(This post was originally written for my blog. Thank you, Dr. Ferkhanda Zareen, for allowing me to add your post to this blog)
Hey, everyone! Good day to you all! My name is Dr. Ferkhanda Zareen, and I have recently passed my PLAB 1 exam. I would like to thank Dr. Naseer Khan for providing me a chance to share my experience, I am extremely honored. Before I start my rant, I would like to point out that my preparation for the exam was very limited as I barely had enough time. So this post might help those who are facing the same dilemma.
First of all, I booked my exam quite late due to random issues and secondly I didn’t start the preparation due to more silly issues (life often loves to throw a curveball :D). I had a total time of three weeks and three days to figure out how to go about this humongous amount of information and how to streamline it in order to pass this exam. My friends who had already taken this exam suggested me to join the PLAB facebook group, where I stumbled upon this blog. I spent a day reading different experiences and going through study plans people had suggested. In the end, I decided I had to rush through in order to catch up.
A lot of people suggest Samson notes. They are good IF YOU HAVE TIME. Do not make the mistake of opening them at the last moment. Ditching any form of notes and books, I started off with the one thing that was suggested by everyone around me. This was the 1700 MCQ Bank. I am extremely grateful to Dr Khalid Saifullah for providing this gem of a collection. The study plan I followed for the next three weeks was as follows.
- Start off with the 1700 bank. Go through each question and option thoroughly. Start noting down important clincher points. This bank is your lifeline, hold onto it!!! B-). Around the 400/500 mark you will get used to the style and structure. You will also note that the questions aren’t as technical as for example questions from the MRCP bank are. This bank is your lifeline, hold onto it!!! B-). This took me almost a week as I am not a very obsessive student, I can’t study for long hours 😀
- Then I started a few mocks, I didn’t do very well on them initially which simply indicated that I needed to practice more questions. I did around 4 mocks.
- To actually hammer down the important concepts and clinchers into my mind, I went through all my handwritten points I had collected while going through the 1700 bank. I used OHCM, OHCS and patient.co for reference only. This process took me 2 days.
- I picked up Sush Chowdry mcqs, which are actually the same questions, however they are divided subject/system wise. I tested myself using the unanswered versions. Once I was confident enough that I knew about all the important topics from every segment, I went back to the mocks. With this my second week ended.
- I did a total of 10 mocks, two each day under proper examination conditions. By the end of these I had a stable score of above 150. This was my third and final week.
- During this, every day before going to bed, I went through all the posts and questions on the PLAB group. The discussion on there is extremely helpful. Never miss out anything. Discuss and cross examine the questions that are controversial. You will definitely gain a lot of information and confidence with this. This is an amazing learning space, utilize it your fullest.
Before the exam sleep adequately, do not try to cramp stuff a night before, for your brain needs rest. That’s the way it will function well when you need it the most 😛
In the examination hall the strategy plan was to:
- Look out for the time. This will be your biggest challenge. If you have done enough mocks, this will not bother you. However remember that the questions are quite long with a lot of unnecessary information just to throw you off. Do not get intimidated. Try to remember the normal values and ranges to save time, but they are given at the end of the question paper just in case you have problem remembering.
- Do not over think. It’s all about the clinchers. The answer you think is right at first glance is probably the right one. Do not get distracted by the excessive information. Your time is limited so don’t get stuck at one question.
- Elimination helps. If you are lost, with no clue whatsoever, start eliminating options one by one. This increases your chances to opt the right answer.
The period after any exam is a stressful one. However, I have to thank the Almighty Lord for his massive help. Then Dr. Khalid Saifullah, Dr Naseer Khan and a lot many others from the PLAB group who have helped me, even though they might not know. Then my family and my dear friends who supported me and believed in me, particularly a shout out to Dr Muhammad Arsalan Arshad for he guided me through this entire process very patiently during my freak out sessions. (You be the best buddy ever! :D). Because of all these people I can proudly say that I aced PLAB 1 despite time limitations.
This is an exam which almost all of you can ace. The 1700 bank, the mocks, and the facebook page is all you need. Be confident because it’s not a difficult exam, just a tricky one. The Ethics portion is not difficult but if help is needed, check out the Ministry of Health UK website. Manage your time well and mark your answers on the answer sheet properly, do not leave them to be done in the end.
Good luck to everyone taking the test in the future. Cheers to all!