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Registrations to sit HPAT Ireland normally open in early November each year. HPAT normally takes place in paper and pencil based format in large testing centres in late February. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many changes to educational testing across the world, and it is very likely that HPAT 2021 will be delivered in a different manner to previous years. ACER have confirmed that they are looking into alternatives to face to face testing, and this has resulted in delays to the opening of registrations to sit HPAT 2021.
HPAT normally takes place in large testing centres with several hundred students sitting the test in an enclosed space. Testing centres are often large university halls with poor ventilation. Furthermore, students sitting HPAT are from geographically diverse regions. All of these factors mean that the ‘traditional’ way of sitting HPAT poses a high risk for COVID-19 transmission, even if social distancing and hygiene measures are put in place.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to restrictions and lockdowns being implemented by the government, often with little notice, in order to control case numbers. This poses additional logistical issues with delivery of HPAT in the traditional manner.
HPAT 2021 is run by ACER, which is an Australian-based educational organisation. Like all organisations, ACER has had to make significant changes this year due to COVID-19, including the manner in which its tests are delivered. A significant challenge with COVID-19 is that the number of cases can rise dramatically within a short timeframe – we can go from having less than 20 cases per day to hundreds of cases per day within a couple of months. This makes it difficult to plan in advance.
ACER has been closely monitoring the manner in which COVID-19 is evolving in Ireland, in order to determine how to deliver HPAT 2021 safely. It is likely that HPAT 2021 will be delivered differently this year, for example, on a computer-based platform. A change to the delivery of HPAT has potential implications on access to the test as well as the cost of sitting the test, which will need to be finalised prior to opening registrations. This has led to delays in registrations opening for HPAT 2021.
If you wish to apply to study medicine in Ireland in 2021, you will need to sit HPAT 2021. That is, although the exact manner in which HPAT is delivered may change, the test itself will proceed! Because HPAT is such an important and difficult test, it is vital that you undergo quality preparation. Therefore, if you have not already done so, you should begin your HPAT preparation now. Make sure you follow MedEntry on social media and sign up to our newsletter to ensure you receive updates about HPAT 2021.
In our next blog, we will discuss how HPAT 2021 is likely to be delivered – so stay tuned!