This year’s Leaving Cert students will have to wait just 48 hours after they get their exam results to find out if they have a college place.
Up until now, thousands of students have faced the agony of a five-day wait after their results to see if they secured a CAO offer.
However, following changes aimed at speeding up the appeals process for Leaving Cert grades, CAO offers will be given the day after the State exam results.
The reforms mean students are due to receive their Leaving Cert results this year on Tuesday, 13th August.
This will be followed by the release of CAO offers at 2pm on Thursday, 15th August – four days earlier than in previous years.
The new schedule will also allow the State Examinations Commission (SEC) to offer quicker appeals.
This fast-track timeline sets the ground for the release of Leaving Cert appeal results in the week beginning 16th September, three weeks earlier than last year.
This means students who challenge an exam result will be informed of the outcome of their appeal earlier than in previous years.
This would allow upgraded students take up a college course in September, rather than having to defer their offer by a year.
High Court case
The move follows last year's High Court case taken by Wexford student Rebecca Carter.
She successfully argued that her rights were being infringed by having to defer taking up her offer of veterinary medicine at UCD by a year following an upgrade of her results.
Minister for Education Joe McHugh said the accelerated timeline was a significant step in improving the Leaving Cert appeals and college entry process for the benefit of students.
“We are helping to put the best interests and wellbeing of students first,” he said.
“We have learned from past experiences and I hope faster offers and appeals will help to ease one layer of anxiety around progressing to third level.”
Minister of State for higher education Mary Mitchell O’Connor said students who appeal their Leaving Cert results and are subsequently offered a place in higher education will now be in a position to start their course without undue delay.
She said higher education institutions and the CAO have worked closely with their colleagues in the State Examinations Commission to deliver these changes.
To speed up the correcting of exams, examiners will mark scripts on a full-time basis rather than only at evenings and weekends.
While the appeals process in previous years took about eight weeks from the date results were issued until appeals results were notified, the new measures will reduce that process to five weeks.
In the longer term, it is anticipated that the planned movement from a paper-based marking system to an online model over the next three years could further improve the appeals timeframe.