Your Leaving Certificate results have arrived. What now?
First-round CAO offers for college places will be made on Monday, August 22nd. What can you expect to happen next, and how do you handle it?
Whatever your results, accept them as a fair reflection of your work over the past six years. Photograph: Getty Images
Leaving Cert points table
In the early hours of this morning, about 700 school principals collected the results of this year’s Leaving Certificate exams from their local post offices. Over the following hours they reviewed how all of their sixth-year students performed, and identified those who might require special attention when they come to collect their results from 9am.
You may not have slept well last night and you will probably approach your school with both excitement and trepidation. You will have the opportunity to meet your classmates outside while you all wait for the signal from the principal to come forward for your individual envelope. When you get that envelope into your hand, you will probably move away from your friends to read your grades.
Success comes in many forms. For one student, a score of 560 points may be devastating in terms of studying veterinary medicine at UCD; for another, 250 points may represent a huge achievement. Whatever your results, accept them as a fair reflection of your work over the past six years.
Still, if you feel a particular grade falls far below your expectation, there is a document in your envelope that enables you to request a review of the scripts in any subject or subjects you wish, at no cost. You have until Tuesday, August 23rd , to return the completed form to your principal.
Calculate your CAO points
You are likely to do this exercise only once in a lifetime; it is easy to get it wrong and cause yourself and your parents unnecessary anxiety. So take a few minutes away from the excitement and carefully determine your CAO points score. You should have a points chart to hand and your teachers or guidance counsellor will help you make sure your calculations are correct.
Remember, you count the best six scores you’ve achieved across all subjects. If you did the LCVP and your score for the module is better than your lowest of the six scores, you can include the LCVP instead. If you got at least a D3 in higher-level maths, you add 25 to the normal points score attached to the grade you achieved.
There are some slight variations in how points are calculated by some third-level colleges, and all such variations are clearly outlined in the CAO handbook. If you cannot find your copy, it is online at cao.ie.
College place offersIrish Times
Be aware: this is not an exact science, as points for all programmes increase and decrease annually as the demand among applicants and the number of places offered by each college changes from year to year.
Furthermore, many places on the programmes you are interested in have already been allocated. In the past six weeks, the CAO offered places and received acceptances from more than 8,000 of this year’s CAO applicants. These include applicants aged over 23, those who deferred a place in 2014 and reapplied for it this year, and those who sought a place on the basis of a QQI award through a PLC programme taken during the past academic year.
Also being offered places next Monday are those with awards other than the Irish Leaving Cert, mainly school-leavers who have taken Northern Ireland or UK-based A-levels, and other EU end-of-school exams. Colleges now also offer a growing number of places to applicants from outside the EU at full fees to generate additional funding for courses.
Some students will get an offer of a college place on lower points than those published next Monday. This is because the CAO has been instructed to offer a place by a specific college based on a successful Disability Access Route to Education (Dare) or Higher Education Access Route (Hear) application, or on the basis of a scholarship programme, often in a designated sport.
For all other applicants, your success or otherwise in getting an offer on a specific course will be decided when the admission officers representing all the colleges meet in the CAO offices in Galway this Friday. They will know exactly how many places on each course are already spoken for through the processes above, and how many more to offer to the remaining applicants.
Once the CAO knows the number of places for every course on offer, it enters that data into its computer system to determine what offers will be made to you online at 6am on Monday, August 22nd . Until then, neither CAO officials nor college admissions officers know the points required to secure the last available place on offer in this round. Tables of the points scores of the last person to secure an offer on each course this year will be published in The Irish Times next Monday in the First Round Offers/College Choice education supplement.
If there are more applicants with the same points than there are remaining places on offer, the CAO computer will generate a random number for each of these applicants; those holding the highest numbers numerically will be offered the available places. When this occurs, an asterisk (*) appears beside the printed points score in the published charts.
Round two offers
At 6am next Monday, the CAO will place all offers live on cao.ie. Each applicant has an individual CAO application number to access their own CAO file. The CAO also posts the offers to arrive in each candidate’s home on Monday morning. You will have a week to accept a place, either online or by post.
If you are using the postal system, students are advised to get a certificate of postage from the post office. (Forms are on the inside back cover of the CAO handbook.)
If accepting a place online, students must print off a receipt of their acceptance before ending their online session with CAO.
Deferring a place
If you choose to accept the new offer, you will simply have any registration fees you paid to the first college transferred to the second one.
Can you be offered a place on a course you have not applied for but now want? Only if vacancies for the course are advertised on cao.ie. This happens if the original list of qualified applicants to the CAO is exhausted, or if a college has offered a new course since July 1st.
Check that you meet the minimum entry requirements before you place any course with vacant places on your existing list of choices.
Result appeals and college offers
The State Examinations Commission will automatically notify the CAO in mid-October in the event of a successful appeal of any grade you receive this morning. Following that, you will be contacted regarding any new offer for a course that this upgrade may entitle you to.
In most cases, upgrades happen four to six weeks after courses start. Many colleges may offer the option to take up the place immediately, although due to the size of the existing class group, some courses may not offer you a place this year.
If you want to accept a new place offered but cannot get in this year, you can accept the place as a deferred entry for next year.
For deferred-entry students, the most important point to remember is that they must apply to the CAO again by February 1st, 2017.
They should place the deferred course as their only choice on the application form in 2017, in order to take up the original place offer.
Remote access to results
Access to the online results service, which requires the candidate’s examination number and unique personal identification number (Pin), is through examinations.ie. If your results are not what you expected, it may be time for a recheck.