I wish I could tell you that the ABPI exam is a piece of cake. But, I’d be lying and I’m not that kinda gal. I’m a plain speaking, tell it like it is kinda gal.
So, can I confess something to you?
Come closer… on 25th Feb 2018 it was my first anniversary of setting up the ABPI Exam Toolkit.
Yep. A whole year’s gone by, since I got serious about sharing my tools and expertise directly with exam candidates on my new dedicated website.
That’s not my confession. This is: I should be celebrating and happy to have reached this milestone. But, truth be told, I’m too tired.
It’s been hard work putting it all together, and it’s nowhere near where I’d like it to be, in terms of interacting with more of you. For example, despite setting up a Facebook group, I’ve done zip to get it off the ground. I suppose I’m struggling with the idea of whether it’s something you need or want. (Perhaps you could let me know what you think about that, or even join the group if you’d like to share thoughts?)
But, here’s my dilemma…I know from the same conversation I have over and over again, that many of you feel unsupported when it comes to studying for your exam. Seems some of you also feel bulldozed by managers who made you register for the exam when you didn’t feel ready.
While it’s not good to feel unprepared (because your inner critic is screaming that you’re not up to the task, because you’re not good enough)… it’s truly the pits if you really aren’t.
You know in your heart of hearts if you’ve not managed your time well enough to get your revision done adequately; or worse, you haven’t really applied yourself, due to our old friend (or, should that be enemy?) the overwhelm monster.
So, what can you do about it?
1. Develop a positive revision mindset
Journalling is all the rage these days. Whether it’s to get creative juices flowing, or for emotional release, un-muddling your thoughts can help you get unblocked via an emotional dump of negative feelings – re work, life or your ABPI exam.
If you’re feeling particularly resentful, stressed or despondent that there’s so much to revise that you’ll never conquer it all in the time you have left, then it’s probably a good idea to get these feelings out of your system. Don’t you think?
The thing is, one way or the other you’re doing this exam.
There’s no getting past it if you’re in a sales role, since it’s mandatory for you. Besides, having it under your belt gives you an edge to educate others about the value of the pharmaceutical industry, and all that it means (i.e. clinical research, pharmacovigilance, medical infomation etc.). And of course, you’ll have a shiny new certificate to prove you’re “ABPI qualified”.
So, my advice is to stop wasting time ruminating on how you’re going to get through it. Just do it. Throw your inner critic (or bitch, as I call mine) off the cliff. You’d be amazed how much time you can reclaim from your day when you dump the negativity. If I didn’t throw my inner bitch off the cliff, she’d sabotage my efforts, telling me that no one reads my stuff so why bother? (Did you hear a dull thud in the distance? Think she just hit bottom.)
Talk about your feelings – to a partner , friend, trusted colleague, or exam coach. Nothing better than finding that you’re not alone, and that everyone has bouts of negative self-talk, or self-doubt. How do they cope with it?
2. Get organised
This one’s about doing a brain dump. Get everything you need to do out of your head – onto paper, if that does it for you. Or, log your tasks in an organiser app (e.g. Producteev; Todoist; Wunderlist or my current fav, Trello) or get it all down in a plain old spreadsheet.
Whatever works for you is fine, provided you don’t use it as a way to avoid getting your actual work done. Instead, choose a method that suits you to routinely get stuff done. (David Allen markets products designed around the whole concept of getting stuff out of your head to get things done (GTD)).
3. Dump your highlighter pen
Or, at the very least, cut back your over reliance on it.
Sure, it’s a great tool for picking out keywords, but how often have you disciplined or limited yourself to doing just that?
Does your learning manual look like this?
4. Get active with your revision
This one is relates to #3.
Don’t just read - unless you have a photographic memory you’re doing nothing to embed what you’ve read into your memory.
To have any chance of stuff sticking, you need to actively test yourself on what you know, to spot those tricky bits that don’t stick ‘cos you don’t get it in the first place. Remember, if you don’t understand, you won’t remember it.
Actively revising means using learning techniques/tools like these:-
5. Mix it up - study on the job, in the supermarket queue, in the coffee shop...
Did you know that if you change where you learn, your brain's more receptive?
I’m not suggesting you study while you should be working. I’m suggesting you should use all those downtime moments at work to revise:-
6. Be brave – take accountability for your revision
If you struggle to stay on track, but really want to make progress – then a study buddy might be what you need:-
7. Take regular breaks
Use the Pomodoro technique to discipline yourself with taking breaks. Working this way is thought to boost your mental agility [1,2]. Read more about it here.
Go for a walk; unwind with exercise, whether that means doing housework, gardening, or down the gym.
Stop worrying – if you’re mulling something over – grab a notebook and note it down as something that you need to look over again or in more depth.
And get enough sleep.
Think I definitely need to work on that last one, given I confessed to being tired. (That’s me all over - not great at following my own advice.) Hang on…I think I hear my inner critic scrabbling back up the cliff face.
Just need to go push her off...again.
P.S. Want to silence your inner critic? Tell me in the comments which of these 7 ways you're going to focus on in your exam prep.
Marie helps ABPI exam candidates get ready for this pharmaceutical industry rite of passage with effective, actionable tips and proven tools, like flash cards.
Improve your memory TODAY with access to almost 600 flash cards that her most successful students use. Work smarter not harder. Get them here: https://payhip.com/b/eY4P.
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Hi. I'm Dr Marie McKenzie-Mills, and I help ABPI exam candidates navigate the ins and outs needed to sail through this pharmaceutical industry rite of passage.
Useful external links
ABPI Exam ToolKit ™