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What is the HPAT Ireland exam?


So, you’re thinking about studying medicine as an undergraduate. That’s great! But wait, now you hear that you must sit an admissions test called the HPAT as well as your Leaving Certificate! What is it all about?

Let’s start with what it is…

The HPAT-Ireland is an admissions test used to assist with the selection of students into medicine. This exam measures several things in candidates including logical reasoning, problem solving skills and non-verbal reasoning as well as the ability to understand the thoughts, behaviours and/or intentions of people.

Ok, but why was it introduced?

There are several reasons that this undergraduate entry test to Medicine was introduced. It was aimed at curtailing the ‘points race’ and the need to attain a near perfect Leaving Cert Exam score. Since the HPAT®-Ireland exam was introduced, students require a reduced number of points from their Leaving Certificate Exam.

Another reason is that Universities felt that certain qualities such as problem solving, interpersonal understanding and analytical skills, which are deemed necessary for the medical profession to carry out their duties, were not adequately assessed in the Leaving Cert Exam. As a result, the HPAT-Ireland exam was designed by ACER to help assess these skills.

So, what courses require the HPAT-Ireland?

National University of Ireland, Galway – Undergraduate Medicine

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Undergraduate Medicine

Trinity College Dublin – Undergraduate Medicine

University College Cork – Undergraduate Medicine

University College Dublin – Undergraduate Medicine

University of Limerick – MSc Occupational Therapy

University of Limerick – MSc Speech and Language Therapy

How are the entry points to medicine calculated?

A student’s leaving certificate scores are combined with their HPAT score to make up the points needed for entry into medicine.

How long is the HPAT exam and who can sit it?

The exam is approximately 2.5 hours long and only students with a CAO number can sit the official exam.

What about the exam itself? What does the HPAT consist of?

It consists of 3 Aptitude Tests (3 Sections). These include Logical Reasoning, Interpersonal Understanding and Non-Verbal Reasoning. The exam is a paper-based exam with a multiple-choice format. Section 1 is made up of a variety of question types including scientific case studies, graphs, diagrammatic puzzles and more. Section 2 provides a series of text passages, narratives and dialogues. Students must draw conclusions about the thoughts and feelings of characters in the passages. Section 3 involves finding patterns in a series of shapes.

So, there you have it, hopefully this has given you a good overview of the HPAT and what it is about.

How do I prepare for the HPAT?

Preparation is important for this exam. See how you can be best prepared here with our dedicated HPAT section.

But wait, I have more questions about the HPAT, like what is the scoring process? How do I register for the exam?

If you have more questions about the HPAT you can also find out more on our dedicated website section for the HPAT here or simply contact us with any questions on 028-22977 or

Find out more