Given its projected introduction in 2024, we don’t really know what to expect of UKMLA questions at this stage. Going by the existing PLAB format however, we can make some estimations.
UKMLA Questions: What We Know So Far
At the moment we only know the UKMLA will be divided into two components; an applied knowledge test (AKT) and a clinical skills test (CPSA). We know the AKT will follow a multiple choice-style format, but we don’t know how this could look.
In our article UKMLA vs USMLE, we noticed the US based exam’s Step 1 has several potential answer options. We don’t know yet if the AKT will look the same, but we can look at the existing PLAB Part I to see how they do it. Maybe the AKT could follow suit in the future?
The PLAB Part I: A Possible Glance at UKMLA’s Future
One place we can go to check out the PLAB format is the General Medical Council website. Here we can see several sample questions that show us the types of questions test-takers hoping to become doctors in the UK will see.
In the example above we see PLAB Part I’s questions have a simple format. They usually describe a clinical case or scenario and then have you deduce the best answer. You always pick from five options.
UKMLA questions, in the AKT at least, could follow this same format. Like the PLAB, they too could consist of 180 multiple choice questions that have to be answered in a three hour session. We just don’t know at this point.
PLAB Part II: Can We Expect the Same of the CPSA?
Where we might be able to make fairly accurate estimations in regards to the first part of the UKMLA, what can we say about the second section? Perhaps a glance at PLAB 2 can help give us a better idea.
Made up of 18 scenarios, we know PLAB 2 lasts just over three hours in duration. Each section, or scenario – designed to reflect real life settings in a UK hospital or clinic – lasts 8 minutes. In that time test-takers are examined on their abilities to apply their knowledge to care for patients.
IMGs studying for PLAB Part II, due to being tested on NHS current best practices, often decide to opt for residential courses in order to fine-tune these skills. Whether they’ll have to do the same to prepare for the UKMLA questions on the CPSA however, remains to be seen.
How do PLAB II Questions Look?
We know, as per the GMC’s information, that test-takers have one and half minutes to read scenarios, instructions and review patient information ahead of attempting their stations. They also have “rest stations” too.
Looking at this GMC video from their YouTube channel, you’ll see test-takers interacting with actors playing the roles of patients. Called on to summarize their clinical findings, test-takers are then expected to attempt to give a clinical diagnosis.
Common scenarios often involve general examinations, patient counselling and patient management. Whether these will be included in the UKMLA, we don’t yet know for sure. But there is a strong likelihood.
Obviously we don’t know how UKMLA questions will look this early in the exams history. Drawing parallels to both parts of the PLAB however, as well as looking at their formats, could help give us some idea.
To get a better idea of what to expect from the UKMLA syllabus – as well as any future news, be sure to check back here moving forward.