Why is the HPAT so important?
2 weeks ago by Philippa
The Leaving Cert, and its points system, is an important part of the process of being eligible to study at university. However, for those who want to study medicine, the HPAT is also an important part of the process. It’s vital to understand why it is so important and why you need to prepare for it.
Firstly, the HPAT is important because without it, you cannot study medicine in Ireland, regardless of your Leaving Cert points. The HPAT was implemented to assess students’ skills in logical reasoning, problem-solving and understanding people –skills that are considered important in the medical field. It was felt that such competencies should bear weight on an individual’s suitability to medicine. Whether you agree with the HPAT or not, it’s there for a reason and you have to succeed in it to be considered for medicine.
The second reason is connected with how as the HPAT and Leaving Cert points for medicine applicants are assessed differently. A medicine applicant can achieve a maximum of 865 points when CAO and HPAT points are combined. This is because medicine applicants’ points are subject to adjustment once they surpass 550 points. Above 550 points, every bracket of five points is worth one point. For example, a student who achieves between 551 and 555 points is awarded 551 in a medicine application and a student with between 556 and 560 points, is awarded 552 points. This means that after adjustment, the maximum Leaving Cert points a student can obtain when applying for medicine is 565.
Given that most students applying for medicine are likely to excel academically, and likely to achieve in the range of 550 Leaving Cert points, the main factor that will distinguish between medicine applicants is HPAT.
In the 125 points' margin between 550 and 625 Leaving Cert points, medicine applicants are faced with only a 15 point difference. Therefore, your HPAT score can have a huge bearing on whether or not you achieve the required points to get into medicine.
For example, University College Dublin is normally the highest points course for medicine in Ireland. Even students who got the highest possible results in their Leaving Cert still need to get at least 170 points (approximately 80th+ percentile) in the HPAT.
This is the reason why HPAT preparation is so important, alongside your Leaving Cert study.