The HPAT – A Test of Endurance

The HPAT – A Test of Endurance

8 months ago by Tom

The importance of endurance

Mental endurance can be defined as, ‘the ability to endure an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.’

The HPAT is so commonly viewed as a test of aptitude, that we forget how crucial it is to also improve our mental endurance for the HPAT exam.

In fact, the endurance required for the HPAT is much greater than that required for any school or university exam. Not only is the HPAT as long as or longer than any school exam (2.5 hours), but the nature of each individual HPAT question requires much greater focus, as there is extreme time pressure. This need for enhanced application to each question is due to our inability to draw upon content and knowledge, as is the case in school exams. However, endurance is a critical strength that the top HPAT students hold above others.

As such, it is with good reason that HPAT practice exams are so important. A HPAT student cannot derive the same benefits to their mental endurance from 30 minutes of sample HPAT practice questions as they can from a 2.5-hour HPAT practice exam.

However, do not be concerned if you reach the 1.5-hour mark of your first HPAT practice exam, and desperately need to take a break. This is a good starting point, and from here, you can monitor your improvement. In the early stages, just completing a whole 2.5-hour HPAT exam is an achievement.

So how can you improve your mental endurance for HPAT?


Improving endurance

Endurance should be improved during your preparation and maintained during the live HPAT exam.

Develop the right attitude

It is important to think positively about your abilities. If you are struggling in one HPAT section, don’t let it discourage you.  With practice, everyone can improve their HPAT skills. People like artists and sports people practice in order to improve, and so should you! So, tell yourself you’re capable of improving with practice. 

Also think positively about your HPAT study time. Don’t think that you are missing out on something better. Tell yourself that you’re preparing yourself for HPAT in order to accomplish your dream. If it helps, allocate your study time to do certain HPAT sections or certain types of questions and then give yourself a small reward when you accomplish it! You can use MedEntry’s interactive study calendar to help you plan your HPAT preparation.

Engage in the right preparation

It is vital that you simulate HPAT exam conditions for each HPAT practice exam. Importantly, do not allow yourself to go overtime or have extended breaks. These will only trick you into thinking that you are able to complete a full exam under HPAT conditions. You should also ideally sit your HPAT exams at the same time of day that you will be sitting the live HPAT.

You may only be able to complete 80% of the questions in your first HPAT trial exam. However, you should keep pushing yourself. For example, on the second HPAT exam you should aim to improve on this, by completing, for example, 90% of the questions. By doing this, you will improve your mental endurance and develop the skills you need to succeed in HPAT.

Keep up your endurance on HPAT test day

It is important to give yourself the best chance of maintaining your mental endurance on HPAT test day. Here are some tips:

  • Organise everything you the night before. This way, you aren’t expending your mental energy worrying that you’ve forgotten something
  • Get a good night’s sleep the day before
  • Make sure you have a good meal, with plenty of complex carbohydrates and lean proteins to sustain you
  • Allow yourself a quick break between HPAT sections. Go to the bathroom. Wash your face. Even stretching your legs will help freshen your mind as you prepare to tackle the rest of the HPAT exam
  • Have a water bottle so you can take sips of water during the HPAT test

The HPAT may be a test of endurance, but the with the right attitude and preparation you can endure without giving way!


Blog Written by Jack, a past MedEntry student who scored 100th percentile on HPAT and is currently studying medicine.


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