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The way to a successful HAM-Nat - a selection test for future medical students

In the context of the discussions about the judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court on the award of medical study places in Germany, among many other more or less sensible ideas, selection tests were also proposed as a means of more fairness in the fight for the coveted places. This article is not about the advantages and disadvantages of a hypothetical, nationwide test, but about information and preparation strategies for a selection test that has been used by various universities for several years, the "HAM-Nat".

HAM-Nat - a selection test for future medical students

Bad news first: Even with the "HAM-Nat", the Hamburg science test, you cannot avoid getting a good Abitur grade. You cannot simply register for this test, you have to be invited to it.

At the time this article was written, the universities of Hamburg, Berlin and Magdeburg are using the “HAM-Nat” in their “university selection process” to award their human and, in some cases, dentistry study places. You will only be invited if you meet the requirements of the respective university. The best way to find out about the requirements at the time of your applications or the selection limits that were sufficient for admission in previous years, as with everything that relates to admission to medical studies, is directly at www.hochschulstart.de.

If you have passed the first hurdle and are invited, nothing stands in the way of taking the test, which will put your skills in your favorite subjects mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology to the test.

The way to a successful HAM-Nat

The question remains about the right preparation:

1. Formalities: When do I have to be where? How much time do I have? How many questions do I have to answer?

Putting the answer to such questions into an article that won't be updated forever would not be a good idea. The only consequence: inform yourself, preferably directly from the test creators: https://www.uke.de/studium-lehre/studienentendung/wahlverfahren/vorendung-ham-nat.html

An up-to-date catalog of topics can also be found on the page of the test author.

3. Wait, those are just rough keywords! What exactly do I have to learn now?

That is a problem indeed! The official site links to a "HAM-Nat" placement test, which can give you information on the "depth" with which the material is queried. Memory logs, sometimes even detailed, can be found in various Facebook groups. Last but not least, a look at "HAM-Nat" -specific literature will certainly not hurt.

4. How much time do I need?

A general statement is difficult, especially since there is no pre-defined passing limit, everyone had a different focus in their Abitur and the talent for multiple-choice tests was not always distributed fairly. As always in life: "It's better to start early with small portions".

5. What should the concrete preparation look like?

A learning plan helps! Even if most of us got through school well without a learning plan: If you have to deal with such a broad subject area as in the “HAM-Nat”, it's easy to lose track of things.

6. I just struggled through my Abitur and should I prepare for the next test right now?

An absolutely understandable objection! A few thoughts that might give a little motivation:

• Everything you learn for the “HAM-Nat” is useful for you in the first semesters of your medical studies. So you make your studies easier and can later devote yourself to things that really interest you - or just relax!
• If you can familiarize yourself with topics and structure a long exam preparation, you do not have to fear the major (state) exams in medical studies!
7. What does a good preparation look like?

Good preparation consists not only of dull reading, but also of checking knowledge at an early stage by answering exercise questions - ideally with commented solutions. You tend, especially if you have never done a multiple-choice test, to give too few crosses. In this respect, it won't hurt if you fill at least a third of your learning time with answering exercises on the material you have already learned.

In this sense: Good luck with your preparation and even more success in the subsequent medical studies!

Paul Windisch
Heidelberg, March 2018

Note from Medizinernachwuchs.de about the author

“Paul Windisch (www.headstart-medizin.de) has been a medical student at Heidelberg University since 2012 and is currently doing his doctorate at the German Cancer Research Center. In addition to his medical studies, he supports the journal “Cureus” as a “Student Ambassador” and wrote the successful “Survival Kit Series” and the “BASICS Pre-Course Medicine” for Elsevier GmbH.

Paul Windisch is also the author of the article "For the doctoral thesis abroad?" On Medizinernachwuchs.de ".