Medical exams



USMLE is an essential exam to work in US as a doctor. The good thing about US is that you don’t have to take loads of exams, like in UK, to progress in your careers. Job prospects are relatively better than UK.


Conducted by ECFMG, website

The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a three-step examination for medical licensure in the United States and is sponsored by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).

USMLE has 3 Steps: Step 1, 2 & 3. Step 2 has 2 components, Step 2 CK (clinical Knowledge) and Step 2 CS (clinical Skills)

Step 1, Step 2 CK and Step 2 CS can be taken in any order. Step 3 is taken once the individual has successfully passed the above exams.

All of the steps are Computer Based Exams (CBE) except Step 2 CS, where you will be assessed on your clinical skills and English language proficiency.

All exams can be applied online through ecfmg website However, you have to access the Prometric website to schedule your exam. Please note, Step 2 CS and Step 3 can only be taken in United States, whilst the remaining parts can be taken in centres all around the world.

USMLE Step 1:

Required time: 3- 6 months

Recommended Books:

First Aid to Step 1

Lecture Notes by Kaplan

Online Course:

By Kaplan or usmleworld


Usmle Step 2 CK:

Recommended Time: 3-6 months

Recommended Books:

First Aid to Step 2 CK

Lecture notes by Kaplan

Online Course by usmleworld


Step 2 CS:

Recommended Time: 4- 6 weeks

First Aid to Step 2 CS

Online course by USMLE World

USMLE Step 3:

Recommended Time: 3 months

Recommended Books:

Lecture Notes by Kaplan

Online course by usmleworld.


United Kingdom:

The only way to work in UK is to pass PLAB or be exempted from PLAB and get registered with GMC. Details on exemption can be found on GMC website

IELTS the greatest milestone! You have to pass this before you set on the pathway to PLAB/ exemption. The new immigration rules have made sure they mint their money through this exam.



PLAB has 2 parts;

Part 1 is MCQ- Required time to prepare is around 3 months.

Exam is conducted in various centres around the world.

Recommended Books:

PLAB Digest: MCQ book with explanations

Oxford Hand Book of Clinical Medicine

Oxford Hand Book of Clinical Specialities.

Part 2 is clinical – it is held less frequently than used to be in recent past.

Required Time: around 2- 3 months

The only examination centre is located at General Medical Council building- London.

Recommended Books:

PLAB Made Easy

London PLAB

There are numerous PLAB 2 courses in various major cities in UK, which you can apply on line. We would recommend you to do one such course. Information can be found online. Famous courses are;


PLAB Trainers- London

London PLAB- Birmingham

NHS Professionals- Preston

Further Guidance on PLAB can be obtained from GMC website,

Passing PLAB – we should remember will not guarantee a job nor it is a qualification. Prospects for getting jobs for non-European doctors are extremely slim. As per new immigration rules, non-European doctors would not be offered training job, even at junior level!

Anyway, PLAB is just an entrance exam, which indirectly lets the GMC know that we can work as a doctor in UK.

Now that you have PLAB, you will start to apply for jobs in the speciality of choice.

Information on jobs in UK can be obtained from following websites:, &

Now we have Foundation Programme (F1 and F2) a 2 year programme, which includes training as a house officer in the first year and as Senior house Officer in the second year. You can voice your preferences in your letter of acceptance for the job after a successful interview, but the specialities are usually allocated in ranking order.

As you are aware the overseas doctors’ chances of getting into speciality registrar jobs (ST3 /or SpR) has become very very slim.

Anyway, you have to pass membership exam, eg: MRCP (UK), to proceed to higher specialist training. Unfortunately I don’t know much about other membership exams except MRCP. However, information about other member exams can be found at relevant royal colleges.


Free plab 1 questions

Contains hundreds of free plab 1 questions.


Free resources and links to jobs after passing PLAB.



Has 3 parts

Part 1 and 2 are written parts

PACES is the clinical, final part which has to be taken to secure Membership.

Part1 and 2 can be taken unlimited number of times, but PACES can only be taken 3 times after which we have to take part 2 again.

However, there are going to be new changes implemented, which will be updated in the

The MRCP (UK) Part 1 examination has a two-paper format. Each paper contains 100 multiple choice questions in one from five (best of five) format, where a candidate chooses the best answer from five possible answers.

Required Time: around 3-6 months

Recommended Books:

Essential Revision Notes For MRCP- Philip A Karla

Basic Medical Sciences for MRCP part 1– Philippa J Easterbrook

On line courses: (highly recommended)

The MRCP (UK) Part 2 Written Examination is a 2 days exam, with a three-paper format. All Papers in the MRCP (UK) Part 2 Written Examination contain up to 100 multiple choice questions. The questions will usually have a clinical scenario, may include the results of investigations and may be illustrated.

Required time: around 3- 6 months

Recommended Books:

Rapid Review of Clinical Medicine- Sanjay Sharma

Online Courses: (highly recommended)

Would also advise to practice picture test books for MRCP.


PACES: needs loads of clinical experience.

Required Time: 3- 6 months

Recommended Books:

An Aid to the MRCP PACES Vol: 1 & 3- Ryder & Mir

PACES for the MRCP- Tim Hall

Cases for PACES

There are specialised courses for PACES in many major cities of UK. I would highly recommend you to do one of them. These can be found online. Famous ones are as below:

Fast Paces

Ealing Paces Course

Hammersmith Paces Course

Lancashire Paces Course

Kings College Paces Course

Paces Ahead

Walton Neurology Course for Paces

Pastest Course, for PACES

Guys & St Thomas Paces Course


Revise MRCP

MRCP study questions Revision notes

  1. Basic Science Notes

  2. Cardiology Notes

  3. Clinical Pharmacology Notes

  4. Endocrinology Notes

  5. Gastroenterology Notes

  6. Haematology Notes

  7. Infectious Disease Notes

  8. Neurology Notes

  9. Psychiatry Notes

  10. Renal Notes

  11. Respiratory Notes

  12. Rheumatology Notes

  13. Statistics Notes




Wish you all the best.


Dr Mahboob Ali Dahani

Clinical Fellow- Cardiology

Southampton University Hospital- UK