Saturday 16 December 2017

What to do when you get your HPAT result

Guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin, Aoife Walsh. Photo: Damien Eagers.
Guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin, Aoife Walsh. Photo: Damien Eagers.

The results of HPAT Ireland 2016 will be released next Monday. HPAT is an essential component for entry to undergraduate medicine: an applicant must do well in both HPAT and the Leaving Cert to be offered a place. It is possible to achieve maximum CAO points but not receive an offer for medicine if a candidate has not done well at HPAT.

When students receive their HPAT score it may be clear to some that they will not receive an offer for medicine, irrespective of what they achieve in their Leaving Cert. These students may need to consider making changes to their CAO application.

After receiving their HPAT score, applicants should check how many CAO points they may need to qualify for medicine, by consulting Student Resources/Entry to Medicine on This gives an indication of how many CAO points last year's applicants with the same HPAT score needed. It is important to remember that points can change every year - and can go down as well as up.

Last year, the course with the lowest points was the NUI Galway's GY501, which had a cut-off of 723*. So, applicants needed a minimum of 160 in HPAT in order to gain enough CAO points to be considered for medicine. To achieve 723, a candidate with a HPAT score of 160 would have needed 615 points in the Leaving Cert. The higher the HPAT score, the fewer Leaving Cert points are required. A candidate with a HPAT score of 170 would have required 565 points to be considered for GY501 last year. While this is still a lot of points it does give a little more wriggle room.

If, as a result of their HPAT score, candidates are concerned about gaining entry to medicine, there are a number of things that can be done. Firstly don't panic - nobody knows what the cut off for medicine will be in August. If there is any possibility of receiving an offer, no matter how unlikely, students should consider leaving at least a couple of medicine courses on the CAO form. Points may fall and candidates often do better in their Leaving Cert than they expected.

If a candidate needs to amend their CAO (Change of Mind is open until July 1), they should consider degrees that they will enjoy and perhaps build a career from, if medicine is never possible for them in the future. Graduate medicine, the preferred alternative entry route for many aspiring doctors, will accept a 2:1 from a degree in any discipline. Research shows that graduate medicine students from arts backgrounds perform just as well in their studies as classmates with science or engineering backgrounds.

Other routes to medicine include studying in Europe, UK, and retaking HPAT or the Leaving Cert.

Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin

Q. I am trying to finish my CAO Change of Mind form but I am worried about missing courses that could be the perfect option for me. Is there any way I can be sure I have found everything?

A. The most difficult aspect of researching courses is ensuring that you have found all possible options. Students often report that they don’t know where to start and miss some courses that they are likely to enjoy because they don’t know that they exist. There are a number of different ways to approach this task including using college prospectus and, from time to time, I will use them all. One of the easiest ways for students to ensure that they are finding all relevant courses is by using an online search tool. This week release their new course search tool ‘coursefinder+’. It allows students to research from a number of different angles, including by results of the careers interest test (also available on the website), by sector, by region or by college. Other useful filters, unique to this website, include courses that ‘accept foundation maths’ or courses that ‘do not require a language’.

Important dates


Enrolment day - Ballsbridge College of Further Education


Live Q&A Session - DIT Hospitality Management and Tourism

Reply to offers by this date - UCAS

June 25

Open Day - Maynooth University

Open Day -St Patrick's College Maynooth

Counselling and Psychotherapy Taster Day - PCI College

June 27

Change of Mind Online Information Session - DCU

Drop in Day - Maynooth University Kilkenny

Change of Mind Q&A (5 Day Event) - Waterford IT

June 28

Open Day - College of Media and Artistry

Open Day - DCU

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