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UKMLA vs PLAB – Which Exam is Better in 2024?


Are you a medical graduate seeking to establish a career in the United Kingdom? Then you must have wondered UKMLA vs PLAB – Which Exam is Better in 2024? PLAB has been an ideal examination for many graduates for years. However, UKMLA is a newly established standard signifying the mandatory exam for a medical license in the UK. Sounds confusing? In this blog, we will explore more factors of both exams for your understanding. 

PLAB applies to international students only; if you have pursued programming in medicine other than the UK, Switzerland, or other European Economic Area, then PLAB is a mandatory examination. UKMLA is an inclusive exam applicable to all medical students, irrespective of their location. It assesses candidates’ skill sets and knowledge to foster safe medical practices. 

UKMLA vs PLAB: Basic Difference

Who takes it?International studentsAll medical students
EligibilityGMC-approved degree, English testSimilar to PLAB, may include completion of foundation year 1 for some
Exam Structure2 stages: PLAB 1 (written MCQ), PLAB 2 (clinical skills)2 stages: AKT (written MCQ), CPSA (clinical skills assessment)
Focus of AssessmentKnowledge Retention & application in the UK contextKnowledge, skills, and behaviours for safe medical practice
RecognitionUK, some Eastern nations (e.g., Qatar, UAE), and potential for Australia/NZ (with additional requirements)Primarily UK (details pending)
Application ProcessRegister online with GMC, submit test scores & qualificationsDetails to be confirmed by GMC

New Updates In PLAB And UKMLA Exams

If you’re an international medical graduate eyeing the UK, here’s some news you’ll want to know: Starting in 2024, the PLAB test will get a makeover to meet the requirements laid out by the Medical Licensing Assessment (MLA). However, for the test-takers, not much will change in terms of what they’ll see on the exam.

So, what’s the deal with these changes? Well, to tick off all the MLA boxes, the exam committee will be swapping out the PLAB blueprint for the MLA content map on specific dates:

  • For PLAB 1, any tests taken on or after August 8, 2024, will follow the MLA content map.
  • As for PLAB 2, if you’re taking it on or after May 17, 2024, you’ll be diving into the MLA content map too.

Now, what exactly is this content map? It’s basically a guide that spells out what you need to know and do to practice medicine in the UK. Since PLAB already covers these bases, you won’t have to overhaul your study routine or fret about facing a whole new test format.

Eligibility Criteria Of PLAB vs UKMLA

To determine UKMLA vs PLAB—Which Exam is Better in 2024? You must understand the eligibility criteria, which include completion of initial medical studies tenure. In addition, UKMLA mandates medical graduates possess a license and complete foundation year 1. In contrast, international students must have a General Medicine Council (GMC) approved medical degree and meet English proficiency requirements. 

Exam Structure and Key Aspects of PLAB vs UKMLA

While both exams have similar eligibility criteria and exam structures, let’s explore the critical aspects of each exam in detail. To figure out UKMLA vs PLAB – which exam is better in 2024? Explore a few factors listed below. 


To clear PLAB examinations, medical graduates or students need to attempt 2 examinations such as:

PLAB 1 – This paper focuses on retaining graduate knowledge, which means conducting a written MCQ examination to check the candidate’s memory. It evaluates how well-versed a student is with the UK’s medical system. In addition, questions in these exams are related to best practices in the UK and a few standard equipment available across national hospitals. 

PLAB 2 –  This examination checks a candidate’s capability to apply relevant knowledge in practical circumstances. This can be referred to as a clinical exam, which contains around 16 situations a doctor may face on their first day of joining. 


Like PLAB, UKMLA has 2 stages of examination to check a medical graduate’s proficiency, skill set, and knowledge. 

Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) –  Similar to the examination of PLAB 1, this UKMLA exam looks for a candidate’s medical knowledge via thorough written assessment. 

Clinical and Professional Skill Assessment (CPSA)—This stage examines a candidate’s overall appearance or behaviour in a clinical environment. During this examination, the candidate’s clinical and professional skills and overall medical knowledge will be closely observed. 

Requirement For Language Proficiency Of PLAB vs UKMLA

If you are perplexed about UKMLA vs PLAB—which exam is better in 2024? Consider checking out whether you are eligible to register for both exams. The chances of obtaining a registration license would also vary depending on the results of English proficiency. In addition, GMC has made it mandatory for candidates to take at least one of the tests listed below. 

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Occupational English Test (OET)

This examination ensures that a potential registered doctor is proficient in English and can quickly interact with UK patients. Remember, only after accessing the results of these tests will GMC determine whether to proceed with a candidate for further examination related to registration. 

Clinical Skills Assessment via PLAB vs UKMLA

As we mentioned above, analyzing a candidate’s clinical skills is important. This test will focus on representing a few stressful situations to check candidates’ ability to make instant decisions and ensure whether they are the right fit to practice medicine. 


Data Gathering, testing, and Assessment Skills: This aspect calculates the candidate’s fluency in making relevant diagnosis. It typically begins with checking and evaluating an individual’s ability to conduct a process, including the patient’s history, performing standard medical procedures, and analyzing symptoms to prepare an accurate diagnosis. 

Clinical management Skills:  Since doctors need to communicate casually with patients to understand their pain points, this examination stage would observe how well a candidate can convey the diagnosis to the patient and how they create symptom management plans to cure the issue. 

Interpersonal Skills: It is crucial to examine interpersonal skills to check whether a candidate can manage emergency situations and assure patients at their lowest point. Checking how they communicate with patients while staying within professional boundaries will showcase their capability for conducting ideal patient care. 


GMC focuses on specific areas that need to be examined through UKMLA. 

  • A key aspect of Clinical Practice
  • Clinical and professional capabilities
  • Practical medicine skills and procedure
  • Essential professional clinical knowledge
  • The ability of patient presentation 
  • Understanding different conditions

In addition, GMC is likely to share sample question papers for UKMLA, highlighting the type of questions for AKT and CPSA. 

Recognition and Acceptance through PLAB vs UKMLA

Often, it is perceived that PLAB is only accepted and recognized in the UK. Well, that’s not completely true! Once a candidate clears the PLAB examination, medical graduates can work as recognized medical practitioners in Eastern nations such as Qatar and the UAE. 

In addition, if you gain experience practising in the UK for at least two years, you can get exposure working in Australia and New Zealand. However, UKMLA has yet to receive any specific recognition. 

Application and Registration Process

Before you decide UKMLA vs PLAB—which exam is better in 2024? It is vital for every medical graduate to understand the application process and registration criteria in detail. Candidates can apply for PLAB after clearing the English Proficiency test. The next step includes registering on the GMC website online. Enter your details, like test score and medical qualification, to ensure you meet eligibility criteria. 

Be sure to verify your details, and then book the PLAB 1 test. Remember, this test is conducted twice a year in India, and it is easy to monitor online registration with GMC and continuously check the My Tests section to ensure the examination date. 

However, the GMC still needs to release a registration date for UKMLA. However, you can expect to access its details soon. Until then, we will focus on clearing the PLAB test to begin medical practice successfully in the UK.

UKMLA vs PLAB – Which Exam Is Better In 2024 For Medical Graduates?

Until 2024, PLAB was the standard examination for doctors to acquire registration or a license to practice in the UK. Hence, do not ignore this test. Apply for the PLAB 1 exam and clear it soon to qualify for the second test as well. 

However, it is expected that from 2024, UKMLA will likely replace the PLAB test as a standard procedure for all medical graduates, including graduates from UK Medical Schools. Plus, both tests have similar eligibility criteria, test structures, and more, which would not be a major inconvenience for candidates. 

Both examinations have a standard syllabus and challenges for candidates. However, to answer medical students’ concerns like UKMLA vs PLAB—which exam is better in 2024? PLAB could be an ideal option, as it can expand your opportunities with added flexibility to shift your practice to Eastern countries, Australia, or New Zealand. 


Will There Be PLAB In 2024?

In the search for UKMLA vs PBLA – which exam is better for 2024? If you are concerned about whether PBLA is still accepted, these will be PLAB exams conducted in 2024. The PLAB-1 exam released dates for 2024 include 15 Feb, 23 May, 8 Aug, and 7 Nov 2024.

How Many Months Of PLAB Preparation Is Required?

The ideal time for PLAB 1 preparation is around 8 to 16 weeks. While the duration depends on your dedication and capability to study, a complete one can be prepared in 4 weeks. 

How Many Times PLAB 2 Is Conducted In A Year?

Unlike PLAB 1, PLAB 2 is conducted annually at GMC’s clinical assessment centre in the UK. While you explore aspects of UKMLA vs PLAB – which exam is better in 2024? Consider preparing for PLAB2 once you clear the first stage. 

Will PLAB be replaced by UKMLA?

Yes, PLAB is expected to be replaced by UKMLA by 2025. Still, medical graduates should focus on clearing both stages of PLAB for now. 

Is PLAB accepted in Australia?

Yes, PLAB is accepted in Australia, and doctors who have completed the PLAB and one year of supervised training in the UK can apply for registration in Australia. They can be exempt from applying for the English Proficiency test, however they may need a few years of experience. 

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UKMLA vs PLAB – Which Exam is Better in 2024?

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