I didn’t get a good enough HPAT score. What should I do?

I didn’t get a good enough HPAT score. What should I do?

2 months ago by Tom

After spending months working through HPAT guides, completing practise exams and labouring over difficult drills it can be devastating when HPAT results day arrives, and you realise that you have not achieved a good enough HPAT score to get into medicine. It is completely understandable that to feel extremely disappointed, but it is very important that you have a clear idea of the other options that you have to get into medicine.

Firstly, remember that the points required for entry into medicine vary from year to year, and also depend on your performance in the Leaving Certificate. Thus, you may not know for sure that your HPAT score is not ‘good enough’ until CAO offers are made.

A low HPAT score does not mean that you will not be able to study medicine because there are lots of different paths to becoming a doctor. This blog outlines your options.


Resit the HPAT next year

The most popular option is to resit the HPAT next year. This option is useful if you achieved a good Leaving Cert score, and it was just your HPAT score that was low. If you also had a low Leaving Cert score, then you would have to resit both the Leaving Cert and HPAT. Remember that your HPAT score can only be used to secure a place in Undergraduate Medicine in the year you sit your HPAT, as HPAT results are only valid for one year. Your Leaving Cert points can be used in any year.

If you plan on resitting HPAT next year, you could take a year out from college or you could enrol in another degree which you find interesting. Make good use of the year! Think about how you can improve your HPAT preparation to maximise your chances of achieving a good HPAT score next year. If you enrolled with MedEntry last year, you will be able to receive a discount if you re-enrol.

If you choose to take a year out it can be a great opportunity to travel and work before you hopefully start the hard work in medical school. If you choose to start another course you could choose a degree in any area which you find interesting. Certain degrees will provide credit and allow you to waive premed if your preferred college has a premed year. Furthermore, the test for graduate entry medicine (GAMSAT) has a science basis. However, it is not necessary to study science or biomedical science if you do not see a career in that field in future. It is better to enrol in a degree that you enjoy and one that you see yourself working in – just in case you do not get into medicine.


Try Graduate Entry Medicine

To study graduate entry medicine in Ireland, you need to have completed a Level 8 degree in any discipline and have achieved at least a 2.1 result. You also need to score well in the GAMSAT. The GAMSAT is similar to the HPAT in some ways, but it has different sections and is longer (HPAT is 2.5 hours long, but GAMSAT is 5.25 hours long). MedEntry does not offer GAMSAT courses but Section 1 of the GAMSAT (Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences) is similar to sections 1 and 2 of HPAT. Keep in mind however, that the graduate entry route into medicine is longer and more expensive than the undergraduate route.


Apply for Medicine in the UK

Lots of Irish students apply to study medicine in Britain or Northern Ireland by applying through UCAS (like the CAO but for the UK). You don’t need to sit the HPAT to study medicine in the UK, but most UK universities require that you achieve a good score in the UCAT. The UCAT is a two-hour long computer based, multiple choice test. Like HPAT, UCAT tests qualities considered to be desirable in the health professions. UK medical schools usually also require you to attend an interview.  MedEntry run a UCAT preparation course.


Study Medicine in Europe

There are many universities throughout Europe which offer medical programmes that are taught through English. Poland, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria are all popular choices amongst Irish students. Not only are you not required to sit the HPAT to study medicine in Europe, but these universities often have lower fees than what you would pay in Ireland! You can apply to European universities and find out more about studying medicine in Europe through EUNiCAS: https://www.eunicas.ie

We would recommend ensuring that once you complete your degree in Europe, you will be able to return to Ireland to complete your internship, if this is your preference.


A final note

As you can see, HPAT is not the only route you can take to study medicine. So, while a low HPAT score is a temporary setback, it should not put an end to your dream! Make a new plan and use this experience to practise resilience and persistence, and ultimately enter your chosen career.


Some useful links

GAMSAT: https://gamsat.acer.org

UCAT: https://www.ucat.ac.uk

MedEntry UCAT Preparation Course: https://www.medentry.co.uk

UCAS: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/applying-university/ucas-undergraduate-international-eu-students

EUNiCAS: https://www.eunicas.ie



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