Sixth year is a busy year – we all know that. However, it can get a whole lot busier if you’re studying for the HPAT as well. It can be like taking an extra subject – one that has no teacher, and there are no deadlines (aside from the exam). In addition, it is an exam for which you cannot cram (sorry to burst your bubble).
So how do you manage the meticulous balancing act between not letting your school grades drop, whilst also keeping yourselves in good stead for the HPAT?
Planning. Yes, you’ve probably heard it all before, but if you’re not prepared to plan, then prepare to struggle to balance HPAT study and school study.
Here are some tips on how to approach the HPAT, whilst keeping on working towards that desired Leaving score.
1. Start preparing early.
Even if this preparation only means struggling through a sample exam, or doing some practice questions, anything that gives you a taste of the HPAT is beneficial. I sat the UMAT (A similar exam in Australia held in July) in 2016, and prior to attending the MedEntry workshop, I attempted the first MedEntry practice exam in February. After struggling for 2 hours (and scoring in the 60th percentile), I gave up. However, this initial taste was fantastic, as it meant I was much more prepared when I went to the workshop. If you start preparing for the HPAT in August or September, you are setting yourself up to get much more out of the workshops.
2. Remember: you have less time until the HPAT exam.
The HPAT exam is in February, whilst leaving certificate exams are in June. As such, do not worry if you show a slight favouritism to studying for the HPAT over school subjects (although do not neglect school work!). This is why it is so important to begin HPAT study early: as you near the exam time (both mock and actual), you will have little time left to prepare, but much more time for school when HPAT is over.
3. Plan when you will do all your practice exams.
Firstly, it is suggested that you complete all the practice exams, as it gives you the best chance of succeeding. Set dates for when you will complete the 10 MedEntry practice exams. In doing so, you can ensure to avoid errors such as completing the exams too early, or (as is more commonly the case) having to cram all the exams in January and February. Aim to have completed the 10th exam around two weekends before the exam. I found that I worked best by allocating Sunday mornings to complete the practice exams, as this also gave me time to thoroughly correct my exam. In conjunction, this freed up my weekdays and Saturdays for school work.
4. Reduce your workload near exam time.
In the weekend leading up to the exam, take the time to relax. Perhaps spend no more than 30 minutes doing some practice questions. Ensure that you are feeling refreshed and ready. The night before the exam, do nothing. Relax, watch TV, play sport. There is nothing more you can do, and you should feel confident in your preparation to date.
5. Having sat the HPAT, you can now focus all your efforts on your schoolwork!
Adapted from a blog post written Jack, a 100th percentile student in the UMAT (Similar test in Australia/New Zealand), who is studying medicine at Monash University.