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Changing course choices on the CAO

Not sure about your CAO choices? Find out how to change them.


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in education


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Filling out the CAO can be an overwhelming experience. There are a lot of decisions to be made around what to study, where to study, and what order everything should go in. You won't necessarily want to stick with your original preferences, and what your course list looks like the first time you fill it out could be completely different by the time you're finished.

When can I change my course preferences?

Currently, there are three different stages to changing course choices with the CAO. It's important to be aware of key dates when it comes to changing your course choices so that you can be certain you'll be able to put down the courses you want.

If you want to apply for a restricted course, such as courses that need a portfolio as part of the application or require an additional admissions test such as medicine, make sure to add these courses during Stage 1 or Stage 2, as you won't be able to introduce a new restricted course to your list after 1st March.

Stage 1: Between the date the CAO first opens and 31st January (free of charge)

You can make changes to your application as often as you like from the day the CAO opens in November until the 31st January free of charge.

During this time, you can add and remove any course you like, including restricted courses.

Stage 2: Early February - 1st March at 5:15pm (€10 fee)

From early February up until 1st March, there is a processing fee of €10, which can be paid on the CAO website by Credit/Debit Card. Applications being changed by post will need to pay the €10 charge in the form of a Bank Draft or Postal Order. 

During this time, you can still add and remove restricted courses. If you want to apply for a restricted course, you must have it on your list by 1st March, as you will not be able to introduce a new restricted course after this time.

Stage 3: Early May - 1st July (free of charge)

This is the final time period in which you can make changes to your CAO choices. Whatever preferences you have listed by 1st July will be final.

Unlike stage 2, there is no fee for making changes during these dates.

It is not possible to add any restricted courses at this time, but you should be able to introduce any regular course. 

Find out more about these restrictions and any possible exceptions here.

How do I change my course preferences?

Applications can be changed either online by logging into your account, or through a paper application. 

The form works the same way as the regular CAO form, so it is important that you list your courses in order of preference (i.e. the ones you want most at the start) and not based on how many points you think you’ll get. It is also important to remember that the Change of Mind form cancels out your previous application form.

Click here to watch a video from CAO explaining how to fill out your Change of Mind.

What happens after you submit the change of mind form?

Once you enter choices in your Change of Mind form, you will receive a revised Statement of Course Choice confirming that your new choices have been entered into your record. For online changes, you should receive an email with an acknowledgement of the edits you made. For paper applicants, this revised statement is issued after the 1st June. If you do not receive such a statement before the 7th July, then contact CAO immediately with proof of your Change of Mind form.

For full details about the Change of Mind application process click here. 

For a full list of CAO dates click here.

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Published January 21st, 2013
Last updated August 14th, 2018
Tags cao exams leaving cert
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