Fewer CAO points needed for medicine
Aspiring doctors will be breathing a sigh of relief today, following a widespread reduction in the CAO points required for medicine.
The impact of the HPAT aptitude test, which was introduced a number of years ago with the aim of taking the heat out of the points race, seems to be paying off.
CAO applicants for the country's five undergraduate medical schools are increasingly taking heed of the results they get in the HPAT test before deciding whether to leave medicine as their top CAO choice.
Student sit HPAT in the spring and the scores are combined with Leaving Certificate points for the purpose of deciding college entry.
HPAT was intended to test skills that medicine applicants may have over and above the ability to clock up points, with a view to broadening access.
In its early years, it did not achieve its aim because applicants 'beat the system' by repeating the exam and taking grinds.
This led to certain changes, whose effect was evident in a reduction in points in 2014. However, the easing of points this year is probably attributed to decisions by students to opt out of the race for medicine, thereby reducing competition for places.
This year, nearly 300 CAO applicants who had put medicine as their first preference before the initial February 1 CAO deadline changed their minds by July 1. This was about a week after the release of HPAT results.
It is likely that the change of heart on the part of many applicants was because of a disappointing HPAT score.
Although the reduction in points for medicine on individual courses may be counted only in single figures, the way the combined HPAT/CAO scoring works, a drop of six CAO points today would represent 30 points under the old system.
There were 2,920 CAO applicants for medicine and 492 offers were made today.