Should I start with studying the Code of Practice for my ABPI Exam?

Last Updated on January 24, 2019 by Dr M

Have you asked yourself this question?

I was a little stumped the first time I was asked it, since it’s a personal decision on what, where and when to start revising. How can someone else answer that for you?

But then I realised that it’s a fair question, especially when you’re trying to work out where best to spend your time revising. Nevertheless, my answer then, as now, was “…it depends”.

When you’re building your study plan, the time you set aside to revise or learn different topics all depends on how much time you have in total to study.

How much time do YOU have to study?

To work that out, you need to work backwards from your exam deadline to find out how much prep time you have. Then, realistically, you need to decide how much actual study time you have available, once you allow for sleeping, eating, working for a living and whichever other parts of your life you can steal time from.

After you’ve done all that, you can decide the order of topics to study. You might decide this based on what you already have a feel for or previous knowledge of. Or, you might take a structured approach based on the number of MCQs in each part of the mandatory exam, as shown below.

ABPI Exam Overview courtesy of the ABPI
Excerpt from the ABPI’s 2017 Guide to the ABPI Exam

Taking this kind of approach would suggest starting with Unit 4 since – as the ABPI’s Guide shows – it contains the most MCQs in the mandatory exam.

However, it seems many of you take the reverse approach and study this Unit last; mainly because you mistakenly believe that it’s mostly about stuff that’s easy to learn, or that you’re already familiar with.

But then, turns out this is the Unit that many exam candidates retake, as borne out by it having the lowest average exam marks in 2017 shown in the ABPI’s chart below. So, perhaps it’s worth rethinking when’s best to revise this important and large Unit, rather than skimming it, shortly before your exam deadline?

Chart of average Exam marks for 2017 excerpted from the ABPI's 2017 Guide to the ABPI Exam
Excerpt from the ABPI’s 2017 Guide to the ABPI Exam

So, when’s best to study the ABPI Code of Practice?

As for when’s best to study the Code of Practice, I like to think that you’ve had a bit of a headstart with an intro during your company’s induction training. (Otherwise, your company needs to wise up to Clause 16.1.)

Besides, the Code of Practice is not something you learn just for your ABPI Exam, to then put aside and forget about. It’s something you use and put into practice each and every day you’re on the job. The longer you’re in the job, the more familiar you’ll become with it.

Then again, for the purposes of the exam, it’s 30 MCQs worth 5 credits. And, let’s not forget the other half of that Unit is about the structure and function of the NHS. So, what does that mean for your revision?

First, let’s bear the following advice in mind from the ABPI:-

“All Examination questions relating to the Code of Practice will be compatible with both the 2016 and 2019 published versions. From 01 May 2019, some questions will only be answerable from the 2019 Code of Practice.”

Second, let’s consider what the ABPI say you need to know for the exam:-

“The introduction and clauses 1-4 and 7-28 of the 2019 Code of Practice should be studied. The Supplementary information should be studied as well as the actual clauses of the Code. “

Just to be clear, that adds up to 26 clauses comprising a total of 139 sub-clauses plus Supplementary Info.

And yet, for 5 credits in ABPI Exam, how much time is really worth spending on it relative to the other mandatory topics?

So, my advice on when’s best to study the Code of Practice?

Start on Day 1

Begin familiarising yourself on Day 1 of being on the job. Admittedly, getting to grips with the core principles of the ABPI Code of Practice takes time. But, as I like to say: the sooner you start, the sooner you learn.

If you’d prefer to save time and effort with an overview of the what and how of the ABPI Code of Practice (as well as the detail of the clauses), I have a mind map for that.


As I explain here, mind maps have been used since the 1970s to simplify complex information.

As a learning technique, mind maps powerfully improve your recall summarising KEY FACTS QUICKLY to give you “big picture” understanding of how everything fits together. The beauty of this is that – when we have a better understanding, we’re better able to remember.

Improve your general knowledge today about the code and see how it applies to promotional activities by accessing this expandable mind map in your browser window wherever and whenever you need to revise the ABPI Code of Practice.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.