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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Going to college: What if you don't get into medicine?

Published 12/06/2014 | 02:30

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What are your options if you haven't made it into the course you wanted?
What are your options if you haven't made it into the course you wanted?

ACER will release the results of the HPAT for entry to undergraduate medicine in later this month, so some students will receive another piece of their going-to-college-puzzle.

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HPAT is an admissions test that measures the applicant’s logical thinking (40pc), problem solving (40pc), non-verbal reasoning (20pc) and the ability to understand the thoughts and behaviours of others. It was introduced to the CAO system in 2009.

Applicants to the five undergraduate medicine courses are now required to combine their CAO points with their HPAT score to compete for entry.

For some students, receipt of their HPAT score will offer relief that they are well on their way to accessing their chosen course. For others, it will be a clear indicator that they will not begin a medical degree in September, irrespective of their exam results.

So how does it work? In August, the HPAT score will be added to a student’s Leaving Cert points to give a combined total. So, the lower the HPAT score, the more CAO points a student will need from the exams.

Once a student receives over 550 CAO points every five points is given a value of one point. This means that top Leaving Cert points of 625 convert to 565. In 2013 CAO points for entry to medicine ranged from 739 to 748* while HPAT scores for successful applicants normally ranged from 170-238.

So what happens if a student is disappointed with their HPAT score?

Well, if a score is above 160, there is a chance they could be accepted.

If the score is lower than this, it is going to be more difficult.

A student may apply for a recheck, although cannot appeal the result.

If a student is disappointed, it is important not to panic and not to remove all medicine courses from the CAO list through the Change of Mind.

There are only five undergraduate medicine courses available in the Republic of Ireland, so an applicant still has another 15 places for course applications on the CAO. Students should use these other spaces to apply for courses in areas of interest. Fill up as many of the places on the CAO as possible.

One common mistake students make is not using all the spaces, which can lead them to having restricted options in August. The CAO cannot offer a course for which a student has not applied and applicants do not have to accept a place just because they receive an offer.

Students can look at their options again in August.

It is important not to overlook making full use of the Level 6 and 7 application list.

While a preference may be for a Level 8 course, the majority of Level 6 and 7 courses will allow students to achieve a Level 8 qualification in the same amount of time. A student can use a Level 8 course in any discipline to apply for graduate medicine in the future.

In order to qualify for entry into graduate medicine, a student must hold a 2H1 in their first level 8 degree.

This degree can be in any discipline. Students then complete an entrance exam called the GAMSAT. They compete for entry based on the results of this test alone.

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