HPAT Results: What to do with your CAO
1 week ago by Philippa
HPAT results are usually released in mid to late June. After months of waiting to find out your HPAT results, it can feel quite overwhelming to finally receive them! After all of the hard work and preparation for HPAT, everyone wants to get a great HPAT score. However, it is important to know what to do if things don’t go as well as you had hoped. It’s not the end of the world and if you want to be a doctor you will get there in the end, even if it takes a bit longer. The most important thing to do after receiving your HPAT results is to look at your CAO form. Think about how many Leaving Cert points you might get in a best-case and worst-case scenario, and adjust your preferences accordingly. The deadline for change of mind is 1 July.
Let’s look at three different cases with some examples of how you can consider adjusting your CAO application.
1. You have achieved a high HPAT score (for example, >90th percentile) and are confident that you will be awarded enough Leaving Cert points to study medicine.
Congratulations! It feels great to see the rewards of your hard work. However, remember to also place some backup courses on your CAO form just in case your Leaving Cert points are lower than you expect. You should also carefully review how you have preferenced each college offering medicine. You can find out more in our blog on how to choose an Irish Medical School.
2. You have scored reasonably well in your HPAT (for example, 75-90th percentile) but are not sure that this score, combined with your Leaving Cert points, will be enough to secure your place in medicine.
Try not to get overly stressed and worried about whether your points will be enough, especially if you still have Leaving Cert exams to sit. Remember, there are many possible pathways into medicine, and you can always repeat HPAT. Furthermore, the points required for medicine vary from year to year, so you cannot be sure what the cut off this year will be. Therefore, you should keep the medicine programmes that you wish to apply for on the top of your CAO form.
There have been circumstances where students believed they would not gain a place in medicine and removed the courses from their CAO form, only to find out that they in fact would have secured a place in medicine with their points. Make sure you also select backup courses and place these on your form after your medicine courses.
3. You did not score well in your HPAT and will not have enough points to study medicine, even with a high Leaving Cert score.
It is possible that you will receive a low HPAT score which will not be sufficient to gain entry into medicine in Ireland.
Let's look at an example. Say a student scores 130 in the HPAT and 625 points in Leaving Cert. Each additional 5 Leaving Cert points over 550 are only counted as 1 point when applying for medicine. Therefore, the student has a combined score of 130 (HPAT) + 565 (Adjusted Leaving Cert points) = 695. The points needed to study medicine in Ireland are usually at least 725 so the student would not be offered a place with a HPAT score of 130, even if they achieve maximum Leaving Cert points.
If you are certain that you will not have secured a place in medicine based on your HPAT results you could consider removing medicine courses from your CAO. Instead, look at other courses which you would like to study. You could complete a year of another course and repeat HPAT next year, take a gap year, or maybe complete another degree and apply for graduate entry medicine. It is recommended that you choose a degree that you are genuinely interested in and in a field that you see yourself working in. Remember, not scoring well in HPAT doesn’t mean that you will not be a doctor! There are many other routes to studying medicine.
A final point
The most important thing to consider when filling out your CAO form is to imagine all possible scenarios. You may achieve higher points in your Leaving Cert than you expect so don’t remove medicine courses from your CAO form unless you are certain you will not have enough points to secure a place. On the other hand, your Leaving Cert may not have gone as well as you had hoped so make sure you also have backup courses on your CAO form.
Remember that your HPAT score does not define you! There are lots of routes to becoming a doctor and there are many people who resat the HPAT and achieved excellent scores the second, third or even fourth time. Don’t give up on your dreams – just make sure you have a plan B!