IELTS Guide for PLAB and GMC Exam

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I passed my IELTS in four attempts and trust me, I was panicking like you are right now. IELTS was a necessary first step towards my PLAB 1 exam and I had no clue how to approach it. Hardly anyone guided me and only through failures, I learnt how to pass it.

I am sharing my experience for IELTS below, hope you don’t suffer the same fate. If there are any queries or feedback, please leave them in comments section. And remember, no good doctor passed his medical school without failing, IELTS is just the beginning to your new career in UK.

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If you are done with your IELTS or OET, you can read some of the posts I wrote exclusively for PLAB 1 here:

Booking IELTS for PLAB 1 Exam

Step 1: Knowing requirements for PLAB 1

Following is the criteria from GMC website:

  1. that you took the academic version of the test
  2. that you got a score of at least 7.0 in each testing area and an overall score of 7.5
  3. that you got these scores in the same test
  4. that you got these scores in your most recent sitting of the test
  5. the original stamp and test report form number.

Step 2: Identifying what test you need

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Firstly, you need to know what type of IELTS you need to give to enter GMC registration process and see yourself in UK working as FY2.

Academic IELTS is the one you are looking at! (General training is not what you need).

Then you need to pick either Computer based or Written IELTS for Plab. I highly suggest Computer based since it saves you a lot of time. You can go written if you have issues with typing on keyboard (I doubt there is someone like that in modern world). Also, Computer based exam dates are relatively sooner than the Written ones.

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Step 3: Where to Book?

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Now to the most important question, where to book? UK citizens can book through British Council, for me, I had to book through IELTS-IDP for Indian citizens.

Focus on the green boxes- Academic!!!

My First Failure: An Eye Opener

I always believed I was an excellent English speaker and this zone was a minor barrier for me. I booked my exam on 27/08/2021 and went after preparing for 15 days.

Sources I used for First Attempt

  1. Speaking- Spoke to my family members and friends and blabbered all day
  2. Listening- Same Practice Mocks
  3. Reading- Practice on YouTube Mocks
  4. Writing- Went through some random mocks online

Results

  1. Overall- 7.5
  2. Speaking- 7.0
  3. Listening- 8.0
  4. Reading- 8.5
  5. Writing- 6.5

My Second Failure: Disaster!

First was okay, but hey, I prepared for second for two months!!! What went wrong? Definitely I was not using the right resources. I booked my exam on 22/10/2021 and was confident after 2 months of preparation. My results were even disastrous than my first attempt and I could not believe what I was seeing.

Sources I used for Second Attempt

  1. Speaking- Blabbered all day, practiced in mirror like Hitler
  2. Listening- Same Practice Mocks
  3. Reading- Practice on YouTube Mocks
  4. Writing- Went through some random mocks online AGAIN!

Results

  1. Overall- 7.0
  2. Speaking- 6.0
  3. Listening- 7.0
  4. Reading- 8.0
  5. Writing- 7.0

My Third Failure: Heartbreaking

First and Second and now a third time? Definitely not a charm. I prepared again for 2 months, even took coaching this time. And after failure, I started to wonder, is Plab just not made for me? Am I a failure? Even my family members started to ask me to give up! Something in me just couldn’t. Booked this one on 01/12/2022.

Sources I used for Third Attempt

  1. Speaking- Coaching + Blabbered all day, practiced in mirror like Hitler
  2. Listening- Same Practice Mocks
  3. Reading- Practice on YouTube Mocks
  4. Writing- Deep and thorough mocks checked by coaching examiner
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Results

  1. Overall- 8.0
  2. Speaking- 7.5
  3. Listening- 8.0
  4. Reading- 9.0
  5. Writing- 6.5

My Fourth Attempt: Showdown!

I took a day to grieve myself, and then looked at my scores again. Wait, I got 9 in Reading??? (literally no room for improvement in my scorecard was reflected). My overall score was 8.0! What is wrong?? Ah, the writing! I have been persistently failing in Writing part since beginning. And then I figured I seek new resource for one last time now.

Stumbled upon a great resource and trust me, this was the best I could get for my Writing part. Did some 15-20 mocks here and finally I started to realize, this is not high school English exam, this is IELTS! Finally mustered some courage and booked the exam in next 10 days on 11/12/2022.

Sources I used for Fourth Attempt

  1. Speaking- Same blabbering all day, practiced in mirror like Hitler
  2. Listening- Same Practice Mocks
  3. Reading- Practice on YouTube Mocks
  4. Writing- Purely relied on IELTS Podcast. Did Band 9 questions and compared my answers with theirs. Emphasized on their writing pattern vs mine, even stole some eye catching lines, mugged them up and used them in exam.

Results

  1. Overall- 8.0
  2. Speaking- 7.5
  3. Listening- 8.5
  4. Reading- 8.5
  5. Writing- 7.0

Conclusion

Don’t underestimate IELTS for PLAB exam. This is not easy as we come from Medical field and we rely purely on our knowledge more than our communication skills.

Most importantly, more than half of IELTS students fail in Writing Part alone. Focus on that first before jumping to Speaking part.

My advice? Don’t waste time in IELTS exam unless you are super confident. It costs over 15,000 INR (around 150GBP) each exam. Failure means only waste of money and time. The late you get, the slimmer the chances of booking PLAB 1 slot.

My best advice? Go for OET. Its result will come a bit late and it is costly, but it is circling around medical environment. A boon for us!

Hope my experience, rather my failures, help you in your endeavors. No matter how much everyone tell you, don’t let your dreams fade away.

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