I go to school in the North. Can I apply to the CAO?
Ask Brian: Entry is based on a candidate’s scores for their best four subjects
Irish higher-education institutions accept A-levels, though candidates should be careful to ensure all required paperwork is completed properly. Photograph: iStock
We live in Monaghan and my daughter goes to school across the border in Northern Ireland. She will be taking her A-levels soon and intends to apply to the CAO. She is unsure how her A-level results will be considered for entry purposes. Can you help?
Your daughter’s situation reflects the reality of border life, which may become far more complex depending on the outcome of the Brexit dilemma.
In relation to her application to Irish universities and some colleges, she will be scored based on her best four A-levels or three A-levels and an AS-level in a different subject from the same or preceding year. The maximum number of points that can be achieved is 600.
If she is presenting a grade E or above in one of A-level mathematics, further mathematics or pure mathematics, she will have 25 points added to her score for that subject. The bonus points will only be relevant where that subject is scored as one of her best four subjects for points purposes. This gives a maximum possible score of 625.
In relation to institutes of technology (other than Dundalk Institute of Technology) and other colleges, she will be scored based on a maximum of four different subject results at A- and/or AS-level.
For scoring purposes, the following combination of A-levels and AS-levels are permitted: the best four A-level results in a single sitting; the best three A-level results in a single sitting, plus the best AS-level result from the previous or the same sitting; the best two A-level subject results in a single sitting, plus the best two results at AS-level from the previous or the same sitting; the best one A-level subject result in a single sitting, plus the best three results at AS-level from the previous or the same sitting; or the best four AS-level subject results in a single sitting.
When completing her CAO application, evidence of GCSE examinations must be supplied in order to meet minimum entry requirements. AS-levels must be in different subjects to those taken at A-level.
When sending documents, certified photocopies of certificates/statements of results produced by the Northern Ireland examination board must be supplied to the CAO well in advance of round one offers – school transcripts will not be accepted.
Your daughter must also advise the CAO of any previous AS- and A-level awards and provide certified photocopies of certificates/statements of results produced by her examining board to support her application.
The CAO advises GCE applicants to discuss their AS-level certification process with their school. AS-level results are frequently cashed in along with A2-level results in the final year. As a result, she will not have evidence of her AS-level results until the release of her A2-level results in August.
In this instance, the CAO will expect to receive electronic notification of the AS-level results provided she has supplied her correct board, centre number and candidate number for all subjects that will be cashed in, in August 2020.
If her school cashes in AS-level results in the same year as A-level results, she must enter the remaining AS-level subject carried forward on her CAO application. She must use the space provided for ‘Examinations to be taken’ in the Qualifications & Assessments section.