The award-winning guide to study


Over the years, ABE has interviewed hundreds of Top Paper Award winners* who have shared some brilliant study tips and techniques. Here's a summary of all the great advice to help you get top grades - from the people who have been there and done it!

A winning attitude

  • Be committed
  • Be passionate
  • Be focused

Tip:  if you find your motivation waning, focus on your ultimate goal and how your studies will help you achieve it.  Pin an inspirational mantra to your wall.

Plan your time wisely

Schedule study time – make a regular time to study every week from the very start of your course, if necessary draw up a timetable and stick to it

Allow thinking time – after studying take time (10 to 15 minutes was suggested) without any distractions so you have a chance to absorb what you have learned

Set targets – plan what you want to cover in your studies on a week-by-week basis so you can ensure you’re keeping on track

Tip: during study time make sure there are no distractions from phone messaging, TV or social media

Know yourself

Work with your body clock – we all have times when our brain is most alert and times when it’s harder to concentrate so plan your study time to coincide with when your energy is at its peak

Study little and often – you can only absorb so much information in one go so, recognise what length of time works for you.  Study one topic at a time, then take a break

Develop your own learning style – when it comes to learning, there’s no one method that suits everyone – making flashcards, doing diagrams, creating acronyms or drawing mental maps are all methods that people find helpful.

Tip: try different learning techniques to see what works best for you – for some, mixing methods up can work well as it keeps your studies fresh

Know your subject

Study the syllabus for each unit

Make sure you understand all the learning outcomes (detailed in the qualification specification)

Read the ABE study guides – there’s one for every unit

Do wider research to understand how your studies relate to the real world

Tip: winners’ suggestions include reading business news, listening to podcasts, watching videos (such as TedTalks on YouTube), looking at posts on the ABE website and using any opportunity available to consider business-related subjects in a real-world environment

Use your centre’s expertise

Listen and focus during lectures

Ask questions – don’t be embarrassed, asking questions helps everyone learn better and you need to feel you really understand a subject

Form study groups – discuss your learning with your peers and bounce ideas off each other

Complete all the tasks set by your tutor – they are there to help you

Tip: make notes during lectures, read them back after class and summarise them according to your best learning method, discuss how the subject applies to the experiences of your study group.

Plan for assessments

Test yourself and get used to the type of questions you may be asked

Read the examiners’ reports – these are available for both exams and assignments.  They will tell you what type of answer the examiner is looking for and show how you can win and lose marks –  they’re a great way of identifying any gaps in your knowledge

Learn how to answer questions by giving real-life examples to demonstrate business theory in action


Believe in yourself

Work hard

You can do it

*Top Paper Awards are given twice a year to the people who have achieved the highest overall pass in each unit in a session.