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CAO

and how to apply for an undergraduate course

Closing date for late applications

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PAWEŁ ZOSIK
Has completed courses in Dublin City University and Trinity College Dublin

When you are ready to apply for your dream course, under most common circumstances, you will need to apply through the Central Applications Office. The CAO processes applications for undergraduate courses in Irish Higher Education Institutions. In this article we will explain all you need to know about the CAO application process.

[edit] CAO allows you to apply for undergraduate courses only. We will write an article on postgraduate courses shortly.

How to submit an application?

“The Central Applications Office processes applications for undergraduate courses in Irish Higher Education Institutions”

CAO Website

You can apply for an undergraduate course through the CAO website. The CAO website allows you to search for courses by institution or by a keyword. Additionally, you can also submit a Demo application if you want to become more familiar with the process.

There is an application fee that is non-refundable. The fee currently is 40. However, if you submit your application before 20th January, you will only need to pay a discounted fee of 25.

If you prefer to fill out your application form by hand, you can request a paper form. Although keep in mind that this will significantly increase the processing time of your application. Consequently, the online method is much more efficient.

Selecting your courses

“In 2016 the CAO processed 76,081 applications”

CAO Website

The most difficult but also the most important part of the application process is selecting the courses. The CAO form allows you to choose up to 10 different courses in one application.

Make sure you enter your courses in the order of your preference. When the CAO allocates places to successful candidates it will look at the list of the courses you selected and then offer you a place on the first course you are eligible for. This may or may not be the course that requires the highest score to get in (more about the point system below).

You don’t need to pick 10 different courses. If you are confident about securing a place on your course, you can pick only one. However, it is always a good idea to have some backup options.

The CAO point system

“To get admitted your score has to be above the minimum and also be high enough to put you in front of other applicants.”

DUBLIN 4 YOU

A place on a course is allocated to you if you score enough points. The number of CAO points is calculated on the basis of your Leaving Certificate Score. In the case of foreign qualifications an equivalent exam at the end of secondary school is evaluated.

Subjects are graded on two levels: higher level (H) and ordinary level (O). Your grades are converted into CAO points as shown in the table below

Higher Level Grade Points Ordinary Level Grade Points
H1 100
H2 88
H3 77
H4 66
H5 56 O1 56
H6 46 O2 46
H7 37 O3 37
H8 0 O4 28
O5 20
O6 12
O7 0
O8 0

Six best scored subjects are taken into consideration when calculating your final score. If you are taking Higher Level Maths, you also get a bonus of 25 points. The highest possible score is therefore 625.

Each course will have a set minimum score and a number of available places. To get admitted your score has to be above the minimum and also be high enough to put you in front of other applicants.

You can check minimum points required for entry for the academic year 2016/17 here.

Recognising non-Irish qualifications

“You are expected to meet conditions similar to those of Leaving Certificate students”

DUBLIN 4 YOU

In general, non-Irish secondary school qualification holders are expected to meet conditions similar to those of Leaving Certificate students. This may or may not be good for you. As mentioned before, six subjects are taken into consideration when calculating admission points. However, different countries follow different grading schemes. One major difference could be that you are not required to take six different subjects. As a result, if you are taking fewer than six subjects on your school leaving exam, it may put you at a serious disadvantage.

You can find a link to the agreed entry requirements criteria for the EU/EFTA applicants on the CAO website. In this guide you will find how different school leaving exams translate into the CAO criteria. However, this is not a definitive guide. The admissions office of your prospect university makes the final decision. This is why you should always get in touch with the admissions office to make sure what criteria you have to meet.

Unfortunately there is no guide for non-EU students. However, (I’ll say it again) make sure to contact the admissions office of your prospect university. I am sure the officers will be more than happy to answer any of your questions.

 

English Language competence

“Students whose first language is not English need to provide a proof of their English language competence”

DUBLIN 4 YOU

In order to qualify for a place at a university you will need to score enough points. However, if your native language is not English, you will also need to provide a proof of your English language proficiency. There is a range of certificates that are acceptable as proof of your English proficiency. A good score on IELTS, Cambridge exam or TOEFL should be enough.

You can check the agreed entry requirements criteria guide for more information on recognised courses and minimum acceptable scores. A sufficient score on your School-Leaving Qualification may also be accepted.

CAO Timeline

  • 20th January (17:15) — Early application fee deadline
  • 1 February (17:15) — Normal closing date
  • 5 February (12:00) — Facility to update course choices becomes available (10 Euro Fee)
  • 1 March (17:15) — Closing day for amending course choices / Closing date for completing HEAR / DARE forms.
  • 1 April (17:15) — Closing date for providing HEAR / DARE documentation.
  • 1 May (17:15) — Closing date for late applications.
  • 5 May (12:00) — Online change of mid facility becomes available (Free).
  • 1 July (17:15) — Change of mind closes.
  • Early July — Round A offers
  • Early August — Round 0 offers
  • Mid-August — CAO Results published
  • 21 August — Round 1 offers available from 6:00 online.
  • 28 August — Round 1 acceptances closing date.
  • 31 August — Round 2 offers available from 6:00 online.
  • Early September — Schools begin registration
  • 6 September — Round 2 acceptances closing date.
  • Early October — Results of Leaving Cert appeals released.
  • 18 October (17:15) — Offer season ends.

Good luck with your application.

If you have any feedback, suggestions or questions regarding this article. Please leave a comment below or reach out to us directly using our contact form.

PAWEŁ ZOSIK
Has completed courses in Dublin City University and Trinity College Dublin

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