Attention turns to final rounds of CAO

Brian Mooney: The CAO’s Available Places facility has almost 200 courses advertised

Leaving Cert 2020 applicants who have not to date secured one of their preferred CAO places can now apply to  sit the examination.

Leaving Cert 2020 applicants who have not to date secured one of their preferred CAO places can now apply to sit the examination.


Some 41,681 CAO applicants have accepted a Level 8 CAO offer to-date, 2,518 more acceptances than at this stage in 2019.

These additional places were created under the “Human Capital” programme in science and technology, and through the additional places funded through the action of Minister Harris’s initiative in the days running up to round one CAO offers in the 1st week of September.

A total of 1,923 Level 8 offers, and 1,032 Level 7/6 offers, were made today to 2,630 CAO applicants in this round while 1,098 applicants received an offer for the first time.

Of the recipients of Level 8 offers, 883 received an offer of their first preference course; for Level 7/6 offer recipients a total of 874 applicants’ first preference offers were received.

One offer resulted in the withdrawal of a High Court challenge over this year’s grades. Martha Woods, who had contested the fairness of the manner in which grades were standardised received a Round 2 offer of a place in Dentistry in UCC, and along with all other recipients of an offer in the latest round, she now has until noon on Friday confirm her decision with the CAO.

For those still hoping for a place there will now be a sequence of further rounds of weekly offers of places through the CAO, but the places on offer will be very small in number.

Round Three will be issued on October 1st and Round Four will be issued a week later on October 8th. The date for the final round, Round Five, has yet to be confirmed.

The Available Places facility has almost 200 courses advertised. The facility is free to existing applicants, and open to new applications for a fee of €45. See for more information.

Applicants who have not secured one of their preferred CAO places can now, if they wish, apply to the examinations branch of the Department of Education and Skills to sit the examination in November. They can opt to sit one or a number of subjects when the examination takes place.

Covid19 permitting, the postponed 2020 Leaving Cert exams are due to take place during the evening time and at weekends from Monday, November 16th onwards.

The exam format will remain unchanged from previous years although marks will not be available for oral language or music performance tests .

If a 2020 Leaving Cert student secures a higher grade than they were awarded through the assessed grade process which brings their CAO points total to or above the level required to secure a place as published by the CAO today or in the coming weeks if points reduce further, they will be offered the opportunity to start into this course in September 2021.

If they secure a lower grade than they currently hold they will retain their assessed grade.

Further education (FE) colleges are still offering some places in the coming days on level 5 programmes which link into reserved CAO places on many high points courses in 2021. Applications directly to the college in question. Course details on