What is the UKMLA?

Published on 17/09/2020 in
What is the UKMLA

Recently we've had a lot of questions from students about the upcoming UK Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA) which will replace the PLAB in early 2024.

Some students don’t even know about UKMLA! So we’ve decided to share with you all the information that is currently available. We strive to supply our students with up to date facts so that they can make an informed decision about their future.

Most students think that if they graduate from medical universities outside the United Kingdom, they would have to sit additional and more stringent exams to be recognised by the GMC before working or specialising.

What is UKMLA?

The UKMLA is an exam intended to test your knowledge and skills needed to practise medicine safely in the UK, no matter if you have graduated from the UK or abroad. So far, only doctors who have received their degrees overseas had to sit the PLAB (Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board) exam, which the UKMLA will replace after Brexit.

That's precisely why Brexit is seemingly a good thing for students who choose to study medicine abroad. The changes will put the graduates from both UK and abroad on the same pedestal. Wherever you receive your education and training, The Medical Licensing Assessment will give patients and hospitals greater confidence in graduate-doctors new to working in the UK.

The introduction of the UKMLA comes as a result of the recruitment crisis in the United Kingdom. Despite it being extremely hard to get accepted into medicine, the UK is still in huge demand of healthcare specialists. Therefore this new way of licensing will hopefully fix the gaps at least to some extent.


The UKMLA will aim to assess the physicians’ theoretical and practical skills. British and overseas-graduate doctors will have to demonstrate knowledge of fundamental concepts in caring for patients. It will be a test of knowledge for any physician who has genuinely completed their degree.

The UKMLA will consist of just two parts, unlike the three-part USMLE which is a lot harder:

#1. The first part will be the so-called Applied Knowledge Test (AKT). It will be the same both for UK students and international graduates. This test will be available at least four times per year so you won't have to wait more than three months to take it after you graduate. There will also be numerous locations for it worldwide. The only difference between the UK and international graduates will be that British physicians will sit the exams at their own university. The AKT will most likely be a computer-based test.

#2. The second part - The Clinical and Professional Skills Assessment (CPSA) as you expect, will focus more on the practical aspects of medicine. For students graduating from the UK, this assessment will be set and run by their medical schools with quality assurance from the GMC. For international medical graduates, the CPSA will take place in the GMC's clinical assessment centre in Manchester.

As for preparation for the MLA, the General Medical Council reassures you that:

"Your degree course is the best preparation for the MLA - you won't need to learn anything beyond what's already covered in your medical school's curriculum."


When will UKMLA replace PLAB?

The UKMLA will replace the PLAB exam in early 2024*, for international students first. UK students who will graduate in the academic year 2024-2025 and beyond will also have to sit the UKMLA alongside students who have studied abroad.

*Initially, it was planned for the UKMLA to start in 2023, but COVID-19 got in the way and delayed it by a year.

Will UKMLA be harder than PLAB?

Saying that an exam is easy or difficult is subjective. It might be hard for some and straight forward for others. It’s a matter of pass or fail, it’s not about ranking students based on their scores.

Success depends on how well you are prepared for the exam. The good news is that the GMC has posted a quite extensive content map which acts like a UKMLA syllabus.

How much will the UKMLA cost?

The GMC has not officially stated the fees for the MLA yet. Prices depend on the type of registration you are applying for.

If we have a look at the fees for PLAB part 1 and part 2, expect to pay somewhere between €1,000 - €1,100. But take it with a pinch of salt.

What are the advantages of the UKMLA?

As previously discussed, the GMC aims to treat every candidate fairly, no matter if they come from the UK, Europe, or the rest of the world, irrespective of which medical schools they got their degrees from.

The UK Medical Licensing Assessment will help the GMC to maintain the high standard of medical education in the UK, as medical schools overseas will be evaluated and added to the list of GMC-recognised universities.

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Article written by Medlink Students
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2 comments on “What is the UKMLA?”

  1. Hello,
    thank you for this article. I would like to ask about EEA graduates, from which year will it be required for these students to take the UKMLA?
    Thank you,

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