Before we talk about MRCP and PLAB in detail, it is important to understand the training structure in the UK, as explained here.



PLAB is the licensing exam for international medical graduates. Candidates, who have passed PLAB 1 and PLAB 2, are eligible to apply for GMC registration. Once they’re registered with the GMC, they are allowed to work in the UK as a doctor.

IELTS is a prerequisite for PLAB.


Entry Into the System After Passing PLAB:

Candidates who pass PLAB 2 and acquire GMC registration, can be divided into two categories:


1. Candidates who have NOT completed an acceptable pattern of internship from their home country:

These candidates are at the level of freshly graduated doctors, with no experience.

Therefore, the next step for them would be Foundation Program; they can only apply for F1 posts.

It is very difficult to find F1 posts for IMGs. So it is always advisable to start working in the UK only after completion of an internship back home.


2. Candidates who have completed an acceptable pattern of internship from their home country:

These candidates are at the level of doctors who have completed their F1.

Therefore, the next step for them would be F2. However, getting a training F2 post is very difficult, since most people who enter F1, complete their F2 training in the UK; there are almost no vacancies for F2 training for IMGs.

So the best option would be to apply for different non-training posts, which can be found very easily. After working for 3 months at a non-training post, they can get their F2 competencies signed. Getting their F2 Competencies signed would make them eligible to apply for Core Training.

The following flowchart might make the journey easier to understand.




MRCP is a specialty exam, which a candidate needs to pass, before they can enter specialty training in the UK. Once they have passed MRCP 1, MRCP 2 and PACES they’re eligible to apply for GMC registration. Once they’re registered with the GMC, they are allowed to work in the UK as a doctor.


Entry Into the System After Passing MRCP:

After passing PACES and getting GMC registration, these candidates are at the level of doctors who have completed their Core Training.

Therefore, the next step for them would be Specialty Training. However, it might not be possible to start their ST right away.

The best route for these doctors is to take a non-training job at first. After working for a certain amount of time, they can get their Core Training competency signed and after meeting other eligibility requirements of Specialty Training, these candidates can apply for Specialty Training.

The following flowchart might make the journey easier to understand.




If you want to become a consultant, you have to go through Specialty Training, for which you would need MRCP. So even after passing PLAB, you will have to take MRCP at a later point. However, if you pass MRCP first, you do not have to take the PLAB exam.





If all of the above is a bit confusing, I’ll try to make it a bit simple.



MRCP will allow you to jumpstart your UK career, as you won’t have to go for PLAB or for Core Training. However, jumping is never easy. Therefore, if you take MRCP without going for PLAB, it won’t be an easy journey.

You might pass MRCP 1 and 2 by studying theory. But passing the PACES, which is an OSCE exam, will be difficult, without sufficient clinical experience in the UK.

Therefore, it might be better to take PLAB 1 first, as it an easier exam. Plus, the earlier that you enter the system, the easier it will be.




Frequently Asked Questions


1. If I pass MRCP 1 and MRCP 2, do I still need to pass PLAB?

Yes, you still need to pass PLAB 1 and PLAB 2. PLAB is only exempted if you pass all three parts of MRCP.


2. If I pass all three parts of MRCP, do I still need to pass PLAB?



3. If I pass PLAB, do I still need to pass MRCP?

If you want to go into Specialty Training for Medicine, then, yes, you have to pass all three parts of MRCP before you start your Specialty Training.


4. If I pass MRCP, I don’t have to pass PLAB. And even after passing PLAB, I have to pass MRCP. So why shouldn’t I take MRCP instead of PLAB?

It is still better to take PLAB first. Because it is easier to climb the stairs instead of jumping them. I will tell you what I mean by that.

  1. If you take PLAB first, you would be taking one step at a time. And the difficulty level would increase gradually. The best example for this would be: when you start playing FIFA for the first time, you start with Amateur mode and after sufficient practice, you move on to Semi-Pro. You don’t start playing the game in Legendary mode from day one.
  2. MRCP is a very difficult exam and without sufficient clinical exposure in the UK, it will be very difficult to pass.
  3. If you take your Core Training in the UK, the clinical exposure would help you in preparing for MRCP and also in becoming a better doctor.


5. Do I have to pass MRCP 1, MRCP 2 and PACES – all three parts of MRCP, before I start Specialty Training in Medicine in the UK?



6. What are non-training jobs?

These are the jobs that IMGs with an acceptable pattern of internship can and should apply for. There can be many different titles to these jobs, but the jobs are nearly the same. These can include:

Foundation Year 2 (FY2)
Senior House Officer (SHO)
Core Training 1 (CT1)
Core Training 2 (CT2)
Specialty Training 1 (ST1)
Specialty Training (ST2)
Clinical Fellow (CF)
Junior Clinical Fellow (JCF)
Senior Clinical Fellow (SCF)
Junior Doctor
Trust Grade Doctor

It might confuse you seeing FY, CT and ST posts among non-training jobs. These jobs arise when a hospital needs FY, CT or ST Doctors, but it is not possible for them to recruit training doctors. So they hire non-training doctors for the same posts.

Working at these jobs will not count towards your training experience. However, the job description and the salary is the same as training jobs.


7. 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.


8. What is F2 Competency?

Since IMGs do not go through UK’s Foundation training, they are required to get an F2 Competency form signed by their consultant. This form can be signed by any consultant, in the UK or in their home country, under whom they have worked for at least 3 months, during the last 3 years.

This form would not make them equivalent to candidates who have completed their Foundation training from the UK, but it would make them eligible to apply for Core Training program in the second round (First round is for British and EU citizens).


9. What is an Acceptable Pattern of Internship?

At least 12 months of internship with at least 3 months in medicine and at least 3 months in surgery is considered to be an acceptable pattern of internship. Medical and surgical sub-specialties count in medicine and surgery, respectively. For example, pediatrics and OBGYN are counted as medicine and surgery, respectively.

You must also check the official link from the GMC’s website to find out the acceptable patterns of internship. You can click here to check the official GMC link.

267 thoughts on “PLAB vs MRCP”

  1. Thank you so much for this really informative blog! For fresh graduates such as myself, finding and understanding career counselling and guidance can be overwhelming. Sir, I have just started my housejob and intend on giving PLAB1 within the year. I’d like to ask whether giving PLAB and then going to UK and doing FY2 and all the subsequent steps is a better option or staying in Pakistan and doing IMM + MRCPsych 1 and 2 here and then doing PACES from UK. My ultimate goal is to have an fcps (psych) and MRCPsych and do job here in Pakistan, as I cannot settle abroad. What is the best course of action in such a scenario? The reason I wished to do PLAB was because above all, I wanted to get good training. Pakistan has some great training institutes no doubt, but from what I have gathered so far, Psychiatry training of UK is unparalleled. Lookig forward to your kind guidance 🙂 Thank you


    1. From what I gather, you’re unsure or maybe I misunderstood. Because I get the feeling that you want to train for psychiatry from two different countries, which is not going to be easy. I think you should choose between the two countries for your training. Only then we can make a plan for you.

      Good luck! 🙂


  2. I am a graduate of the year 2005 with the housejob in 2006 .From that period till now my experience is t work in a gp clinic as an assistant doctor for two years and working in the hospital for just six months.After that now a comlete gap of more than six years…..I really want t come back towards my medical career…my question is that will I be able to get the job if I finish with my Gmc registration aftr clearing plab two.Or due to this much gap I should now forget about my passion to work as a dr. It’s not possible aftr this much gap.


  3. I m a 2nd year FCPS cardiology resident in Pakistan. I have done MRCP1 and 2 and wanna enter UK via MRCP route. Will my FCPS cardio help me in finding an ST or other training post in UK?


    1. Getting Cardiology training without Core Medical Training is difficult since ST3 Cardiology usually does not open in Round 2.

      If you’re in CMT, you can apply for ST3 in Round 1.

      The other problem with this plan is that passing PACES without UK clinical experience is harder than people realize it to be.

      FCPS will not help in finding a training job in the UK.


      1. Thanks a lot for your guidance. I am a graduate of 2012 and will apply for CMT in 2019, after completion of my training and all the requirements of UK. Does it make me overqualified for CMT? i mean will i be able to find a CMT post?


    1. If you complete your FCPS training, then you’ll be almost at a consultant level. It might just be better to take FCPS-II and apply for CESR.

      Or take PLAB and start from ST3.

      But you will still be allowed to apply for CMT.


  4. Hi there Naseer. Thank you for being very informative. I have a question regarding IELTS, can we only do IELTS for PLAB 2 or are we required to have it for both PLAB 1 & 2?


  5. hello Dr Naseer. I’m so happy i found your blog. its so so helpful. thank you very much and God bless you. do you know of any exam similar to PlAB for entry in to Canada? I’ll also like to know a bit about the US route. thanks Dr.


      1. Hello Dr, thank you for your previous reply. I am currently doing my house job. I’ll be rounding up by June next year isA. Can I take PLAB 1 in March, while I’m still doing my house job? Or does it have to be after I’m done? Thank you.


  6. Your blog is very informative. You explained everything in very simple words and thanks for that.
    I have 2 questions
    1. Can u please tell me about tha expenses we will need to start a career in uk through plab.
    2. What are are chances of getting an mrcog training job in uk.


  7. Hi, I have 6 years of gap in clinical practice. If i pass MRCP UK, all the three stages from my home country, can I get a position again in core training for internal medicine? Or do i only eligible for higher specialty training? Please guide.


    1. 1. Passing MRCP without UK clinical experience is not easy.
      2. You will be eligible to apply for CMT. But you would be overqualified (not in-eligible) and can apply for ST3 then.


  8. Sir, i have a small doubt. If i need to have a postgraduate degree in general internal medicine, do i have to go for ST3 or is ST3 onwards only for specialisation in a certain field?


    1. You will have to go for ST3. But it is not possible to do Internal Medicine only. You will have to take another sub-specialty along with it. So you will be a consultant in two specialties.


  9. Hello Dr
    Firstly thanks for this great blog
    I did internship overseas in China where I also did MBBS but I am Indian in nationality.Does that count as an internship according to GMC standards


  10. Hello sir..!
    Your blog has very good information regarding mrcp and plab.
    I want to know if the procedure for mrcs is any different?
    Also, what are the chances of getting an mrcs after clearing plab?
    Which exam taken first is better, mrcs or plab?
    Thank you.


  11. Your blog is really helpful Dr.Naseer. Much appreciated for your hard work. I have a query regarding an alternative option to Plab. I did pass my Plab 1 and was well
    Prepared for Plab 2 but couldn’t appear due to some circumstances and it got expired. Now I have no option left except for doing post graduate exams like MRCP. But this exam is of no use without UK clinical setting experience. Is there any option for getting a Uk medical experience without GMC registration? Thanks!


  12. Hi doctor!!
    If someone finished internal medicine specialization in his home country and wants to do a fellow in Uk, does he still need to do MRCP!!


  13. SIR,
    I will be completing my MBBS IN March 2018 and internship by March 2019.
    I have read many experiences and many suggest that IMG are stuck at non-training jobs for years and then return to there country , is it true?….I want to do speciality in SURGERY/ORTHOPAEDICS and work in UK, should I Do Postgraduation in My home country(india) and then apply for MRCS? or start the journey from PLAB without Postgraduation and upto MRCS, but many colleagues suggest getting surgery in UK is difficult?


  14. Hello doctor
    If I want to study master or phd of dermatology in uk .. how much this degree will help me to get work in uk
    How can I get useful of it


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