How to Balance the HPAT and Leaving Cert Mocks

How to Balance the HPAT and Leaving Cert Mocks

3 weeks ago by Tom

Preparing for HPAT can seem overwhelming. Add in your Leaving Cert mock exams and stress levels can rapidly skyrocket. Unfortunately the timing of the HPAT is often very close to mock exams, or can even be in the middle of mock exams.

As the HPAT and mock exams draw closer, it can become hard to balance Leaving Cert study and HPAT preparation. So how do you do it? This blog outlines five tips.


Keep your Leaving Cert mocks in perspective

While mocks are important, and your teachers will put a lot of emphasis on them, HPAT is more important. If you do not do well in your mocks, there are very few implications. If you do not do well in HPAT, you will miss out on a place in medicine.

Remember that after HPAT, you still have three months during which you can focus all your efforts on the Leaving Cert.

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that the mocks are just that: mock exams, while the HPAT will be the real thing, and deserves to be prioritised.


Talk to your teachers

If you feel your teachers are putting too much pressure on you to study for mocks, explain to them the importance of HPAT. Some teachers may not be aware of how important and difficult HPAT is.

Some teachers will allow you to postpone or even not sit mock exams. So speak to them – you’ve got nothing to lose.


Don’t compare yourself with others

It may be hard to prioritise the HPAT when your peers are putting all their focus on Leaving Cert mock exams. You may feel like your peers who are not pursuing medicine are doing more study for their mock exams than you, and you can start to wonder if you are doing enough, or worse still if you are falling behind. 

However, it is vital for you to remind yourself that your peers can prepare solely for the mocks because they do not have HPAT to focus on, so don’t let this stress you out!


Block out time for mocks and for HPAT

Ensure you set aside time for your HPAT and your mocks, ensuring you place sufficient emphasis on your HPAT preparation. It is too easy to get absorbed by your mocks and leave no time for HPAT.

You could, for example, set aside a couple of sessions on a weekend to complete and review a HPAT practice exam, and then a couple of sessions during the week to work on your weakest HPAT sections. You can then balance mock study around this schedule.

Time management is essential in balancing the mocks and the HPAT. Be aware of how much time you are spending on your Leaving Cert subjects and HPAT so that you do not neglect HPAT preparation.


Ensure you have a break from mocks before sitting HPAT

Studying is important, but not if you are pushing yourself towards burnout!  Do not try to squeeze in too much work in the weeks surrounding the mocks and HPAT. Instead, allow yourself to take breaks, which will improve the quality of your study without having to increase quantity.

It is vital that, in the week before the HPAT, you are mentally relaxed. In cases when the HPAT falls on the weekend during the mocks, you might ask if it is possible to sit a mock exam on another day, instead of the days preceding the HPAT. It is a huge mental game on the day of the HPAT exam, and in order to be ready for this you need to decrease your stress during the week, and, if possible, completely relax on the day before and forget other exams and pressures that may be present.

The bottom line? Remember that mock exams don’t count, but HPAT does. So leave time to get mentally and psychologically prepared for HPAT!


Written by Hannah, a past MedEntry student who achieved 100th percentile in HPAT and is currently studying medicine


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