MedEntry

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WHY IS HPAT SO HARD?

HPAT is probably the hardest test you will ever have to sit. Many students, especially those who do not prepare, are shocked by the difficulty of HPAT. Some who do prepare become disillusioned. So why is HPAT so hard? And what can you do about it? Read on! 

1. HPAT is very different to every other type of test you have sat

Why? 

School and university exams test your knowledge and your ability to apply that knowledge. HPAT is not a test of knowledge; it is a test of your generic skills. You most likely have never sat a test of generic skills before, so the questions in HPAT will seem unfamiliar and difficult. 

What can you do?

By exposing yourself over and over to the various types of HPAT questions, they will no longer be alien. The more you practice, the more familiar and comfortable you will be with the questions, and the easier HPAT will seem.  

2. You are put under extreme time pressure in HPAT

Why? 

The aim of school and university exams is to assess how much you know, therefore you are usually given more than enough time to demonstrate this. You are probably used to finishing your school and university exams with plenty of time left over. The aim of HPAT is very different: it’s aim is to rank your performance against other candidates. Therefore, you are intentionally not given enough time to answer all the questions. This can be very stressful for students, especially perfectionists, who are used to answering all questions correctly. 

What can you do?

The mere knowledge that you will not have enough time to answer all questions correctly is, in itself, comforting. Many, many students have achieved 100th percentile in HPAT even though they have run out of time in one or more sections. Understand this, become comfortable with the idea, and tailor your approach appropriately – by not spending too much time on difficult questions and making an educated guess when required. 

3. You are competing against smart people in HPAT

Why?

The type of student who wants to get into medicine is, in general, very smart and motivated. You have probably never had to compete against such a tough cohort before. You are probably used to being top of your class. However, when it comes to HPAT, chances are you won’t be! 

What can you do?

The knowledge that you will probably not be the best compared to your peers when it comes to HPAT will immediately take the pressure off. You do not need to get 100th percentile to get into medicine! Aim high, but don’t become disillusioned if you are not receiving very high percentiles in your practice exams. Also, take advantage of the smart people around you – form a study group where you can discuss questions, learn from each other and make new friends! 

HPAT is hard, but by keeping the above pointers in mind, you can create and maintain a positive, can-do attitude. 

 

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