The Health Professionals Admissions Test, more commonly known as the HPAT, is an exam you have to take in addition to the Leaving Cert, in order to obtain a place in Undergraduate Medicine in Ireland. It usually takes place near the end of February in 6th year.
Two successful students have written HPAT guides, drawing on their own experience of sitting and excelling in the HPAT, to help students who are preparing to sit their HPAT exam. Aditi Chaturvedi obtained 193 points when she sat the HPAT in 2017, securing the 97th percentile nationwide. Philippa Harold-Barry sat the HPAT in 2021 and achieved 216 points, securing the 100th percentile nationwide. Both students want to impart the advice, tips and skills they have from their own experience of preparing for and sitting the HPAT to show you how you too can succeed!
Check out some tips and advice from their guides below!
A different grading system
It's important to note that the grading system is different to that of the Leaving Cert. The HPAT operates on a percentile system. It's best not to get bogged down by getting every answer correct in this system as you don't necessarily need to in order to succeed in the HPAT. Instead, when the HPAT is corrected, the student with the highest grade will be allocated the 100th percentile, meaning they have done better than 100% of the other candidates. Your percentile will give you a good idea of whether you'll secure the points for medicine.
How do you prepare and practise for this exam?
Both Aditi and Philippa utilised MedEntry in their preparation for the HPAT. MedEntry offers a wide range of resources to students preparing for the HPAT, you can choose between various packages. This resource can be understandably costly for students but if you know of other friends or peers preparing for the HPAT certain packages offer group discounts.
The HPAT during pandemic times
Typically the HPAT was an in-person exam. However, the pandemic meant that was not possible in 2021 and the exam took place online instead. We don't know if Acer intends to revert to in-person or continue online. So, it would be a wise idea for the time being to be prepared to sit it online either way! Philippa recommends having:
- A suitable device hat you are familiar with to take the HPAT on
- Speedy wifi
- A quiet and distraction-less place to sit the exam without disruption
Where to start?
Any time is a good time to start! Aditi bought MedEntry in September of 6th year and really started tackling the questions in December, not in 4th year or before that! Both students stress the importance of starting somewhere and their tips include:
- Devise an effective study plan.
- Study with intensity and purpose
- Practise HPAT mock tests
The final lead-up to the exam
As you approach the day of the HPAT exam it's imperative not to burn out. The following are some tips for the final lead up to sitting your HPAT exams:
The night before:
- Manage your time wisely if you're doing some last minute preparation.
- Get a good night of sleep. Try clearing your head before going to bed by reading or going for a walk.
- Remember nerves will be natural too!
On exam day:
- Eat a nutritious breakfast.
- Stay positive! Trust in all the work you've done.
- Remain calm. It's easier said than done but it'll help you in the exam.
- Comfort is key. This applies to both what you wear and your exam surroundings.
- Try to go to the toilet ahead of the exam to save every minute you can.
- If your exam is in-person leave PLENTY of time to get to the exam!
There's never been as many alternative routes to medicine as there are today. If things don't go as envisaged don't be afraid to explore the other options that are out there. There will be a route out there for you!
Check out both guides for greater detail, advice and tips on the three sections within the HPAT exam, as well as lots more general tips from Aditi and Philippa.
To read Aditi's full guide, click here.
To read Philippa's full guide, click here.
Best of luck in your preparations and in the exam itself. We're rooting for you!
Aditi, Philippa and the Studyclix team :)