Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get into Medicine?
To get into medicine in most countries, you need to satisfy three criteria ie., do well in:
1. your high school/university;
2. a generic skills test and
3. an interview.
In most countries these three criteria are equally weighted. In Ireland, there is no interview yet. In Ireland the two criteria are: your Leaving Certifcate points and HPAT score. Performing well in the HPAT is critical for students wishing to enter medicine. Most countries in the world have a generic skills test similar to HPAT (eg., UCAT, MCAT, GAMSAT, BMAT).
Because medicine is the only course where the government strictly controls the number of places, the demand is high which is one of the reasons why it is seen as an attractive profession.
The HPAT (Health Professions Admission Test) is an admissions test used by Irish Medical Schools for getting into medicine.
The HPAT test measures a candidate’s logical reasoning and problem solving skills as well as non-verbal reasoning and the ability to understand the thoughts, behaviour and/or intentions of people. The test results will complement the Leaving Certificate Examination assessment for selecting applicants for admission to an undergraduate Medical School programme.
The HPAT is a two and a half hour test (except for University of Limerick applicants) - administered by ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research) in late Feb/early March. The head office of ACER is located in Melbourne, where MedEntry's office is also located.
University of Limerick applicants sit an additional 4th section as part of their HPAT. This is a 1 hour written essay component consisting of two questions. Further information on this 4th section can be found on the ACER HPAT site https://hpat-ireland.acer.org/prepare/written-english-ul-applicants
MedEntry HPAT Prep has become synonymous with HPAT success and is trusted by more students than all other providers combined.
View some of our free sample questions.
Undergraduate entry to medicine for school leavers is based on:
- Achieving a minimum of 480 points and meeting the minimum entry requirements for the programme in the same sitting of the Irish Leaving Certificate Examination (or equivalent) and;
- Completing the required admissions test (HPAT-Ireland). HPAT results are valid for one year only.
To calculate your total points:
Total points = Leaving Certificate (adjusted) + HPAT score
Up to 550 LC points: no adjustment
More than 550 LC points: 5 points = 1 adjusted point
Maximum LC score of 625 = 565 adjusted points
An example: If your LC points is 565, and HPAT score is 190:
Your adjusted LC points is 553
553+190=743 Total points
LC Points=560, student has done HL maths, HPAT score of 185:
HL Maths gives 25 bonus points.
Total=585 points. Adjusted points= 550+35/5= 557
Total points: 557+185=742
The HPAT scores of successful applicants range from 160 to 228.
The score required to get into medicine in Ireland varies each year but has been around 720 points - please contact us for up to date information about this.
The HPAT scaled score for the three sections of the test are added to obtain an overall score. The individual section scores given are not raw scores (the percentage of questions you got right). The maximum a candidate can receive is 300. An overall percentile rank is also given. This indicates how well a student has performed against other HPAT-Ireland candidates. Please note that from 2014, the weighting of the three sections 1, 2 and 3 will be 40%, 40% and 20%.
The actual means of converting a student's responses to each question into scaled scores is confidential information which is not released by ACER.
All undergraduate medical degrees in Ireland require students to have sat HPAT and have valid HPAT scores. Please see the next question below which gives details of universities which require HPAT for medical entrance.
You will need to sit the HPAT if you are interested in studying medicine at any of the following universities:
- National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI GALWAY)
- Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI)
- Trinity College Dublin (TCD)
- University College Cork (UCC)
- University College Dublin (UCD)
HPAT is required for entry into the MSc Occupational Therapy (Professional Qualification) and MSc Speech and Language Therapy (Professional Qualification) at University of Limerick.
Yes! Even high achieving students stumble in the HPAT.
Some students with perfect leaving certificate scores (625) have missed out on a place in medicine and related courses due to their low HPAT scores. In some cases, your HPAT score is more important than your leaving certificate score in securing a place in the health sciences.
Research shows training can significantly improve HPAT score by familiarizing you with the types of questions that will be asked and developing strategies to tackle them. Even ACER now admits that training for HPAT helps.
An all-too-common fallacy about preparing for HPAT is that all you need to do is 'familiarise' yourself with the test by doing some practice questions. That's like saying the way to become a great basketball player is to familiarise yourself with a basketball court and practice taking a few shots.
Once upon a time, people were wrong. They thought that the automobile was an electric death-trap that would never replace the horse and carriage, computers were only for academic nerds, and people who used tuition were simply cheaters. Then, cars stopped exploding every time you started the engine, people realised that you could use computers for more than just calculating the digits of pi, and the 'cheaters' with the tuition... well, they started getting it. They got better grades, got into better Courses at Uni and just plain old got better. Times change, rules change.
Some people point not only to their own success, but also to the success of some others, as proof that HPAT Prep is unnecessary to get into medicine. Such arguments are spurious because they gloss over the obvious truth that certain people are more capable than others. Individuals succeeding without HPAT Prep simply don’t prove that everyone else can do the same, any more than Madonna’s success proves that everyone can become a star. Such individual achievements prove only that there are exceptional people who can overcome enormous obstacles and achieve their goals. The plain fact that many ordinary students have not achieved extraordinary results is pretty strong evidence that, for most of us, HPAT Prep can be a big help.
"Kids take prep courses to ace tests that are supposed to measure inborn aptitude," (page 100, Time Magazine, December 20, 2004).
There are three types of knowledge: Known Knowns; Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns. The people who don't prepare are in the last category. They don't know what they don't know!
People who are low on any scale, do not even know enough to recognize how much they are missing. People who are high on a scale, are deeply aware of how much they are missing, so they think they aren't really all that high. This can be about any skill, aptitude or talent. Many of us suffer from omission bias, ie., we prefer erring through inaction to erring through action, even though research shows errors of omission are costlier than errors of commission.
Consider this story about the French marshal Louis Lyautey: when the marshal announced that he wished to plant a tree, his gardener responded that the tree would not reach full growth for a hundred years. “In that case,” replied Lyautey, “we have no time to lose. We must start to plant this afternoon." Students thinking of preparing for improvement in performance in HPAT have no time to lose. They must get started now.
So start preparing now!
Please also read the FAQ: "Does the MedEntry program really work?"
- It will improve your HPAT score and hence enhance the probability of getting a place in medical school
- Even if you are 'naturally' proficient at such tests, it will further improve your score. Even in the 100th percentile there is a massive range of scores. Getting a top score in the 100th percentile will not only lead to offers from several medical schools (so you can choose the best one for you), it is also likely to lead to scholarship offers
- MedEntry HPAT Prep provides: 1.Training in foundational skills which are tested in HPAT (critical/logical thinking, problem solving, decision making, interpersonal skills, abstract reasoning etc). 2.Practice in a simulated test environment with feedback. 3.Test taking strategy. These skills are also useful for your school/uni exams. Hence those who use MedEntry's services end up getting better Leaving Certificate scores than those who do not.
- The foundational skills mentioned above are also the skills employers seek in their employees in any career (called 21st century skills). These skills are far more useful in life than 'knowledge-specific' subjects that you learn at school/uni.
The HPAT-Ireland test is a 2½ hour multiple choice test consisting of three modules or sections:
Section 1 Logical Reasoning and Problem Solving. Some questions test your logical and critical thinking skills. Other questions test your ability to solve problems and interpret data. Overall, this section is designed to test how fast you can interpret information and your ability to think in various ways. 42 questions to be completed in 60 minutes. It is worth 40% of the total score.
Section 2 Interpersonal Understanding. You will be given various passages or scenarios describing people and interactions between people. You will need to empathise (put yourself in another person’s shoes), and understand what they might be thinking or feeling. You may also be asked to explain why a person behaves the way they do. 42 questions to be completed in 50 minutes. It is worth 40% of the total score.
Section 3 Non-Verbal Reasoning. This involves finding patterns and trends in a sequence or block of pictures. It tests your ability to think non-verbally. 30 questions to be completed in 40 minutes. It is worth 20% of the total score.
As of 2016, University of Limerick applicants will sit a 4th section, a 1 hour written essay component.
More information on the structure of the HPAT can be found on the ACER HPAT website https://hpat-ireland.acer.edu.au/
Some universities require you to sit GAMSAT if you have completed a degree.
However, some universities require you to sit HPAT even if you have completed or in the process of studying/obtaining/completing a degree.
You will need an HPAT score to apply for the University of Limerick, MSc Occupational Therapy (Professional Qualification) and MSc Speech and Language Therapy (Professional Qualification)
The HPAT is held in mid to late February each year.
If you have not been successful the first time you sit the HPAT, you can re-sit it without being penalised. In fact you can resit the test ANY number of times.
Please note that HPAT scores are valid for one year only.
You can register for the HPAT-Ireland online at ACER’s website:
Please note that enrolling with MedEntry HPAT Preparation course does not represent or include an application to sit the HPAT.
In addition to your application to ACER, you must first apply to the Central Applications Office (CAO) www.cao.ie to complete the HPAT-Ireland test.
ACER is the Australian Council for Educational Research; an organization that administers the HPAT. Its head office is based in Melbourne, where MedEntry's head office is also located.
You will need to contact ACER to register for the HPAT. Please visit www.HPAT-ireland.acer.edu.au for more information.
ACER is a world renown organisation which has extensive expertise in developing and using many high stakes tests such as the UMAT, HPAT, GAMSAT in many countries.
Registrations for HPAT-Ireland open in November. Standard registrations will close in mid January. Late registrations will be accepted until late January upon payment of a late fee.
Exceptional late registrations will be accepted until early February. An exceptional late registration will only be accepted from candidates who have submitted their application to the CAO by February.
It will NOT be possible to register for HPAT - Ireland after registrations close in early February.
Late registrations will be accepted until late January on payment of a late fee in addition to the registration fee.
Exceptional late registrations will be accepted until early February on payment of the exceptional late fee in addition to the registration fee. An exceptional late registration will only be accepted from candidates who have submitted their application to the CAO by February.
It will NOT be possible to register for HPAT - Ireland after registrations close in early February.
The graduate medicine entry route requires that you complete a degree first before applying for Medicine. This means studying hard for an additional 3 or 4 years (and paying the fees), to maintain high grades with no guarantee of getting into Medicine. So you will have exams for at least 7 years: three years of first degree and 4 years of condensed medical degree. Undergrad medicine, for eg at Monash, is far less stressful because in the first year they ease you in, and in final year you are working as an unpaid intern (so no exams).
You also need to sit a test called the GAMSAT, which is a six hour test (compare this with HPAT which is a three hour test) as well as doing well in the interview. The preparation courses for GAMSAT are also far more expensive, in the range of $1500 plus.
The GAMSAT has been described by most people as ‘the most horrible thing I've ever had to do in my life’. Do not make the mistake of thinking that if you do a Biomedicine or Biosciences degree, you will automatically be offered a place in Medicine, as some universities misleadingly make you believe. If you miss out on a place in Medicine, you may end up with a degree that is not useful for your future, and a waste of several years of your life.
The median age of students entering graduate medical programs in Australia is 25.4 years. By that age, you would have completed your medical degree and probably working as a Registrar in your chosen specialty if you choose the Year 12 entry (HPAT) route. Imagine entering medical school at 25 via graduate entry, then trying to study for the specialist training exams in your early thirties with a family to care for!
Further, when you apply through the graduate entry pathway, you can only apply to one university (with upto 6 preferences) and you will be interviewed only by one university. The universities have colluded to make it this way, so that it is less work for them and easier for them to select students (although it imposes harsh restrictions on aspiring doctors).
Some people think universities are education oriented organisations, but in reality they are massive businesses with annual income of each university around two billion dollars - they earn about $30,000 per year of study at university for each student they enrol (about $10,000 from you, and the rest from the government). This means that the longer you study at university, the better it is for them. This is the reason why some universities are moving towards graduate-entry medical programs. It is to increase universities' income, not because it is good for you! Furthermore, universities are prohibited from charging full fee for undergraduate medicine, but they can charge full fee for graduate medicine!
With the higher debts of graduate entry and the uncertainty of whether you will get into medicine, universities will be laughing all the way to the Bank, but you will end up in the classic wheel of borrowing to pay for a degree to get a job to pay off what you borrowed (if you don't get into medicine).
Some people feel that they want to go to so-called "prestigious" universities (eg. Sydney University) which offer only graduate medicine. However, unlike other disciplines such as law, in medicine it does not matter which university you graduate from.
Perhaps 15 years ago, when GAMSAT was new, it was easier than HPAT but now most medical students who sat both tests claim GAMSAT is harder. GAMSAT is getting much harder for several reasons (eg many professionals wanting to change careers, the 'late bloomers', many school leavers putting off the hard work and difficult decision).
Another important reason: It has been well documented that there is a general decline in psychometric test performance as a person advances in age. For eg, see "Socio-economic predictors of performance in the HPAT": Puddey and Mercer, BMC Medical education, 2013, 13:155. This shows that performance of candidates sitting HPAT between 16 years and 45 years consistently drops with age. So you are far better off sitting the test as early as possible (in year 12).
There are some HPAT sample questions you can try here. In the MedEntry HPAT workshop, numerous past HPAT sample questions will be discussed. The MedEntry OLP has thousands of HPAT sample questions for you to practice on.
When you purchase the MedEntry HPAT package, you will get numerous resources for you to use. You will also get additional recommended reading in the HPAT Courses. This is definitely much more than you need, if you use it properly. How to efficiently and effectively use these resources is also discussed in the HPAT workshops.
We also recommend that you obtain the ACER's practice material that you can buy when you register for HPAT.
Apart from these, we do not recommend any other courses or programs. There are some websites spruiking HPAT products which are scams, run by bankrupts etc. They are also likely to mislead you.
For more information on the HPAT, you can visit the ACER website at www.HPAT-ireland.acer.edu.au
We offer two main types of personalised tutoring:
- Face-to-face UCAT tutoring: This is available exclusively as part of the Diamond package, and is available in all major cities and towns across Ireland. If you are not enrolled in the Diamond Package and wish to access face to face HPAT tutoring, you can do so by upgrading to the Diamond Package.
- Virtual UCAT tutoring: This service can be added on to a Platinum or Online package, and is available across Ireland and the world.
You will receive a total of ten one hour sessions of one-on-one tutoring. Further HPAT tuition sessions can be arranged at additional cost. HPAT tutors will also be available for support via phone and email between sessions. The location and exact timing of the HPAT tutoring is negotiable between you and your HPAT tutor.
All our HPAT tutors have performed exceptionally well in HPAT (and often their Leaving Cert too), and have been trained by MedEntry.
If you enter medicine through the school leaver entry pathway, you can start studying medicine straight after 6th Year. Such a program is far better than doing a degree first, for several reasons.
The UMAT (Undergraduate Medical and Health sciences Admissions Test) is a test used in Australia for over 25 years for entry into medicine. It is the same as the HPAT in all aspects – purpose, content and form (however compared to the HPAT, there are more questions in the UMAT, and they are mixed). The UMAT is administered by the same organisation (Australian Council for Educational Research). MedEntry has been training students for UMAT since the inception of the test. The UMAT was changed to UCAT in 2018