There is no point in sugar coating it, studying for the HPAT is tough. As if you don’t already have enough on your plate with all your leaving cert exams to prepare for, throw the HPAT in on top and it can be very easy to drown in a sea of study.
I suppose what I found hardest when preparing for the HPAT was the lack of guidance available. With the leaving cert there is a teacher who knows the curriculum and gives you what you need to know. But with the HPAT there is no such curriculum. It becomes you vs the HPAT and you need to prepare your army of tools to win.
I remember looking at HPAT papers at the start of 6th year and it dawned on me quickly that this exam was going to take some serious preparation. It wasn’t like that French vocab test in school which you could cram for the night before. This was an exam which was going to take several months of work. I got cracking and devised a study plan.
Once I began studying, I quickly realised I was stronger at some sections and weaker at others. My weakest was section 3 and so I modified my study plan to focus on this section. I realised that the key for studying for the HPAT was little and often. I tried to do a little bit of HPAT study everyday after school and then a practice exam on the weekend. Reviewing my answers and seeing why I got a question wrong was the most useful method of study for me.
Even though sitting a mock HPAT exam takes 2.5 hours, I found that there was 6+ hours of work in it. Why? Because after I did the exam, I would spend my time reviewing each question. Tearing it apart, seeing why I got the answer right or wrong. There is no point in doing an exam unless you go back over it and understand the reasoning as to why one answer is correct because it’s this logic which repeats year on year.
In summary, starting early and working consistently is the key to success in this exam.