The short answer is no. Studying for the HPAT is possible and no matter how late you start, you will still be able to improve, just like with any other subject.
The long answer is: it depends on how much time you put in and how effectively you do it. At this stage, it’s important to study SMART. Trying to do as many HPAT papers as you can will also take up a lot of your time. You are probably also going to be quite busy balancing 6th year or University study and work with HPAT preparation, so learning study techniques that will allow you to improve the most quickly is going to be the most valuable to you.
Here are some short term methods to quickly but effectively study for the HPAT:
- Identify your weaknesses and focus on improving them
You can identify your weaknesses by doing a few MedEntry drills or papers and reflecting on sections you particularly struggled with. Sections you are weaker at allow you more room for rapid improvement. Once you have identified an area of weakness, you can commence a more targeted study approach. This can involve doing more questions and drills, and reading the MedEntry guides for the particular section to identify ways to improve. Doing a few drills a week in the sections you are least confident in will allow you to rapidly develop the skills needed to excel in that section.
Personally, I was weakest in Section 2, and did up to 5 drills a week in the months leading up to the exam and what used to be my weakest section ended up being my highest mark.
- Always read the solutions
Reading the solutions after doing a paper is almost more valuable than the paper itself. After completing a 3 hour practice exam, the last thing you want to do is to study more. However, recognising your mistakes and learning how to not make those mistakes again is a particularly effective way of studying for the HPAT. You end up with a lot of mistakes and you make a lot of educated guesses in the HPAT. This is natural in a challenging, time-pressured exam. By going back to read the examiner’s solutions, you are able to understand the examiner’s reasoning behind the questions and learn new techniques to improve your success rate in completing questions.
- Sit the practice exams as if it were the actual exam
MedEntry provides a timer to show you how long you’ve taken on an exam and I recommend sticking to the 3 hour time limit. This is the time you will have in the actual exam and the more practice you have speed reading, thinking quickly under pressure, and deciding which questions to skip, the less of a shock the actual exam will be to you.
These tips are a great starting point for you to note when beginning your HPAT preparation with MedEntry. Through studying effectively with these tips, I treated HPAT as just another 6th year subject and managed to do extremely well.
Adapted from a blog post written Jessica, a 100th percentile student in the UMAT (Similat test in Australia/New Zealand), who is studying medicine at the University of New South Wales.