MEDICAL education has been transformed by the Health Profession Admission Test (HPAT), which allows all Leaving Cert students with more than 480 points to apply for medicine, writes LOUISE HOLDEN

Under the old system, only those scoring very high Leaving Cert points (in the region of 570) were guaranteed entry to medicine.

Former education minister Mary Hanafin hailed the new system when it was unveiled three years ago. From now on, she said, students would no longer need a “perfect Leaving Cert” to enter medicine.

Under the new system, all students with more than 480 points can apply. Entry is decided by a combination of your CAO points and your result in the HPAT.

Essentially, the test, which examines spatial and logical reasoning, problem-solving and interpersonal skills, allows candidates with lower scores in the Leaving Cert to make up the difference and get into medicine. On the flip side, high CAO scorers who perform poorly on the HPAT are kept out.

The introduction of the test has whipped up a flurry of debate.

Students are caught in the middle. The following is an objective guide to the exam that 3,000 Irish students will sit in February 2010. >>>>

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