(This post was originally written for my blog on 18th March 2017. It was added to my blog by taking permission from the writer. Thank you, Dr. Mylene Lim, for allowing me to add your post to this blog)
PLAB 1 Journey
Hi everyone! 🙂 My name is Mylene, and I’ve just completed my PLAB 1 exam (March 2017). Thank you, Dr Naseer for inviting me to do this blog post on my PLAB 1 journey. I am honoured to be able to share my experience. This has been my experience so far, and I have to confess that it is very minute compared to what many others have gone through. But I shall attempt to share as many tips as I can, and hopefully, this will be of some help to you.
I started my PLAB journey very late, owing to problems with GMC recognising my English proficiency, and hence even though I didn’t have to take IELTS, I was only allowed to register for the PLAB 1 in mid-February. (For any future plabbers out there who would like to know more information about bypassing IELTS you can contact me directly, or look up GMC’s website). Hence, I only had 4 weeks to prep for the PLAB 1. In addition, I was working every day with only one day off a week, which made studying time very limited for me. I shall elaborate further on several key aspects of PLAB 1 prep below, and if anyone has any further questions I will be more than happy to help. 🙂
How much time do I require to study for the PLAB 1?
The duration of time needed to study for the PLAB 1 really varies greatly from person to person. I probably studied for 2-3 hours every day for 4 weeks. I can’t say for sure if this is sufficient to help me pass (fingers crossed for my results next month!) but I have seen past plabbers who have studied for lesser amounts of time than I have and passed, and similarly I’ve seen people saying that they studied up to 14 hours a day for many weeks and still failed. From what I’ve experienced, I recommend that you should give yourself at least 6-8 weeks of conscientious studying. Any shorter is will be really stressful (especially if you are juggling a full-time job and I know many who have kids etc).
Is a QBank necessary?
Many people always ask if they should subscribe to a question bank. My personal thoughts are that it is not necessary, there is so much material available out there that is free and which is sufficient to prep for the exam. But I did subscribe to a QBank- passmedicine. Why? Simply because I was quite ill-informed at the start and didn’t realise the abundance of questions available that was free. But do I regret it? No. Passmedicine was a great study resource for me, because I had no time to study from scratch, so I was simply doing as many questions as I can, and if I got the question incorrect, there was a nice, concise note and explanation given, which allowed me to study the concept that I got wrong. The explanations given in Dr Khalid’s 1700 MCQs are very brief, I didn’t do any mocks/recalls but from what I know only the key is given, there is no explanation. And I didn’t do Unity/Dr Sush/s questions because it was just too much. Passmedicine is also quite updated in terms of their management guidelines. It is also the cheapest available amongst the 4 that I was considering:
>Passmedicine: £12 for 4 months/£15 for 6 months
>MCQ Bank: £39 for 4 months
>BMJ OnExamination: £40 for 2 months
>Plabbable: £20 for 3 months
It is, however, as many have pointed out, more difficult than the PLAB 1 exam. The questions were lengthy and you really have to know your basic concepts well in order to answer them right. However, I felt that it was good for me because it trained me to read questions faster, and to really know my knowledge well. Several plabbers have also used plabbable and say it’s good, with questions very similar to the PLAB 1 exam so I would say if you are looking to subscribe to a QBank, choose either PassMedicine or plabbable, the other two are really too expensive.
So what should I study?
- Samson notes- Use it for a very brief and quick revision on basic concepts. Spend at most 2-3 days revising them. However bear in mind that only the 2014 FULL version is available, the 2016 notes are mostly incomplete or empty, hence be weary of some of their management guidelines as they are out of date. If in doubt, cross reference with your Oxford Handbook textbooks/online.
- Dr Khalid 1700 MCQs- I don’t think I need to explain why this is important! I did it only once as I didn’t have time, but I think you should do it twice.
- FACEBOOK!!- The Facebook PLAB group is a goldmine of questions! There are lots of recalls/mocks were posted by other plabbers, and it was so useful to me because I didn’t do any recalls/mocks, so it was the only time I ever came across these questions (plus I could scroll through those questions on the train ride to and from work). Answer as many as you can, and discuss your answers with the rest. Many people on there are very helpful, and if you have any questions that you are unsure of, ask! Chances are, you are not only helping yourself, but many others as well. The Facebook PLAB community is wonderful, and it is such a great learning space if you utilise and engage it wisely. Beware though of being too distracted by it, do not spend all your time on Facebook haha. 😛
- Mocks + Recalls- I didn’t do them but again, very helpful to do so as there are many question patterns/clinchers that have been seen before and will likely come up again in your PLAB 1 exam. As I didn’t do them, I don’t know if Swamy or Samson is better :/
- Optional- Online question bank. I would recommend either passmedicine or plabbable. But I really don’t feel it is necessary in your exam prep, as there are so many questions available for free in the facebook group’s file section.
- Unsure- Unity/Dr Sush’s questions.. I didn’t even have time to crack open one of their files L but it seems very comprehensive, and again if you have time, do them!
Additional exam tips for the exam day:
- Sleep adequately the night before. I cannot stress how important this is.
- Stop studying about an hour or two before the start of the exam. It is very tempting to continue cramming and doing questions right up till the last minute, but give yourself about an hour before the exam to just let your mind rest and relax. You are gonna need it for a 3-hour marathon, so give it time to rest before this marathon.
- Read the question well and formulate the answer before even looking at the options. I know it is tempting to just look for clinchers but oftentimes we can miss out important clue words that will lead to the answer, so just spend a good 10-20 seconds reading the question well. Once you have, think of what the answer is without looking at the options, cause then if you see it in the options, you know you have the right one J
- Elimination works- if you have no clue what the answer is even after reading the question, look at the options. Decide which options are definitely wrong and cross them out. That way, your probability of getting the right answer is increased. And also, sometimes the other 4 options are so ridiculously wrong that you know that is definitely the right answer!
- Time management is very important. Many people have left questions unanswered simply because they have ran out of time. Also, shade your answers immediately, because you will not have time to do so later (and also it is a waste of precious time to do so). Circle questions that you want to go through again, because if you’re lucky enough to have time to recheck your answers, you just want to be concentrating on those you had doubts about, and not run through the entire paper.
So I guess in summary, PLAB 1 is an examination which many of you can conquer! 🙂 Just do as many many questions as you can, it is really not a very difficult examination if you prep adequately. I would like to thank Dr Khalid, Dr Naseer and all of you on Facebook who has helped me so much along this past month (you know who you are :D), and wish all the March 17 plabbers good luck for their results!