Hello to everyone who is reading this guide. It’s a little endeavor to help future aspirants to go through PLAB.
A little background about me.. I graduated in 2013 finished my internship in 2014 took ielts right after finishing my internship and by the grace of Almighty, got the required band in one go. Then, took PLab1 in March 2015 and declared successful in first attempt. I didnot take any tutions or courses and I am willing to Help others.
The most Frequent question I receive is how long does it take to preapre for ielts. The answer is, it depends on the person.. If you have a background in English I am pretty sure you will get the required band in 1-1.5 month’s preparation. If you have difficulty understanding English you might need 6 months. I trained a couple of friends for ielts so it’s only my opinion, which might be wrong, but it will give you a general idea. I took ielts with 1 month of very casual preparation and got the required band.
To assess yourself try a couple of practice tests (from Cambridge books) and see where you stand.
Tips for Listening: For beginners try to watch cartoons and actively listen to what is being said.. Watch English movies with subtitles and try to understand what dialogues are being delivered. Pause and rewind if you want to. Watch BBC and other News channels often. If you skip some words, don’t feel bad about yourself its part of the learning process. Overtime you will feel that your listening has improved and you will be able to understand 90% of what is being said. For people who have good listening skills Just solve the Cambridge ielts series and Barron’s ielts Do all the tests and when you are done with them try to take some free listening tests which are available on the internet..(google them). Practice different accents too, as in my test, one section was in Aussie accent which I found a bit difficult.
NOTE: When writing answers, always use correct spellings. Incorrect spellings deduct marks
Tips for Reading: For beginners Start with Novels as fiction is easy to digest and is interesting to read. Underline new words and phrases. Try to learn the sentence structure. Use a dictionary and thesaurus often to learn some antonyms and synonyms. Once you are comfortable, start reading articles and Newspapers and follow the same guidelines (underline new words etc.) For People who are good at reading Just solve the Cambridge series 1-9 and you will get the target band.
NOTE use correct spellings. Some teachers say to read the questions first and look at the passages and recommend skim reading. I found it very unhelpful and a waste of time. I used to read the passage first quickly, underline the dates and names (that saves time when u start solivnig questions) then Look at the questions and skim through the passage. Remember Time management is very important. For passage 1 allocate 16 minutes, 18minutes for passage 2 and 20 minutes passage 3. Practice using a stop watch.
Tips For Writing: It is the most difficult part as most people say. I have seen some good writers score 6.5 or 6.0 If that happens don’t be disappointed take it again Inshallah you will reach there. Practice is the key for writing at least write 1 essay a day. For beginners have a look at sample essays (given in the Cambridge books and/or internet) try writing them with some paraphrasing. Never cram the essay word to word. Trust me they will know that and mark you accordingly. Once you are habitual of writing try to use some advanced words in your sentences which you have learnt through your reading practice. Don’t try to impress the reader with some ‘heavy’ words which you don’t know how to use. Instead keep it simple and elegant. Avoid punctuation mistakes. Focus on Paragraphing
For Task1: Do not give your conclusion in the end. Only reproduce the information that is provided. Try to use a rich vocabulary instead of borrowing words from the Question. Always paraphrase the atatement provided to you. Keep it short and simple and don’t write too much.. Ideally, it should be 150-170 words
For Task2: Focus on your opening and conclusion as these are the two things that create an impression on the reader. Practice some common writing topics (use Google) and make your own essay and finalize it. Show your essays to a friend/teacher who has scored high in ielts. Use some idioms in the essay (but use them correctly). Ideally your essay should be of 4 to 5 paragraphs with 1 opening and 1 closing paragraphs. Always write a minimum of 250 words. You will lose marks if you are short of words no matter how beautifully you have written. Ideally, 250-275 Words would suffice. Avoid long paragraphs. Stay on topic and Try to cover what is being asked in the question. For instance Cover both views, Pros and cons, etc. Do not agree or disagree in the same essay. Give reasons if you agree with something in 2 3 paragraphs. NOTE: always proofread your essay and report. Even native English speakers make mistakes. Proof reading will easily avoid you save you some marks.
Tips For Speaking: For Beginners and good speakers: Speaking Can only be improved if you speak! Find a partner online. Practice speaking with him/her. Speak infront of a mirror. Dont overthink while you speak. Remember! its Okay to make mistakes. Just speak whatever comes in your mind. If you make a mistake in the real exam and realise it, Relax, Say ” I am sorry” and speak the correct sentence. Avoid repetitive words. For instance, instead of using I think over and over, substitute with in my opinion, I believe etc. DONOT answer with only a YES or NO. Try to elaborate your answer. Maintain a good eye contact. Speak clearly. Pronunciation does not matter a lot so speak naturally. For task 2 cover everything that is being asked. You will lose marks if you don’t. As mostly there are doctors in this group so speaking won’t be a problem for most of them.. I found speaking challenging because of my stammering but I am glad I got over it.
Books recommended: Cambridge ielts series 1-9..
Time required to prepare for plab is 3-3.5 months at maximum. If you were a good student during your finals (unlike me :-)) and have done your internship correctly trust me you can pass PLAB1 with just a month preparation.
The material you need is all in this group. Start gathering and organising the mocks. It took me about 2 weeks just to organize the material.
Previously people have said that oxford is a must read to pass PLAB so I followed them.. I read oxford cover to cover. It definitely helped me to achieve a high score but, scores don’t matter in PLAB so relax. You will be fine fine even without it. There were certain questions even oxford couldn’t answer so my advice to future plabbers is DONT study too much from oxford.. Use it strictly for reference purposes. I will mention the topics that can be done from OHCM and OHCS in the end.
The most important thing are MOCKS. Try to do as many and as often you can. You will be seeing most past plabbers emphasizing on doing MOCKS and they are 100% right. “Doing mocks” mean that you try to answer the question and understand the logic instead of blindly following the keys. Even if you do not find the answer of a particular question, by the time you have finished your hunt for the right answer, your entire topic would have been covered. I would recommend pass medicine for people who want to broaden the knowledge for other exams along PLAB but definitely not for PLAB. The exam has a similar pattern of MOCKS so your primary focus should be doing them.
Material Nedded to pass: 1700 questions qbank. Swammy mocks 2015, Samson mocks and Samson notes. (They all are available in this Group) Or you can PM me. Time needed to pass: 40 days
Material Needed to Ace: Above plus OHCM and OHCS (important topics only) Oxford assess and progress. Make notes of the additional points from Oxford books on samson notes. Find your refrences from www.patient.co.uk and read the professional articles instead of reading the general leaflets and guidelines from the mentioned website. www.nice.org.uk can also be used for the same purpose. Never ever use Ncbi.nlm or other websites because they have researches and studies published on them and they will confuse you even more. Time needed to ace: 3 months
Take part in the discussions even if you don’t know the answer but if a fellow doctor comes with a reference and better explanation always thank him. Don’t try to prove your point like a stubborn if you are not sure ( I hated that thing Btw :-p) I took part in most discussions tried to explain as much as I could and learnt a lot. Remember no matter how brilliant you are, there is always a better doctor in this group. Try to make friends because I prefer that study environment more but you can tailor that according to your preference (some people keep it strictly professional)
This is a detailed guide in which I tried to cover all the important points. I will keep adding things into it if I recall any. Honestly speaking, I was no genius but an average student still I Passed with a decent score. It is an easy exam trust me you can do it (although i was worried before the results:-p)
I can guarantee 90% (I always leave 10% for luck) that if you follow this guide and others’ as well, you will succeed. Feel free to contact me if you need any help. I will try to answer whatever I know.
Regards Dr. Erujj Rizvi
Remember me in your prayers And wish me luck for PLAB 2 and MRCP
Topics to be done From OHCM. These are recommended (only if you have spare time or you are on the ace side 😉 in addition to the Samson notes. Otherwise samson notes are enough. I have added brackets to the topics which I feel are deficient in Samson notes.
ACS, Complications OF MI, arrythmias Hypertension, RF, Mitrials and Aortic lesions
Pneumonia and specific pneumonias Cystic Fibrosis,Asthma, Pulmonary embolism Weils score(very important)
DM, Adrenals, DI, SIADH,Thyroid
Dyspepsia and Peptic ulcer disease, Constipation, Jaundice, Upper Gi bleed, Cirrhosis, IBD Alcoholism(vimp)
UTI, GN, ARF, Transplantaion
Headaches, Trigeminal neuralgia, Migraine, Stroke TIA, Delirium, Demntia, Parkinsons, Bells palsy, MG
Oncology and Palliative Care:-
Oncological emergencies, oncoligical genetics(table only), Palliative care (Vimp), Tumour markers
Back pain, OA, RA, Gout, Spondyloarthropathies, Polymyositis and dermatomyositis, Plasma autoab(table), Systemic conditions casuing EYE signs and Skin manefestaions of systemic disaeases(vimp)
Diabetics undergoing Surgery, Consent, Prophylactic Antibiotics and Bowel prep, Pain control, Skin diagnosis not to be missed( i got a q wrong even after going through this:-/), Acute abdomen, Hernias, Obstruction, Renal stones(imp), Retention and BPH and Breast
Bleeding disorders.(table is vimp), spleen and the splenectomy, leukemias and lymphomas, Myeloma
Gynae OBS:- (IMP)
Ecclampsia, preeclampsia, HTN in preg, Anti D, APH and PPH, Contraception, PCOS, Menopause, Cervical CA
Glaucoma, Cranial nerve palsies, Red Eye.
Otitis media and externa. Acoustic neuroma, Stridor, Epistaxis
ADHD, Childhood jaundice( imp), Varicella, Childhood Asthma, developmental milestones.