Optimising your performance in HPAT: Lessons from Sports Psychology

Optimising your performance in HPAT: Lessons from Sports Psychology

2 years ago by Philippa

Preparing for the HPAT is similar to preparing for a marathon: it requires training, preparation and strategies to optimise your performance on the test day. Just as an athlete prepares for a major sporting event, so you must prepare yourself to sit HPAT, which is one of the most important exams that you will face in your career.

We can learn much from athletes about optimising performance in HPAT, as outlined in this TED talk by Martin Hagger:



This talk discusses how highly successful athletes prepare themselves before a competition. The main points are summarised below, with an emphasis on how this is relevant to HPAT:

  • Motivation is an important element of success in any competition, including HPAT. One of the most effective ways to increase motivation is via goal setting. Goals should be SMARTER (Specific, Meaningful, Agreed, Relevant, Time-Specific, Engaging and Recorded).
  • Confidence is the key to performing to the best of one’s ability in all tests, including HPAT. There are various ways to improve confidence, including:
    • Reminding yourself that you have prepared for the HPAT and have sat trial exams similar to (and perhaps harder than) the HPAT
    • Performing a mental rehearsal in a quiet place (imagining yourself sitting the HPAT, imagining ‘what ifs’ or scenarios that may arise such as a new type of question)
    • Motivational self-talk (‘you can do this’, ‘I’m well ahead of others who have not prepared for HPAT’)
    • Calming self-talk before and during HPAT (reminding yourself ‘be calm’, ‘breathe’, ‘relax’)
    • Asking others (such as parents, siblings, teachers, friends) to provide you with positive feedback on your HPAT preparation, particularly in the final weeks leading up to the HPAT
    • Having a good understanding of the HPAT, including what it tests, how it is scored, and the strategies required to tackle questions is vital to optimise performance. These issues will be discussed in detail at the MedEntry HPAT courses.
    • Have a pre-performance routine that you plan to use before the HPAT. This may include listening to music, doing some quiet reading or chatting to friends – whatever you find best relaxes you.
    • Have techniques to manage your anxiety before and during HPAT. This may include focusing on your breathing, meditation, listening to music, or writing down your thoughts or fears about HPAT.

The HPAT is a competition, so treat it like one. The strategies outlined above have been used by champion athletes, and you can apply similar strategies to your HPAT preparation. Go get ‘em! 


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