The passages that you are required to read and understand in the HPAT can be long and dense. Absorbing enough information from the passages to answer the questions can be difficult and your brain will not be able to recall all the information that you read from a passage. However, passages can be broken down into simpler forms to help you better process and recall the passages when it comes to answering the questions.
Passages may be simplified using paraphrasing. This helps transform the big, complex paragraphs and passages into small bite-sized pieces of information. Good readers paraphrase as they read. This saves time and helps them to keep the ideas fresh in their mind when answering questions. To paraphrase, you may want to write summaries on the HPAT paper, underline key sentences that you feel capture the main ideas as simply as possible. It is important to be as concise as possible while doing this without losing the main ideas, otherwise this process won’t be very helpful.
Using visual aids can also help in simplifying a passage. Visualising the subject matter of the passage can help keep your interest in the passage as well as helping you to retain the information. For a story or an extract from a novel, this is relatively easy as they are written to encourage visualisation. However, it can be more complex to do for an analytical piece or article. The best way to visualise for these passages can be to picture a particular aspect of the article. If it is an article discussing Van Gough’s work, picture his paintings or him. For an argumentative piece, try and picture the article as a battle with the author’s arguments battling against possible opposing arguments.
However, whilst simplifying is important, do not oversimplify. Be wary of falling into a pattern by assuming that just because some questions have answers that lean a particular way doesn’t mean all questions will. For example, do not assume that all questions that relate to paragraphs about politics will have answers that are negative and critical. To always assume patterns in answers will be costly to your HPAT score. In addition, don’t oversimplify so much that you lose the central idea of the paragraph. Simplifying is meant to help you remember it, not push it aside.
For more information on how to simplify a HPAT Section 2 question or tips for successful HPAT preparation, check out the MedEntry HPAT preparation workshops and HPAT resources.