CAO help: I didn’t get enough points for my course – what now?

A selection of questions asked of our guidance counsellors Brian Howard and Deirdre Garrett

There are many options available to students who failed to get their desired number of points. Photograph: Alan Betson

There are many options available to students who failed to get their desired number of points. Photograph: Alan Betson


My son wanted to do commerce in UCD but has fallen short on the points. Are there other level 7 courses (PLCs/other colleges) that he should explore so that he might be in a position to transfer to commerce next year?

Yes. Commerce is part of the FETAC Higher Education Links Scheme and hence has 7 places set aside for applicants coming in through the PLC route. The PLC course that is linked to it is as below and you can see the module information for that course that must be met. If you go to the PLC search tool here you can enter business studies in the search box and find a number of PLC colleges that offer this course.

My son was offered his second choice but it’s not really what he wants to do. He is thinking of doing a one year PLC course and trying again next year. If he declines the course offer can he re-apply in 2018 using this year’s Leaving Cert points?

Yes he can. He should see if there is a PLC course that offers a progression route onto his dream course.

Our son got 433 points but missed his first choice, law in Dublin Institute of Technology, by one point. He was offered law in Maynooth but wants DIT. He has a PLC which offers the option of DIT next year. We presume he won’t get DIT on the second round for law. Any advice?

It’s the same qualification just recognised by a different institution. Location is probably what is drawing him towards DIT. I can understand this. It’s a personal choice at the end of the day.

A PLC would introduce him to Law and get him work experience in the area. He will be able to make a more informed decision after studying it at further education level.

If I am ten points short on the first round, do I have a chance to get my place on the second round?

Yes. If the points fall by ten you would now be eligible for a CAO offer. You must meet the minimum requirements as well as the CAO cut off points before an offer can be made.

What colleges will offer places in round two will depend on the uptake of candidates for offered places in round one.

We will only know this information next Monday.

My daughter listed Law as her first three choices on her CAO but didn’t get the points, she got 495. She has been offered her fourth but is more interested in her fifth, which hasn’t been offered. What can she do?

Unfortunately, if she has been offered her fourth preference then all the lower preferences are now gone and she will not be offered any of them even if she has the points. You can always hope to move up your list of preferences but not down. So in this case your daughter will not be getting an offer of her fifth preference at any time. If she accepts her fourth then at least she has one course and in the future she may be offered something higher and she can accept that if she wishes. There is no guarantee she will be offered anything else in the next rounds so she should consider carefully accepting her fourth preference.