HPAT®: Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions 

Test Day


Preparing for the HPAT

What is the HPAT exam?

The Health Professionals Admissions Test (HPAT) is a test designed to assist in the selection of candidates into Irish undergraduate medical programmes. Universities use the HPAT exam results in combination with Leaving Certificate scores to decide whether candidates are eligible for a place. 

Which programmes require the HPAT?

The HPAT is required by:

  • National University of Ireland, Galway

  • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

  • Trinity College Dublin

  • University College Cork

  • University College Dublin 

  • University of Limerick*

*Only required for MSc in Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy.

Please note: International or non-EU students may be exempt from taking the HPAT and should check this by contacting the universities directly or checking on their websites. 

How is the HPAT structured?

The HPAT is a paper-based, multiple choice test split out into 3 sections**. Each section is separately timed and there are no breaks between sections.

Section Topic Questions Timing
Section 1 Logical Reasoning and Problem Solving 44 questions 65 minutes
Section 2 Interpersonal Understanding 36 questions 45 minutes
Section 3 Non-Verbal Reasoning 30 questions 40 minutes
Total   110 questions 2 hours & 30 minutes

**MSc applicants will sit a version of the HPAT exam that will include an additional 60 minute writing section, containing 2 writing tasks. 

What does the HPAT test?

The HPAT-Ireland is designed to assess problem solving, logical reasoning skills and the ability to interpret people, as these skills have been identified as important for healthcare professionals. As this test does not assess academic knowledge of any particular subject, it is designed to complement academic achievements such as the Irish Leaving Certificate.

When can I take the HPAT exam?

All exam candidates must either be in their final year of school or have already completed their Leaving Certificate prior to the year they are taking the HPAT exam.

Do I need to take the HPAT if I am a mature student?

The minimum entry requirement and places available for mature students (applicants aged 23 and over) are available from each university, but yes, mature applicants are required to take the HPAT and HPAT scores will form part of their selection criteria.

How do I register for the HPAT exam?

You will need to register for the HPAT exam online at www.hpat-ireland.acer.edu.au. In order to register you will need a valid email address and a credit/debit card.

Is there a fee for taking the exam?

Yes, the fee to sit the HPAT is €130. An additional €70 late fee applies to those who register after the registration deadline. 

Do I need to take the GAMSAT too?

No, the GAMSAT is required for entry into Graduate Entry Medical (GEM) programmes in Ireland, Australia and UK, whereas the HPAT is required for undergraduate entry medical programmes in Ireland.

Do I need to take the HPAT to study Veterinary Science?

No, the Graduate Veterinary Medicine Programme at University College Dublin (UCD) requires the GAMSAT.

Where do I take the HPAT exam?

The exam is offered at the following locations in Ireland: Cork, Dublin, Galway, Sligo, Waterford and Limerick. The test is held on the same date at all test centres. Make sure to book early at the centre most convenient for you as places are limited. You will then be assigned to a test centre, and the address and arrival time will be provided via your Admission Ticket. This will be available through your online account approximately 2 weeks before the test. 

What will test day be like?

Due to the volume of students taking the HPAT at each test centre, the pre-testing procedures take some time to get through. Therefore there is unlikely to be a guaranteed start and end time, so you are advised to allow approximately 4.5 hours. You will not be able to leave the test centre until the test is officially announced as over. There are also no formal breaks throughout the test, although bathroom breaks are permitted in the last 10 minutes of each test section. Valuables will also need to be placed under your desks, with all mobile phones switched off. 

What do I need to bring with me on test day?

It is best to bring as few items with you as possible, as there is no secure place to store your items. Your keys, phone (switched off!) and wallet can be placed under your seat during the test. You should plan to bring:

  • Admissions Ticket

  • Identification: Valid Passport, driving licence or national identity card

  • Pencils

  • Pencil Sharpener

  • Eraser

  • Bottled water (no labels allowed)

How is the HPAT scored?

Section 1 and 2 account for 40% each, and Section 3 accounts for 20% of the overall score. The overall HPAT score is calculated using the following formula:

[(2 x Section 1 + 2 Section 2 + 1 x Section 3)/5] x3

Can I retake the HPAT?

You are only able to take the HPAT in the same year that you apply for the undergraduate medical programme, and the test is only administered once per year. Candidates wishing to take the exam again would need to wait until the follow test date to sit the exam again.

When should I start studying for the HPAT?

This really depends on how much time you have, as the test coincides with Leaving Certificate mock exam time and also when many 6th Year projects are due for submission. Many people have found that starting preparation as early as October is highly beneficial, as this can allow time to stretch out preparation amongst other exam prep and school work. However starting your preparation over the Christmas break would also provide you with enough time to cover the material and allow for sufficient practice. 

HPAT is an aptitude test, so how can you prepare for it?

Like any standardised tests, particularly multiple-choice ones, there are set question types used throughout each test section. It is important to be able to identify these different question types and have a strategy on how to approach them, which will improve your accuracy. This will help you attack each question in the fastest way possible, which will be key, as the HPAT is quite a tightly timed test. Familiarity with the questions and pacing, through taking full-length practice tests, will help improve your test endurance and familiarity with the style of questioning, which will in turn help improve your technique and speed through the test. 

How does taking a course improve your score?

Taking an HPAT preparation course can help you to improve your score by breaking down each section and question type, providing key strategies to tackle the question types, and allowing realistic practice opportunities. You should complete your prep course confident that you're familiar with each question type and how to tackle it quickly and effectively. You should also be familiar with the speed and pacing required to score highly on the test. Only realistic practice can provide this familiarity.