plab vs usmle

PLAB vs USMLE – Everything You Need to Know About Medical Exams

With our guide to PLAB vs USMLE, you future doctors can see the differences between the two paths that lie before you.

If you plan on studying medicine outside of the UK/EEA/Switzerland area but practicing within the UK, you will need to pass the Professional and Linguistics Assessment Board. On the other hand, USMLE stands for the United States Medical Licensing Exam, which you will need to pass before you’re able to practice medicine in the US.

We’re not trying to turn this into a UK vs US scenario! But it’s important for graduating medical professionals to fully understand the different paths available for their future medical practice.


If you’re looking to work in the UK, and you do not have a Relevant European Qualification then the PLAB is for you. You will need this (alongside an acceptable English comprehension score from the IELTS or the OTE) to practice medicine in the UK.

The test is extensive, and is split into two three hour components, designed to evaluate your knowledge and abilities as a doctor. PLAB 1 is a multiple choice exam. Making it the perfect accompaniment to QUPI revision as we offer over 10,000 questions in a multiple choice format. PLAB 2 asks you to communicate with and examine simulated patients, drawing on your vast knowledge stores and skills.

The General Medical Council is the place to go for all of the details of the PLAB.


Any person looking to practice medicine in the US will need to pass the USMLE. On top of this any overseas internationals will have to apply for their residency visas. The USMLE is notoriously challenging, and the reason a lot of passing doctors decide to practice elsewhere.

Step 1 assesses applying important concepts of the sciences to the practice of medicine. Step 2 CS has been discontinued and replaced with step 2 CK – this is a recent change post pandemic. Step 2 CK assesses competency of the clinical sciences and basic patient centered skills. These are both one day long examinations. Step 3 is the final step and is a two day examination consisting of multiple choice exams, examination questions and rounded off with 13 case simulations. This is to assess the knowledge and skills of physicians to assume independent responsibility for medical care to patients.

Whilst challenging it stands as a testament to the high standard that medical practitioners have to reach to practice in the US. The USMLE will test many parts of your training and should be considered carefully before applying. It will require students to draw on all of their resources, and QUPI could be the key to giving you the edge, helping you to break up your revision by taking quick and fun quizzes.

Which Test Do I Need To Take?

For medical professionals looking to practice in the UK from overseas, you will need to take the PLAB. It requires a Primary Medical Qualification and a passing score in English comprehension tests. The PLAB itself costs £1114 in total: that’s PLAB 1+2 combined, and comprises 2 3 hour tests across two days, usually taking around 14 – 24 weeks to prepare.

The USMLE is for medical professionals looking to practice in the US, either residents or internationals. It requires enrolment in or graduation from an accredited medical school (the final part requires possession of your medical degree), and overseas candidates will need additional ECFMG certification. US residents can expect to pay upwards of $2185, and overseas candidates $4135, not including the additional certification required. 10 – 17 weeks to prepare although these figures vary wildly with some people suggesting three times that!

Both of these tests are renowned and difficult – and neither one of them should be taken lightly. QUPI is made by medical graduates to support medical professionals in their exams, the 10,000 questions will contain everything that you need to support your studies and help you to hit your goals of being a licensed medical practitioner!

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.



Sign up


Password restore

Forget your password? Don’t worry, this isn’t an exam! Just enter your email below and we’ll email you a link to reset your login details

Wrong login or password

Message sent

We’ve sent an email to the address you gave us with a link to reset your password. If nothing comes through in 10 minutes, be sure to check your spam/junk mail folder