This is the third article in a series “Naseer’s Journey”.

You can find all the articles in this series here –

  1. First article,
  2. Second article,
  3. Third article,
  4. Fourth article,
  5. Fifth article,
  6. Sixth article,
  7. Seventh article.

 

Part 3

Studying for PLAB 2

 

Since PLAB 2 is an OSCE exam, the key to passing PLAB 2 is confidence.

 

Joining an Academy:

Image - Dr. Naseer Khan
Dr. Naseer Khan

Studying for PLAB 2 is completely different from studying for PLAB 1. For PLAB 1, you can easily find all the study material on Facebook and you can study at home. For PLAB 2, it’s very important to join an academy.

Having said that, there are examples of people passing PLAB 2, without joining an academy, but that makes the task very difficult. I would never advise anyone to not join an academy for PLAB 2.

 

Time Required for Preparation:

After your course ends, ideally you should have 4-5 weeks to prepare for the exam.

However, even if you have less time, you can make it. Do not be discouraged if you have less time. I’ve seen people pass by taking the exam 4 days after their course. But to give yourself a decent chance, you should have at the very least, two weeks after the course.

 

Study Material for PLAB 2:

Everything you need for PLAB 2, will be provided at the Academy.

Image showing books

Pre-Preparation for PLAB 2:

There is absolutely no need to study anything for PLAB 2 before your Academy course begins. You will have enough time during and after the course to prepare for the exam. Until you actually know what the exam is about and what it is like, you wouldn’t be able to study for it.

 

How to Study for PLAB 2:

You will have 9-12 hours of classes every day. During the class, try to be attentive and try to absorb as much as you can. But no one can absorb everything that’s said in the class for this long. So it’s okay if you miss things during the class.

 

Studying After Class:

When you go home after the class, it’s ideal to spend an hour or two to go through that day’s notes. If your class ends around 7 PM or 8 PM or even 9 PM, it is possible to do this. However, if it ends after that, it might be a bit difficult.

If you are unable to go through each day’s notes after the class, do not feel bad or guilty about it. Nearly no one is able to accomplish this task. But if you can, especially if you have 2 weeks of prep or less after the class, it’ll help you a lot.

 

Study Mate(s):

Before your class begins each day or during the lunch break, find people who’re willing to practice. You don’t have to practice every station with the same partner. You can practice with different people. It’ll help you in assessing which of your classmates are serious and who you can seriously practice with, once your course ends.

By the time your course ends, you should know which people you’re going to practice with and you should be in touch with them to schedule your practice sessions.

 

Multiple Study Mates:

It’s best to have more than one study partner. Because if you have only one partner and both of you are making a certain mistake, you wouldn’t realize your mistake. You might make those mistakes in your exam as well.

Having multiple partners trains you for different situations and circumstances. It gives you a different perspective. And you also learn a lot from different people.

Of course, I know a lot of people who had only one partner, and they passed the exam with a really good score. So don’t worry if you have only one partner.

Image of Group discussion

A Break:

After the course ends, if you have 4 weeks or more, you can take a day off and relax. It’s very important to do this. Otherwise, you might not be able to study properly if your mind is not relaxed enough.

If you have 3 weeks or less though, it’s better to just start your prep without any off days.

 

Studying After the Course Ends:

 

Two Approaches:

There are two approaches to this. Most people prefer the first approach and it’s more convenient and simple. However, some people prefer the second approach.

Approach 1: Start practicing stations right away.

You’ll see a lot of your classmates practicing stations even during the class breaks and it’s not a bad idea.

Partners:

Find a partner or two who are willing to practice. It’s best if it’s a group of two or three people, not more than that.

First Read + Practice:

After your course ends, sit down with your partner. Pick a station. Both of you should read the station once. Then both of you should practice it once, by taking turns, being the doctor and the patient.

In this way, go through all the stations once.

Second Read + Practice:

It would be ideal to change your partner for your second read. Again practice in the same way, by reading the station first and then practicing with your partner.

Third Read/Memorization:

After your second read, if you feel that you’re not able to remember certain things. It would be best to take a solo third read.

Fourth Read + Practice:

This is less of a read and more of practice. Pick anyone you can find and again, try to go through all the stations. This time you might not want to read the station before practicing it.

Further Reading + Practicing:

If you have time, practice the stations as many time as you can. If you get bored of practicing, keep reading the stations at least.

Image of classes

Approach 2: Read the notes/stations. Then start practicing stations.

Some people prefer to read the notes/stations thoroughly before they practice them. However, keep in mind that if you don’t start practicing right away, everyone might have picked partners and you might be left alone when you want to practice. So this approach only works if you have a partner who agrees with your plan.

 

First Read:

After your course ends, sit down with your notes. Study all stations and try to memorize as much as you can.

 

Partner:

If you haven’t already picked a partner, now you need to pick a partner, which might be difficult. Since most people would already have groups by now.

 

Second Read + Practice:

If you do find a partner, sit down with your partner. Pick a station. Both of you should read the station once. Then both of you should practice it once, by taking turns, being the doctor and the patient.

 

Further Reading + Practicing:

Keep practicing the stations as many time as you can.

 

Memorization:

If you feel that you’re not able to remember certain things. It would be best to take a solo read. But keep in mind that too much reading and not enough practicing, will not properly prepare you for the exam.

 

Mocks:

Take as many mocks as you can. They will prepare you for your exam, more than anything else. Even if you have to pay extra money for them, take as many mocks as you can. Nothing will help you more in assessing yourself and help you in staying calm during your exam.

 

How Much You Need to Cover:

It is ideal to have gone through each station 5-10 times before your exam. The more your practice, the better your exam will go.

 

Sweet Talk and Body Language:

This is the most important thing for your exam. It is just as important, if not more important than your knowledge.

You have to use these words frequently:

  1. Sorry.😢
  2. Thank you!😌
  3. Please!😌
  4. Kindly!😌

You have to use them with these facial expressions, to show your sincerity.

By the time you reach your exam, you would remember all the stations perfectly well. You would remember all the situations and all the scenarios. The most important thing at the end is to keep your nerves. Even if you lack knowledge, but if you’re calm, composed, gentle, polite, sweet and confident, you will pass the exam easily.

 

Some Encouragement:

Most people who attempt PLAB 2, do pass the exam in their first attempt. According to GMC’s official website, the pass rate in 2015 was 68% (pass rate for 2016 are not available yet).

 

 

Image - Dr Naseer Khan
Dr Naseer Khan

 

Acknowledgements

This article was originally published on 15th February, 2017, on the author’s blog – Naseer’s Journey. We republished it here after editing with the permission from the author.

Here is the link to the article on Naseer’s Journey.

 

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