One thing I found extremely useful on the days coming up to, and the day of the HPAT was the knowledge that I was confident with my exam timing. Whilst you have no control over the questions that will appear on the HPAT on the day, you have complete control over your timing. This sense of control can help to ease your nerves on the day of the exam, and prove extremely useful in keeping calm throughout the HPAT. Time management also increases the chance of you finishing the HPAT exam… remember, if you do not attempt a question you have lost a chance at those marks!
I organised my timing into blocks that were easy to remember, and, more importantly, easy to keep track of from a simple glance at my watch.
An example timing scheme would be:
|Section||Time in minutes||Number of questions|
Section 1: 5 qs per 7 mins
This brings you to 63 minutes out of the 65 minutes allowed.
Section 2: 5 qs per 6 mins
This brings you to 43 minutes out of the 45 minutes allowed
Section 3: 5 qs per 6 mins
This brings you to 36 minutes out of the 40 minutes allowed.
Using this as a guide, I knew the time limits I had to keep within by the end of the first 10, 15, 25 etc questions. For example, in section 3 of the HPAT, if I was on question 10, and 15 minutes had passed in this section, I would know to speed up the next few questions slightly to ensure I finished section 3. It is useful to note that this example timing scheme would allow a few minutes of leniency in each section of the HPAT. You could use this time to go back to questions you skipped, or you could spend some of this time on a tougher question.
At the beginning of my HPAT preparation I did not apply time limits to myself because I wanted to see if I could complete the questions under no pressure. After some weeks of HPAT practice, I added time pressure and began to perfect my timing to ensure I had the chance to attempt each question on the day of the HPAT. In my opinion, it is better to attempt each question than to give extra time to an extremely difficult question and lose out on trying the last questions. That being said, a certain amount of leniency is advisable. Thirty seconds here or there is perfectly okay if you feel like you will crack the question with that extra time. If however, at the end of the allocated time for that question, you still do not have a breeze of the question I would rather move on.
If nothing else, a timing scheme can improve your confidence on the day of the HPAT which is a great help!
Past MedEntry Student
Obtained 100th percentile in HPAT
Currently studying Medicine at Trinity College Dublin