The Health Professions Admission Test (HPAT) – Ireland is an admissions test for Irish medical schools. It assesses, like the UKCAT, a student’s problem-solving skills and logical reasoning. This page will give details on the HPAT, how it is used and how to prepare for it.
What is the HPAT?
The HPAT – Ireland is a two and a half hour multiple choice aptitude test. The exam is split into three sections:
HPAT Section 1
This section assesses logical reasoning and problem solving. The questions themselves will ask you to examine a piece of text or a graph, and is designed to test your ability to interpret data, draw logical conclusions and evaluate relevant information. Section 1 has 44 questions and lasts 65 minutes.
HPAT Section 2
Section 2 assesses interpersonal understanding through multiple choice questions. These questions will involve a scenario testing your ability to identify, understand and empathise with others’ emotions and behaviour. This section consists of 36 questions and lasts 45 minutes.
HPAT Section 3
This section tests non-verbal reasoning and unlike the first two sections, relies on visual material such as patterns and shapes. This is designed to test your ability to problem-solve in an abstract context. Section 3 has 30 questions which is assessed in 40 minutes.
Do I need to take the HPAT?
You’ll need to take the HPAT if you’re applying to any of the following universities to study Medicine:
You will also need to take the HPAT if you are studying MSc Occupational Therapy or MSc Speech and Language Therapy at the University of Limerick. If you’re applying to either of these courses, remember that you’ll also need to sit the Written English part of the HPAT. This is a one-hour exam and is designed to test your written communication skills in two thirty minute essay questions. In the first essay, you’ll be asked to write on a public affairs debate – and the second task is based on personal reflection. For both essays, you’ll be assessed on the structure and organisation of your essay as well as the quality of your writing.
If you’re applying to the University of Ulster, however, you’ll need to take the HPAT – Ulster. This is different from HPAT – Ireland as it is an aptitude test for Allied Health Professions. HPAT – Ulster is required for BSc Hons Dietetics, BSc Hons Occupational Therapy, BSc Hons Physiotherapy, BSc Hons Podiatry, BSc Hons Diagnostic Radiography and Imaging, BSc Hons Radiotherapy and Oncology and BSc Hons Speech and Language Therapy.
How do I register for the HPAT?
Firstly, if you’re looking to study Medicine, you must get your Central Applications Office (CAO) number – you won’t be able to sit the exam without it. Registration for the HPAT usually opens around November and closes in January – make sure you check so you don’t miss the deadline!
After this, you’ll need to create an account with HPAT – you can do this on their website. Use an email address you check regularly, as all HPAT information will be emailed to that account. To register for the test itself, you’ll need to register online by filling in an application form, stating which city you’d like to sit the test in and submitting your payment of €130. When you’ve registered, you’ll receive an automated email – double check that your name and date of birth are correct, as they’ll need to match the identification document you’ll present on the day of the exam.
Your Admission Ticket will tell you the time of your test and will be available to download from your HPAT account two weeks before the exam. The HPAT is sat on the same date at all test centres – these venues are in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and Sligo.
How can I prepare for the HPAT?
The best way to prepare for the HPAT is to complete past papers. There are also several HPAT courses to help students prepare for these types of aptitude tests.
The HPAT doesn’t draw on any specific knowledge. For example, questions may take a range of formats – in Section 1, you may have a short vignette from a news article and a set of multiple choice answers relating to the content of the excerpt. In Section 2, the vignette may be from a patient suffering from an illness and you may be asked what their primary concern is regarding possible treatment. In Section 3, you may be asked to identify which pattern block should follow in a sequence.
As you can see, the exam is not designed to test academic ability, but your ability to think critically, to solve problems and to empathise with and respond to patients’ needs – so one of the best ways to practice may be to complete past papers. Your registration fee of €130 will include a copy of the HPAT Practice Test e-book, which includes practice questions and worked answers. Answering these questions in timed conditions will help you to work within the time limits of the exam and will be a good way to familiarise yourself with the structure of the test and question topics.