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All About UKMLA

ACAlpina ChariJan 31, 2024

What is the UKMLA exam?

United Kingdom Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA) or Medical Licensing Assessment (MLA) is a standardized examination for medical students seeking to practice in the UK. The General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK announced in June 2015 that all doctors–UK medical students as well as international doctors–who wish to work in the UK will have to sit UKMLA. It is designed to ensure that all medical graduates possess the necessary skills, knowledge, competence, and proficiency to practice safely and effectively in the UK. UKMLA serves as a pivotal bridge for medical graduates and comprises two distinct components: the Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) and the Clinical and Professional Skills Assessment (CPSA). The test is similar to that of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) which is mandatory for medical licensure in the US by all medical students (the US as well as international medical graduates). 

The UKMLA was developed in response to the changing landscape of medical education and practice. It was created to streamline the evaluation process for medical graduates from the UK and other countries by replacing the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) exam. The UKMLA aims to uphold the highest standards of patient care by ensuring that all medical practitioners possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and professional conduct. From the academic year 2024–25 onwards, medical graduates from the UK will need to pass the MLA as part of their degree before they can join the medical register. Whereas for international doctors the PLAB test will become compliant with the requirements of the MLA from 2024. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricate details of the UKMLA, covering everything from its inception and structure to preparation strategies and the examination experience. 

Overview of the UKMLA Exam

Conducting bodies  UK medical schools (UK medical graduates) and GMC, UK (international medical graduates)
Components  Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) and the Clinical and Professional Skills Assessment (CPSA)
Minimum Eligibility  Medical qualification that leads to registration with a license to practice in the UK or acceptable by GMC
Registration Process  UK medical schools for UK medical graduates and GMC for international medical graduates

The UKMLA Format

The UKMLA is delivered and designed by UK medical schools for UK medical students who are in the final year of their undergraduate medical education. On the other hand, GMC conducts the test for international graduates with foreign medical education. The MLA exam is based on three themes and six sections. The three themes are 

  1. Readiness for safe medical practice
  2. Managing uncertainty
  3. Delivering person-centered care  

And, the six sections on which the MLA is based are 

  1. Clinical practice areas 
  2. Professional knowledge areas 
  3. Professional and clinical capabilities
  4. Practical skills and procedures
  5. Patient presentations
  6. Disease conditions 

The assessment consists of two parts:

AKT

This is an on-screen/online multiple-choice exam set by UK medical schools for UK medical graduates and by GMC for international doctors. It will assess their capacity to use the concepts of medicine in various contexts. It is conducted four times a year for international students at a number of locations worldwide. AKT is similar to the current PLAB 1 exam. 

CPSA

It is an assessment of clinical skills and professional skills via an objective structured clinical exam or objective structured long examination record. Real-world scenarios will be incorporated, such as a simulated consultation room or an acute ward. CPSA is set up and run by UK medical schools for UK medical graduates. The GMC’s clinical assessment center in Manchester will host the CPSA for foreign medical graduates. It is similar to the current PLAB 2 exam. 

International medical graduates who wish to register with a license to practice in the UK can still apply for the PLAB test until the MLA is implemented in 2024. 

Eligibility for the UKMLA

Before embarking on the UKMLA journey, it is essential to understand the eligibility criteria to determine if you qualify for the exam. The GMC has outlined specific requirements for candidates.

Medical qualifications

UK medical graduates: They must have completed a medical qualification that leads to registration with a license to practice in the UK.  

International medical graduates: Their medical qualifications must be acceptable to the GMC. This typically involves having a primary medical qualification listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools. 

English language proficiency

International candidates, regardless of their origin, must demonstrate proficiency in the English language. This can be proven through the IELTS or other standardized tests for English proficiency. 

Medical training 

UK graduates have completed your Foundation Year 1 (F1) and are in good standing. International graduates must demonstrate satisfactory progress in their medical training, usually equivalent to the completion of F1. 

All these criteria must be met carefully to ensure that you meet all the necessary requirements before proceeding with the UKMLA registration process. 

Registration Process, Costs, and Results 

The registration for the UKMLA is slightly different for UK and international graduates, let us break down this process. The registration process for MLA for UK graduates is held by UK medical schools. UK students do not have to pay anything extra to take the MLA. The medical schools will cover the costs of MLA from the course fees. Some medical schools charge for retakes. The results of both the components of the MLA exam are delivered by the respective medical school. Since MLA is a part of the requirements for the medical degree, the graduates who fail will not graduate but they can retake the exam. To maintain fairness, medical universities will remain accountable for mitigation, reasonable adjustments, and appeals. 

International graduates can register for the UKMLA with GMC similar to how they set up a GMC Online account for the PLAB exam. The exam and assessment will be conducted by GMC. The candidates must upload the required documents for the eligibility assessment, including proof of their primary medical qualification, English language proficiency, and any additional documentation requested by the GMC. The results will also be announced by GMC. 

Conclusion 

The UKMLA is a comprehensive assessment designed to ensure the competence and readiness of medical graduates entering the UK healthcare system. It will give patients and employers greater faith in doctors starting their practice in the UK, regardless of their educational or training background. For candidates, thorough preparation, adherence to eligibility criteria, and effective time management on the examination day are key components of success. By understanding the intricacies of the UKMLA and adopting a holistic approach to preparation, medical graduates can confidently navigate this crucial step toward practicing medicine in the UK. To know more about the UKMLA exam and its preparation, contact Gyanberry experts by booking a video appointment or filling out this form.

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Frequently Asked Questions

United Kingdom Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA) or Medical Licensing Assessment (MLA) is a standardized examination for medical students (both UK and international medical graduates) planning to practice in the UK.

The UKMLA exam consists of two components–the Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) and the Clinical and Professional Skills Assessment (CPSA). 

Yes, international medical graduates appearing for the UKMLA exam must present English language proficiency through the IELTS or other standardized tests.

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