A Student's HPAT® Experience

HPAT Experience Student


A Student's Account of the HPAT®-Ireland Exam

The following account is written by a Leaving Certificate student who was successful in her HPAT® exam and her application for medicine. 


Registering for HPAT®-Ireland exam

I’ve wanted to do Medicine in University for as long as I can remember. As I went through secondary school, the reality of how difficult it was to get into a Medicine course hit me. Having to get nearly 600 points in the Leaving Cert. was daunting, a nearly impossible task for me. I began to doubt whether I would ever be able to get into Medicine and started to think there was no point in even trying.

I first heard of the HPAT[®-Ireland Exam exam] in a Guidance class in school. My teacher explained the general concept of it to our class, and how it meant you wouldn’t need such high points in the Leaving cert to be able to do Medicine. I was delighted as it was beginning to look like getting into a medicine course in university would be more accessible.

A few of my friends registered for the HPAT®-Ireland Exam exam as soon as they could but I was a bit more dubious. I had looked at the ACER sample HPAT®-Ireland Exam exam tests and I found them very difficult. The types of questions were nothing like any that I had done in any other exam before. Some of the questions took me ages to answer and I couldn’t even answer some no matter how long I spent at them.

I was back at square one; Medicine looked like an impossible goal. I couldn’t decide whether I would even put Medicine down on my CAO as I was so terrified of being disappointed and not doing well enough to get in. The deadline for applications for the HPAT®-Ireland Exam exam was late January and I think I applied two days before the closing date. I decided I might as well go for it and do my best.


Studying for the HPAT®-Ireland exam

I had the entire mid-term off after my mocks so I studied for the HPAT®-Ireland Exam exam that entire week. I decided I needed a bit of help with exam technique and timing so my mum searched online for preparation courses. She found a one day course with Career Services in Galway that I could do. I found it extremely helpful. The teachers were very friendly and I learned a lot. I would highly recommend this preparation course as you learn great exam techniques and you familiarise yourself with the types of questions that are generally asked. I got plenty of practice material at the course which I was able to do at home to perfect my timing and techniques. The entire day was extremely helpful.

The Day of the Exam

The day of the exam came around very quickly. I had my admissions ticket, identification and loads of pencils ready. My mum dropped me and my friend into the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin where our exam was taking place. At first I found it very daunting as there were hundreds of people there. The majority were my age but there were a few mature students as well. I was so nervous. I hadn’t got a clue what to expect.

My friend and I were split up into different exam halls. The exam hall I was in was really big and it fitted around 100 students in it. We all had to leave our coats and bags at the back of the hall and we were only allowed have pencils, rubbers and sharpeners on our desks. Once everyone was seated at their designated tables the first section of the exam was handed out and we were given very strict instructions.

Once the exam started I didn’t have time to think about my nerves or anything else. Everyone was so focussed on getting each section finished. I found the exam quite difficult; some of the questions were very abstract. I found the techniques I had learned in my preparation course extremely useful and time saving. When the exam was finished I was so relieved, I wasn’t sure how well I did but it was over, that was all that mattered.


The results were out on the 27th of June. I got a text from my friend at half one in the morning saying that they had been released. I was too nervous to check straight away so I waited until the morning even though I didn’t get much sleep that night! They sent an email telling me that my results were available. I had to click on a link and then enter my email address and candidate id to see them. I was so nervous scrolling down the page to see my result. I was happy enough with it, it was above average. Looking back on the whole experience of doing the HPAT Exam I am so glad I decided to do it. I would have really regretted not going for it. 

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Note: This student is now successfully studying medicine in University after getting her 1st choice course.