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It's crunch time for medical and vocational students

Last Monday, HPAT Ireland exam results were released to several thousand candidates who have applied to the undergraduate medicine courses in five medical schools: UCD, UCC, NUI Galway, Trinity and RCSI. The HPAT (Health Professions Admissions Test) exam took place last February. HPAT scores (out of a total of 300) will be added to qualified applicants' Leaving Certificate scores.

Although candidates may not appeal their HPAT results, they may apply for a re-check, if they believe an error may have been made in scoring their exam. Requests for re-checks must be submitted online by 5.00 pm on May 6, at the cost of €80. The re-check fee will be refunded if a scoring error is found.

Meanwhile, today, the written examination of the link modules of the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) takes place.

Increasing numbers of students take the LCVP programme each year. Last year (2011) 16,386 people, or over 28pc of Leaving Cert candidates, took it.

The LCVP programme was designed to give a strong vocational dimension to the established Leaving Cert programme. It is not a separate stand-alone Leaving Cert programme, but is taken in association with the established Leaving Cert.

Students who take the LCVP must take a minimum of five established Leaving Cert subjects. Two of these subjects are normally selected from a designated vocational group of subjects. The students must also take the two LVCP "link modules": preparation for the world of work, and enterprise education. So the LCVP link modules are like an additional subject taken alongside established Leaving Cert subjects, although different in character to the conventional subjects. The results of link modules may be counted for points purposes.

The assessment of the links modules has two components: a centrally set written examination (160 marks), taken nationally by all candidates (which is what is being taken today). The second element is a portfolio (240 marks) prepared by each candidate using agreed and published guidelines

Results are awarded in three grades, distinction, merit or pass. All HEIs award points for the LCVP link modules in place of a sixth Leaving Certificate subject, with 70 points being awarded for a distinction, 50 for a merit and 30 for a pass.

Last year, 1,910 LCVP link modules candidates got a distinction, 7,747 got a merit, and 5,150 were awarded a pass, while 1,579 did not receive any grade.

Sometimes people confuse the LCVP with the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA), another alternative programme to the established Leaving Cert. Students who take the LCA follow a self-contained pre-vocational programme made up of a range of courses that are structured round three elements: Vocational Preparation, Vocational Education and General Education. Graduates from the LCA Programme receive a single award made on the basis of credits accumulated over the two year cycle.

No CAO points are awarded for the exam as it is not regarded as a direct entry route into higher education.

Open days today: n DIT School of Hospitality Management and Tourism holds an open day today from 3pm-5pm in the School at DIT Cathal Brugha Street, Dublin 1. n Griffith College Dublin also hosts an open day today from 2pm--8pm n BAT College hosts an open evening in its Temple Bar campus this evening from 5pm--7pm. n The Dublin Business School hosts an open evening next Tuesday, May 8, from 5pm-7pm.

Irish Independent