As the HPAT and mock exams draw closer, it can become harder to balance leaving cert study and HPAT preparation, especially as the HPAT exam will often be very close to mock exams, or can even be in the middle of mock exams.
It may be hard to prioritise the HPAT when your teachers and peers are putting all of their focus on the mock exams. You may feel like your peers are doing more study for their mock exams, but that is simply because they do not have another large exam to focus on, so don’t let this stress you out!
While mocks are important, and your teachers will put a lot of emphasis on them, you will have 3 months after the HPAT during which you can focus all of your concentration on the Leaving Cert. At the end of the day it is important to remember that the mocks are just that: mock exams, while the HPAT will be the real thing, and deserves to be prioritised.
Do not try to squeeze in too much work in the weeks surrounding the mocks and HPAT. Instead, allow yourself to take breaks, which may improve the quality of your study without having to increase quantity. Time management is essential in balancing the mocks and the HPAT; be aware of how much time you are spending on a subject or HPAT section so that you do not neglect the others.
A way to balance the HPAT and mocks is to try and concentrate on both in the one study period, as opposed to dedicating a day for each. HPAT prep can be exhausting mentally and I found it more beneficial doing shorter bursts of preparation as opposed to a number of hours at once. An example of this could be to break up your school study with blocks of 30-40 minutes of HPAT practice, either doing or reviewing practice questions from the LMS.
It is vital that in the week before the HPAT you are mentally relaxed. In cases when the HPAT falls on the weekend during the mocks, you might ask if it is possible to sit a mock exam on another day, instead of the days preceding the HPAT. It is a huge mental game on the day of the HPAT exam, and in order to be ready for this you need to decrease your stress during the week, and, if possible, completely relax on the Friday before and forget other exams and pressures that may be present.
If you feel your teachers are putting too much pressure on you to study for mocks, explain to them the importance of HPAT. Remember, some of them may not be aware of how important and difficult HPAT is.
In my opinion, the most important thing is to remind yourself that the mocks are not the real thing, and to place your focus on the HPAT exam for the week coming up to it!
Past MedEntry Student
Obtained 100th percentile in HPAT
Currently studying Medicine at Trinity College Dublin