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First candidates take new GMC overseas doctor test

The first candidates have begun taking the GMC’s new, harder test for overseas doctors looking to work in the UK, which they need to pass to practise in this country.

The newly revamped Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test launched by the GMC at the beginning of September includes more simulated clinical tests that reflect real-life consultations.

The GMC announced in March plans to make the test for international doctors looking to practice in the UK harder.

The move followed an independent review of the assessment commissioned by the GMC and published in 2014, which found that PLAB graduates had poorer clinical knowledge and skills than UK graduates on average, according to their performance in the MRCGP exam.

The new test includes:

  • A broader written test with more feedback for the candidates on their performance
  • Practical questions and scenarios that assess a candidate’s ethics as well as clinical skills
  • A two-year limit in which to apply for a licence after passing the test and a four-attempt limit on taking the test itself.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘This improved test will help make sure doctors are reaching the high standards we require to practise safely in the UK. The contribution made by doctors who come here from outside Europe is invaluable to healthcare throughout the UK and these changes will provide extra assurance – it has to be right that they should pass a stringent assessment.’