Key dates for your CAO applications

Timeline for the 2018 college application process


January 20th, 2018 (5.15 pm): Closing date for the CAO early-bird on-line applications. A fee of €30 applies before this date and increases then to €45, until February 1st.

Registration date for HPAT-Ireland 2018 (fee €135). Late registrations (€205) until February 1st, 5.15pm. An exceptional late registration fee €240 applies until February 3rd, 5.15pm.

The HPAT test takes place in centres around the country on Saturday, February 24th.

HPAT-Ireland is also required for entry into the MSc Occupational Therapy and MSc Speech and Language Therapy (both professional qualifications) at UL) fee €160.

February 1st (5.15pm): Closing date for normal applications to the CAO, for entry to all first-year undergraduate courses. People applying for restricted application courses (those with early assessments such as interviews or portfolio assessment) must list any such course on their CAO application by this date.

February 5th: Online facility to amend course choices becomes available for a late fee of €10 until March 1st.

February-April: Interviews and portfolio presentations for restricted application courses in colleges throughout the country during this period. Following these assessments, applicants learn if they are approved for consideration for a place on each programme. Marks are awarded in many cases, which are added to an applicant’s CAO points score in August, to determine offers of places.

March 1st (5.15pm): This is the final date for CAO applicants to complete the online forms under the HEAR (Higher Education Access Route) and/or DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) schemes.

HEAR is an admissions route for school-leavers who for social, financial or cultural reasons are under-represented at third level. DARE is a supplementary admissions scheme offering places on reduced points to school-leavers with a designated disability. All supporting documentation for HEAR or DARE must be supplied to the CAO by post by April 1st (5.15 pm).

Before Easter: The State Examinations Commission’s (SEC) Leaving Cert oral tests in Irish, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Japanese, take place in all second-level schools.

Late April: Results are released for UL and mature applicants who sat the HPAT undergraduate medical entry aptitude test on February 24th.

May 1st (5.15 pm): Closing date for late CAO applications. The fee for an online application up to this date is €60. After this no further applications will be accepted for the 2018 academic year.

May 5th: The CAO change-of-mind facility opens . Candidates get a statement of application record by post before the end of May, listing all details supplied by applicants to date. Inform the CAO if you do not receive it, or if there are any errors on this form.

June 6th: Leaving Certificate written examinations begin, and continue until Friday 22nd.

June 25th: Applicants under 23 who sat the HPAT test on February 24th receive results to enable them to factor these marks into their final consideration of course choices before July 1st CAO deadline.

July 1st (5.15pm): Final date for any amendments to course choices and order of preference on all CAO applications for entry to college in September 2018. The vast majority of current year Leaving Cert applicants make their final course choice decisions/amendments during this “Change of Mind” period in May-June each year.

First week of July: Initial CAO offers. The CAO makes more than 6,000 offers to mature (over-23) applicants, and to applicants who accepted and then deferred places in 2017.

These offers are made by post and online on, and remain open for a week. Mature and deferred applicants who may be away from home should ensure any offer in early July is dealt with, as offers lapse if not accepted within a week.

July 22nd: An exceptional closing date for current third-level students who wish to drop out of their current college course and re-apply for a new list of choices through the CAO (€60 fee). More than 300 students exercised this option in 2017.

Early August: Round Zero offers. More than 2,000 places on courses are offered to applicants presenting further education awards and to an additional cohort of mature applicants. Applicants for graduate medicine are also offered places in this round. Offers are open for one week.

August 15th: The State Examinations Commission (SEC) delivers 2018 Leaving Cert results to more than 700 schools, and makes them available through a secure online service at from noon. Full analysis of the results in Irish Times supplement.

August 20th: The CAO releases round one offers to candidates online at 6 am. Offer notices posted to candidates to arrive on this date. Minimum points required for entry to each course are available on the CAO website from 6am and are printed in full in that day’s Irish Times first round college offers supplement.

August 21st: Leaving Cert students who are unhappy with a grade and wish to view their marked exam scripts in their school must return the application forms, in their Leaving Cert results envelope, to their school by this date. There is no charge for viewing your marked exam scripts.

August 24th (5.15 pm): Closing date for receipt of acceptance of CAO round one offers.

August 29th: Round 2 Offers will be available online on Wednesday, 29th August. The minimum points required for entry to each course are released on the CAO website at 10am.

August 31st (5.15 pm): Closing date for receipt of acceptance of CAO round two offers. Final date for receipt by the SEC of Leaving Cert appeal applications. A fee of €40 per subject applies, which is refunded in the case of an upgrade.

August 31st-September 1st: Students, along with one person of their choice, can view their scripts in school. The scripts cannot be viewed by anyone else unless the student is present.Mid-October: Results of Leaving Cert appeals released by the SEC. Final offers of places by the CAO will be made up to October 17th.