Topic: CAO System

The Helpdesk team answer your queries on the CAO system


CAO SYSTEM: If I am offered my second choice I will accept. However if the points drop sufficiently for my first choice in the second round will I receive an offer and can I accept although I have already accepted my second option.

Yes if you get your 2nd choice and accept it in round 1 all your higher choices may be offered to you in round 2 - regardless of whether you accepted your round 1 place or not.

If you do accept your 2nd choice in round 1 and then get offered your top choice in round 2 you can actually stick with the first one you accepted or give that up in favour of your top choice in round 2.

CAO SYSTEM: If you resit the leaving can you carry forward any points from the 1st one

Unfortunately not. Points can only be calculated from a single sitting of the Leaving Certificate, so that means if you resit the Leaving Cert you cannot combine both Leaving Certificates to calculate your points. If you are repeating the Leaving Cert you need to take at least 6 subjects as obviously your top 6 subjects are used to calculate your points.

When someone repeats the Leaving Certificate it is important that both exam numbers are given to CAO on the application form so that the points total for both Leaving Certs can be calculated and the best used.

It is possible however to combine Leaving Certs to meet entry requirements. So for example if you fail maths it is possible to just repeat maths the following year and combine it with the previous Leaving Cert to meet college entry requirements. But the points total from the 1st Leaving Cert stay unchanged.

CAO SYSTEM: What’s the best way to deal with CAO offers?

Decisions on applications are normally taken in August when the CAO gets the results from the State Examinations Commission. All offers of places are sent by post. A “Reply Date” will be printed on Offer Notices. If you want to accept an offer, you must do so by 5:15pm on the “Reply Date” printed on the Offer Notice. In addition, offers will be available online at the CAO website and you can accept your course there also. You will have a number of days to make up your mind about your offers so don’t rush making a decision, but do make sure to respond before the reply date or you could loose your offers.

You may receive two offers - one from level 6/7 and one from level 8. You can only accept one. On each list, you will be offered a place in the highest of your course preferences to which you are entitled because of your points (if any).

Again on each list, when you have been offered a place in one of your course preferences, effectively all course preferences below it disappear and you will not be offered a place on these courses. This means that you can hope to move up in your order of preference lists (if places become available in the next rounds) but not down. If you become entitled to a higher preference place you will be offered this in the next round. Whether you accept the first offer or not you will still be offered the higher preference place and you decide whether to stick with your first offer or accept the higher preference offer. You make the choice.

So because of the above the advice would generally be to accept one of your courses in round one so that you are guaranteed something. If they are not your 1st preferences you can hope to move up the list in the next rounds. If you do not accept anything in round one you may not be made any other offers and may be left with no offers.

The important thing to remember is that by accepting a lower preference place in round one does not mean it’s all over, you will still remain in the running for a higher preference place in the next rounds and you decide whether to accept that higher place or stay with what you have been previously offered in round one.

CAO SYSTEM: My son only got 330 points and falls short of his choices. Will there be opportunities for him given that he won’t get an offer on Mon next?

While he might not reach the points necessary, you won’t know for sure until Monday.

If he does not get an offer in round 1, he may get an offfer in round 2 if offers are rejected and put back into the system for other appliacnts to get in round 2. So he may still have a chance.

If that doesn’t seem likely, he could consider PLC courses as a way to pursue his interests and use them as a progression route the following year. Check out this link: See the FETAC website for more info on progression and the Pilot scheme and the LINKS scheme. Some colleges allow students enter using their FETAC results and some even keep reserved places for them, which are alloocated based on a merit system if more students apply than places exist. There are always alternatives to consider, so tell him to take heart and begin researching the PLC courses and make contact with the colleges to see if they have places.