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Due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Leaving Certificate Examinations have been cancelled. Many students are wondering how this will affect HPAT and medical entry in 2020. This blog answers some common questions.


What is the new system of Calculated Grades?

The Calculated Grades system has been selected to provide Leaving Certificate 2020 students with the ability to progress to third level education or to begin work. The grades will be calculated from a combination of a school-based estimate and data available on past performance of students in each school and nationally. This allows a standardisation to give students as fair a grade as possible in each subject. More information on this system is available here:


Will the new grades system affect points for medicine in 2020? 

It is difficult to know if and how the new grades system will affect points for medicine. The grades will be generated using a systematic statistical model in order to ensure students who sat the Leaving Certificate in previous years are not disadvantaged when applying to university in 2020. As is the case every year, grades in the Leaving Certificate are adjusted to allow for consistent results each year and fairness between years, where candidates will have sat different examinations.

As there will be a similar process this year, it is likely that there will not be a large effect on the points for courses, including medicine. However, as always, there can be fluctuation from year to year on the points required for medicine depending on the demand for each course and how applicants perform in the HPAT and Leaving Certificate. In this respect, this year is no different.


What if I get a lower than expected Leaving Certificate result? 

If you are disappointed in your calculated grades when you receive them in August, there will be an appeals process available to students. Stage 1 of the appeals process will involve checks on the data, ensuring the process was completed correctly by your school and confirming the data was correctly transferred to the Department of Education. If the student receives an improved CAO place following this stage, they may be able to take up their place in the 2020/2021 academic year.

Stage 2 of the appeal process allows students to seek a review by Independent Appeal Scrutineers. Stage 3 allows students the option to sit the written examinations later in the year when it is safe for them to be carried out. If the student receives an improved CAO offer from Stage 2 or Stage 3 of the appeals process, the student will receive a deferred college place for 2021/2022 academic year.


When will HPAT results be released? 

HPAT-Ireland results will be released in mid-June 2020 and all candidates will be informed via email when they are made available, as is the case each year.


When will medicine offers be released? 

Calculated grades and CAO offers are planned to be provided to candidates as close as possible to normal timelines (usually released in August) to allow students to take up offers before the start of the new academic year.


What if I don’t get into medicine this year? 

If you do not get into medicine this year, you have a number of options. If you are happy with your HPAT results but disappointed with your calculated grades, you will have the opportunity to appeal these or sit the Leaving Certificate when it is held at a later date. As was discussed above, you may receive an improved CAO offer to begin university in 2020/21 or a deferred offer for the 2021/22 academic year. Advice from universities so far is that if you receive a deferred offer for the 2021/22 academic year, you will not need to re-sit HPAT.

If you are happy with your calculated grades but disappointed in your HPAT results you can apply to re-sit HPAT in February 2021 and reapply for CAO for the following academic year.

If you are disappointed with both your HPAT results and calculated grades you can apply to re-sit HPAT in 2021 and appeal your calculated grades.

Remember there are many pathways for entering medicine in Ireland. If you are truly motivated, you will achieve success.


How will this situation affect medical entry? 

Calculated grades will be used to determine CAO offers for third level courses in 2020. Entry to undergraduate medicine will be decided in the same way to previous years: via a combination of HPAT results and Leaving Cert points (calculated grades).


When will University begin for the 2020/2021 academic year?

The date third level course will begin in 2020 has not yet been confirmed. According to the Department of Education college will probably commence in late September or early October.


What should I do now?

This change in exams is a big shock to many students who have spent the last two years working towards the conventional Leaving Certificate. Some will feel relief that there is finally certainty regarding the Leaving Certificate while some may be concerned their calculated grades may not correctly reflect how they would have performed in the conventional Leaving Certificate.

At this stage there is not much you can do until Calculated Grades and HPAT results are released. Our suggestion would be to take a well-deserved break from the stresses of study and dealing with the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic. We can imagine that the last few weeks have been incredibly difficult and uncertain for you. Take some time to connect with family and friends (virtually if necessary), rediscover old hobbies and relax.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the MedEntry team – we are here to help!

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