PLAB 1 Experience

Discussion in 'PLAB' started by Egyptian Doctor, Sep 7, 2019.

  1. Egyptian Doctor

    Egyptian Doctor Moderator Verified Doctor

    Mar 21, 2011
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    Hello everyone

    This is my Plab 1 experience post. I attempted the Plab 1 on 14/3/2019.

    This is going to be quite a long article (warning y’all beforehand [​IMG]:p ), here goes:

    Preparation time:
    10 weeks (2.5 months – can be done in 1.5-2 months as well), 8-14 hours/day



    •Question banks: PLABABLE (twice), Passmedicine, 1700 by Dr Khalid
    •Notes/Textbooks for reference: Samson notes 2018, Oxford Handbooks of: Clinical Medicine; Clinical Specialties; Clinical Diagnosis; Clinical Surgery; Practical Drug Therapy
    •Websites for reference:, NICE guidelines (cornerstone for PLAB 1 guidelines)
    •Recalls of PLAB 1 exams from 2012-2018
    •Plabable 3-day intensive review course
    •My own notes/clinchers which I wrote during my study period

    Essential sources (in my humble opinion):
    Plabable (twice at least), 1700 by Khalid, recalls of exams, NICE guidelines and for reference

    Study Method:

    Plabable and Samson Notes. T
    his is how I started - I read the Samson notes 2018 of each subject and did the relevant Plabable q bank for the subject. I managed to finish this in 3 weeks. I also made my own very short brief notes for important things during this time (consisting of mainly 3 things of whichever disease made it onto the notes: short notes on diagnosis, important investigations (inv of choice, most diagnostic inv, most used inv etc), and management. I highly recommend making your own short notes/clinchers, they greatly help during your study period to go back and remember certain things and are the most helpful in the last few hectic days of revision before the exam.

    I did 1 mock on plabable and scored 88%, and finished it in 1 hour.
    Plabable mocks do not consist of new questions, they are randomly selected questions from the q bank. I knew this was not reflective of the real exam (as it is harder), and not reflective of what I would actually score on the exam, as I could remember doing most of the questions on the plabable site and therefore could answer them correctly. So the score had a recall bias on my side.

    1700 qs by Khalid:
    I managed to finish this in 1 week (could have finished it earlier but I was experiencing a burnout at this stage and felt lazy).

    I started doing 1 recall per day from 2012-2018, I finished going through them all a few days before the exam.

    I subscribed to this site after reading some reviews on FB, and the fact that my mock score was incorrect due to recall bias. I did about 800 question but found the explanations too long and the questions irrelevant, so I stopped doing it 2 weeks before the exam to give time to my revision

    2nd read of Plabable.
    By this time, it was exactly 2 weeks before my exam. I went through the questions and the notes on plabable a 2nd time in 6 days. It was very helpful, I would advise everyone to do this if they have sufficient time to revise certain concepts and key diseases.

    Plabable 3 day revision course:
    I found this helpful but to a certain extent, as I had covered most of the topics in the course during my self study. It is advisable to attend for whomever has been able to cover and revise everything within 1 week before the exam. Their slideshows were very informative and helpful. They have a mock on the last day, in which I scored 177/180, and took 1.5 hour to finish – again because of recall bias. It was not reflective of my real exam score. But they have now created an entirely new mock for the review course, with new questions, so the score of those attending the next plabable review course will definitely be more reflective of the actual exam.

    Last 3 days before the exam:
    I revised my own notes/clinchers, and did a few more Passmedicine questions, went through the plabable review course clinchers and notes (very helpful, btw).

    Comments on study sources:

    • Plabable: the backbone of plab 1. Yes, several questions in each plab exam come outside the questions in the plabable q bank (the examiners probably sit and go through the whole q bank in an attempt to give questions that are outside plabable lol), but plabable wil give you the basics and concepts required to crack most questions that the exam throws at you.

    • Passmedicine: good for images and x-rays – the plab exam has a whole booklet of 10 or so questions with images. Derma, xrays, ecg etc. Plabable doesn’t have as many questions with images as passmed does. But otherwise the questions are not very relevant to the real exam and it tends to give way too much detail, more than what is required for the surface-studying level of plab 1.

    • 1700: a must, although keep in mind that all questions in it are recalls, some answers and wrong, and NONE of the actual plab 1 questions are EVER that short.

    • Samson Notes: useful for some subjects, not useful for others. Not updated for management, but very good for clinchers of diagnosing diseases. Do not go through them if you’re short of time.

    • Oxford Handbooks: useful, concise, informative. Some are old tho, so not all management is updated

    • great website for reading up more detail

    • NICE guidelines: plabable is a summary of NICE, but some topics (like asthma, during my time) are not updated on plabable, or aren’t covered (like constipation) so I had to study them directly from NICE. Con: very, VERY time consuming. Do not even open if you are short on time. Pro: if you go through NICE and answer a question based on the guidelines, you will never go wrong with the answer in your exam.

    • Recalls: a must, because some questions are repeated (albeit twisted when repeated – but hey, the topics are the same)

    • Anatomy: is a tricky subject if you’re as weak in it as I am. I used Basic Medical Sciences for MRCP 1, the anatomy chapter, for help with this topic as plabable doesn’t have notes as detailed as you’d like on this subject.

    • Pharma: they keep giving more and more pharma questions in the exam. I used First Aid for USMLE step 1 for remembering the effects, uses and side effects of some cardio and renal drugs.

    • Ethics: A very upcoming and emerging topic on the plab 1, so read about it well. Ethics rules in the UK are very different from other countries. I wish I knew this earlier but OHCM (or OHCS?) has a section on ethics. Plabable also runs a short ethics course which was unavailable during my exam period.

    The Exam

    I had read online to take blunt, unsharpened pencils with me to fill in the answer sheet easier. I found this tip helpful.

    Time management is very important. I practiced this during my mocks, but nothing comes close to the real exam when you’re actually doing it. I finished with 45 minutes to spare. The exam questions are long and detailed. You do not have time to sit and ponder upon each detail, so don’t bother. Usually the answer you think of first is the right answer.

    What I did during my exam was mark the questions I found hard and couldn’t answer, so I left them unanswered to not waste time over them. I had 20-something such answers. I went back to these questions in the 45 minutes I had left to spare and answered them all (I marked some of them randomly lol).

    Other related topics:

    Is joining a WhatsApp group and discussing questions necessary? No. I passed my exam without discussing anything and with my own self studying. Many people recommend joining a WhatsApp group and that works for them. It doesn’t work for me, it was a sort of waste of time in my opinion. I myself would much rather do my own research and study by myself as that is much faster and more reliable. You can do whatever works for you.

    Are practicing Swamy/Samson mocks necessary? No. I didn’t complete solving a single entire Swamy/Samson mock. I found them very confusing as they’re very brief and based on recalls, and not at all reflective of actual exam questions.

    Time management – practice from day 1. The PLAB 1 is not a hard exam, the main challenge is time management, so practice how to manage your time during your entire preparation. You can try to time yourself while you’re doing question in the q banks as well (the plabable questions length is similar to the real exam length).

    Do plabable at least twice, practice mocks, 1700 qs

    Make your own notes for revision before the exam.

    Good luck to everyone giving the next plab [​IMG]:)

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  2. Egyptian Doctor

    Egyptian Doctor Moderator Verified Doctor

    Mar 21, 2011
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    PLAB 1 experience :

    My score is 144 and the minimum score needed to pass is 115

    I prepared in 4 weeks , i started by reading samsoon notes and 1700

    I just browsed samsoon notes to recall all the things i forgot and i found 1700 useless , so i just switched to plabable and it was extremely helpful , the explanations were amazing and covered nearly all the subjects , it took me 2 weeks to finish plabable and if i had more time ; i would gave revised it quickly

    It is important to note that the exam questions were all in the form of cases and be prepared for interpreting ECGs , xrays and CT Images

    The ideas needed to solve the cases were all present in plabable ..

    Another note : there were about 4 questions on the step ladder management of pain , so study it well
    And best of luck to u all

  3. Egyptian Doctor

    Egyptian Doctor Moderator Verified Doctor

    Mar 21, 2011
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    Summary PLAB Experience March 2019

    Resources Used:

    1. Plabable Question Bank (Main)

    2. Oxford Books and Samson Notes for Reference (Only Derma) and Wikipedia/Google most of all

    3. A friends Notes and Clinchers for last days revision

    In the last 40 days before the exam I got serious, made a schedule and started studying. Tried to do 50 Questions daily, which was difficult to do in the beginning then moved on to more than 50 per day, then 100 and finally I was doing about 100 or more questions each day in my second go through Plabable in the Last 2 weeks of the prep.

    No Other Resource used other than Plabable. Did do Derma from Samson Notes and Orhtro from Clincher because skin lesions and fractures get fussy in memory quite easily. Did 4-5 Mocks from Plabable and a 1 or 2 from some other source.

    Exam Day:

    Take a printed copy of your Confirmation Email (MUST), your Passport (MUST) and only a clear pencil bag with you.

    Exam began on time and was more difficult than Plabable. I used to complete Plabable Mocks in 2 hours in the last week of my prep whereas in the actual exam I was in a race with time and was barely managing to complete 60 question per hour to complete total 180 in the 3 hours given. Tip: try to Solve 60 and mark 60 on bubble sheet per hour or less.

    The questions are extensive, with stems having pts with many co-morbidities, pharma was asked and overall it was a challenging exam. Leaving the exam hall we all were confused and all of us thought that maybe we should have used other resources as well like PassMedicine etc

    We passed the exam. I used to get 85% or more in Plabable Mocks but my actual score wasn’t that high, but that doesn’t matter, this is just to point out that don’t get too confident just by your Plabable mocks score, keep at the hard work til the very end.

    Do Plabable as many times as you can, the more you prepare the more chances that you’ll pass, give your best on the exam day, stay calm and try to focus and hopefully you’ll no matter how you feel afterwards, you’ll do great.

    Best of Luck.

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