My daughter missed out on medicine – will she have a better chance in 2021?

Ask Brian: The class of 2020 has more options to combine Leaving Cert grades with Hpat results

My daughter narrowly missed out on getting a place to study medicine last year after receiving her calculated grades. She sat the delayed Leaving Cert late last year and has now secured enough points with her improved grades – but hasn't received a new CAO offer. Where does she stand?

As you known, students who sat the postponed Leaving Cert at the end of last year may choose the highest combination of results from their calculated grades and the written exams.

In the case of medicine, improved results will be applied to students’ 2020 CAO accounts along with their 2020 Hpat scores.

The four universities that offer undergraduate medical places – UCD, NUI Galway, UCC, Trinity and RCSI –will then determine if that student would have received an offer based on the CAO points requirements in 2020.


If the answer is yes, students should have been contacted recently to offer a deferred place for September 2021.

But if a student secured the same CAO points score as that of the last candidate to secure an offer in 2020, the decision as to whether they will have received an offer or not may be based on whether their randomly generated CAO number is higher or lower than that of that last candidate who secured a place.

If having secured an upgrade, but not of sufficient magnitude to secure a deferred offer of a medical place for September 2021, any student in that position can now combine their current CAO points score with the outcome from the 2021 Hpat examination which takes place this weekend.

Students can use this total score going into open competition for a place in round one of the 2021 CAO offer season.

Students who were happy with their calculated grades awarded in September 2020 but who failed to secure an undergraduate medical place offer in that year due to a poor Hpat score, can also combine the CAO points secured through their 2020 calculated grades with the result of the 2021 Hpat competition. This combined score will be their total going into the round one competition this September.

Calculated grades

Some students are repeating the Leaving Cert in 2021 having received calculated grades in 2020. These students cannot combine the results from both Leaving Cert exams. Their application will be judged on the basis of their 2021 Hpat score plus their 2021 Leaving Cert result or their 2020 calculated grades result, whichever is the higher.

Following the release of the 2021 Hpat results – traditionally released on the day of the last written Leaving Cert paper at the end of June – 2021 CAO applicants can judge the likelihood of receiving an offer of an undergraduate medical place, prior to finalising their list of CAO course choices by the July 1st deadline.