What students (and parents) need to know about CAO deadline day

Decision time for CAO applicants

If you have just completed your Leaving Cert do not be spooked into removing course choices based on your perceptions of how you may have performed in the exams. Photograph: Getty Images

If you have just completed your Leaving Cert do not be spooked into removing course choices based on your perceptions of how you may have performed in the exams. Photograph: Getty Images


With the Leaving Cert now completed for another year, those seeking third level places through the CAO application process have until Saturday next, July 1st, at 5.15pm to finalise any changes to their course choices, or in the case of over 4,000 applicants who have yet to do so, nominate programmes for the first time.

What if medicine is my first choice?

Over 3,000 applicants to the CAO listed “Human Medicine” as their first course choice, and sat the Hpat medical test earlier this year. These applicants will be receiving their result on Monday morning.

The careersportal.ie website has on its home page a chart which will enable medical applicants to calculate whether their Hpat score is sufficient to secure them an offer of a place on August 21st.

Based on the 2016 combined Leaving Cert CAO points and Hpat score entry requirements, a result on Monday of under 160 alongside six H1s in the Leaving Cert including maths, would not be sufficient to secure a medical place. Students anticipating CAO points in the 550 range would need to be securing Hpat scores in the 175-180 range at a minimum.

Students falling below these scores who have listed only medicine as their five choice, have until this Saturday to amend their applications and add new courses otherwise they may end up with no offer from the CAO in August.

When will I learn of my HEAR or DARE application?

All applicants who are awaiting the results of HEAR and DARE, based on a diagnosed disability or economic disadvantage, will be notified of the outcome this week. Those who are successful may anticipate a reduction in the published points requirements of around 10 per cent in courses within colleges which participate in the scheme.

This reduction in entry points is not uniform across the CAO as each faculty within participating colleges determine their own policy.

What resources should I consult before finalising my course choices?

You should be aware of the full list of courses on offer. Alongside the printed CAO handbook (available online at cao.ie), you can print the full list of course amendments which have taken place since the CAO finalised their 2017 handbook in June 2016.

This amendment list includes some new courses which have been approved by colleges governing bodies in the past 12 months, as well as courses which have been discontinued for September 2017 entry.

Another method of ensuring that you are aware of all courses on offer in your specific area of interest, is to log on to the advanced course search facility of the qualifax.ie, and list your “key search words” under both “Course Title” and “Course Content”. This procedure will generate a list of courses which match your search words.

If you are still unclear as to which of up to 10 courses to list on either or both Level 8 and/or 7/6, you might complete the “Interest Inventory” at careersportal.ie. From your result you can proceed within their site to a list of possible courses or occupations which may match your interests.

Some of this data may give you useful pointers in guiding your research in this final week of reflection. There are no costs associated with searches on any of the above-named sites.

Should I talk to colleges directly?

All colleges are geared up to deal with questions from applicants in the coming week so don’t hesitate to contact them.

All colleges, conscious that Leaving Cert students have been completely absorbed in their exams for the past month, are open to both talk to and meet with potential applicants. Many of them have advertised specific events this week aimed at applicants still considering their course options.

You may want to talk to lecturers in your area of course interest, or visit the campus to see if it feels right to meet education and personal development needs over the next three to four years. There is far more to consider than the lecture content of one course when you are deciding on where you are going to commute too or reside within or near for the next three or more years.

Any other tips?

Reflect and consult before finalising major changes in previous course choices. Talk to parents/guardians and where possible your guidance counsellor, either in person or by phone through their school office.

If you have just completed your Leaving Cert do not be spooked into removing course choices based on your perceptions of how you may have performed in the exams.

List your choices in the genuine order in which you want them, irrespective of how you think you have performed.

Make use of both your level 8 honours degrees and level 6/7 ordinary degree/higher cert lists. You can in many cases progress upon completion from a 6/7 course directly onto the equivalent level 8 programme. In your choices allow for all possible outcomes from your exams.

What if I am already at third level and want a change in course?

Current third level students who are unhappy with their current course or who have failed their exams and wish to consider reapplying to the CAO to secure entry to a new programme in September 2017 should apply now to the CAO with documentary evidence stamped by their current college. Such students have until July 22nd to complete this process.

When will offers be made?

The CAO will make two separate rounds of offers in the coming weeks.

In the first week of July the CAO will issue offers of places to mature applicants. Furthermore, those who are seeking places based on Post Leaving Cert (PLC) awards or on places secured and then deferred from 2016 will receive offers in the first week of August. All such offers will be made by post and online, and lapse unless accepted within one week of issue.

The bulk of this year’s college places will be offered at 6am on Monday, August 21st, following the publication of this year’s Leaving Cert results on the previous Wednesday, August 16th.