PLAB 1 Stories
This is Dr Gaurav, your colleague and an aspiring doctor just as yourself to pursue a medical career in the UK. I appeared PLAB 1 in November 2019 and scored 149 marks. Preparation strategy was simple and I have outlined in detailed about the same. It might be a little exhaustive 😅, but I just want to make sure that every detail is present so that you can relate to it the best possible way.
Here is my Study timeline
I studied from plabable and referred to Patient.info/ NICE guidelines whenever I had any doubt specially while solving other academy mocks.
The whole thing took me approx. 2.5 months
Plabable 3 times
11 Plabable Mocks
13 Swammy Mocks
4 Samson Mocks
2 Plabable Paid Mocks
Total Mocks done - 30
It took me 35 days to finish plabable for the 1st time. In the initial few days I targeted around 50-60 Q/day and then increased it to 70-80Q/day. Me and my friends used to do some extensive discussion on zoom and read through each answer really well.
Didn’t take any special extensive notes during the 1st time since the zoom sessions were pretty exhaustive and I was also working full time in hospital. Nevertheless, I made sure to take few points on the topic that I was confused or I didn’t have much idea about.
The revision phase:
I would go through my notes and then answer the chapter again from plabable.
It took me nearly 20 days to finish the portion again. This time I managed to scribble some more notes making it ready for the final revision. During this period, I attempted 4 mocks from plabable where I scored around 85% but to my surprise there were a lot of Q’s I knew the answer to after reading the first line of the question. This didn’t make much sense to me since I felt it’s a false positive mark, I am scoring but I took it positively in terms of revision. So, eventually the Plabable mocks turned out to be my 3rd revision.
Me and my friends made sure we are finishing the plabable mocks between 1 hr 30-40 min max. I might sound too much of a task in the start but trust me you will be able to eventually get to this point. After each mock we took me and my friends used to discuss the wrong answers making sure to explain each other how to proceed for such questions in future attempt.
Apart from plabable mocks, I also attended 4 old Swammy mocks just to make sure my preparation is in the right direction. I was able to score more than 80% in all 4 mocks which was brilliant from my perspective until my friend who was already working in the NHS told me that she has seen her friends scoring 90% + and still failing the examination. To be honest It was quite discouraging but in the right spirit I started working more towards my weak points.
Next 2 weeks:
Started doing 1 mock every day on weekdays and 2 on weekends followed by Zoom discussion of recalls in the evening. I can’t stress enough how important the recalls are for this particular examination. I know people who have passed this examination without doing recalls but we don’t want to take any chances. DO WE? Hence, it’s advisable that you go through recalls really well. It not only helps you to get oriented to the questions and topics of focus but also helps you with your preparation. Trust me a lot of questions in the exam would be similar to the recall questions you would have practice.
By the end of 2 weeks I was done with 18 more mocks averaging between 80-91% and 14 recalls. Recalls really helped me to boost my score in the mocks and discussion over zoom really helped. It’s always good to have serious study partners since the preparation becomes very easy and keeps you motivated throughout the process of preparation.
During this time anxiety had already kicked in and a chaotic mind trying to figure what should be prioritised for the final days before the examination. Trust me when I say its completely OK. Everyone goes through this phase but try to keep calm as much as possible. I know it’s easily said than done but I have been through it, you would too.
Just plan to cover your weak points and make sure to revise any notes that you would have made during your preparation. If you have not don’t worry just yet, revise the wrong questions from plabable and other question banks you would have solved during your preparation.
Revised my notes and continued discussion of recalls over zoom and WhatsApp group. Had 4 mocks left which I did on alternate days. I decided to give more time to revising questions and my notes and clinchers that I had made. In the final plabable mock I scored 95% just 3 days before my examination and took it positively that I am well versed with plabable content at the least. Took Plabable Paid mock 2 days before my exam and scored 153.
It was positive vibes all this week because I was trying to keep my anxiety under check and giving it all in the last week.
I managed to finish the exam with 50 minutes to spare where my friend had 1 hour to spare. We both went through the questions again making sure we have not made any mistakes and reviewing the answer we had doubts. Finally, the exam was over and just after few minutes the WhatsApp group started flooding with recall questions, people arguing over answers and discussion of some questions which didn’t even feature in the paper.
I decided to give my brain some rest and went out to have dinner with friends and had a good night sleep. Woke up surprisingly to 4k+ messages from different groups 😂😅.
Take Home Advice:
Plab 1 is an easy exam but you need the right approach and persistence hard work to get it done in the first attempt.
Make sure NOT to memorize the answer or question stems from any Q bank, that’s an absolute blunder one could make.
Read the explanations really well and try to understand not only why one option is correct but also to make sure why other options are not the correct answer.
Try to make short notes, don’t make a textbook. I know some people have hard time to make short notes unable to understand how and what should be done. Don’t worry I have uploaded few short notes for you to have a look and understand how to make one.
Solve as many questions as possible but don’t go solving questions from MRCP question bank. PLAB is an easy examination and tests your basic knowledge. If GMC wanted you to know MRCP level questions they wouldn’t be conducting PLAB examination in the first place if that makes any sense.
Remember how important the Recalls are. You would start getting a hang of it once you start solving them and thank me later.
In every examination, there will be 20-25 new questions and 10-15 tricky ones. Taking the higher value into consideration, approx. 40 questions will be tough in the exam. Trust me half of these questions are DOABLE with right approach and recalling the theory part.
A very imp tip: Whenever you encounter a question that you are not sure or you don’t know make sure to use the exclusion method to mark an answer. Pls don’t mark an answer blindly. Out of 5 options 1 option will be completely absurd and not related to the question. Now you are left with 4 options, if you can exclude 2 options with your knowledge and exclusion process you are finally left 2 options. Your chances of marking a correct answer increased from 20% to 50%. There are very high chances that you would mark a correct answer by this process rather than taking a wild guess.
When solving a mock make sure you TIME yourself from the very first mock. I have known people with good knowledge not being able to finish the paper on time (left with 20-25 Q) and not clearing the exam by 5-10 marks. Target time should be less than 2 hours for any mock you are solving. If you are quick, make sure to decrease the time taken with every mock you solve BUT make sure not to compromise your accuracy which is very important.
If you are comfortable, make sure to study in a group to keep yourself motivated during the preparation. A lot of people find zoom session or whatsapp discussion very helpful. As far as I am concerned most of my preparation came via online discussions.
Last but not the least, during discussions don’t indulge in long discussion. In case of any doubt, make sure to check in the NICE guidelines. If you can’t access NICE guidelines, you can check patient.info / NHS website which are equally good.
Hope this exhaustive preparation timeline was helpful 🤓. Keep me in your prayers and don’t hesitate to reach out to me in case if you have any doubts.
All the best for your Preparation and PLAB 1 👍
Best wishes 🤟