Grades are in, now for the tricky bit

CAO offers will be made on Monday. What can you expect to happen next, and how do you handle it?

Now, the next step: once you have got over the initial excitement of seeing your grades in print, your mind will turn to your CAO points score

Now, the next step: once you have got over the initial excitement of seeing your grades in print, your mind will turn to your CAO points score


For the vast majority of the class of 2014, the results you have achieved in your Leaving Cert, which will be handed to you by your former school principal early this morning, are the culmination of years of hard work. So no matter what grades you achieve in your subjects, they are the fruits of many yearsof sudy and should be celebrated as such.

If, because of the lack of commitment to your studies, you feel your results in some subject or subjects are not a fair reflection of your work, you now have options (see page 10 of this supplement).

For the 80 per cent of you who have applied for a college place through the CAO application process, once you have got over the initial excitement of seeing your grades in print, your mind will turn to your CAO points score.

You’re likely to only do this exercise once in a lifetime and it is easy to get it wrong and cause yourself and your parents unnecessary anxiety and distress. So take a few minutes away from the excitement and carefully determine your CAO points score. You should have a points chart to hand and your teachers or guidance counsellor will help you make sure that your calculations are correct.

Remember, you count the best six scores you’ve achieved across all subjects, plus your LCVP result if you took this module. If you have secured a D3 or greater in higher level maths, you add 25 to the normal points score attached to the grade you achieved.

There are some slight variations in how points are calculated by some third-level colleges and all such variations are clearly outlined in the CAO handbook. If you cannot find your copy it is online at

When your points score is calculated, you can apply it to the courses you have listed on your CAO application. The points requirements for these programmes last year are listed on pages 7-9 of this supplement as a rough guide to assist you in identifying which programmes you may be offered next Monday morning. Be aware this is not an exact science as points for all programmes increase and decrease annually, as the demand among applicants and the number of places offered by each college can change from year to year.

Furthermore, many places on the programmes you are interested in have already been allocated. In the past six weeks, the CAO offered places and received acceptances from over 8,000 of this year’s CAO applicants. These include applicants over 23, those who deferred a place in 2013 and reapplied for it this year, and those who have sought a place on the basis of a Fetac award, through a PLC programme taken last year.

Also being offered places next Monday are those with awards other than the Irish Leaving Cert, mainly school-leavers who have taken Northern Ireland or UK-based A-levels, and other EU end-of-school exams. Colleges now also offer a growing number of places to applicants from outside the EU at full fees, as a means of generating additional funding for courses.

Furthermore, some of you will get an offer of a college place on lower points than those published next Monday because the CAO has been instructed to offer you a place by a specific college based on a successful Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) or Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) application, or on the basis of a scholarship programme, predominantly, but not exclusively, in a designated sport.

For all other applicants your success or otherwise in securing an offer on a specific course will be decided when the admission officers representing all the colleges meet in the CAO offices in Galway on Friday. They will know exactly how many places on each course have already been spoken for through the processes above, and how many more to offer to the remaining applicants.

Once the CAO knows the number of places for every course on offer, it enters that data into its computer system to determine what offers are made to you online at 6am on Monday. Until then, neither CAO officials nor college admissions officers know the points required to secure the last available place on offer in this round. Tables of the points scores of the last person to secure an offer on each course will be published in the Irish Times College Choice education supplement next Monday.

If there are more applicants with the same points than there are remaining places on offer, the CAO computer will generate a random number for each of these applicants and those holding the highest numbers numerically will be offered the available places. When this occurs an asterisk (*) appears beside the printed points score in the published charts.

If, following a week’s reflection, some applicants decide not to accept the course they’ve been offered or choose to defer acceptance for a year, the colleges may reissue these places in round-two offers. Alternatively, most colleges build in an anticipated non-acceptance rate into their initial offers and may choose to make no further offers on most programmes in round-two.

When will I know

I am getting an offer from the CAO? At 6am next Monday, the CAO will place all offers live on Each applicant has an individual CAO application number to enable them to access their own CAO file. The CAO also posts the offers to arrive in each candidate’s home on Monday morning. You will have a week to accept a place; online or by post.

If the postal system is being used, students are advised to get a certificate of postage from the post office (forms are printed on the inside back cover of the CAO handbook). If accepting online, students must print off a receipt of their acceptance before ending their online session with CAO.

How do I apply for deferral?

Individual colleges – not the CAO – deal with requests for deferrals. If you wish to defer a place offered to you on Monday, you must immediately write to the college setting out your reason for seeking a deferral. Write “deferred entry” clearly on the envelope and attach to the letter the appropriate part of the offer notice, that is, showing the offer you wish to have deferred. The request must arrive at the relevant college by Friday, August 22nd. The college will let you know its decision immediately. Most colleges offer deferrals when requested to do so by a student.

Will I disqualify myself from other offers, if I accept /refuse any offer I

receive next Monday? No. You are entitled to be offered any place that

becomes available, higher up your order of preference on either of the two lists. Whether you have accepted a place in another course or not is irrelevant, you will be offered the new place anyway. If you choose to accept the new offer, you will simply have any registration fees you paid to the first college transferred to the second one.

Can I be offered a place

on a course I have not applied for but now want? You can do this only if vacancies for the course are advertised

on This happens if the original list of qualified applicants to the CAO is exhausted, or if a college has offered a new course since July 1st. Check you meet the minimum entry requirements before you place any vacant place course on your existing list of choices.

Do I have to pay a fee when returning my acceptance to CAO, if I am offered a place next Monday?

No payment is required

with the acceptance of a CAO offer. The college will send out any bills for tuition fees separately. All enquiries about such fees should be directed to the fees office of the college offering the place, not to the CAO. Students will, however, have to pay charges when they register at their new college.

If I feel my result in any subject is not a fair reflection of my work, and am successful in appealing my grade, how will that effect any offer I hope to receive from the CAO?

The State Examinations Commission will automatically notify the CAO in mid-October, in the event of a successful appeal of any grade you receive this morning. Following that, you will be contacted regarding any new offer a course this upgrade may entitle you to.

In most cases, upgrades happen four-six weeks after courses start. Many colleges may offer the option to take up the place immediately, although due to the size of the existing class group, some courses may not offer you a place this year. If you want any new place offered but cannot get in this year, you can accept the place as a deferred entry for next year.

The most important point for deferred entry students to remember is that they have to apply to the CAO again by February 1st, 2015. They should place the deferred course as their only choice on the application form in 2015, in order to take the place.

Access to

exam results for those who do not collect them from their school. Results are available on

line and by phone from midday today, Wednesday, August 13th. Access to the online results service, which requires the candidate’s examination number and unique candidate Personal Identification Number (PIN), is through

Candidates can also access their results by telephone using their PIN and examination numbers. Details are on 1530-716016 for callers within the State (33c per minute, pay phones and mobiles may cost extra). Telephone 00-353-1-6885312 from outside the State. If your results are not what you expected, it may be time for a recheck. See Brian Mooney on page 10

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