ABPI Exam? 5 sure-fire steps to conquering overwhelm

Watch face showing the time
Time – is there ever enough?

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.

Backwards 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.

Forwards planning
If you haven’t yet signed up for your exam, you’re forward planning.

So, where to start?

Continue reading “ABPI Exam? 5 sure-fire steps to conquering overwhelm”

7 Key tips to pass your ABPI exam

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.

Bubble containing the question: Stuff not sticking?
You CAN develop your memory skills

So, can I confess something to you?

Come closer… on 25th Feb 2021 it was the anniversary of setting up the ABPI Exam Toolkit.

Yep. Four years have now 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.

Red monster in attack pose
Watch out for the Overwhelm Monster

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?

Continue reading “7 Key tips to pass your ABPI exam”

ABPI Exam Unit Phagocytes: Neutrophils and macrophages. What’s the diff?

One of my students, Maggie was confused about the difference between neutrophils and macrophages, and also about the significance of the proportions mentioned in the learning materials (i.e. 70% of white blood cells (wbc’s) are neutrophils and 4% of wbc’s are macrophages).

Neutrophils are the immune system’s 1st responders

As I explained to her, you need to remember that neutrophils are a type of phagocyte. Being first on the scene of bacterial invasion in the body, they do their bit to nuke invaders by gobbling them up and neutralising them with their lysozymes. But, they’re relatively short-lived cells, and are often overwhelmed by a growing army of – never encountered before – bacterial invaders (pathogens).

That’s when the 2nd responders join the party

Macrophages are beefed up, muscular, 2nd responder phagocytes who take over the fight a few days later, cleaning up the remaining invaders.

They also act as antigen presenting cells to T helper cells, which then proliferate (i.e. increase in number) in response to having antigen served up to them. Some of these helper T cells will then present the antigen to B cells, ultimately stimulating them to produce antibodies (i.e. after they, in turn, have proliferated)[1].

These antibodies bind to the antigen, making it more appealing and juicy for phagocytes to eat (called opsonisation). If everything goes to plan, the end result is that invading bacteria are effectively cleared.

If the pathogen is encountered again in the future, memory B cells (and memory T cells [2]) will not only recognise it but help to produce antibodies to zap it even faster than before.

Have a look at this video , which beautifully illustrates how neutrophils defend us from infection. Continue reading “ABPI Exam Unit Phagocytes: Neutrophils and macrophages. What’s the diff?”

ABPI Exam: What price success?

What price are you willing to pay for success?



You appreciate that taking the ABPI exam involves a variety of costs, right?

Some costs can be claimed back from your company, or else your company pays up front. For example, this includes the cost of:-

    • ABPI learning manuals
    • Sitting the Exam itself

But what if you need more than that?

Like any other big goal that involves a cost,  you plan for it by budgeting. Don’t you?

And yet, the cost of my 16-week email course of lessons is zilch, nada, niente. In other words, nothing.  Why look a gift horse in the mouth?

While there’s no cost to you, there’s a ton of hard work behind these lessons.  Does that mean you don’t value them?  I’m pleased to say that many of you tell me you’ve found them helpful. A good many of you then progress to take advantage of the flashcards, MCQ workbooks or mind maps.

Even so, some find self-study challenging.

That being the case, it’s disappointing for me when students sabotage themselves rather than seeking help. (Is it really that hard to discuss your issues with your manager, or a colleague, or someone outside your company, like me?)

What’s more worthwhile – MCQs where the answers are obvious, or MCQs where you have to think really hard?

Take the other day, an ABPI exam candidate fed back that she wished she hadn’t bought the unit 1 to 4 workbook…

Continue reading “ABPI Exam: What price success?”

My key tip to gear up for ABPI exam success this year (and a pressie)

Continue reading “My key tip to gear up for ABPI exam success this year (and a pressie)”

The secret to razor-sharp focus on ABPI exam revision

I’m about to let you in on a secret that will boost your ABPI exam revision…

Actually, it’s more of a tip for developing your ABPI exam super-power of focus.

Ever been in a GP surgery, hospital postgrad centre, or in your company’s head office  and heard a resounding “ding, ding” clanging out from somewhere?

That’s the tell-tale sign of someone using a time management app, like Pomodoro. Continue reading “The secret to razor-sharp focus on ABPI exam revision”

How do I learn the ABPI Code of Practice for my ABPI exam?

ABPI Code of Practice 2019The other day, an ABPI Exam Toolkit user got in touch to ask how other exam candidates go about studying the ABPI Code of Practice for the exam. Ideally, he wanted me to put him in touch with others to chat about it (by giving him their email addresses).

It’s a great question that made me realise you too might find the answer helpful.

But to be clear, no can do on the sharing other Toolkit users details with him, or anyone else.

Remember 25th May 2018 and all the hoo-ha in the press and on TV and the internet about GDPR? It’s not like privacy laws (and PECR) didn’t exist beforehand. But this was a doozy that had everyone in a tizz. I even switched website hosts because they hadn’t a clue about its implementation let alone its implications, and duly enforced a non-compliant cookie notice on my site. That was despite my hard work and research to install code that delivered the same lovely notice you’re served here on the Toolkit. The only cookies you’re served here are those needed to make this site work. Anything else is your choice, which is the whole point of GDPR/PECR i.e. you choose to opt-in rather than opt-out. Read my Privacy Policy if you really want to, which covers the use of cookies and the like, as well as what happens to any of your data that you share (i.e. when you sign up for lessons etc. with your email address) here on the Toolkit.

The upshot is – neither I nor this site can act as a conduit to put Toolkit users in touch with each other. There’s a Facebook group for that. So, if you want to ask questions of other ABPI exam candidates, then consider joining it.

So, back to the question:-

How do people study the ABPI Code of Practice in preparation for the ABPI exam?

Continue reading “How do I learn the ABPI Code of Practice for my ABPI exam?”

No time to study? These 4 Learning techniques (and 3 tools) put you in control of your ABPI Exam revision

When Duncan approached me for help with his exam resits, he was feeling demotivated, demoralised, and overwhelmed:

“…with a young family, other commitments, as well as my full-time job, I’m finding it difficult to carve out any more study time”.

He’d never failed an exam before. His resits were in four weeks.

“What about your moments of downtime?” I asked him.

“Like when you’re: waiting before a sales call; walking the dog; in the car, or anywhere else you could reasonably be listening to the equivalent of crib notes?”

“Yeah. I’ve done all that. I recorded my specialist topics word for word from the learning manuals. But, nothing’s going in. I can’t seem to absorb any of it.”

“Ah. I see.”

Clearly, Duncan was feeling time pressured. Like other candidates before him, he didn’t lack commitment, but I suspected he perhaps wasn’t making the best use of his time.

Recording chapters from his manual would have taken time and effort, especially doing it word-for-word. 


This meant he hadn’t processed the topics in those chapters, because he hadn’t made the concepts his own. Putting them into his own words – and summarising – would’ve been a good start. But, because he felt time pressured, he decided to skip doing this.

So, before doing anything else, we needed to…  Continue reading “No time to study? These 4 Learning techniques (and 3 tools) put you in control of your ABPI Exam revision”

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

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?

Continue reading “Should I start with studying the Code of Practice for my ABPI Exam?”