Medicine test scores fall after reforms to make it fair
SCORES in the controversial Health Professions Admission Test (HPAT) aptitude test for entry to medicine are down this year, after changes to reduce the advantage enjoyed by repeat students.
Students received their results this week, but must await their Leaving Cert points to see if they get a college place.
However, the reduction in the top HPAT scores could contribute to an easing of the CAO points for medicine when offers are made in August.
Top-performing HPAT students this year achieved 217 out the maximum 300, compared with 222 in 2013, 238 in 2012, 242 in 2011 and 223 in 2010.
Entry to medicine is based on a combination of HPAT results and CAO points a student earns in the Leaving Certificate. There is sharp competition for medical school, with about six applicants vying for each of about 450 undergraduate places.
HPAT was supposed to take the heat out of the points race and what had become a stressful chase for a perfect, or near perfect, Leaving Cert result in order to gain entry to medicine.
Its introduction in 2009 was intended to broaden access among candidates with an aptitude for medicine, but who, for one reason or another, fell short on points.
However, HPAT did not achieve what it set out to do and points for medicine continued to rise after it was introduced.
This was attributed to the skills developed by the high number of candidates sitting HPAT grinds and repeat students, prompting a review that led to this year's reforms.