The UKMLA (UK Medical Licencing Assessment) will replace the PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board) exam
Comprised of two components: an Applied Knowledge Assessment (AKT) and a Clinical and Professional Skills Assessment (CPSA)
Passing UKMLA exams will be required for all UK medical students graduating in 2025 and onwards and will be implemented into medical degrees
UKMLA - A Guide
The UKMLA (Medical Licensing Assessment) is an essential assessment for doctors who want to practise medicine as a General Practitioner (GP) in the UK after 2024. Those graduating from a UK medical school or as an international medical graduate (IMG) in or after the academic year 2024-25 will be required to take the UKMLA exam, as a fundamental part of the MRCGP qualification. The UKMLA exam will replace the former PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board).
Previously, the PLAB involved candidates submitting recorded consultations with patients. Areas tested by this assessment include clinical, practical, communication and professional skills related to General Practice.
The UKMLA has been designed by the BMJ to test candidates on the same knowledge areas, in a fairer way. According to the GMC, the UKMLA will set a “common threshold for safe practice”.
The UKMLA test is broken down into two parts. These are the Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) and the Clinical and Professional Skills Assessment (CPSA).
Both of these sections will assess medical graduates from the UK and overseas on their readiness to practice as a medical professional in the UK. This includes anyone who wishes to practices as either a GP or other specialised medical professional. Guidelines for the clinical and professional areas candidates will be tested on in both the UKMLA AKT and CPSA are outlined in the General Medical Council’s (GMC) Medical Licencing Assessment framework.
Note: It is worth noting that the UKMLA AKT is not to be confused with the existing applied knowledge assessment, which forms another of the three main components of UK GP and specialist qualification.
The UKMLA AKT
The UKMLA Applied Knowledge Test is to be made up of 150 to 200, multiple-choice questions. These use a single, best-answer format – meaning candidates must select one answer from choices given which they believe to be the best-suited answer to the question.
The AKT component of the UKMLA is set to run four times a year. For UK medical students, it will be up to the school which of these exams their students will take.
UKMLA for International Medical Graduates
In efforts to make medical examinations more fair, IMG’s will also be expected to pass the UKMLA in order to practise in the UK.
Before the rollout of the UKMLA test, IMG’s who want to practice in the UK have been expected to pass Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) examinations to do so.
This change has been implemented in order to allow a fairer, more consistent system for UK and overseas medical graduates and to ensure everyone has met the same criteria to practice as a doctor in the UK.
This means that all IMG’s graduating in or after the academic year 2024-25 will need to sit both components of the UKMLA in order to practice in the UK.
UKMLA Frequently Asked Questions
The UKMLA is an exam that is designed to test clinical and professional skills, as well as clinical knowledge.
Medical students graduating from British medical schools in the academic year 2024-25 and beyond will be required to pass the MLA as part of their medical degree in order to join the medical register.
Those who have qualified overseas will need to sit the exam in order to do the same.
The format of the PLAB and UKMLA tests are significantly different. The PLAB allows candidates to submit recorded in-person, video and audio consultations with patients to demonstrate their ability to communicate professionally with patients and apply their knowledge of different clinical areas.
While the UKMLA exams test for the same things, they do so in a different way. The UKMLA AKT section of the test asks candidates to answer 200 multiple choice questions in a set amount of time, in an exam situation. The second part of the exam will be designed by individual institutions, but will require candidates to show they can demonstrate core skills in clinical and professional practice.
The UKMLA will be implemented for all UK medical students set to graduate in 2025. Initially this was planned to be rolled out a year earlier, but the GMC delayed the schedule due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For UK medical students, the best preparation for the MLA test will be through paying close attention to the curriculum covered in your medical school degree. Because both tests will be run by medical schools, they will be closely tied to modules and content that are learned by students attending them.
The MLA content map gives a good indication of the topics and curriculum areas that both the AKT and CPSA assessments could cover.
The three main themes that candidates of both components will be tested on are: readiness for safe practice, managing uncertainty and delivering-person centred care.
These are broken into six key “domains”, which are as follows:
- Different areas of clinical practice (for example, paediatrics, psychiatry or general practice)
- Different areas of professional knowledge (for example medical ethics, medical law or medical technology)
- Professional and clinical skills (for example assessing and safeguarding patients who are vulnerable)
- Practical skills and procedures (which you can read more about here)
- Patient presentation. This relates to recognising symptoms, signs and issues commonly seen in patients at a first-stage appointment (for example rashes or inflamed tonsils)
- Conditions such as pathological diseases and clinical diagnoses that are commonly seen in patients at a first-stage appointment (outlined by the UK Foundation Programme). For example, eating disorders or MR.
A combination of revision methods will best help you to prepare for the UKMLA test. Audiobooks, flashcards, mock papers and revision pack bundles are a great way to help cement knowledge and learn how to apply it for exam scenarios.
UK medical students will not need to pay anything extra than their tutor fees to take the UKMLA.
Some medical schools may charge for those who need to resit the UKMLA exams.
Those who have graduated from a medical school outside the UK will be required to pay a fee to sit their UKMLA.