A parents guide to the CAO application:

A Parents Guide to CAO

The following link will bring you to a list of different videos that will show you how to apply to CAO Central Applications Office (

The CAO handbook can be downloaded using the following link. This has all the relevant information and lists all the different courses that are on offer through the CAO. CAO Handbook

Information on applying via DARE

DARE Applications

Information on applying through HEAR

HEAR Applications


  • Realistic Expectations
  • (13.3 % > 5 0 0 points, average = 3 50 359 points)

New Points System



  • CAO Application Timetable
  • Closing Date -20th January €30 - €45 1st February (paper or on-line). Demo on CAO web site -
  • 2 lists of 10 choices - level 8 and level 6/7
  • Restricted Application courses
  • Strict order of preference
  • Study ALL preferences carefully
  • Late Closing Date - 1st May
  • Check Application Record
  • Change-of-Mind 1st July (on-line)
  • Leaving Cert Results Normally Middle Wednesday in August

Change in Results and Offers arrangements

cao offers

Making a CAO Application



Points to Note

  • Select in order of preference not points.
  • Once you have the points for a particular course all courses below are deleted.
  • You then have to pick between your level 8 or 6 and 7 courses.
  • You may move up your list if points drop in round two or your points increase on a re-check of papers

Other Applications Related to the CAO

  • SUSI Grant - Early April
  • Exemptions – (Irish and 3rd Language)
  • HEAR Scheme
  • DARE Scheme

HEAR Scheme


DARE Scheme



DARE Timeline

dareandhear timeline

HEAR Timeline

hear timeline

Tips for Success!!

  • Research course choices well
  • Attendance and follow-up work
  • Active in clubs and/or societies - meet new friends
  • Seek support and advice early if necessary
  • Try to get the BALANCE right

Alternative Entry Routes

  • Within the CAO System
  • UCAS
  • PLC’s
  • Apprenticeships



  • The UK version of the CAO
  • Closing Dates: 15th January for the majority courses.
  • Differences from the CAO
  • Personal Statement
  • Subjects
  • Apply for 5 courses and then choose from successful applications.

European Applications

  • Courses taught through English
  • EUNICAS – Support Website
  • Lower Entry Requirements
  • Often Cheaper Fees
  • Lower Cost of Living
  • Guy Fouch – Coming in to support students.


  • Irish Colleges that don’t fall under the CAO umbrella.
  • You have to apply to each college directly.
  • Offer some very artistic courses:
  • Ballyfermot or Dun Laoghaire
  • Allows re-entry into the CAO system.
  • Courses vary in quality.

Questions to Ask

  • What does the average student do after they finish the course.
  • Does it have links in order to get me to degree level.
  • Does this take course me to where I want to go.

Types of Colleges of Further Education Courses

  • Media/Drama
  • Outdoor & Animals
  • Performing Arts
  • Social Care & Childcare
  • Travel & Tourism
  • Science & Technology
  • Art and Design
  • Adventure Sports
  • Beauty Therapy
  • Business
  • Computing
  • Engineering
  • Leisure and Recreation

National Qualifications Framework



  • Primary Certificate
  • Primary Certificate 
  • Junior Certificate
  • Leaving Certificate
  • Leaving Certificate and QQI Qualifications
  • Higher Certificate
  • Ordinary Batchelor Degree
  • Honours Batchelor Degree and Postgraduate Diplomas
  • Masters Degree
  • Doctoral Degree

Post Graduate Options


postgrad options


  • Many Apprenticeships Offered.
  • Seven Phases: Four “on the job” phases and three college phases.
  • The key to getting an apprenticeship is getting a contact.


  • Choose courses that accommodate:
  • Skills
  • Interest
  • Career
  • Research is the key to good course selection.