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Dealing With Disappointing HPAT percentiles - 3 Tips


So you’ve been preparing for HPAT by working through the HPAT guides and attempting HPAT practice questions and exams. Then one day you receive a disappointing HPAT percentile. So what should you do? Is it time to freak out? Is it time to give up on your medical entry dream? No! Read on for three key tips.

1.  Understand what a HPAT percentile means and how they are calculated

Firstly, it is vital that you understand HPAT percentiles, and how they are calculated. Essentially, a percentile compares your performance against other HPAT candidates who have attempted that particular drill, or HPAT exam. If you receive a HPAT percentile of 60, it means you have performed better than 60% of HPAT candidates completing that quiz, and 40% of candidates have performed better than you.

Because MedEntry students are among the most able, motivated and prepared of HPAT candidates (for several reasons which are beyond the scope of this blog), it means that a percentile or HPAT score that may seem disappointing will actually convert to a much higher score in the live HPAT.

Furthermore, it is common for HPAT percentiles to drop as you complete later HPAT exams, as only the most prepared and motivated students complete them. Therefore you are being compared against a much tougher HPAT cohort.

2.  Cultivate resilience and persistence

The most successful people in the world were not always successful. Take Steve Jobs: university drop out, fired tech executive, unsuccessful businessman. And also the person who built Apple and transformed the entire consumer computer and phone industry. Part of the reason for Steve Jobs’ success is that when he failed, he picked himself up and tried again.

So cultivate a resilient and persistent mindset with HPAT. If you obtain a poor HPAT percentile, think of it as an opportunity to improve. Reflect on the HPAT experience. What went wrong? Was it timing, concentration levels, difficulty with a particular HPAT question type? Then create a plan to improve before your next HPAT exam.

HPAT is a skill, and just like any skill, it can be developed and mastered. So instead of falling into a heap, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep on practicing HPAT!

3.  Remember, the only score that matters is the one on HPAT test day

It is common for percentiles to fluctuate and differ between HPAT exams. The variation in your performance in a HPAT exam can be likened to the variation in the number of points that a basketballer scores in a game. Just because Michael Jordan occasionally scored very few points in a game does not mean that he is not a talented basketballer. It is the same with HPAT: a poor percentile in one HPAT exam does not mean you do not have the skills required for HPAT success.

There are a myriad of factors that impact upon your performance in a particular HPAT exam: the quality of your cognition, concentration levels, timing technique – even luck with guessing! Answering just a few HPAT questions incorrectly or correctly can make a big difference to your score.

So instead of languishing about a poor HPAT percentile, focus on what you can do about it – work on your weakest HPAT sections and question types, thoroughly review solutions, and if possible, join a HPAT study group. And don’t forget to read about psychological tips to boost HPAT performance in the ‘Lead up to HPAT and Test Day’ module on the LMS.

On the day of HPAT, you will be ready for success!

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