. However, do not follow these notes blindly as there are many mistakes and they are not up to date. While reading the notes I also did important topics from Oxford and wrote down the additional points on the notes of that respective subject. Take 7 to 10 days to finish reading the samson notes.
2. 1700 File:
This is the most important file. It is a series of questions from Swammy’s past mocks. You can find both solved and unsolved 1700 files now so download both of them. The solved file has explanations on how to answer each of the questions. Join a whatsapp group and try to find active members there to solve mcqs. I found a few serious members through one such group and we started solving the 1700 file on skype. Try to finish 100 to 150 questions per day. This might sound a lot to some people so don’t rush them if you can’t do as much. Instead, start slowly and increase the number of questions when you get into the rhythm. Type part of the question you are having trouble with into the search bar on the Facebook Plab group and see the discussions of previous plabbers on the question. You can also copy and paste the questions you are struggling with on the group and tag the active members to start a healthy discussion. Follow the questions posted daily on this Facebook group at night in your free time. Don’t just be a silent follower. Try to answer these questions and participate actively but make sure that you have a reference to backup your answer. Respect the opinions of others as there will always be some people who are more knowledgeable than you. Finish this file in about 15 to 17 days.
Now, it’s time for mocks. I can’t stress the importance of mocks enough. I have read previous plabbers saying ‘EAT MOCKS, DRINK MOCKS, SLEEP WITH MOCKS AND MEMORIZE MOCKS’. I couldn’t agree more with this.
I started with the famous samson’s 7 mocks (2013 ones) and did one mock per day. I timed myself while doing it in order to familiarize myself with the exam atmosphere. After finishing the mock I posted all the confusing questions on the Facebook group and discussed them with the fellow plabbers. We used to dissect these questions, use the process of elimination to exclude each and every option until we were fully satisfied. I then did samson’s 2014 and 2015 mocks.The mocks should take around 7 to 10 days or sometimes more than that.
Recalls are the questions from the actual exam posted on the group by plabbers after giving the exam. Cover the recalls after doing mocks. Try to do as many recalls as you can. Take 1 to 2 days to finish recalls.
It is time to revise everything now. Read Samson’s notes again and try to finish them in 4 to 5 days this time. I took a lot of time to revise theory so I couldn’t finish the 2nd revision of Samson’s notes. I left them in the middle and started revising 1700 file and mocks again. I tried to do all the mocks that I came across. I would suggest that all of you revise the 1700 file and the mocks at least twice or if possible thrice. Basically solve as many questions as you can. By doing this, the questions in the real exam will look less intimidating. You will be happy to see many questions with the exact same scenario and the exact same options. You will leave the exam center with a smile on your face 🙂
This is how I prepared and managed to succeed in both of the exams. I am no expert in this subject and you will definitely find many wonderful experiences by others. But I tried my best to cover each and everything and to help as much as I could in this document. I would conclude by saying that Plab 1 is an easy exam but you must stay focused and be positive. Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. Good luck to all of you 🙂