The UKMLA: change is coming, what you need to know

by Vassili Crispi

The BMA will keep students up to date with the roll out of the licensing assessment

Location: UK
Published: Thursday 24 June 2021
Two women in conversation

The UKMLA (Medical Licensing Assessment) is the proposed assessment for all doctors who wish to practise medicine in the UK. This will be a requirement for all those graduating in the academic year 2024- 2025 in the UK, and international medical graduates.

The GMC has stated that the aim of the UKMLA is to set a common threshold for safe practice. For several years, the MSC (BMA medical students committee) has lobbied and engaged with the GMC and the tMSC (Medical Schools Council) through stakeholder events and meetings.  

The MSC has received valuable student input into the development of the exam and ensured that the introduction of a new exam maintains a fair process that would not put students at a disadvantage, financially or otherwise.  

Significant changes and developments have taken place since it was first announced in late 2010 and, following MSC’s continued efforts, several positive developments and reassurances have been made by the GMC and tMSC. Ahead of the full implementation, we will provide future trainees with updates and resources to keep them informed.


How will the UKMLA work?

The UKMLA will be composed of two parts: the AKT (applied knowledge test) and the CPSA (clinical and professional skills assessment). Both components will assess a range of knowledge and competencies, outlined in the MLA learning outcomes.

The AKT will be made up of 150 to 200 single, best-answer questions chosen, from a question bank, by the local medical school. The GMC and tMSC are exploring ways to integrate this into existing medical school structures, but it is unclear how this will be achieved owing to the varied nature of final medical school assessments across the UK.

The CPSA will not be a separate exam from medical school finals. A quality assurance process of running it alongside existing practical exams (eg OSCEs) will take place to confirm it fits with GMC requirements, so it can be fully integrated into existing structures.


When will the UKMLA be implemented?

The GMC announced that the implementation schedule for the UKMLA will be extended, owing to the disruption caused by the pandemic. Students graduating in 2025 will now be the first to sit the UKMLA exams, rather than those graduating in 2024, with UK medical schools eligible for national pilots.

The GMC also announced changes to the process for ensuring consistency in the proposed AKT portion of the UKMLA.

In 2020, we gained a seat at the tMSC working table to ensure the interests of students are taken into consideration throughout the UKMLA development process. We want to avoid further strain on an already pressurised group of students.

During the past months, we have influenced tMSC policy on allocation of reasonable adjustments, applications for mitigating circumstances, number of attempts and equality impact assessment for the AKT. We have also worked with tMSC to begin a process of updating and reviewing available information and resources, including a detailed outline of the UKMLA and FAQs.

We remain in close conversation with the GMC and tMSC on the introduction of the UKMLA and are committed to ensuring that student interests are central to its development.


What next?

We are developing new guidance for the BMA website to ensure trainees are kept up to date on the UKMLA. This should go live during the summer, so make sure you keep an eye out for future communications via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

If you want to have your say on our approach, please get in touch with your local representative by emailing [email protected]

Vassili Crispi is the BMA medical students committee deputy chair for education.