Considering repeating HPAT/Leaving Cert? Here’s some advice from someone who has done it before
8 months ago by Tom
So you have just received your HPAT and Leaving Certificate results and unfortunately have not been accepted into Medicine this year - what next?
This was the situation I, and indeed many other Medicine hopefuls, faced on results day. The first reaction you may have is one of obvious disappointment, followed by the monumental task of considering the myriad of options on what to do next: Should I take my second preference course? Should I try the postgraduate route in a few years?
Among these is the option of repeating the Leaving Certificate and/or HPAT exam the following year in the hope of having enough points to make the cut next time around. The decision to repeat is an immensely personal choice that only you can make for yourself. I believe it is important to weigh up all options and consider each one carefully. For those that decide repeating the Leaving Certificate and/or HPAT exam is the right option for them, I would like to offer some advice from the perspective of somebody who has come out the other side.
Be Brutally Honest with yourself
Now is the time to sit down with a pen and paper and do a thorough introspection. Ask yourself what exactly went wrong last year - Could I have worked harder? Could I have worked smarter? Did I overlook any HPAT techniques that I could incorporate into my strategy next time? Did I do all the MedEntry HPAT Practice exams and go through them sufficiently? Could I have spent my time more efficiently? This is not a list of reasons why you did not get the HPAT results you wanted last year, instead, this is a list of reasons for why you could definitely improve on your results this year!
Embrace the Familiarity
Let’s be honest - learning the basics of differential equations again or recognizing one of the questions from those ACER HPAT practice tests you remember doing last year can be a little disheartening. However, I would say embrace the familiarity! Use this to your advantage. Recognize that the experience and knowledge gained from last year holds tremendous value. The unfamiliar setting of the HPAT exam centre can often disrupt students and impede their performance on the day. The very fact that you have already taken the HPAT exam and know what it entails is a major asset you did not have previously. Another point is that you already have a foundation from the year before - meaning it will take a lot less time to grasp the basics again. This allows you to have more time at your disposal to read the HPAT guides and answer explanations more thoroughly. This will leave you more prepared come HPAT exam day.
Persistence, Persistence, Persistence
This is fairly self-explanatory. However, I cannot stress enough the importance of persistence. Persistent practice every day, even just doing/reviewing a few HPAT drills, yields enormous benefit in the long term. Create a schedule in between HPAT practice exams to review material already covered and make sure to stick to it. Persistence allows you to become consistent in your work and is a valuable trait to have as both a medical student and future physician.
Eliminating the Doubt
This is perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give to anyone who has decided they are going to repeat. Just because you did not get the required points first time does not mean you cannot improve dramatically on the next attempt. I initially fell into the trap of self-doubt as I had achieved okay results in the Leaving Certificate and a below average score on the HPAT exam. At the start I thought the HPAT in particular could not be prepared for and that I was probably not going to improve my score enough. However whilst preparing with MedEntry I realised that you need to have confidence in yourself that you can do it, you can improve your HPAT score. I improved my score significantly on my second attempt and I know of many others who have done the same using MedEntry. Trust MedEntry, Trust the process, but most of all—Trust in yourself.
This blog was written by D. Shaughnessy, a MedEntry and current medical student who achieved 99th percentile in the HPAT.