The United Kingdom Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA) will be rolled out, in place of PLAB by the General Medical Council (GMC) for international medical graduates in early 2024.
However, this exam is not just for international medical graduates as PLAB is but it is also for the UK medical graduates. The GMC has said that the first batch of graduates from 2025 will be expected to take this new exam.
Structure of UKMLA
The present structure of PLAB has two parts, PLAB 1 and PLAB 2. PLAB 1 is a written exam with multiple-choice questions where you will be assessed on basic general medical knowledge while PLAB 2 is an OSCE-based exam. This also applies to UKMLA.
The UKMLA also has two parts, the first part is an applied knowledge test on your general medical knowledge. The multiple-choice questions will be computerized which makes the accessibility easier. The second part accesses your clinical professional skills just like in PLAB 2. It will involve you interacting with patients and accessing them to know what is wrong with them.
This should not be difficult for those who already have a general idea of how PLAB works or who graduated from medical colleges that already have these types of exams.
Is UKMLA beneficial to IMGs?
Let’s talk about how the UKMLA actually could be considered beneficial to international medical graduates.
There’s going to be a standardization of the exam on a national level, so if you are from a country that has a professional exam or some sort of a licensing exam that must be taken before you can get your registration or license in your country then you can understand how important these types of exams are. Everyone is held to the same standard.
This will be a lot different from how the PLAB exam is where there isn’t this type of standardization. This is something that will bring everyone on the same level and you will be getting the recognition for your work. And of course it is not anything that you haven’t already expected or intended to do when you were thinking about PLAB.
International medical graduates have been taking PLAB for years, passing it and coming to work in the UK. UKMLA shouldn’t be any different for those of you who are intending to take this role.
Another really good thing is that the first part of the UKMLA, the AKT portion will be computerized. This increases the chances of making it readily accessible throughout the world through different examinations centers that are computerized, just as it is with the USMLE.
Also, since UK graduates will also be taking the UKMLA as well you can pretty much bet they’re going to make more exam centers for the second part of the exam where they’re going to be assessing how well you’re approaching patients and seeing patients. Right now there’s only one center for taking PLAB 2.
They have been talking about probably opening up more centers and there is a backlog of PLAB 2 dates because of restricted availability. However, if more people have to take the exam, they will have to make more centers which will thereby increase the chances of you finding a seat and then progressing.
Eligibility Criteria for UKMLA
You will still have to finish medical school before you can take the UKMLA, unlike the USMLE which you can take during your medical school. The UK graduates will be taking it in their final year of medical school but IMGs will still need to finish medical school.
As far as GMC has currently said, you will still need to prove your English proficiency to prove that you are able to speak English in the type of manner that they are looking for doctors who are coming to work in the UK.
How much will UKMLA Cost?
It is really difficult to say if the UKMLA will be more expensive than PLAB as nothing has been said about the cost of the exam. It most likely won’t be any much more than what PLAB is currently. It is all speculation and you can’t really know until it is officially rolled out.
What if I took PLAB 1 and it becomes UKMLA?
For those of you who can take PLAB 1 and then UKMLA comes into effect, the GMC has said that all the individuals who are still eligible for PLAB and took at least PLAB 1 will not be made to switch over to UKMLA.
How can you Prepare for UKMLA
For those who are still in medical school and are wondering how they can prepare for UKMLA, the most important thing you should be worried about is passing medical school. This is because until you actually pass your final medical exam and you know you’re done with medical school you can’t even think about registering for UKMLA.
At some point, perhaps halfway through medical school, you can start thinking about your English proficiency exams because that’s usually where most IMGs get caught. Then after that, see what’s available. At that point, a generalized blueprint of what the GMC is looking for in the UKMLA will be out and you can at least know what to expect by going through the types of textbooks and medical books that cover those topics.
Will Post-graduate Exams be Replaced by UKMLA?
Another big concern is in relation to the postgraduate qualifications like MRCS, MRCP MRCPCH. UKMLA has no bearing on any of the post graduate qualifications. It’s just replacing PLAB.
PLAB will no longer exist after 2024 and UKMLA will come into effect. If you’re an individual who is taking a postgraduate route, you do not have to worry about UKMLA. Your pathway as far as GMC has said will remain exactly the same. You do not have to stress about UKMLA at all.
- UKMLA will replace PLAB for international medical graduates by 2024.
- It will be taken by medical graduates who are from the UK as well as international medical graduates regardless of where you are graduating from.
- If you want to work in the United Kingdom as a doctor you will need to pass the UKMLA unless you are taking a post-graduate qualification route in which case you do not need to worry about UKMLA.
- There will still be an English language proficiency exam that you must pass.
- The UKMLA consists of two exams. The first one is a computerized multiple-choice and the second one is clinical-based.
- There are always going to be hurdles but if you start fixating on those hurdles you will never be able to clear them.
- Don’t worry about the fees or the difficulty of the exam. Just concentrate on your path.