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Everything you need to know about CAO offers

Understand how to accept or reject a CAO offer, and what happens next

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

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CAO offers come out after the Leaving Cert results have been released. Once you have calculated your points, it is time to play the waiting game and wait for your CAO offers. Based on your points, you will be offered a place on one of the courses you have put down on your CAO. It will then be up to you whether you want to accept it or turn it down.

Remember that if you are unsure about your first choice, you don't have to accept it straight away, you have a week to think about it before making the decision.

Round one offers

Round one offers will be made available online from 6am, and will also be sent out via post, email and text message.

Accepting or rejecting an offer:

  • A Reply Date will be printed on Offer Notices. If you wish to accept an offer, you must do so by 5:15pm on the “Reply Date” printed on the Offer Notice.
  • If you are away or unavailable, someone else may accept on your behalf, as long as they have the offer notice.
  • In addition, offers will be presented online at the CAO website, and you may record your acceptance online.
  • If you don't want to accept the offer you've received, then simply do nothing, and wait for Round 2 offers.

Here is a video from CAO on the acceptance process:

Round Two offers:

CAO round-two offers will be available at after the reply deadline for round one offers.

If you missed out on your choice of course in round one, you may now be offered a place on a higher preference course if a place becomes available, even if you have accepted an earlier offer.

You can accept the new offer or simply ignore it.

What happens after Round Two offers?

After Round Two, offers will be issued as necessary until October to fill any vacancies, which may arise on a course. This is known as Available Places.

Can I accept more than one offer?

If you receive more than one offer, acceptance automatically cancels any previous acceptances – you can have only one current acceptance in the entire CAO system. This means that whichever course you accepted most recently is the course you have a place on. You have given up your place on another course by accepting the new offer.

How the offers work

When filling out the CAO, you ranked the courses you were applying for in order of preference. This is important in determining what you will be offered first, and if you will receive a second offer.

Offer of highest preference:

  • You will be offered a place in the highest of your course preferences to which you are entitled.
  • This will be done, independently, in respect of Level 8 and Level 7/Level 6 choices.
  • You may, therefore, receive two offers at the same time; one for the highest Level 8 preference to which you are entitled and the other for the highest Level 7/Level 6 preference – but you can only accept one.

Exclusion from lower preferences:

When you have been offered a place, you are excluded from considering any course, which is lower in your order of preference than the one in which you have been offered a place. 

This means that while you may later move upwards in your order of preference (if places become available), you will not be considered for a place in a course which is a lower preference than that already offered.

This means that if you accept an offer for your second preference course, and a place becomes available in your third preference course, you will not be offered it because it was lower down in your preferences than the course you have already accepted. However, if a place in your first preference course opens up, you could be offered it, since it was higher up in your preferences.

Later offers for higher preference:

If you are offered a place in a course which is not your first choice, you may be offered a place in a course of higher preference if a place becomes available in the round two stage or after.
This applies whether or not the earlier offer has been accepted.

Non-acceptance of round two offers:

Having accepted an offer of a place, there is no obligation for you to accept a later offer offer. If you receive a Round Two offer but you don't want to accept it, you can simply ignore the offer and stay in the course you accepted during Round One.

Acknowledgement of Acceptances:

Formal notification that the CAO has received your acceptance will be sent by post within 3 working days after the Reply Date (the deadline for accepting an offer) for acceptances for that round. 

If you accept online, an acknowledgement will also be sent to your email address.

You may also check that your acceptance has been recorded online at

How do they decide who to offer places to?

For each course to which you have applied, your Leaving Certificate results are checked to see if you meet the minimum entry requirements for the course. Points will be calculated only after it has been determined that the results on your CAO file meet the minimum entry requirements for the course.

To determine who should be offered places in a course, the applicants for that course are placed in order of merit, i.e. the applicant with the highest points) is placed at the top of the list and the applicant with the lowest points score goes to the bottom of the list.

If a number of applicants have the same points and are tied for places on a particular course, they are given a number and picked at random for the place.

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Published August 15th, 2014
Last updated July 12th, 2018
Tags college cao exam results
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