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Questioning the Impact of HPAT in Candidate Selection

The HPAT has been under great scrutiny since is inception. Lately, a flurry of discussions has emerged as students, schools and educators rally to question the effectiveness and fairness of this exam. It has been argued that the exam favours those who can afford coaching and grinds courses. But, if the HPAT seeks to evaluate a person for who they are and how they think, can classes really help with that? Really, you cannot learn this from anyone. But what you can do is practice it and devise a strategy with which to master the exam.

Nonetheless, some university officials still argue that the addition of HPAT to the student selection process has not added value. If anything, it has added more strife and cost to students. In an article given in the Irish Medical Times, RCSI President states that he has always been happy with the quality of candidates obtained through the CAO system. That the addition of the HPAT to help with the selection process and identify those who were well-rounded, may have helped, but the system was already OK to begin with.

So, then one would question why the exam was created in the first place. It was introduced with good intentions in mind. When a problem is seen then officials step in to make things right. So was the case when universities found it overwhelming to select from the multitudes of students who performed so well on Leaving Certificate Exams. Why not introduce another filter to help select those who can best train and practise medicine. The Government felt a better way of identifying those with suitable characteristics was needed.

Changes may be underway as the year progresses, but signs of complete removal of this requirement do not look imminent. So, you’ll have to bear with it until the system changes. Practise familiarity with the exam and forge ahead.

Is the HPAT Changing the Demographic of Future Doctors?

Behind the controversy of the HPAT and successfully mastering it come arguments that it favours certain groups of candidates, and consequently, is changing the demographic of doctors in practise today and in the future. Because of its content, it is considered extremely difficult and hard to prepare for. That is because it is not a test to measure knowledge, but rather, a test to measure the ability to think and use knowledge. One cannot simply read and memorize information to succeed on this test. Hence, those who have done very well on their Leaving Certificates are astounded to find that may not so easily master or do not understand this exam. So, questions arise as to its validity. Another point of argument against this exam is whether or not it favours males over females.

Seems like a harsh statement to make, but some statistics have shown that males may be scoring higher than females on the HPAT. But at the same time, find that women do better on the Leaving Certs than their male counterparts. But in another write up, it has been stated that in 2010, women performed better in both the HPAT and Leaving Certs than men. The percentages keep changing but the controversy remains the same. Most will note that traditionally, more women obtained seats in medical school prior to the introduction of the HPAT, and that their numbers slowly decreased to even out with men as use of the HPAT continued. The question that muddles most now is whether socioeconomic backgrounds are affecting chances at entry into medicine given the fact that those who can afford grinds are getting better scores. There is no real data to support or rule this out.

Don’t let these arguments sway you from your success. You can achieve what you set out to reach if you keep on course and focused.

HPAT Test Centres for 2 March 2013


The test centres for HPAT can be found on the ACER website. Tests will be held in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Sligo and Waterford. ACER has noted that additional test centres will not be added, so you will have to choose from these five locations. The sooner you register, the better, as certain centres may fill faster than others. If you have already registered to sit the exam on 2 March 2013, then expect to receive your Admission Ticket approximately two weeks before the test date. It is on this ticket that you will be informed of the exact address of the test centre.

Once you know exactly where you need to be on the 2nd of March, make sure you make arrangements to get there on time the morning of. If you do not have your own vehicle or a ride with another person, figure out what kind of transportation you will be taking, what time you need to catch a bus or train and be sure to arrive early so that you do not miss that ride. If you miss this test date, you will be forced to take this test next year, as the HPAT will only be offered once in 2013.

If you are fairly close to the test centre and have some time, it might be wise to go check out exactly where it is, how hard it is to get to or find, just so it is not completely unfamiliar to you on test day. You will already be in a tense state as it is, what with taking the HPAT and all, so eliminating this one factor of uncertainty will make the morning go smoother. In addition, not all people are at their best in the morning, so knowing exactly where you are going ahead of time will take the frustration of find the test centre, where to park, etc. out of your mind.

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