Back in August 2022, I failed PLAB 1 exam despite giving my best efforts. But I finally managed to pass in November 2022. I have been through the same position you are in right now. Perhaps this is why this experience will help you guide your journey to the UK and join as a proud NHS doctor through GMC.
With this post, I will help you to take the necessary steps you should be focussing. Keep crying and repenting and questioning what went wrong are garbage questions you should dump from your mind.
First questions first:
Do People Fail PLAB 1?
The pass rate of the PLAB 1 exam is nearly 60-70%, varying every year and every time the exam results are out. There are many under-prepared students as well as others like you and me who, despite giving in everything, face the thunderbolt chills of life.
Relax, you are in 30% for now, you will be in 70% soon. We learn with experience. Just a gentle reminder from your med school-
Finish last in your league, they call you idiot.
Finish last in medical school, they call you a Doctor!
I failed PLAB 1 despite pouring in all the efforts. 11 revisions, over 20 mocks, 6 Big mocks and so much more. I used PLAB 1 keys and PLABABLE only and relied entirely on them as primary study material. Eventually, I was able to make my own notes which guided me in quick revisions a few days before the exam.
What Happens if I Fail PLAB 1?
I was clueless as to where will my life go after the disappointing and disastrous moment of my life. How could this happen? I was so well prepared. What went wrong?
All these questions popped into my mind, however, the answers were clear in my case. I know it is difficult to rule out the reasons, but there is no point in recalling and stressing yourself out for something that cannot be fixed.
After I failed PLAB 1, I knew I had to restart. The first step was to find the upcoming date and book it immediately. Keep in mind, only if you focus on your future, you can rebuild your past.
I will repeat it again: “Close your eyes for a second, clear all thoughts and focus on getting another slot!”. Here are the 9 Hacks of Booking Cancelled PLAB 1 seat effectively.
Sources Used When You Failed PLAB 1?
Let’s have a poll on what sources were used to study for the exam:
Can PLAB 1 be Remarked?
You can only apply for a remark if you feel there were irregularities or unfavourable circumstances. This is as per GMC criteria of applying for an appeal for remark.
What is covered?
- irregularity in the conduct of the exam, including administrative errors
- unexpected and/or exceptional circumstances that arose during the exam
What is not covered?
- you consider that your efforts were under-marked
- you did not understand or were unaware of the exam procedures
- you seek to question the exercise of professional or academic judgement
What is the interpretation then? You cannot apply for a remark if you strongly believe such measures can help you regain those lost marks (and definitely not more than 1 mark).
As cheesy as it sounds, it is equally impractical. I have, so far, never heard of anyone applying for a remark and passing the exam. Please note, I know friends who failed PLAB 1 by 1 mark, and yet, they knew this method was only a fantasy.
What if my OET/IELTS is expiring before PLAB 1?
You need to book another slot for your English proficiency exam. This is to validate that you are still eligible to appear on the next exam date you have booked. If your OET/IELTS expire before the exam, you will be ineligible.
I failed 3 times in my IELTS exam (unfortunately I am a whirlpool of failures). I kept failing in writing persistently (6.5 in writing despite an 8 overall). The fourth time was a charm with a bit of guidance.
The Next Steps after I Failed PLAB 1
Unlike 99.9% of the students who fail, I was rather prepared. The moment I saw my results, my next step was to find the closest exam date. Fortunately, PLAB 1 is held 4 times a year. Since I failed in August 2022, the closest I could get was November 2023.
I got my results on 21st September and successfully booked another slot on 30th September (for 3rd November 2022). Hardly 10 days of sleepless nights, but it was worth the effort.
I would not tell you to stop and take a break or relax and keep calm. This is not how successful people think. The ones who are suggesting you this, have no clue how broken you are. I know exactly how you feel because I have been through it (far worse though).
Here are the steps you should take:
- Focus on finding a cancelled seat rather than being OK with a 1-year gap of the next exam
- Continue revising since you don’t know if you get the slot super close
- Make concise notes from PLABABLE and PLAB 1 Keys for your last revisions. Here are a couple of examples I made:
- Keep your PLAB 1 Visa updated. Here is a guide on how to apply for PLAB 1 Visa (and not PLAB 2)
- Take an hour of a day and figure out the reason why you failed in PLAB 1– was it time? was it a lack of preparation? was it just luck? Either way, not more than 1 hour or you will start panicking once again
- Make a thorough study timetable. If you have not, here is how you can make a custom study time for PLAB 1
- Make sure your IELTS/OET is updated
- Join Facebook groups to stay updated on any cancelled dates
Should I opt for MRCP instead of PLAB 1?
Such questions start popping into our heads immediately after we recover. What if I try for MRCP as it will still grant me GMC registration? Should I go for it?
Personally, I had a similar question. But it took me a short amount of time to drop this thought. Why? It is entirely different from PLAB 1 and much more difficult. I was required to start fresh and approach entirely different study sources.
If you feel you can make it, I would not stop you. But take my advice, stick to PLAB only. You have given much already into it, a little more push might help you work through failures.
If this still did not change your mind, you can reach out to the official MRCP and MRCS websites. I did explore this topic for a while after I failed PLAB 1. Although I have not thoroughly researched this field, below is an infographic on PLAB vs MRCS approach to GMC registration (since I want to be a surgeon):
Can I Work in the UK without PLAB?
Other than MRCP/MRCS approach, there are plenty. If you are questioning me- “what if I don’t want to work as a doctor”, then exit! Because this post is not meant for those who give up so easily.
I am here only to help those who are enthusiastic towards working as a Doctor in NHS. Remember, there is no destiny, but what you make of it. You can look out for alternatives after MBBS such as NEET PG if you are in India.
What if I Failed PLAB 4 times?
I don’t know how you managed to achieve this and failed PLAB 1 four times. Regardless, you can still make a last attempt by applying for a structured application form which is available on the GMC website. You will be required to prove you have no long clinical gaps and a proficient in English (IELTS/OET).
Here is a review of all the steps one has to take for their journey to the UK:
- Step 1: Passing IELTS/OET and providing your English Proficiency Exam to GMC
- Step 2: Knowing the Exam Dates
- Step 3: Booking PLAB 1 Slot Effectively
- Step 4: Picking the Right Study Material
- Step 5: Creating A Study Schedule
- Step 6: EPIC Verification
- Step 7: Applying for UK Visa (all documents, cover letter, invitation letter and experiences)
- Step 8: Booking PLAB 2 Academy
- Step 9: Booking an Accommodation
- Step 10: Passing the PLAB 2 Exam
- Step 11: Getting GMC Registration
- Step 12: Creating a Perfect CV
- Step 13: Searching for Jobs
When we fail PLAB 1, we struggle to adjust to reality. The burden of life suddenly seems heavier than usual. Not just the parents and friends who sympathize with us, but we are also unable to face ourselves.
My struggles? Failed in IELTS 3 times. Got the visa in 12 weeks. Unable to answer all questions on the answer sheet. Already knew I failed despite others motivating me. Lost job the day I returned from the UK.
The reasons you tell yourself to compensate for the loss are merely excuses. I will conclude this topic on “Failed PLAB 1” by simply telling you- “Stop crying like a baby, start looking for opportunities”. After all, we are the creators of our life goes.