2017 CAO Helpdesk

Contact us here with any questions you have about your CAO application

Brian Howard, Deirdre Garrett Tue, Aug 22
LIVE: 2017 CAO Helpdesk

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  • 09:17
    Good morning everyone, and welcome to the 2017 CAO Helpdesk. Our expert guidance counsellors Brian Howard and Deirdre Garrett will be here until 6pm to answer any questions you may have regarding your results, the CAO, or anything else. Just click on the 'Contact Us' button to submit your question. In the meantime check out our special site at irishtimes.com/cao2017 for information about college life, exam results analysis, and more.
  • 09:41
    After a subject is rechecked and the result has improved, does a refund have to be made to the candidate directly through the school?

    The refund will be made to the bank account or credit card that was used to pay the appeal fee.
  • 09:43

    Can I bring a calculator for script viewing? 2) If I started a course under the Free Scheme Initiative, and dropped it in favour of a different course, would I still be eligible for the Free Scheme Initiative?

    Yes you can bring a calculator in with you. Make sure that it is not a calculator on your phone as phones are not allowed.

    It would depend on when you would drop out? You don't tend to lose the free fees if you drop out before the end of October. It varies as the academic year goes on. I would advise you to check the dates with the registration/fees office. Each institution may vary with dates.

    If you move institutions due to an upgrade from an appeal then your paid registration moves with you.

  • 09:44

    If I get a H2 for a particular subject, does that mean I get 88 points?

    Yes, a grade of a H2 on an honours paper gives you 88 points.

  • 09:49

    If I accept an offer and apply for a recheck, should I register for a course or just wait for the result?

    The best advice here is to continue as if you are not going to get an appeal. In other words assume the appeal will not result in an upgrade and make your decisions on this basis. So if you have accepted a course you should register for the course and follow on. If an appeal results in an upgrade then this is a bonus and you can make decisions on the basis of a possible new offer.

  • 09:59

    My son wanted to do commerce in UCD but has fallen short on the points. Are there other level 7 courses (PLCs/other colleges) that he should explore so that he might be in a position to transfer to commerce next year?

    Yes. Commerce is part of the FETAC Higher Education Links Scheme and hence has 7 places set aside for applicants coming in through the PLC  route. The PLC course that is linked to it is as below and you can see the module information for that course that must be met. If you go to the PLC search tool here you can enter business studies in the search box and find a number of PLC colleges that offer this course.


    5 modules at Distinction Grade. The qualification must include distinctions in:

    • C20139 or 5N1833 Mathematics or min O3/H6 LCE Maths

  • 10:28

    My son was offered his second choice but it's not really what he wants to do. He is thinking of doing a one year PLC course and trying again next year. If he declines the course offer can he re-apply in 2018 using this year's Leaving Cert points?

    Yes he can. He should see if there is a PLC course that offers a progression route onto his dream course. Please see post below.

    Get back on if you need further assistance.

  • 11:07

    How do I apply for a course from the vacant places?

    Vacant or Available places are essentially places on courses that remain unfilled or places that colleges feel they will not fill. They are advertised on the CAO website after the first round of offers. This list is updated regularly during the days after round one offers so it can change daily.

    Rule number one with applying for these places is you must still meet the entry requirements for any course you are applying for. If you haven't met the entry requirements there is no point applying. If some places were allocated in round one for a course that is now in Available places, ignore the points from that round, they will tell you nothing about what points may or may not be needed for the place now through Available places.

    Essentially applying for a vacant place is like completing a change of mind. You can insert the available place anywhere you like in your list of course preferences. You may have to think carefully about the position of your available place course in your list as you may still want to remain in the running, for example, for your top three original preferences so you would place the available place as your fourth preference.

    Log onto the CAO website and find the list of available courses and the description of how the system works in detail.

  • 11:10

    My daughter did not get her first choice but has decided to accept the offer she did get. Your advice/guidance yesterday helped her make her decision so thank you for the help.

    That's great to hear, we wish her the best of luck on her new journey.


  • 11:11

    Our son got 433 points but missed his first choice, law in Dublin Institute of Technology, by one point. He was offered law in Maynooth but wants DIT. He has a PLC which offers the option of DIT next year. We presume he won't get DIT on the second round for law. Any advice?

    It's the same qualification just recognised by a different institution. Location is probably what is drawing him towards DIT. I can understand this. It's a personal choice at the end of the day.

    A PLC would introduce him to Law and get him work experience in the area. He will be able to make a more informed decision after studying it at further education level.

    Get back on if you need further assistance. Well done on getting an offer.

  • 11:38

    If I accept the offer of my second choice course now, will I still be offered my first choice if the points drop for round two or three offers?

    Yes. You will still be in the competition for courses  of higher preferences than  yesterday's offer.

    Best of luck.

  • 11:58

    My son has received a first round offer but he is doing the maths exam in UL to try to reach the required standard for another course. What happens the first offer if the maths exam goes well?

    I am assuming the first round offer was not his first preference. If it was he will receive no more offers.

    Let's assume his first round offer was for his fifth preference and the course he is trying to get a place on with the improved maths grade is his third preference. If he is successful in the maths exam and now meets the matriculation requirement for his third preference, then this will be upgraded on the CAO system and he will now be eligible for his third preference. Assuming UL has space, he will now more than likely be offered a place on his third preference in the second round.

  • 12:34

    My daughter did not get her first choice but is hoping to get an offer for it in the second round. Is it possible to find out if all places for her first choice have been offered out?

    In theory the way it works is that all higher education institutions offer all available places in round one. The number of places available and offered in round two is dependent on the number of candidates who deferred or rejected their offer in round one (yesterday's offers).

    You can contact the admissions office of the institution in question. They may or may not give more information.

    The best of luck.

  • 12:45

    Do you get a grant for business studies at the Dublin Business School

    You're not eligible for a grant if you're attending a private college.

    Get in touch if you have any more questions.

  • 12:49

    If I am ten points short on the first round, do I have a chance to get my place on the second round?

    Yes. If the points fall by ten you would now be eligible for a CAO offer. You must meet the minimum requirements as well as the CAO cut off points before an offer can be made.

    What colleges will offer places in round two will depend on the uptake of candidates for offered places in round one.

    We will only know this information next Monday.

    The best of luck. We hope it works out for you.

  • 12:53

    My son applied for no CAO or PLC Courses. He has seen a course on the "Available Places" section on CAO that he would like to do. Can he still apply for this course and how does he go about it?

    Yes, students who have not already applied, ie who have not got a 17 CAO application number, can apply now for vacant places. They will essentially create a CAO account for €40 and will then be able to apply for courses on the available places list. Go to the CAO website, click on "Available Places" on the left hand menu, Go to the section New Applicants (for 2017 entry) and click on the green button New Applicants. Read carefully all the information on this page and then click on proceed with application. If you have any issues come back to us.

  • 12:58

    [This query is a follow-up to the one posted at 11.58] To confirm, he needs to accept his first round offer (fifth preference) but if his maths exam goes well he will get offered UL (third preference) and first round offer is then no longer available.

    He should accept his fifth preference for now and if the maths exam goes well he may then get an offer for his third preference in the second round. If he does, it is his choice whether he wants to stay with his fifth preference from the first round or accept his third preference from the second round.

  • 13:55

    I have already accepted an offer but would now like to apply for a new course under available places? Will I definitely lose my first offer for good?

    If you apply for a vacant place in the next round and are offered it you will have to choose between staying with the offer you have at the moment or taking the new course in round two. It will be your decision which one to take.


  • 14:00

    My daughter listed Law as her first three choices on her CAO but didn't get the points, she got 495. She has been offered her fourth but is more interested in her fifth, which hasn't been offered. What can she do?

    Unfortunately, if she has been offered her fourth preference then all the lower preferences are now gone and she will not be offered any of them even if she has the points. You can always hope to move up your list of preferences but not down. So in this case your daughter will not be getting an offer of her fifth preference at any time. If she accepts her fourth then at least she has one course and in the future she may be offered something higher and she can accept that if she wishes. There is no guarantee she will be offered anything else in the next rounds so she should consider carefully accepting her fourth preference.


  • 14:05

    My brother failed to do the Dare application correctly. He scored 408, and missed out on his selection by eight points. He thinks Dare would have got him over the line.

    So sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done at this stage as it is now mid-competition. He could consider applying next year and complete a new correct Dare application which may get him what he wants, if he is not happy with any of his offers this year.

  • 14:06

    If my son had accepted an offer he received with Hear, can he now defer? If he does, will he lose the Hear scheme?

    You must not accept the offer. Your son must email or write to the admission office of the college in question. Individual colleges deal with requests for deferral not the CAO. You must write a letter seeking a deferral. Write "deferred entry" clearly on the envelope (or in the subject of an email) and attach to the letter the appropriate part of the offer notice, that is, the part showing the offer you wish to have deferred. The request must arrive at the relevant college by Friday, August 25th. The college should let you know the decision immediately. Most colleges allow deferrals when requested to do so by a student.

    One must reapply to CAO 2018 listing only their deferred course code. Any additional listing will cause the loss of the deferral putting the candidate back into the competition for courses.

  • 14:11

    Can I confirm with you that UCD doe not offer the facility of doing a separate maths exam to meet a maths requirements? Your advices are excellent and so clear.

    UCD do not offer a second chance maths exam. Cork IT, DIT, IT Carlow, Maynooth university, NUI Galway, UL and Waterford do.

    Thank you. Questions always welcomed.

  • 14:18

    Is there any back door routes into teaching in Mary I? I'm short by 20 points

    There is no FETAC link into this course. For those holding relevant BEd degrees no further qualification is required. Those holding other qualifications will be required to complete a masters in Education (Primary).

    Many people complete a level 8 degree and apply for a masters in primary teaching. The requirements are as follows:

    Applicants must have the following academic qualifications:
    (a) Minimum H2.2 Honours Bachelor Degree[1] (Major Award at Level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications) or a major award at Level 9 or a major award at Level 10 on the National Framework of Qualifications, and
    (b) one of the following sets of second level qualifications:
    (i) in the Leaving Certificate Examination[2]

    Minimum Grade (new 2017 Scheme)H5H6 or O6O5  or H6
    % Mark50%-59%40%-49%50%-59% or 40%-49%

    H – Higher Level
    O – Ordinary Level


  • 14:18
    Thanks a mil for clarifying this. I'd need a degree myself to sort through all the connotations on my own!!

    No problem, that's what we are here for. Best of luck with it all.
  • 14:29

    My daughter wanted PE Teaching in Cork, but did not get the points. Can you please tell me if there is a PLC course (in Galway) she can do which would allow her to apply next year? If not, do you have any other suggestions? She got 407 points.

    Yes, the code for the linked PLC course is 5M5146 - Sports, Recreation and Exercise and this course is available in Galway Technical College and Galway Community College. There are module requirements as follows:

    Must have distinctions in 4 modules (excluding 5N1356/6N1946/W20008/5N1433/6N1947) in the QQI FET/FETAC qualification which must include three of the following modules:

    •D20001 or L20198 or 5N0749
    •D20160 or 5N2668

    So if enrolling in a course in one of these colleges in Galway ensure they can allow you to meet the above requirements.


  • 14:31

    I did my Leaving Cert in 2016, I repeated in 2017 but my 2017 results have not been added

    You need to contact CAO immediately. www.cao.ie and click on contact us.

    Get back on to us if needs be.

  • 14:42

    My nephew applied for a course in DCU with a minimum English requirement. He got the points required but not the English minimum. What are his options? Is there any exam he can take to achieve the minimum requirement?

    He can repeat English on its own. He could then reapply to CAO 2018 using what hopefully would be a higher English grade and his 2017 CAO points. However, he does run the risk that this course may increase in points in 2018.

    He could look at doing a PLC course that offers progression onto this course. Not all courses have links with the Higher Education link scheme. Your PLC will override your Leaving Cert grades for matriculation purposes.

    I hope that I have made this clear enough for you.

  • 14:51

    My daughter got her second choice and she has accepted it. Is it possible for her to continue her course and apply again next year with the same marks for her first choice? Both courses are the same but at different universities.

    Yes there is nothing stopping her from doing this. Just bear in mind that the second time she is doing first year in the other college -- if she gets an offer -- she will have to pay the full fees, not just the €3000 for that year. Remember, it is a whole new competition next year and nobody knows if the points will go even higher for her first preference course or possibly drop.

  • 14:56

    My daughter was offered DT555 - She got a H5 in French and a H4 in Irish. Can she pick any language from the 5 choices? She does to have to do Irish right?

    Your daughter will do two languages as part of this degree: a major language studied at advanced level and another language that can be studied at beginners or higher level. If your daughter got the H4 in Irish then this will be her first language and she will do this at advanced level. French will be her second language. The college will do some testing with your daughter to ascertain what level she will do the French at. There is the possibility of giving up Irish after first year and replacing these modules with Business but this is moving the degree towards an international business degree as opposed to an international business and languages degree.   Hope this helps.

  • 15:04

    My daughter was offered her first choice of business and Spanish but did much better than she expected. Now she has enough points for the same course in TCD but didn't put it down. What are her options?

    Her final submittance for CAO 2017 was July 1st at 5.15pm. Unfortunately, nothing can be done for CAO 2017 rounds. All candidates are encouraged to rank their course choices alongside their interest and not points.

    She can reapply to CAO 2018 putting TCD course above yesterday's offered course.

    Please get back on if you need more assistance.

  • 16:17

    I received a total score of 721 with my HPAT combined. Is there any possibility that points for medicine will drop in the second round?

    Popular courses tend not to fall too much. Whether points will fall or not will depend on the percentage take up on round one offers. No one knows the final figures for this yet. We will have to remain patient and wait until Monday.

    The best of luck.

  • 16:31

    My son is away on scholarship in the US, having just completed his Leaving Cert. I have two questions: If he defers his offer can he still be in the running for the second round offers? Also, will going to university in the USA affect his deferral

    His deferral will not affect his chances in future rounds.

    Reasons for granting deferrals lie individually with the institution. When laying out your reasons for deferral, bear in mind that colleges may not grant an application for deferral if it is to allow the student to take up another course or repeat the Leaving Cert.

    When looking for a deferral you must not accept the offer with the CAO. You must email or write a letter to the college's admissions office. Be sure to put "deferred entry" into the subject box or on the envelope. This must be with the college by Friday, August 25th. The college will let the applicant know what they need to do next.

    Best wishes.

  • 16:32

    If you don't accept your first offer can you still be offered a second? I am planning to defer if I don't get a second.

    It depends on the position of the the offers you refer to. If your first offer is lower down then you still remain in the running for an offer of a place on a course higher up your list of preferences and if you become entitled to a higher preference place then you will be offered it regardless of whether you accepted the first offer or not.


  • 16:39

    My son has been offered a level 8 honours course in one of the ITs and has also been offered a veterinary medicine place in Europe. He is going to defer the IT course for a year. Will this reason be acceptable and can he defer again for a second year?

    When seeking a deferral he will have to outline why he wants to defer for the year and it is up to the college whether they will allow this or not. I am not sure you have to get into specifics in this explanation for seeking a deferral. I would be inclined to take a broader approach and maybe explain how your son wants to take a year doing other things that will broaden his horizons, help him mature and help him really decide what he wants to do. I would be surprised if a college could argue against this. Deferral for a second year would be a long shot and I would hope by this time next year he would be clear of the direction he truly wants to pursue.

  • 16:47

    I got my fifth choice as I did not get enough for my first. I am unsure whether to do a pre-law PLC or repeat. It is for the course ck302 and the PLC is 5m3789. All advice is appreciated

    This really is a personal choice. Would you prefer to learn more about law, gain valuable work experience and make sure that it is the career for you? Or would you prefer to go back and study the same subjects again with the hope of getting higher points, giving you a better chance of securing a place through CAO points?

    PLC candidates reapply through CAO. Courses are awarded on the basis of the best score, be it their Leaving Cert results or PLC results. Certain requirements have to be met when looking for progression to ck302 from a PLC course.

    I can certainly see huge advantages in doing a PLC. It acts as a great foundation and gives you a huge insight into your sense of enjoyment for the career. Ultimately, it boils down to a personal choice.

  • 16:48
    Response to 16:29 - Thank you very much that is good advice.
  • 16:54

    Can I register for and take a Special Maths Exam to increase the grade I got in the Leaving Cert from a H5 to a H4 for a course on the Available Places list on the CAO website without accepting the offers I received or the course on the list

    Can you tell me the college in question, please?

  • 17:03

    I am Hear eligible and have received my college offer. I didn't need a points reduction, my question is if I do the course for one year but try again for medicine next year (Hpat) can I transfer my Hear eligibility to medicine. I know I will pay the full fee

    Your Hear eligibility can be carried forward for a year.

  • 17:06

    [Re query posted at 16:54] Maynooth university is the college in question

    I recommend that you contact their admissions office and put this query to them. I can't see why not.

    The best of luck.

  • 17:24

    Could you explain random selection? Does it mean that they have a big amount of people wanting that course?

    Random selection means that the cut-off was made somewhere in the list of applicants who tied on the last points.

    All applicants to any course are allocated a random number by CAO in respect of their application to that course.

    If a number of applicants tie on the same points, they are ranked in order of their random number. Let us suppose that there are 50 places on a course, all applicants are ranked in order of their points merit, and that applicants 47 to 53 on the list are all on the same points. This means that there are 46 people ahead of the cut, and there are four places left on the course, and seven applicants all in line for them, sharing the same points, but now ranked within that group in order of their randomly generated number.

    So the cut-off point is drawn after the 50th applicant on the list, and the three below the cut-off are not offered places. They are, however, next in line for an offer if there are vacancies on the course after all those receiving offers have indicated their acceptance.

    I hope that this is clear enough. Get back on if needs be.


  • 17:37

    I know Hear can be deferred for a year but by accepting my current offer and using up one year of hear can I transfer it to another course by reapplying through the CAO and retrying again for medicine? If unsuccessful I would continue with current one

    Hear eligibility can be carried forward for one year if you don't attend a college course this year.

    Reading your question above -- if this was to happen you would have used your Hear eligibility and would need to reapply to Hear in 2018 via your CAO application.

    I recommend that you contact an access officer at the college in question. They will be able to give you any additional information.

    I hope that I have answered your question.

  • 17:39

    How long do you have to defer a course?

    Your deferral request must be with the college by Friday, August 25th. You can email them or put it in writing. Please read answers below regarding deferrals.

  • 17:40

    If I accept an offer in round one and then I change my mind, what do I do to drop the course?

    If having accepted a place on a course, you decide that you do not wish to take up the place, then you need to contact the college in question and tell them that you no longer wish to take up the place you accepted. Have your CAO application number to hand when doing this.

  • 17:48

    I accepted an offer, but then I change my mind. What steps should I take to cancel my acceptance of the offer?

    As mentioned below, if having accepted a place on a course, you decide that you do not wish to take up the place, then you need to contact the college in question and tell them that you no longer wish to take up the place you accepted. Have your CAO application number to hand when doing this.


  • 17:54

    Re ck302, I think the requirements you are on about is the H3 in French, I got a H2. I'm leaning towards the PLC 5m3789 but I know it's limited places. I know you can do law through the offer I got, mh101, this I think I'm just scared of the transition

    Change is hard. Many of the successful candidates will be nervous too. Many students flourish at college level. It is a change but you could help this transition by putting things in place such as returning home every weekend and maybe not heading back until the Monday morning.

    You will need to get certain grades in certain subjects on your PLC course to satisfy requirement into CK 302.

    You will always believe your thoughts until you challenge them!!

    Please get back on if you need further assistance. Wishing you the very best.

  • 18:00

    I prefer my level 7 over my level 8 in terms of staying interested In it. What are the differences apart from one year shorter and will there be a grant for postgraduate possibilities?

    A level 7 course is what is called an ordinary degree (formerly a diploma) whereas a level 8 course is an honours degree. Generally a level 8 honours degree is required to do a postgraduate course such as a masters. In many colleges there is what is called a one year add on that can be done after completing a level 7 course that brings it up to the standard of a level 8 honours degree. Check out if there is an add on for your level 7 with the college in question.

    In terms of a grant for postgraduate studies, unfortunately there is very little funding/grant aid for these courses except where sponsorship might available from private industry.