So I finally have my points - what next?


After all the waiting, you have your results. Now read our Q&A and put those points to work

Q. What should I bring with me this morning when I collect my Leaving Certificate result?

A. You should bring the CAO points calculator published in today’s Irish Times. This will allow you to calculate your points score accurately. The points required for entry into all courses will be published in The Irish Times in next Monday’s CAO supplement. These points will determine whether you will be offered any of your course choices, in the order you listed them.

Last year’s points requirements, published in today’s Leaving Certificate supplement, provide a good overall guide to this year’s entry requirements. However, there is always some up and down movement in points requirements, depending on the popularity of particular courses.

Q. How do I calculate my points score?

A. This is the first thing you will do when you open your results envelope this morning.

Remember, you can only use the results of your best six subject grades. This process is not as simple as it seems. Not all colleges operate to the same points system.

A growing number of colleges, particularly Institutes of Technology, offer some points for Grades A and B in foundation level Maths and Irish. At the other end of the spectrum, 25 bonus points for higher-level maths are awarded from this year by all colleges to those who secured a minimum of a D3. Consult your CAO handbook for details of all points variations.

Q. What happens next?

A. Before this weekend, the various college admissions officers will inform the CAO of how many places to offer on each course. Some places have already been offered and accepted in Round A at the beginning of July and in Round Zero at the beginning of August. Students who had deferred a place from 2011, 2012 mature applicants and those students who secured a place reserved for those holding Fetac level five awards were offered places in that round.

Colleges are like airlines in some ways in that they will offer more places than they want acceptances because they know there will always be those who do not take up a place offered.

Deciding on the number of offers to make to achieve the correct number of acceptances on each course is probably the most important decision taken by admissions officers each year.

Once they make this decision for each course on offer, the number of places available to this year’s applicants is fed into the CAO computer system.

The places are offered to applicants ranked by points order, according to their preferences, on level 8 (honours degree), level 7 (ordinary degree), or level 6 (higher certificate) lists.

The points of the last student offered a place will be published by The Irish Times next Monday, as the minimum points required for securing a place on any particular course.

The CAO or the colleges do not determine the points – they are simply the score of the last person offered a place.

Brian Mooney is guidance counsellor at Oatlands College