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Some students who are preparing for HPAT wonder if they should get a private tutor for HPAT or attend weekly HPAT classes. Often this is because that is what they are used to doing in high school. But HPAT is very different to school and therefore requires a different approach. Here we suggest a much more effective (and much cheaper) way of preparing for HPAT: group study.

The benefits of group study are well known: it is more social, more enjoyable and more effective, particularly for tests such as HPAT.  Extensive pedagogical research has shown that group study is far more effective for developing higher order cognitive skills (such as those needed for high stakes tests such as HPAT), compared to passive learning via tutoring or didactic teaching.

Students aiming for medicine are truly a unique group. They are highly motivated and highly intelligent. Forming a HPAT study group with such people will enable you to motivate and learn from each other. For example, you can learn new strategies for approaching HPAT questions and learn how others think. Often the process of simply discussing a HPAT problem with other students will help clarify your own thought processes, which is a valuable learning tool. It is important not only to know the right ways of reasoning but also the likely wrong ways of reasoning for a question, because that is what test designers do when they formulate answer alternatives. Each student will bring to the group their own approach, strengths and weaknesses, thereby enhancing the learning of all group members.

Anecdotally, many MedEntry students who achieve 100th percentile in HPAT attribute group study as a key factor in their success. Starting group study early for HPAT preparation also helps you develop teamwork skills, which is important for success in the study and practice of medicine.

Group study is also a far more active study tool than didactic teaching. Weekly HPAT classes and private tutoring encourages passive learning, which is far less effective. Active learning involves engaging with the HPAT content and persisting when a difficult problem is encountered. Instead of simply being told how to solve the problem (which is more likely to make you a cognitive miser in your thinking), spending time trying to understand a HPAT question helps you develop new strategies that are effective for you. This will leave you well equipped to face similar questions in HPAT – where you will not have your tutor or teacher present. This ability to persist is one of the skills HPAT tests. Active group learning also encourages independent learning and life-long continuous development, which are qualities required to succeed in the study and practice of medicine.

Group learning is also social and fun. This should not be underestimated in the difficult and often stressful year that is the final year of schooling. Sharing your HPAT difficulties, worries and fears with others will help you become more confident and reduce stress – both of which are vital to success in HPAT.

In summary, we strongly recommend that you form a study group, rather than get a HPAT tutor. Remember, group study is effective and fun, and helps you develop important skills for your future life as a medical student and doctor!

MedEntry offers substantial discounts for students who enrol as a group.

For more information, please read the FAQ: Why doesn't MedEntry offer regular classes for HPAT preparation? (under Products and Services)

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