James McDermott and Matthew Sadlier: The study of medicine needs to go back to the future

Next weekend, the Health Professions Admissions Test will be taken by thousands of students who want to study medicine. But can a stressful multiple-choice written exam really predict suitability for the profession?

14th February, 2021
James McDermott and Matthew Sadlier: The study of medicine needs to go back to the future
The HPAT is a two and a half hour multiple choice test with questions in three sections. Picture: Getty

The difficult negotiations between education stakeholders to see if traditional written exams can return for Leaving Certificate 2021 are ongoing. But almost entirely overlooked is the fact that next weekend, several thousand sixth year students will actually sit a written exam crucial to their future career options.

The test in question is the Health Professions Admissions Test, or HPAT, a specialised admission test for medicine which was first introduced in 2009 following the publication of a...

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