Editor's Focus

GMC: Cost Implication for a Nigerian Doctor Taking IELTS & PLABs.

“You must pass the IELTS exam before you can progress to taking the PLAB exams”, he said in hushed tones to me. This was in December last year.

IELTS and PLAB are the commonest exams Nigerian Doctors have to pass as they prepare to migrate and work in the UK. I wrote an extensive piece about the top destinations Nigerian Doctors are emigrating to. You can read all about it from the highlighted link.

Now, for those who do not know, IELTS is an acronym for International English Language Testing System. It is a International standardised rest for English Language proficiency for non-native English language speakers.

In my mind, IELTS is another English Language exam you must pass before you can get a pass to study or work in the UK or other countries that accept the exam. Registering for IELTS and passing the exam is described by many as the rate-limiting step of the whole UK journey.

The PLAB, which means Professional and Linguistics Assessment Board, has been designed for International Medical Graduates seeking to practice medicine in the United Kingdom.

Both exams are currently the most popular foreign examinations among Nigerian medical doctors desirous of migrating to the UK, for ‘greener pastures’. Every year more and more interested professionals partake in this process, the cost quite exorbitant.

So this post is simply to outline the cost estimate of sitting for IELTS and PLAB in Nigeria, a country that undoubtedly provide a large chunk of candidates for the British Council organised examination.


Before I begin this section, many doctors are simply not sure how much the whole process PLAB process is. So with my experience, and those of some senior colleagues (who would rather remain anonymous), I have compiled these estimates. In itself they are estimates, a little to the left and a little to the right – it was however painstakingly gathered with accuracy in mind.

It is also fair to say that exchange rates fluctuate but you can use the following exchange rates to give you a rough estimate (£1=N471; $1=N360) of the Naira against the Pounds and US Dollars.


N75,000 (IELTS academic) or N97,000 (IELTS for UKVI)


PLAB 1 – £235 (approximately N112,000)

PLAB 2 Exam – £845 (N400,000 approximately)

Tutorials – £450 to £600 (depending on which academy you want)

Accommodation for a month – £175 – £450 depending on the type of room you get or if you are willing to share an apartment with someone

IntraCity transport:

Bus pass for like 4 weeks in Manchester – £60 (may not be up to that if you are not going to Stay too far away from the academy. In that case, you can take a walk to the center for your daily practice). You may choose to go to Liverpool, Birmingham or London. There are academies there too.

Most people who I conversed with would readily advice you attend Swamy in Manchester primarily because the cost of living in Manchester is lower than in London, but because both academies have very good pass rates.

Flight ticket- N230,000 – N450,000 (depending on when you book and what airline you choose to patronize. I personally recommend you book your flight at least 6 weeks in advance.

Visa application – hovers around $120 ) with priority visas costing much more at about $360, in case you need to ‘hasten’ things up.

Feeding for like 4-6wks £100-150 if you plan to be extremely frugal and focused on the aim of going to the UK in the first place.

Post PLAB 2

GMC registration- £425

Letter of good standing from MDCN- around N65,000

Verification of internship (N20,000 if you want to collect from MDCN. You can also use your house job forms provided there are no alterations of any sort on them. Or collect a letter from your Hospital stating the dates of the various postings).

TB screening certificate – N47,500

Police report- N5500 – N8500 (depending on your bargaining power and finess)
Tier 2 visa plus health surcharge
Tier 2 visa is around £580.

Health surcharge is £200/year. If you have a two-year contract, you will be required to pay £400. If you have Dependants, you pay for each Dependant’s visa and health surcharge. So it costs much more.

Return flight back to the UK (if you had to come back to Naija after PLAB 2 like me)- N150,000 – N300,000

Miscellaneous – for uncovered expenses when you get to the Queen’s Country, best you budget a hefty N100,000. Who wouldn’t want to come back home with some goodies from Great Britain for family, friends and loved ones.


I will quote what a highly respected Obstetric and gynaecology expert said about doctors relocating out of the country;

Usually a lot of young doctors migrate out of the country without getting a full picture of what it means. Many eventually get frustrated if the promised El dorado in the foreign country do not come easily. Remember it is not about staying or leaving

With this piece I have played my own part, for all those who need the “full” picture.

Tell us about your experience taking the IELTS and PLAB.

Do you think that Nigerian Doctors, and indeed all other migrating health professionals are making a wrong move or the best move?

I would like to hear what you think about the question in the comment section below.

And if you are new to the whole IELTS and PLAB process, and you need a friendly guide, zap me a mail. I will be more than willing to help!!!

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Dr E
The Admin is a Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria Certified Medical Doctor, with profound expertise in Medical Content Creation and Medical Citizen Journalism. He is popular for being a fast-rising online voice in Nigeria, with a flair for animated writing. He is a professional health content writer. He loves to swim, read and play board games. He sees himself as one who is destined to play a role in the way health services are rendered to the human race.