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Does the HPAT Help Determine the Best Candidates for Medical School?

With the so many students arguing that the HPAT is too difficult and that they have never encountered so hard an exam, the issue arises as to whether or not the HPAT is suited to identify candidates for admission into medical school.  The Irish Medical Schools use the HPAT–Ireland to find students who show a strong ability to reason and solve problems, given a situation or issue to digest and process.  It was deemed necessary by the schools as there were so many qualified candidates coming out of secondary school who showed great academic performance.  An additional means of qualifying successful candidates was needed to select from the many who were applying.

Unfortunately, many have argued that the HPAT does not serve its purpose.  Some of the arguments thrown against it are:  it favours those with better economic conditions because those who can afford to pay for help in preparation seem to do better, those who can repeatedly take the exam do better, those who have not done well on their Leaving Certificates but do well on the HPAT secure admission, and more.

Supporters of the HPAT maintain that it is supplemental to a prospective candidate’s credentials in that is aims to measure how well s/he can take the knowledge attained and use it.  The ability to take information put before you and make a conclusion about it parallels the process of collecting symptoms from a patient and then making a diagnosis.

One can say that an interview could be the way to learn about the candidate and see how well they take in information, process it and produce a result.  This way the school could also see how the candidate handles interaction with others, something the HPAT cannot do, as it is taken online.  But in that same respect, it would be impossible for each of the medical schools to conduct so many interviews; hence the need for the HPAT.

You can judge for yourself how difficult this exam is.  It is nothing like the exams you’ve taken that measure what you have learned.  Remember, that you are being tested on how you use what you’ve learned.



January 1, 2013

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