CAO 2018 Helpdesk

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Brian Howard, Deirdre Garrett Tue, Aug 21
LIVE: CAO 2018 Helpdesk

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  • 08:00
    Fáilte romhaibh ar maidin! Welcome to The Irish Times' CAO helpdesk.

    Our expert guidance counsellors Brian Howard and Deirdre Garrett will be here from 9am to answer any questions you may have regarding your CAO applications, your results, or anything else that might be related. Just click on 'Contact Us' to submit your question.

    NOTE: It might be that your query has already been answered for someone else in which case you might want to cast your eye back on yesterday's Q&A, click here.

    In the meantime check for information about college life, exam results analysis, and more.
  • 09:20

    Hi. If my son accepts a level 7 course in 1st round is he guarenteed to be offered level 8 choice in 2nd round?

    How you treat your level 7 offer will have no bearing on your level 8 list of course choices. CAO will make an offer once all entry requirements and cut off points have been met.

    So your son will only receive a level 8 offer if he meets the entry requirements and the points.

    Candidates don't automatically receive an offer.

  • 09:20

    My Son applied for BACHELOR OF ARTS (HONS) TL805 - He has 485 points, yet he has not been offered a place . Having checked the newspaper I note that there are no points listed against this course .was this course cancelled.he meets all requirements.

    Yes, it appears that no offers were made on this course for some reason.   It was not shown as cancelled on the "Important Changes to the CAO Handbook" document on the CAO website which was last updated on the 21st August.   There could have been issues around numbers of applicants for the course or staffing issues.   The admissions office at Tralee IT could shed more light on this for you.

  • 09:32

    Hi, my son got the points needed for his 1st choice course in W. I. T. but didn't get the required results. Is there any chance that he could be offered a place in the 2nd round offer?

    I am afraid not. CAO will only make an offer once a candidate has met minimum entry requirements and the cut off points.

    Many students repeat one or two subjects to satisfy entry requirements and use their CAO 2018 points. That could be an option. Your son would have to apply to CAO 2019.

  • 09:40

    Why does DARE only stay valid on CAO for 2 years? My son had to leave school in 2016 just before his leaving cert. he qualified and was accepted for DARE then but 2 years later when he was able to sit the exams it was no longer valid.

    I would imagine that all colleges would like to be able to estimate the demand for DARE places each year. This would be impossible if DARE eligibility was infinite. You can carry your DARE eligibility for one academic year.

    You could try phoning the Access Office of the college in question.

  • 09:53

    Hi, my son didnt get his first choice he fell short by 23 points.He has been successful with DARE & HEAR but didnt receive the reduced points offer yesterday does this mean he 100% didnt get it if he didnt get info yesterday?

    If he logged on to his account and there was no offer there for his first choice then it means he didn't get a place in the first round. There may have been other students who qualified for HEAR AND DARE who had more points than you and may have been more entitled to the few HEAR and DARE places available.   If some of them do not accept their places in round one then these places will be offered to the next applicants on the list who are most entitled to the places and that could be you.

  • 09:54

    I have been offered my second choice in first round but would prefer my first choice, I am 30 points off my first choice isthere any chance I could get offered my first choice in second round? And should I accept my first round offer in the meantime.

    Thirty points would be a considerable drop. It could happen but  I feel that it would be more unlikely as opposed to likely. Nobody will know for definite until round 2 offers come out next Wednesday.

    I would encourage you to accept your offer. You will be still be in the race for receiving offers fro course choices that lie above yesterdays offer.

    Research the course that you were offered yesterday. You may discover something exciting and new about it.

    Get back on if you need further assistance.

  • 10:03

    How many plc points are needed for DT315 & how many places are allocated to plc students thanks

    DT315 offered  44places this year  to those with a FETAC level 5. In the case of Higher Certificate and Ordinary Degree applicants,  they are simply required in most cases to present a specific QQI/FET/FETAC Level 5 Award.

  • 10:05

    Hi my daughter got her first CAO choice but has struggled all along to know what course she wants to do. She got 522 pts so could have done most courses & is now unsure about her first choice & indeed anything else! What would you recommend she do?

    There are a group of students every year finishing school who similar to your daughter who have worked hard in the LC, have done well and have good points but are unsure what to do.   A growing trend among these students is the idea of taking a sort of gap year.   This has always been quite popular in the UK but is on the up here now.   It gives the students who genuinely have no idea what they want to do the time to think about this, to get out into the world of work for a while and experience life or to spend the year doing a bit of travel or voluntary work.   Rather than starting a course they don't really know if they truly want, in some cases just to be able to keep up appearances with peers, and then sometimes dropping out a few weeks later, a year out can be a better option.   There are also fees issues with the above also.   Maybe your daughter should consider this option and take some time to think about her future direction.   Some parents worry that if their son or daughter take this option they may get out of the study habit and not go back to education - in my experience this does not arise in the vast majority of cases and is not an issue.

  • 10:08

    If my daughter accepts her allocation this year and attends University can she submit a new C.A.O. application next year for a different course? Assuming she is allocated a place next year what,if any, are the consequences? Thanks for your advise.

    Most undergraduate students attending publicly funded third-level courses do not have to pay tuition fees. The department of Education will pay for a student to do first year in a college once but not twice. Therefore, it would be your responsibilty to pay the student contribution and the tuition fees if your daughter was to pursue first year again but on a different course. This could be an expensive option.

  • 10:15

    If offered no course applied to when /how can I apply for other courses.

    The only CAO courses you can now apply for are courses that appear in the Available places list on the CAO website.   These are courses that colleges feel they are not going to fill in the normal mechanisms of the CAO so they advertise them on the available or vacant place list.   You can add these courses to your application from midday today.   Essentially it is like completing a change of mind with only the listed courses available to you.   All the details are at the link below.

  • 10:23

    I qualify for the HEAR scheme. I wanted to take a year out to save money while attending IT before university. Now I can't because I will lose my grant and my place in my course as HEAR applicant. Is there nothing I can do?

    The Departmentof Education will pay a students tuition fees for first year once only. It sounds as if you wish to do a year in an IT and then the following year to do first year again in a university? SUSI will not pay for you to do the same level of education for two years in a row.

    You can do a PLC/FETAC level 5. You will be grant eligible while attending this one year course and can defer your university place until next year. This way you won't be charged tuition fees when entering first year if university and you will still receive maintance from SUSI.

    Have I understood you properly?

  • 10:38

    Was in touch yest re unaware of July deadline for deferred Trinity course which occurred following paper re check 2017 Emailed & rang trinity but no reply yet. Can he apply to vacant places, or is college gone for 2018 despite 520 points. Any advice

    Hi there, I just rang admissions in TCD on 01 8964500 and got through almost straight away so I'm surprised you can't get through.   If you ring the above number now and ask for Clodagh she is aware of the issue and will advise what to do.   If you emailed the details to Trinity you would have received a reference number.   Quote this reference number to Clodagh and she can follow up this email and hopefully get the issue dealt with.

  • 10:45

    If a course requires 5 O6 grades, does a H7 meet this requirement, as it’s point value is higher?

    Normally if asking for 5 06 they usually look for 5 06/H7. So they should accept the H7.

  • 10:54

    Should I remain hopeful for a place in NUIG medicine with a combined score of 723? Or is a drop in points unlikely?

    I don't have access to the data that would help me make a guess at this. This course saw a one point drop last year but not all applicants got in. Random selection was used in the final round.

    How many reject or defer their offer will determine whether points fall in future rounds.

    I hope that it works out for you.

  • 10:54

    My daughter wanted to do nursing at St angelas college ,sligo..400 points needed , she only got 399.. what is the best way forward for her , thanks.

    All is not over yet, as she may get an offer in round two.   Last year the nursing course dropped from 398* in round one to 387* in the final round.   This does not mean this will automatically happen this year, but indicates that it has happened in the past and could happen again.   If this doesn't happen then other options for nursing include doing a pre nursing PLC course or maybe looking at the UK for nursing.   There is a system called clearing in the UK and this is where unfilled places are advertised.   you could go to and browse any nursing places available and contact the college if interested in applying.

  • 10:56

    Thank you for that advice re deferred course, will ring admissions office now.

    No problem, I hope it all works out well.   Best of luck.

  • 11:07

    Hi, my niece qualifies for HEAR under all the criteria in Ucc, except the minimum points requirement of 300 (arts)which is also the points needed 300 dn from 346 last year. Is this not flawed, she has 287 and is ineligible

    All participating colleges of the HEAR and DARE scheme have their own eligibility criteria. More information is provided on

  • 11:19

    Hi, do available places work on first come basis?

    Available places work the same way as all other offers. CAO will offer a place to all those that meet the entry requirements. Interested applicants will be but in oder of merit using their CAO points. Those with the highest points will get the first lot of places.

    I hope that I have been clear enough.

  • 11:22

    Got 520 missed law in UCD by two points. What are ur expectations for round 2

    It depends on how many places are left unfilled from round 1. It will also depend on where you are in order of merit. This course did drop by one point from round 1 to the final round of 2017.

  • 11:32

    Hello,just wondering,is it possible to get offered your second choice on the first round of offers?


    CAO will offer you the course of highest preference that you meet the entry requirements and cut off points for. Once you receive this offer then all courses that lie below this will become obsolete. You will still be in the running to receive courses higher up than yesterdays offer in future rounds.

  • 11:33

    Hi is it possible to get a place in college (have the required points) didn't put it down in error on application

    Only if this course appears under available places on Otherwise you will have to reapply to CAO 2019.

  • 12:12

    Hi, I am planning to defer my course until next year. Is it possible to apply for a different course in next years CAO if I change my mind?

    Putting another course along with your deferred course down on your 2019 CAO will cause yoy to lose your deferral and enter back into the 2019 point race.

    Applying for your deferred course and only this course on your 2019 cao application will keep this deferral.

    Deferred applicants get their offer in July in what is known as round zero.

  • 12:15

    Can Points decrease for round 2 offers? I have missed my course by 2 points and meet all entry requirements.


    Points will fall if courses aren't filled from round one offers.

  • 12:19

    Good Morning, Firstly many thanks for your advice in advance. My daughter got offered a level 8 and a level 7. She is thinking of accepting level 7, do you think she may get offered mint or analytical science in 2nd round. missed by few points.

    Not sure what mint is in your question.   I presume analytical science is a higher preference in your daughters list of courses.   Like we have said earlier there is no real way of knowing if there are going to be second offers or not for individual courses.   It depends primarily on the applicants who have already been offered the places in round one.   In theory, if all applicants offered places in round accept them then there will be no round two offers.   So in your daughters case we won't know who has accepted what until the reply date on Friday and hence have no way of knowiing if theponts will drop.   She must proceed as if she is not going to get any further offer and then if she does then this is a bonus and she can preceed accordingly.

  • 12:31

    Can you defer an offer you have already accepted? I want to defer for one year and do a pre university law course. I do not wish to use that course to apply again, I want to use my deferred place after it. I am also on HEAR and SUSI. Thanks!

    In order to defer a place the instructions say not to accept the place and the seek permission from the college to defer using the procedure laid out in the handbook.   So in your case, having accepted the place, the college now has been informed that you have accepted the place and will proceed on that basis.   What you need to do is to contact immediately the admissions office of the college and explain the situation to them.   They will make a decision on what they can do and will then inform the CAO either way.   I would do this immediately.

  • 12:35

    Sorry mint is marketing, innovation and technology. Both courses I mentioned earlier, are higher preferences on her list. She meets all requirements just missed out by 8 points. Thanks again for your help

    Oh of course, in DCU.   I hope there is movement resulting in a second round offer for your daughter.   Best of luck to her.

  • 12:36

    Are there new courses added to the Available places list everyday or is it just what’s on there now that will be available?

    New courses will be added on a daily basis and as they become available.

  • 12:55

    My son has discovered he changed his choice from business dcu He never had any interest in going to dbs and is devestated as his brother and sister went to dcu Is there anything to be done he has over the points required

    I am afraid not. He will have to wait and reapply to CAO 2019.

  • 13:00

    If you have the points but not the minium requirements for a course could you get offered a place within that course?

    I am afraid not. CAO will only make an offer to those who meet the entry requirements and the cut off points.

  • 13:01

    Hi. My son has been offered both a level 8 and a level 7 course. He is not all that keen on level 8. If he accepts the level 7 does that prevent him being offered anything else from the level 8 above the one he was offered ? Thanks

    No he will continue to be in the race for offers higher up on his level 8 list in future rounds. Round 2 is out on Wednesday.

  • 13:04

    Hi, we are struggling to indentify a PIN for appeal, how would it have been received/issued?

    This information would of been in the envelope along with your leaving cert results. Contact the school if you can't find it.

  • 14:19

    I have received an offer for my first choice on my CAO. There is also a course on available places that I am interested in. I am not yet sure which I would prefer. If I apply to the course on available places will this delete my existing offer?


    Yes. If you put the course from available places as your new number one choice. If you were to be offered this course  on Wednesday 29th then yesterdays offer will become obsolete.

     You need to research the modules and structure of each course. Speak with the college representatives.

    Get back on if you need additional assistance.

  • 14:20

    If I apply for a course from the available places part of the cao and get that course, will I still offered my course on the second round if the points go down for the course I want to do

    Applying for an available place is like making a change of mind.   You log in to your account and then add whatever available places you wish to your lists.   You still put your courses in order of preference.   So if you still want your, for example, existing 1st preference course more tha the available place you are applying you would put it above the available place course.   If you are then entitled to both courses in the next round you will be offered your highest.   Hope this makes it clearer for you.

  • 14:22

    I got 398 points and my course this year GY350 is 401, is it possible I’ll have a chance in round 2 based on previous years?

    GY350 didn't drop at all last year in any of the rounds. That's not to say that it will or wont happen this year. Nobody will know for definite until Wednesday August 29th, round 2 offers.

  • 14:27

    I missed out on primary teaching by 10 points but it’s my dream job. Do you know any other routes to become a teacher? I got my Irish grade no problem it’s just the points went up

    I am sorry to hear that. Many third level colleges and Hibernia offer both full time and part time masters in Education (Primary). You should research this option. Minimum entry requirements for primary teaching are changing over the next year or so.

    The best of luck.

  • 14:28

    If the original points for a course were 401 and I have 398, and the points drop to 390 for example in round 2, will I have the same chance as someone with less points than me who still has enough points in round 2 or is it the higher the better?

    Higher the better it is.   So each course has an merit list.   This is a list of all the applicants who applied for the course in order of points, those with the highest at the top and lowest at the bottom.   If at the end of round 1 five people have not accepted the place on the course then the five places are offered to the next 5 people down the list in descending points order.   So if there are applicants on 400 They will be looked at first and so on.

  • 14:29

    Hi my son missed 1 point for his 5th and 6th choice. He accepted the 7th choice yesterday. If there is places for both courses in the 2nd round, will my son receive two offers ?thanks

    If there is space on both courses then he will receive his 5th offer and all offers below this offer will become obsolete. If his 5th offer is full and 6th has space then he will be offered his 6th choice. All offers then below his 6th choice will become obsolete.

    The best of luck,

  • 14:36

    Hi if my recheck gets a lower score will that impact my level 6 offer from DIT? Tks for the great helpline!

    Thank you.   Theoretically yes it could.   If you drop in points you might have an offer of a place on a course that someone else might be more entitled to, i.e. higher up the course merit list.   This is why we always recommend viewing scripts first and if you are close to dropping a grade then consider carefully if you need to get a recheck.  

  • 14:50

    Hi My son is 2 points shorts for his course in Maynooth Arts . but another course has appeared on available places. this one is theology and arts and he has enough points for this choices . What are the chances of him reciving a place this route.

    In available place applications ignore the original points for round one for that course as a new corse merit list is being created.   If you would like to apply for this theology and arts course but at the same time would like to stay in the running for Arts in Maynooth then your son should log in to his account and like completing a change of mind insert the Theology course under his Arts course.   If in round two he is entitled to both, he will be offered the highest preference, i.e. Arts in this case.    

  • 14:54

    Why does it take until mid Aug to release results and CAO offers? Is there a false time lag so that schools don’t have to be back in July? Why not issue leaving cert results and cao offers online by mid July & put everyone out of their misery ?

    Thousands of both leaving cert and junior certificate scripts have to be corrected. This is not  a quick and easy process. Examiners must ensure that they give each candidates script the time and mark that it deserves. Many  of the examiners  are teachers so it definitely  isn't a false time lag so  that schools don't have to go back in July. A lot of adminstration is then needed when delivering results to each candidate.

    Finally the results are sent to CAO who must undertake a meticulous procedure to ensure each candidate is offered the course that they are most entitled to. All of the above must be handled and checked very carefully to ensure the utmost accuracy.

  • 15:26

    Is it possible to switch courses within trinity in the first year if the course is similar, I got the points, met the requirements and there is a space?

    Transfers can take place but the protocols vary hugely in colleges and even within faculties, so I would recommend contacting Trinity and find out what their procedure is. A lot of this can sometimes very depending on space on the course as you mention.

  • 15:27

    I accepted my college course but I have now decided I want to defer it. How do I change it

    You need to contact the admissions office of the college to enquire if this possible.

  • 15:32

    Hi My son is 1 point short for BESS in TCD. The points have come down from last year by 9. Is it likely that they will come down further again for Round 2. ( it was also random selection for Round 1 ). Thank you.

    This is very difficult to know for the reasons we have outlined in earlier replies.   It will greatly depend on how many people don't take up their offers that they were given in round one and we won't know this until after the reply date on Friday.   Random selection unfortunately adds another complication in that we don't know how many are in the random pool, it could be one or it could be four, etc.   I'm afraid it's just a matter of hanging in there until next week and hope for the best.

  • 15:53

    Is it possible to transfer from an IT college to a course in NUIG in September/October if places become available due to drop outs and if I have the normal minimum entry requirements

    No it is not possible. You will have to go through the normal CAO procedures.

  • 15:57
    I am hoping to get a place in a course in NUIG after second offers on available places on  but I was wondering has NUIG ever had vacant places available for any course in the past or has it just been IT colleges?

    While you can never say never, it is unlikely for NUIG to have places advertised on the Available place list.   It might be the case that in any given year one or two of the universities may have a course on which they feel they are not going to fill all the places.   They might put this course on the list, but in the main in my experience it is mainly private colleges and ITs who have courses on this available places list.
  • 16:27

    I have 398 points and all the normal minimum entry requirements. The course I want is 430 in NUIG and of course I did not get it in the first round but is there any possible way at all I may still be offered it in the second round?

    That would be quite a drop. It could happen but I would feel that it is unlikely. Nobody will know for definite until round 2 offers come out next Wednesday.

  • 16:31

    My daughter failed to get enough points for midwifery, how many places are offered each year through plc courses and is it worth doing this way?

    All colleges vary in the number of places they offer to FETAC students. It can be quite competitive. You need a minimum of five distinctions but in reality you need eight distinctions. Is it worth doing will very much depend on the ability and work ethic of the student. Many have used it to progress into nursing programmes in third level colleges.

    The following link will give you the quota in each institution:

  • 16:40

    How do you defer a first place offer if at present you cannot remember your log in details. Many Thanks

    You should have your CAO number in an email that you received from them, their is a forgot password facility on the cao website and then it's just your date of birth.  

    If you wish to defer an offer of a place, you do not accept your offer. Instead, you must email or write to the Admissions Office of the appropriate HEI immediately. You must give your name as it appears on your CAO application, quote your CAO application number and the course code of the offer you wish to defer, and set out the reason(s) for the request. Applicants must mark “DEFERRED ENTRY” clearly on the envelope or in the subject line of the email. You can also check the website of the relevant HEI to see if they have a deferral policy available online that you can refer to.

    The letter or email must arrive in the Admissions Office of the institution at least two days before the reply date shown on the Offer Notice. The HEI will communicate their decision to you directly. If the deferral is not granted, you may then accept the offer for the current year, providing you accept the offer by the reply date.

    You must send all communications about deferrals to the appropriate Admissions Office and not to CAO.

  • 16:41

    Is it possible to change the order of preference after inserting a course from available places. it is placed fourth down list and would prefer if it was second on list under first choice .

    You can change it now. Log back in and change it.

  • 17:05

    Whats best arts subjects to do as a way into primary teaching. Missed out on few points and dont want to repeat leaving cert

    I recommend that you research the masters in education in primary teaching. One can do this once they complete a level 8 and satisfy the necessary requirments. Hibernia college, NUI Maynooth and DCU are a few that run the masters.

    I would advise you to do a level 8 in a subject area that you enjoy. Some colleges give you the opportunity to sample subjects on their Arts programme before choosing. You need to see if your choosen college allows this.

  • 17:09

    I just want to say that I think you are providing a wonderful service. Although I don't have any family involved in the points race I have been checking in and out of this. Take a well deserved bow

    Thank you very much. Here tomorrow from 10.00am-1pm.

  • 17:15

    Hi if my daughter declines her first round offer can she still get another offer, subject to all criteria of course? And will declining it affect her available places application? Thanks

    She will still be in the running for all choices that lie above yesterdays offer on her CAO. She could receive this in future rounds. Declining it won't affect choices that lie above the declined course. You have to ensure that she places her course from available places above yesterdays offer.

  • 17:19

    What date have you to defer course by

    You need to act on this straight away. The reply date is this Friday. If you do nothing CAO will assume that you're rejecting it. Therefore, you need to contact admissions of the college of interest and have this sorted by Friday. The full procedure is on page 20 of the CAO handbook.

  • 17:21

    As it was much earlier when i added my course to cao from available places . will i now loose my application place on list as several hours have passed if i now change its position on list from fourth to second.

    No you will be placed in order of merit based on your points.

  • 17:23
    Hi there, my son's course in NCI ( Business and Marketing) went up by 103 points this year which ruled him out as he was 23 points  short.Is  that increase not excessive? He is devastated.

    I'm sorry to hear this.   Unfortunately, this is the part of the CAO system which is not so pleasant.   Students are essentially aiming at a moving target, not knowing what they are aiming for exactly.   The previous year's points are the nearest guess we have as to what the points for the current year will be, but as this year has demonstrated these points cannot be relied on.   The reality now is that there are large swings in points for courses each year both up and down and unfortunately we don't know where theyare going to come from.
  • 17:27

    Hi there I have taken my UCAS offer instead of accepting a CAO course, is there a button on the CAO website to turndown the offer or do I let it lapse? Many Thanks!!!!

    Congratulations on accepting your new course, with the added excitement that you will be experiencing a different education system and culture in which Irish students do very well.   In relation to the CAO offer you don't have to do anything,   once you don't reply by the reply date the offer will lapse.   Best of luck.

  • 17:46

    Can my son take year out and use his points from this year to reapply next year?

    Yes, absolutely.

  • 17:48

    My daughter accepted her first round offer and is with HEAR.I think I read somewhere that students on HEAR must attend an orientation for the college.She accepted AIT but we can't see if they do an orientation programme.Will someone contact her .

    I'm sure AIT will contact her with details, but just to be on the safe side I would suggest giving the college a ring in the morning to get details.

  • 18:11

    Is it possible to be offered a course in round two if you have a h5 in maths and a h4 is required or is there a possibility that could drop like the points


    No it is not possible. You must meet entry requirements and these do not change in CAO rounds.

  • 18:11

    Is it possible to repeat only certain subjects and keep the other ones in order to achieve higher points

    You can combine Leaving Certificates for the purposes of meeting minimum entry requirements   but not for points unfortunately.   The calculation of points must be done with one sitting of the Leaving Certificate only.