When should I start preparing for the HPAT?

When should I start preparing for the HPAT?

5 months ago by Chris

This is a very common question that students ask about HPAT. When you first start to research HPAT it can seem overwhelming and confusing.  You may have many questions such as: How should I approach HPAT preparation? When should I start my HPAT prep? Do I need to prepare for the HPAT? These are all very valid questions, and this blog explores them in more detail.


Is it worth preparing for HPAT?

If you are interested in medicine, you will need to sit the HPAT. HPAT is a very different test to what you are used to sitting in school or university. There is no defined curriculum, and your teachers will not be pushing you to study for HPAT or creating deadlines for you. However, HPAT is a very important test, and it can be as important as or more important than your Leaving Cert in determining whether you will obtain entry into medicine.

HPAT is very different in content to exams you will be used to sitting. It assesses qualities which are considered important in medicine, such as problem solving, data interpretation, interpersonal understanding and abstract reasoning. HPAT questions are unfamiliar, difficult and associated with time pressure. This means that it is extremely challenging to achieve a high score in HPAT. 

Like any test, quality preparation will help. Having exposure to HPAT style questions and understanding strategies to help you answer HPAT questions quickly and accurately will help you score highly in HPAT.


When should I start my HPAT prep?

The answer is simple: as soon as possible! Research into norm-based tests such as HPAT which test ‘fluid intelligence’ shows that those who start preparation earlier will be at a significant advantage. This is why distributed practice is the best way to prepare for HPAT.

However, if you haven’t done much preparation and HPAT is rapidly approaching, don’t panic! There is certainly still time to prepare for HPAT. If you use your time effectively and efficiently, you can make enormous gains in your HPAT performance.


How can I prepare for HPAT efficiently and effectively?

Whatever your circumstances, you are probably busy this year – with school, university or even work commitments. Therefore, preparing for HPAT efficiently, in a way that is timesaving, is vital. The most efficient way of preparing for HPAT is to:

  • Learn how to answer HPAT questions quickly and accurately (a great way to do this is by attending a HPAT workshop)
  • Sit full length HPAT exams under simulated, strictly timed conditions
  • Review HPAT exams in detail, reflecting on how you can improve
  • Identifying and then working on your HPAT weaknesses


How many hours should I spend on HPAT preparation?

Each student is unique, and therefore the amount of HPAT preparation you need depends on a number of factors. Contrary to what some may say, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, no set number of weeks or months you need to prepare for HPAT, and no set number of hours you need to spend on HPAT preparation.

That is why a personalised HPAT learning platform is important, so you can tailor your preparation to suit you. In general, however, we recommend that students set aside about 10% of their study time for HPAT preparation. If you are starting your HPAT preparation later, you may need to spend 15-20% of your study time on HPAT prep. 


How should I pace myself?

Last minute cramming may work if it is for a short, knowledge-based test. The HPAT is a two-and-a-half-hour exam that requires students to develop certain skills. The trick is to pace your HPAT prep, so that you are not over worked, burnt out or stressed. Starting early and distributing your practice will help you gradually develop the necessary skills required for the HPAT. This means you won’t be as stressed when crunch time hits. Therefore, it is suggested that you set aside 1-2 study sessions per week for your HPAT preparation (potentially more if you are starting your HPAT preparation later).


What if I get sick of HPAT prep?

We all experience times where we get sick of doing a particular task. HPAT prep is not going to be effective if you are feeling negatively towards it. A great way to change your mindset is to attend Dr Ann’s HPAT workshop.

It is also important to realise that just because you might not enjoy a particular task, this doesn’t mean you should give up and abandon it completely. Instead, think of how useful the skills you are developing during your HPAT prep will be to any professional career. Furthermore, continuing to do something even when you are sick of it requires self-discipline, which is vital to success in any field.

Taking regular breaks from HPAT preparation, cultivating a positive HPAT mindset, and rewarding yourself after a HPAT study session can all prevent you from getting sick of HPAT prep. Go out for a walk, make a smoothie or engage in a hobby. Having a break every few hours is more effective than pushing yourself to undertake HPAT preparation for several hours straight. The HPAT App is a great way to engage in regular and opportunistic HPAT practice. The overall aim is to avoid overworking yourself to the point of exhaustion, where you start avoiding HPAT prep.


Should I start my HPAT preparation now?

The short answer is, yes! If you are in 6th year or in university, you should begin your HPAT preparation now. You can start your preparation with a free HPAT exam which will help you identify your HPAT strengths and weaknesses. If you are in younger year levels, you can enrol in a HPAT headstart package, so you can begin developing your HPAT skills before the stresses of the coming years.

So, what are you waiting for? Get started with HPAT quality preparation now!



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