New GMC rules for IELTS and PLAB

New GMC Rules for IELTS and PLAB!

If you are a doctor who plans to register in the UK, then there was good news this week – the GMC accounted that it is temporarily changing some of rules for IELTS and PLAB in response to COVID. What are the new GMC rules for IELTS and PLAB and how will they affect you? Let’s find out!

Changes to English Language Requirements (IELTS and OET)

The bad news is that you will still need to prove your level of English if you want to register with the GMC. However, the good news is that they are giving you more time to register. Until yesterday, you had to make sure that you registered with the GMC BEFORE your IELTS certificate expired. That meant you had just two years after your IELTS exam date to lodge your application. The new rule change means that until March 2023, you will have THREE years to register with the GMC. This is a huge change, particularly for those trying to travel to Manchester to complete PLAB 2 but are unable to enter the UK because of COVID restrictions.

So, if your OET or IELTS certification has recently expired, you will still be able to register with the GMC as long as

  • you have passed PLAB 2 less than three months before you apply to join the register
  • you have achieved the minimum IELTS or OET score (for IELTS that is an overall 7.5 with no less than 7.0 in all areas) less than three years before we receive your application.

I cannot tell you how happy I am to see these new GMC rules for IELTS. Only last week I was contacted by a student whose certificate had terminated asking if I was legible to provide him with a reference to prove his language-proficiency. Sadly, I was not able to do this (as it can only be done by a university professor) but this morning he was the first person I contacted when I heard about the rule change!


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More Flexible Cancellation Fees and Refunds for PLAB

The New GMC Rules for IELTS are just the start! From June 22nd 2021, the GMC is reintroducing cancellation fees for PLAB tests. These rules are slightly more complicated (we will go through them all in a moment) but, in short, if you have to cancel PLAB 1 or PLAB 2 for any unavoidable reason (i.e  a positive COVID test, a need to self-isolate, international travel restrictions, or bereavement), you will be able to get a full refund of your booking fees. Obviously, this should give peace of mind to any doctor who was planning to sit for PLAB 2 in the UK but was worried that they may not be able to attend due to circumstances outside their control.

Here is the full list of cancellation fees and refund policies:

  •  If you cancel your PLAB test more than six weeks before your test date, you will be charged a 10% cancellation fee (this is if your reason for cancelling is not  unavoidable).
  • For PLAB 1, all cancellations made less than six weeks before the date of the test will have to pay the FULL test fee (that is 100%, so you want to avoid this if you can).
  • For PLAB 2, the cancellations made four to six weeks before the date of the test will have to pay 50% of the test fee. Any cancellations of less than four weeks before the date of the test will incur the full fee.

If you need to cancel an existing booking, you can do so by logging into your GMC online account before 13:00 (BST) on 22nd June 2021.


  • Once again, I want to applaud the new GMC Rules for IELTS and PLAB! They show a willingness to be flexible in these difficult times and will hopefully provide a pathway for doctors to continue registering with the NHS at a time when we most desperately need them!

Listen to Noor, a doctor from Pakistan, talk about how she was able to pass IELTS and move on to PLAB 1 (she is now about to take PLAB 2!)

If you would like to find out more about all our courses, you can find everything at www.myieltsclassroom.com

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