Optimising your performance in HPAT: Lessons from Sports Psychology

Optimising your performance in HPAT: Lessons from Sports Psychology

1 month ago by Tom

Preparing for the HPAT is like preparing for a marathon: it requires training, persistence and strategies to optimise your performance on HPAT test day. Just as an athlete prepares for a major sporting event, 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 five key points are summarised below, with an emphasis on how this is relevant to HPAT.


Understand the HPAT test

It is vital that you have a solid understanding of HPAT. This includes what it tests, how it is scored, and the strategies required to tackle each HPAT subtest. Understanding HPAT removes the fear and apprehension associated with the test, enabling you to perform at your best. These issues are discussed in detail in the MedEntry HPAT Course.


Motivate yourself

Motivation is an essential 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).

Students who may not succeed in standard high school tests can perform well in HPAT simply because they are highly motivated. They understand the importance of HPAT and take steps to improve – via HPAT practice, working on their weaknesses and reflection/discussion of HPAT questions.


Cultivate confidence

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 for HPAT test day, including:

  • Reminding yourself that you are well prepared for the HPAT and have sat HPAT practice exams which simulate the live HPAT
  • Motivational self-talk (saying to yourself: ‘you can succeed in HPAT’, ‘I’m well ahead of others who have not done quality prep for HPAT’, ‘I will be a doctor’)
  • Asking others (such as parents, siblings, teachers, friends) to provide you with positive encouragement, particularly in the final weeks leading up to the HPAT and on HPAT test day


Have a pre-performance routine

High performing athletes often have a pre-performance routine that they engage in before an important competition. This helps them control their environment, provide stability, and enhance focus.

Develop a pre-performance routine that you plan to use before the HPAT. This may include listening to upbeat music, doing some quiet reading or chatting to family members – whatever you find best relaxes you.

Performing a mental rehearsal in a quiet place is also an important part of the routine. This may include imagining yourself sitting the HPAT and succeeding, as well as imagining ‘what ifs’ or problematic scenarios that may arise during HPAT, and how you will deal with them.


Manage stress

Excessive stress interferes with performance, so it is essential that you manage stress both in the lead up to HPAT and on HPAT test day. You can do this by:

  • Engaging in calming self-talk before and during HPAT (reminding yourself: ‘be calm’, ‘breathe’, ‘relax’)
  • Focusing on your breathing or meditating
  • 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.

Detailed information on optimising your performance in HPAT (using principles of performance psychology) are discussed in detail in MedEntry HPAT courses.

Go get ‘em!


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