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July 1, 2016

Question styles require a different approach to HPAT

HPAT – Special Report Irish Medical Times has partnered with the Institute of Education to bring you a second week of sample questions from the Institute’s HPAT mock materials

The Institute of Education has been running HPAT preparation courses since the test was introduced in Ireland, and it offers a HPAT module as an option for its full-time students.
The HPAT is based on the Australian Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT), which has undergone substantial structural and content evaluation over the years. Leading Australian academics have endorsed the UMAT/HPAT, and believe it to be as well administered as a test can be.
For example, the HPAT uses some of personal information to ensure fairness. If a question displays a statistically significant gender imbalance —more boys get an answer correct than girls, or vice-versa — the results from that question are discounted. Although, according to the organisation that runs the test, this happens only rarely because the HPAT is vetted before it is sat by students.
The test is designed to be challenging, and you should not expect to get everything right. But as it is not negatively marked; there is no penalty for giving your best estimate of the answer.
However, not all questions are equal; the test is not measuring how many questions you got right, so much as how you performed against other individuals. A correct answer for a question that hardly anyone got right will be worth much more than a correct answer for a question that most students found do-able. If a large enough majority of students got a question right, it could be worth nothing.
The questions below show a range of question styles you could be faced with on the day of the test.
Section I: Question 1
This question is testing verbal reasoning: your ability to draw logical conclusions from a piece of text. Some of the questions you encounter on the HPAT could be quite technical, so make sure you read all the text carefully.
High levels of dioxins in goats are caused by neglect in the production process of feed for goats. Recent studies have shown that if proper care is taken, the chances of dioxins finding their way into goats’ feed are close to zero. But if the production process is non-supervised and little attended to, certain risks exist which are a possible danger to the health of our whole population.
This information indicates that:
A. Goats are the sole transmitter of dioxins.
B. We should avoid drinking goats’ milk.
C. A danger to our own health only exists if goats have been fed improperly.
D. The whole population is at risk because of the high levels of dioxins found in goats.
The best way to arrive at the right answer in this sort of question is to eliminate the answers that cannot be correct, one by one. Remember, even though you might be an expert on dioxins in goats, use only the information presented to you on the page to reach your conclusion.
Answer: C
Section I: Question 2
In Section I of the HPAT there are a variety of question styles you might be faced with. Below is an example of a diagrammatic question, where you will be given a visual representation of a system and have to draw a conclusion from it.
Which of the gears turn into the same direction as gear 1?
A. Gears 3 and 5
B. Gears 4 and 6
C. Gears 2 and 5
D. The gears do not turn at all
Spend a couple of moments figuring out what the diagram or the schematic means and how it works. Make a couple of notes on the image if you feel it will help. The quickest way to complete the question is to figure out the answer directly rather than by elimination.
Answer: D
If you evaluate every option, you will see that D is the only possible option. Even though gears 3 and 5 would in fact turn into the same direction as wheel 1, this circle of gears cannot turn.
Section III: Question 1
This section tests non-verbal reasoning. There are a few variations in the questions that will come up, like ‘next in series’ or ‘middle of sequence’, but the approach to solving each problem is similar.
Question 1
This type of question is quite abstract in comparison with the questions that involve text comprehension elements.
The primary goal is to identify the ‘rule’ that underpins each sequence, and thereby reach a conclusion.
The best way to get the answer is to work on the sequence directly; try to understand what is going on in the sequence and figure out the next step.
If you cannot get to the answer that way, you can test the solutions provided to see which ones are definitely incorrect, then take your best guess on the remaining possible answers.
Answer: D
In this case, the symbols are ‘shuffling’ with the top symbol being sent to the bottom of the stack. The rectangle also rotates by 90° each step.
Section III: Question 2
The following figures can be rearranged to form a logical sequence. Which one most logically fits in the middle of the sequence?
This type of question requires you to figure out the rules that connect the items, then re-arrange them in the appropriate way. It is important to establish the rule of the sequence.
Answer: A
In this instance, the rule is that the cross moves to the opposite corner each step, and the dot moves one place in a clockwise direction. If you were to re-arrange the sequence it would run C, D, A, B, E. C and E are identical.
Section II
This section tests verbal comprehension, understanding of word meanings and of inter-personal relationships. You may be faced with a short essay, and will have to work out how a character would act or feel using information that is directly supported by the text.
Anabela, a transition year (TY) student is recounting a dilemma she is facing connected to her TY ‘business’ team: “We’ve been working with our TY company for three months. The feedback from local business has been fantastic. The product design was Tuie’s idea; I think Sonia also helped. For the last few weeks the balance for our cash has been wrong. I think some of the team believe our stock has been disappearing – I spoke to Joe about it yesterday. He had to let Ms McLaughlin know as she’s supervising this project. Yesterday, when everyone was at lunch, I had to pop back to our workroom. I saw Sonia putting some stock into her bag. This stock is what we use to make our product; she definitely doesn’t need to take it anywhere. I think she’s been great on the project but I really feel that she’s been stealing. This isn’t an isolated incident – I’ve noticed that there have been a couple of times where she was the last to leave or hung around waiting for the rest of us to finish. I have to think really hard about what to do!”
From the options below, which is: i) the best course of action for Anabela to follow? ii) the worst course of action for Anabela to follow?
A: Gather more evidence and catch Sonia red-handed.
B : Confront Sonia and ask her about what Anabela noticed.
C: Inform MsMcLaughlin that she suspects Sonia is stealing.
D: Don’t do anything; if Sonia is stealing she will be caught.
E: Privately ask Joe or another member of the team whether they have noticed anything suspicious regarding Sonia.
Read through the text carefully, but do not linger. Read the questions and eliminate the incorrect answers. Then evaluate the remaining possible answers to find the best fit. Find the most-effective response by assessing the consequences of each action that could be taken. In this type of question you may have to weigh several acceptable courses of action against each other using your understanding of human emotions and relationships to figure out the most appropriate answer.
Answer: i): B and ii): D
A: Anabela is not taking decisive action. Instead, she is spying on her colleague and wasting her own time. In the meantime, more stock may be stolen.
B: This is the best option. It allows Anabela to discuss the issue directly with Sonia, addressing suspicions and clearing any doubt. On the basis of this outcome, she could proceed to option C if necessary.
C: By doing this, decisive action is taken and the problem drawn to the attention of someone senior, who can deal with the situation through the correct channels. However, Anabela might be wrong and has not given Sonia the chance to explain her actions first.
D: This is the worst option. This option does not resolve the issue. Anabela has not addressed why this behaviour is occurring, confronted her suspicions or informed anyone else. This activity is patently wrong and may now continue indefinitely.
E: In this option, she is at least doing something, but is still not taking any decisive action. Gathering further information will not necessarily bring about a resolution, nor will it prevent further theft and may lead to misplaced rumours being spread about Sonia, who may quite possibly be innocent.