Medicine, the HPAT, the CAO and one big mistake to avoid
2 weeks ago by Philippa
For any Leaving Certificate students hoping to go on to study medicine, the HPAT (Health Professions Admission Test) and the CAO (Central Applications Office) are two well-known abbreviations which are of great importance to you as you prepare for life after the Leaving Certificate.
For me, I wasn’t certain until the very end of 6th year as to what exactly I wanted to do after school. Honestly, it wasn’t until those last few weeks while I waited for my Leaving Cert results that I realised for certain that I had put down the right courses in the right order from my desperate hope that I would get the points I needed to get into medicine.
For undergraduate medicine in Ireland there are five options: Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, the Royal College of Surgeons, University College Cork and the National University of Ireland, Galway. Like everyone I was hoping for my first choice and being a Dublin native also to be able to stay at home. I had all five universities in the top five places on my CAO level eight list, something which you really have to do, if you really want every chance of being able to study medicine in Ireland.
One of the great things about the CAO is that you can change your list up until 1 July, even after you’ve finished your Leaving Certificate, however this does bring with it certain hazards. The relatively late closing date allows for students to put in place backup plans if they feel certain exams didn’t go as well as they could have. However, I have heard of horror stories of people who thought they did absolutely terribly in exams and completely changed their CAO, only to have gained enough points for their number one course come results day, which they have long since erased from their CAO.
With HPAT results being issued before the CAO closing date there’s a big risk of this happening to students hoping to pursue medicine. Obviously, it’s important to have attainable courses listed on your CAO and have a good few backups in case things go pear-shaped. If you discover after receiving your HPAT results that there is literally no hope of you getting medicine this time around, then it’s important to leave yourself with other options. However, just make sure to be cautious of jumping the gun when you get your HPAT results, because remember you have no idea how the overall points for medicine will change this year or what results you will receive later in the year. Just make sure you don’t end up getting the points but without the course on your CAO!
Written by Philippa, who scored 100th percentile in HPAT and is currently studying medicine in Ireland