Section 2 of the HPAT exam seeks to measure the candidate’s ability to understand people based on information that is provided about a situation, a scenario or a dialogue. It contains 36 multiple choice questions and must be completed in 45 minutes and is timed separately from the other two sections of the HPAT.
Each passage will lay out a scene or event via a description of what is happening, a scenario or exchange of words between people. The questions assess your ability to identify, understand, and where necessary, infer the thoughts, feelings, behaviour and/or intentions of those people. The information provided will be a written passage and this will be followed by some questions. Each passage is of varying length and the number of questions for each passage may vary, also.
Because this section is timed, you must monitor the time spent on each passage and its questions, taking care to understand the nuances of what is occurring in the situation. This section of the test measures how well you can assess what a person is telling you, maybe explaining to you, or possibly what they might be feeling. It parallels what you will be doing as a doctor once you finish medical school. Identifying with a person’s emotions and thoughts helps the doctor approach with the best care possible. And by scoring well on this section, you are proving to the medical schools you have what it takes to provide that care.
This skill cannot be taught nor learned. You must simply learn how to read and look beyond the words to find what the true message is. You must also listen to the tone of the passage as this gives clues to the underlying message. Medical schools want to be sure they are selecting students who can not only learn medicine and can also communicate and practice with compassion.