1. The HPAT is an aptitude test so you can’t prepare for it.
Wrong! Preparation for the HPAT is key. Not only is it extremely important to complete practice exams and HPAT style questions, the MedEntry guidebooks and video guides are vital in helping students develop the necessary mind-set and techniques to tackle the HPAT. You wouldn’t walk into a Leaving Cert exam with no study done so why should you walk into the HPAT without any preparation?
2. You can cram for the HPAT.
This is a serious no no. Cramming in the week before the HPAT is the last thing anyone should do. In fact, I recommend doing nothing HPAT related for at least the last 24 hours before the exam. You should really be paring back all HPAT work in the last week. Keep one sample exam for the weekend before so you feel comfortable with the style of paper, and practice some questions during the week to keep your brain in the HPAT mode, but don’t go mad trying to do loads – it will only overwhelm you and take away from what you already know.
3. You have to finish the HPAT.
You won’t be able to answer every single question on each section but that’s the whole point. ACER purposely add some ridiculously long and outlandish questions to try and get you to waste time. It’s important that you recognise these questions and teach yourself to move on when you’re spending too long on a particular question. This way you’ll be able to complete as many questions as possible. You’ll find that bar those few difficult questions it’s really not impossible to finish the exam to the best of your abilities if you stick to set timings.
4. You’ll always have a bad section.
I went into HPAT prep with the preconception that I was going to be bad at section 3. While yes I found that I scored lowest on this section in my first few practice tests, it didn’t make it “my bad section”. I knew I needed to work on my mechanical reasoning so I paid some extra attention to this skill from the start. By the time my HPAT results arrived I had scored almost as high in section 3 as I had in section 2, what I had initially thought was “my good section.” So it’s not true, you are not necessarily condemned to have a bad section. Yes, you might struggle with one section more than the others, but with the right practice you can make great improvements.
5. You will sit the HPAT in the closest test centre.
It’s a first come, first served basis and spaces can be limited, so don’t be surprised if you don’t get the most convenient centre for you. I wrongly assumed that because I had applied to sit the HPAT early on in the proceedings I would get to sit the HPAT in the test centre closest to my house. This turned out not to be the case: while my friend down the road got the closer centre, I was given a test centre much further away. Students need to be prepared for the possibility of travelling a further distance than expected. I’ve even heard of students from counties with test centres sitting the exam in a different county.