This is a guest post written by Diana, an intercalating medical student at UCL.

So you want to be a doctor? Today we will be breaking down the exams that final year medical students take. Although it may seem like a long way away it is important to know about these exams, as without them you can’t practice medicine in the UK. But don’t worry today we will break down these exams and help you understand what they are and why medical students take them.

THE UKMLA – the UK Medical Licensing Exam

The UKMLA is perhaps most important one that you should know about – this exam doesn’t exist yet! However it will be implemented in 2022 so if you’re in your pre-clinical years or thinking of applying to medicine you will be amongst the first to take this exam – so it is important that you’re aware, you can prepare and stay informed on the updates.

What is it?

A national exam sat to be sat by all doctors before they graduate it is designed so that the knowledge threshold will be the same no matter where they obtained their medical degree.


First run in 2022.

No information is available about when in the year it will be taken but it is likely that it will be the same date for medical students.


2 tests

The Applied Knowledge test– a multiple choice question test on medical knowledge this will be taken on a computer.  Everyone will sit the same test. See here for more details.

The CPSA– a practical clinical skills exam sat each medical school.  See here for more details.


The General Medical Council (GMC) has approved a plan to develop a unified assessment for every doctor who wants to practice in the UK, called the United Kingdom Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA).


What is it?

It is a measurement method which is used as part of your application when you apply for the Foundation Program in your final year.

A bit like UCAS points when you apply for FY1 jobs you get FPAS points. This exam counts towards those points.


There are two national dates per year.

It is 2 hours and 20 minutes long and there are 70 questions to answer.


The test is a series of clinical scenarios but does not require any specific clinical knowledge as it is designed to test professional attributes such as; commitment to professionalism, coping with pressure, effective communication, patient focus, working effectively as part of a team

It is a paper exam taken in the UK

Some example questions can be found here.


The SJT wishes to confirm that medical students have the knowledge and insight needed to be an FY1 doctor. The aim is to assess the professional attributes expected of an FY1 doctor.


The Prescribing Safety Assessment allows students to demonstrate their competencies in relation to the safe and effective use of medicines.

This will be integrated into the UKMLA so it will only be relevant if you will be graduating before 2022.

You may have also heard about the MRCS the MRCP and PACES exams – these are all examples of post-graduates exams that you’ll take once you are a practising doctor. So a bit to far off to discuss this time so we will save it for another blog post!

UKMLA (1) If you have any more questions head over to – this is a medical education blog that focuses on updating you on the exam. You can also find them on twitter and instagram as @ukmlaforums, and if you have any questions you can e-mail their team at

Posted by:Life of a Medic

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