Irish Times CAO 2016 podcast

Prospective students and their parents submit queries on college applications process

Several posters queried how the latest points allocations had been arrived at by the Central Applications Office (CAO). Photograph: Getty Images

Helpdesk guidance counsellors Deirdre Garrett and Brian Howard have been busy dealing with queries from students and their parents about last week's Leaving Cert results and round one CAO offers issued on Monday.

The counsellors who are members of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC) answered questions across a range of topics from those who failed maths to students who had issues with Dare and Irish/third language exemptions.

"From the very beginning, those who failed maths featured prominently," said Mr Howard, a career counsellor in Newbridge College, Co Kildare.

Mr Howard and Ms Garrett discuss the issues raised with the online helpdesk in a podcast embedded in this article.


“Those who failed were seeking advice and guidance on what their options were. There is still some confusion over how this year’s higher E will be treated next year when the new grading system comes into operation.”

“We hope that further clarification would emerge in the coming weeks on this matter,” he added.

“The best advice for those who failed maths this year would be to consider a repeat at either higher or ordinary level given that you can combine Leaving Certs for the purpose of meeting entry requirements.”

Disappointed students who felt they may have come close to scoring a higher grade in some subjects posted questions about the rechecking of scripts.

“We received a number of queries around viewing and rechecking of scripts and the subsequent effect an upgrade would have on the college courses they are offered ”.

“If you think your mark is marginal, our first advice would be to view your script and if you are borderline to moving up a grade we would advise you check your scripts,” said Mr Howard.

Several posters queried how the latest points allocations had been arrived at by the Central Applications Office (CAO).

"The three factors that determine the points allocation are firstly, the number of places made available by the institution, secondly, the number of applicants that apply, and thirdly the points that these candidates have," said Ms Garrett, a guidance counsellor at St Paul's, Monasterevin.

“If an institution makes 60 places available, the cut-off points for the course will be the CAO points of the 60th lowest-scoring person,” said Ms Garrett.

A number of posters also queried their CAO offers and their Higher Education Access Route (Hear) and Disability Access Route to Education (Dare) places.

“There is a misconception out there that if you are eligible under the Dare or Hear scheme that you are going to automatically qualify for 50 or 60 point reduction for courses but this is not the case,” said Mr Howard.

“The students have to take the time and ensure that all neccessary forms be it their HEAR or DARE as well as Irish exemptions are filled out and also be knowledgabe with regard to the minimum entry requirements of each course they apply for,” added Ms Garrett.

Students have until 5.15pm on August 29th to submit their Round One acceptances. Round Two offers will be available online at from 6am on September 1st.

Wednesday’s helpdesk will run from 9am to 1pm and can be accessed from