The PLAB test is becoming more rigorous and more reflective of real-life practice. Candidates can now book a place on the new version of the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test, which will start from September 2016.
What’s changing and when?
From September 2016:
- New questions and practical scenarios: we will assess candidates’ professionalism and understanding of ethics as well as their clinical knowledge and skills. For example, testing doctors’ understanding about a patient’s right to make a choice about their care.
- A fully revised practical assessment, including more and longer scenarios: we’ll increase the number of scenarios in the Part 2 exam from 14 to 18. Scenarios will be longer and will test candidates in mock consultation settings that will more accurately reflect how doctors apply their knowledge and skills in real life.
- More feedback for candidates on their performance: along with their overall mark, we’ll tell candidates the percentage of questions passed in each skill area of Part 1 and their marks and examiner comments for each scenario Part 2.
From September 2017:
- A new limit on taking the test: candidates must pass the written and practical parts of the test within a maximum of four attempts at each. The exam regulations will change in September 2016 which means that attempts made before September 2017 will count towards the total allowed. For example, if you’ve failed Part 2 twice before September 2017, you will have only two further attempts to pass it, after September 2017.
- A new two-year limit in which to apply for a licence: successful candidates must be granted registration with a licence to practise within two years of passing the test. We will change the exam regulations in September 2016 to give candidates 12 month notice of this new limit that will take effect from September 2017
- For the Part 2 exam, we’re changing the way we set the pass mark to use an internationally recognised method known as borderline regression. On the day, we’ll use the results from all the candidates to set the pass mark for each scenario. It’s more accurate than our current method which only uses the results of those candidates judged to be borderline.
- We’ll continue to set the pass mark for the written Part 1 exam using the established Angoff method. To do this, a panel of trained and experienced doctors decides what proportion of 10 ‘just passing’ junior doctors starting their second year Foundation Programme training, would answer each question correctly. This makes sure the level at which we set the pass mark is consistent over time and that it reflects what we expect of a doctor entering their second year of Foundation Programme training.
- We don’t adjust the pass mark to determine the pass rate. There is no expected pass rate or expected average score.