When Should I Sit My First HPAT Practice Exam?
4 months ago by Chris
Whether you’ve already begun to prepare for the HPAT or are just setting up a HPAT study plan, you’ve probably asked yourself the question: when should I sit my first HPAT full length practice exam? Unfortunately, there’s no straight forward, cookie-cutter answer. The answer to this question can vary. However, it should be noted that there’s not necessarily a “wrong” time to start sitting HPAT practice tests. In saying that, in our 20+ years of experience in preparing students for medical entry, we’ve found that it’s nearly always best to take your first full-length exam as soon as possible in your preparation. MedEntry provides a free HPAT practice test to get you started.
For many students, this may be surprising. It can easily take several weeks just to familiarise yourself with the types of questions in HPAT and strategies to approach them – so why take a HPAT practice exam before covering all of the material? Wouldn’t this make the HPAT score you receive less representative of what you could actually expect on HPAT test day? Some students even feel the idea of taking HPAT exam this early is a “waste” of the HPAT test, since some of the questions are bound to be entirely unfamiliar. Many students are too afraid of sitting their first HPAT test, worried that they will score poorly. As a result, the majority of students delay taking their first full-length HPAT practice test until they’ve completed all, or most, of the other HPAT learning content – sometimes even longer. This is a big mistake – but why?
Firstly, a full-length HPAT exam is very different from any shorter forms of HPAT practice questions or HPAT subtest mocks you may have completed. The endurance required to remain focused for 2.5 hours (at a super fast pace) is something that takes time to develop. If you delay your first HPAT exam for too long, you may find that you’re rushing to gain this endurance in the time leading up to your HPAT testing date. In contrast, if you start taking HPAT exams early, you can avoid this unnecessary stress and be more comfortable when completing later HPAT exams, and importantly, the official HPAT exam itself.
Secondly, full-length HPAT exams can allow you to learn things about yourself that simple review or practice for each HPAT subtest cannot. Maybe you fall victim to test anxiety; maybe you tend to have timing issues when you become tired; maybe you panic when you see a particular HPAT question under test-like conditions. The sooner you discover quirks like these, the sooner you can adjust your HPAT prep to deal with them. The alternative is true as well – if you perform well on certain HPAT subtests on the first HPAT exam you complete, you may be able to reduce (within reason) the time you allocate to those HPAT subtests in future weeks and months.
Thirdly, many students underestimate the difficulty of HPAT. Many believe it is ‘just another test’ or similar to other school or university based assessments. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Although HPAT questions themselves, when considered individually, may not seem difficult, the extreme time pressure of the HPAT exam makes it something that most students believe is the single most difficult test they have ever sat. Sitting a full length HPAT exam early will help you to understand how difficult it is, and then develop strategies to approach it effectively.
Interpreting your first HPAT full-length score
So, you’ve completed your first full length HPAT exam. What should you do now? How should you interpret your HPAT exam scores? This is a related issue that causes students untold stress. What if, for example, your first full-length HPAT exam score is lower than expected? Don’t panic! It’s common to get a lower overall score on your first full length HPAT exam than on HPAT subtest mocks or QBank attempts. Score improvements aren’t linear, and the sheer length of the first full HPAT exam is enough to throw off most students. Preparing for the HPAT can also produce an interesting effect where initially, more HPAT practice doesn’t necessarily translate into HPAT score gains. After all, when you know nothing about how to approach a particular question in a HPAT subtest, you’re likely to guess randomly; when you know a little more, you may be just familiar enough with the question to fall for a tempting trap answer. So don’t stress about your score on the first full-length HPAT exam! Instead, use it to learn as much about yourself as you possibly can, and build on this knowledge to ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes on the next HPAT practice test.
If you’re ready to start preparing for the HPAT but aren’t sure where to start, the MedEntry free HPAT diagnostic exam is a great place to start!