The single most difficult question I'm often asked about the ABPI exam by candidates is: How long will it take me to study?
Truth is - I can't answer that directly for them. Or, for you. Instead, when we get into it, I turn the question around by asking: how much time do you have available? Then, we can have a conversation about next steps in study planning.
We all know that when it comes to answering - “how much time do you have?”- you need to work backwards. If you've already enrolled for your exam, what's the deadline? Working back from that cut off point tells you exactly how much time you've got to prepare for the exam. This is my least favoured option when planning, but in the real world, it's the most common situation exam candidates find themselves in.
If you haven't yet signed up for your exam, you're forward planning.
So, where to start?
I hope you agree these are straightforward steps to start your study plan. But, perhaps at the back of your mind, you’re still struggling with the difference between the amount of time you have, and the amount of time you need. Sound like you? There can be many reasons for this, some of it, out of your hands. Perhaps your company is focused on getting you past your probationary phase, before exam registration comes up for discussion?
Quite a few of my tutees have changed jobs two or three times in their first year, either through redundancy, or because they work for contract sales companies, and they've been switched to a different client.
So, because the clock is ticking, perhaps like them, you feel overwhelmed when you finally get around to planning or registering for the exam.
Please - don’t waste your precious time feeding the overwhelm monster. Make a start. You’ll feel better for it.
Or, perhaps you’re not worried and feel that you’ve plenty of time, after all, the exam is just multiple choice questions. How hard can it be? (It’s a mistake to think like this, but that’s a story for another day.)
So, let’s get to the nitty gritty - how long do you think it takes to study for the ABPI exam?
Although I didn’t promise to tell you, let me give you an idea of how long it might take you.
In my experience, exam candidates spend anything from 3 to 12 months preparing. The ABPI gives medical reps 12 months to sit the exam from the point they join the industry. You then have a further 12 months to pass all your papers (i.e. in the compulsory Units, and in your specialist Units, if you’re taking the Diploma.)
According to the FAQs on their exam website, the ABPI estimates that it takes 300 study hours for Units 1 to 4, and another 150 hours for 3 optional units (for non-science graduates). That roughly translates into 6 months of studying for a minimum of 2 hours daily, 7 days a week, which is pretty intense.
So, if you find yourself time pressured (who doesn’t?), you need good revision techniques.
I recommend mind mapping. Wholeheartedly.
I’ve used it for years, and was overjoyed when various software programmes and apps became available. This is the tool I use for meetings, training, and when learning about medicinal products for Medical Information clients. I even used it in my PhD research (not to mention my viva, summarizing from an 80,000 word thesis down to 2 pages). My point is, mind mapping is a well-established, tried and tested, technique that helps you with revision, recall and understanding.
What’s your favourite revision technique?
Meanwhile, remember the 5 sure fire steps to conquering the overwhelm monster. More often than not, we do actually have PLENTY of time. We just don’t use it wisely. Why? Because we fail to plan. Which, of course means we’re planning to fail. Don’t let that be you. You succeed with the right attitude, tips and tools. Learn more about them here.
P.S. Need support, or updates on special offers? Join my mailing list HERE.
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 ™