Yes! Even high achieving students can stumble in the HPAT.
Some students with perfect year 12 scores (99.95) have missed out on a place in medicine and related courses due to their low HPAT scores. In some cases, your HPAT score is more important than your year 12 score in securing a university place in Medicine or the health sciences.
Research shows training can significantly improve HPAT score by familiarising you with the types of questions that will be asked and developing strategies to tackle them. Even ACER now admits that training for HPAT helps. (Please see the FAQ: Why is there contradictory information from ACER regarding the value of HPAT training?)
An all-too-common fallacy about preparing for HPAT is that all you need to do is 'familiarise' yourself with the test by doing some practice questions. That's like saying the way to become a great basketball player is to familiarise yourself with a basketball court and practice taking a few shots.
You might be familiar with the quote by Benjamin Franklin: "by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail". These words definitely ring true for the three-hour, gruelling marathon that is the HPAT.
"Kids take prep courses to ace tests that are supposed to measure inborn aptitude," (page 100, Time Magazine, December 20, 2004).
The HPAT is a skills based test: you cannot ‘cram’ information the night before. You have to overlearn the strategies to solve HPAT style problems so that thinking becomes automatic and fast.
So start preparing now!
You may find opinions expressed on forums and by some organisations that HPAT preparation may not help. They are mainly from:
Research and other evidence overwhelmingly backs our claim that HPAT preparation helps:
Some further points to consider:
Some Universities require that you need a minimum of 50 in each section of the HPAT to be eligible. Without doing MedEntry Course, there is no way for you to identify your likely score in the actual test.
Because most students who prepare for HPAT do MedEntry and most students who get into Medical schools do MedEntry, you will be able to compare your performance with the best students in Australasia. You will also be able to interact with the best students on MedEntry Forums, during the workshop etc. When you do MedEntry, you can be confident that you are learning with the best students in Australasia.
The simple fact is: If you do not undertake quality HPAT Prep with reputable organisation with proven track record (MedEntry), you will be disadvantaged because those who are competing with you for the limited medical school places are getting this advantage.
Please also read the information under ‘About Us'.
Over the years, ACER has dramatically changed their stance regarding the value of preparation for HPAT
When HPAT started in the early 1990s, ACER did not provide ANY information regarding the test, not even a single example question, and no information regarding the types of questions and number of sections in the test. In the following years, they provided one sample question from each section, and gradually began providing more information and practice questions. ACER has changed its stance from stating that training is of no help, to admitting that training is useful. In the future, it is likely that ACER will go the way of many similar testing organisations in the US, and encourage training for HPAT by providing further resources.
ACER's stance on training in 1998: ACER Information Booklet 1998, page 3: "Training and practice in the test items is neither necessary nor advantageous. Accordingly, sample questions will not be made available prior to the test sessions." Not a single practice question provided to candidates.
ACER's stance on training in 2011: ACER website 2011: "As with any test, some practice in answering questions of a similar type, and under similar time constraints as those found in the real test is helpful and reassuring to most candidates." Two full length practice exams available for sale to candidates.
ACER says the same thing about GAMSAT Preparation, claiming that it is an ‘aptitude’ test and you can’t prepare for it. However, most graduate entry medical students have done HPAT and/or GAMSAT preparation.
Flaws in HPAT 'research' (eg. Dr Griffin et al)
There were letters sent to some schools by above authors trying to damage the credibility of HPAT preparation. Their research findings are flawed for several reasons, but some of the more important ones are:
Some other points
A final word
While you may hear conflicting views from MedEntry and ACER regarding HPAT preparation, the ultimate test is: ‘Do students find the course useful?’. Over 99% of the students who do our program emphatically say “YES”.
We admit the underlying ‘ability’ (both IQ and EQ) cannot be changed overnight, but it can be changed gradually over a period of time, which is the whole purpose of education! We at MedEntry have always emphasised the importance of distributed and consistent practice to maximise the benefits of our HPAT Preparation program.
Please also read the previous FAQs in this category.
Please also read the articles under ‘News’ section of the website, where articles published by MedEntry staff on these matters are listed.
When you purchase the MedEntry HPAT package, you will get numerous resources for your use. You will also get additional recommended reading in the MedEntry HPAT workshops. This is definitely much more than you need, if you use it properly. How to efficiently and effectively use these resources is also discussed in the MedEntry HPAT workshops.
MedEntry constantly updates and adds new and relevant materials to the LMS so that you get the best quality resources. Most students do not use all of the materials on the LMS. Most do only the practice exams: remember there are many more resources on the LMS. Therefore, if you have used all the resources on the LMS, you can be assured that you have plateaued in terms of your HPAT skills required to ace the test. In the highly unlikely event that you have managed to complete all the resources in the way suggested in the workshop, we can recommend additional readings for you.
We also recommend that you obtain the ACER's three practice exams that you can buy when you register for HPAT.
Apart from these, we do not recommend any other courses or programs. We suggest that you do not waste your time and money on other HPAT programs because you will not end up using them since they are not relevant, too easy, outdated, contradictory, confusing, not good quality or you don't have time. Virtually all of our past students who bought another course (as well as MedEntry) regretted doing so for several reasons. There are also many scam websites spruiking HPAT products. They are likely to mislead you.
Virtually all medical school lectures at many universities are now ‘Online’, so there is no need to attend the classes every week and only a small minority do!
We encourage you to attend a 2-day MedEntry HPAT Preparation Workshop even if you have to travel a long distance. Many students from other cities, other counties, and overseas, travel to attend our HPAT workshops because there are several benefits of attending.
But don't just take our word for it, check out the hundreds of glowing Google and Facebook reviews of our workshops posted by our happy and successful students. We have more and higher ratings than every university in Ireland! MedEntry Sydney, Melbourne and Ireland offices have over 1000 reviews at a star rating of about 4.8+, far exceeding that of any university.
Three of the main benefits of the MedEntry 2 day workshop are:
1. Learn strategies for approaching the HPAT questions
The study guides on the online LMS (Learning Management System) do provide detailed approaches to different HPAT question types, but it is always more effective to be taught this information than simply to read it yourself – after all, according to the psychiatrist William Glasser, we learn 10% of what we read, but 50% of what we see and hear!
The HPAT workshop highlights what kind of approaches to questions are the most important, and what types of HPAT questions are the most common. This allows you to make the most of all the resources provided by MedEntry, and perform as well as possible on the HPAT. In evaluations, MedEntry students say that they either did not use the resources on the LMS, or did not know how to efficiently and effectively use them, until they attended a MedEntry HPAT Preparation Workshop.
Additionally, some inside knowledge and information that is not available elsewhere is provided at the HPAT workshop. You will also find that many of the skills that you learn at the HPAT workshop are transferrable, and useful for school and university study.
Attending a MedEntry HPAT Preparation Workshop provides motivation to perform well on the HPAT, as it can make the whole HPAT process feel clearer and more real.
You will also meet fellow students with similar interests and passions. This is a fantastic opportunity for developing your thinking and forming new friendships and study groups, as well as a great source of motivation.
Additionally, you will hear from current students about how they used MedEntry to obtain excellent scores on the HPAT, as well as what to expect from studying at university. It is an invaluable opportunity to first-hand tips from people who have gone through it all before, and to be able to ask any burning questions you might have about the HPAT or university!
3. The trial exam
At the HPAT workshop you will be given the opportunity to sit a trial HPAT exam, based on which you will receive predicted HPAT scores. This is immensely helpful for a number of reasons:
- You will have a much better idea of what to expect from the experience of sitting the actual HPAT exam.
- You will be able to see how your scores compare to fellow MedEntry students, and how they are predicted to compare to those of everyone taking the exam.
- You will be able to determine your strengths and weaknesses; on what sections you need to focus the most, how to plan your HPAT preparation, and how to plan your approach in the HPAT itself. Remember that wherever you are at is just a starting point; it’s incredible what it’s possible to achieve with practice – and MedEntry provides all the resources to allow you to practice in the most effective way possible!
Further benefits of the MedEntry HPAT 2-day workshop include:
Attending a MedEntry HPAT Preparation Workshop is an invaluable opportunity that will allow you to achieve your best score possible on the HPAT.
The graduate medicine entry route requires that you complete a degree first before applying for Medicine. This means studying hard for an additional 3 or 4 years (and paying the fees), to maintain high grades with no guarantee of getting into Medicine. So you will have exams for at least 7 years: three years of first degree and 4 years of condensed medical degree. Undergrad medicine, is far less stressful because in the first year they ease you in, and in final year you are working as an unpaid intern (so no exams).
You also need to sit a test called the GAMSAT, which is a six hour test (compare this with HPAT which is a three hour test) as well as doing well in the interview. The preparation courses for GAMSAT are also far more expensive, in the range of €1500 plus. Furthermore, you will be paying much higher fees for graduate medicine!
The GAMSAT has been described by most people as ‘the most horrible thing I've ever had to do in my life’. Do not make the mistake of thinking that if you do a Biomedicine or Biosciences degree, you will automatically be offered a place in Medicine, as some universities misleadingly make you believe. If you miss out on a place in Medicine, you may end up with a degree that is not useful for your future, and a waste of several years of your life.
The median age of students entering graduate medical programs is 25.4 years. By that age, you would have completed your medical degree and probably working as a Registrar in your chosen specialty if you choose the Leaving Certificate entry (HPAT) route. Imagine entering medical school at 25 via graduate entry, then trying to study for the specialist training exams in your early thirties with a family to care for!
Some people think universities are education oriented organisations, but in reality they are massive businesses with annual income of each university around half a billion euros - they earn about €20,000 per year of study at university for each student they enrol (about €5,000 from you, and the rest from the government). This means that the longer you study at university, the better it is for them. This is the reason why some universities are moving towards graduate-entry medical programs. It is to increase universities' income, not because it is good for you!
Some people feel that they want to go to so-called "prestigious" universities (eg. Sydney University) which offer only graduate medicine. However, unlike other disciplines such as law, in medicine it does not matter which university you graduate from.
Perhaps 15 years ago, when GAMSAT was new, it was easier than HPAT but now most medical students who sat both tests claim GAMSAT is harder. GAMSAT is getting much harder for several reasons (eg many professionals wanting to change careers, the 'late bloomers', many school leavers putting off the hard work and the difficult decision).
HPAT is a test of generic skills. Many studies have shown that preparation can improve performance in tests such as HPAT. Studies have even shown that intelligence is not fixed, and can be improved:
This graph shows the results of the same intelligence test given to the same people [one person per dot] at age 11 and again at age 90. There is a correlation of r= 0.54, shown by the grey summary line. This illustrates that intelligence, contrary to popular belief, can be improved (from "Intelligence' by Stuart Ritchie, p36).