Everything you need to know about CAO offers

Understand how to accept or reject a CAO offer, and what happens next
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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. If you’re not sure about college, know that you have plenty of other options after finishing school.

Getting a CAO offer

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

2021 CAO dates:

  • Round One opens: Tuesday 7th September, 2pm
  • Round One closes: Monday 13th September, 3pm
  • Round Two opens: Monday 20th September, 10am
  • Round Two closes: Wednesday 22nd September, 3pm
  • Round Three opens: Tuesday 28th September, 10am
  • Round Three closes: Thursday 30th September, 3pm
  • Round Four opens: Tuesday 5th October, 10am
  • Round Four closes: Thursday 7th October, 3pm
  • Round Five opens: Tuesday 12th October, 10am
  • Round Five closes: Thursday 14th October, 3pm

You can find a list of key CAO dates here

Round One offers

Round One available online, and will also be sent out via post, email and text message.

If you don’t get your first choice, try to remember that this is not the end of the world. Find out what you can do if you don’t get your first choice on the CAO.

Round Two offers

CAO Round-Two offers will be available 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 will not be offered a place on a course that was lower down in your preferences to the course you have already been offered.

If you have accepted an offer in Round One, you don’t have to accept a Round Two offer if you don’t want to. You can simply ignore the offer and stay in the course you accepted in Round One.

What happens after Round Two offers?

After Round Two, offers will be issued as necessary to fill any vacancies, as part of Round Three and Round Four offers. 

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.

Accepting or rejecting an offer

If you want to accept or reject a CAO offer, there are some things you need to know:

  • A Reply Date will be printed on Offer Notices. If you wish to accept an offer, you must do so by 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.

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.

Receiving a Level 6/7 offer and a Level 8 offer at the same time

When filling out the CAO, you can choose to fill out two different lists. One list is made up of Level 6/7 courses and the other list is made up of Level 8 courses.

You may receive an offer on both a Level 6/7 course and a Level 8 course at the same time. You can only accept one of these offers. For example, by accepting an offer on a Level 8 course, you cannot accept an offer on a Level 6 course, and vice versa.

Acknowledgement of Acceptances

Formal notification that the CAO has received your acceptance will be sent by post within three 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 www.cao.ie.

Getting on a course through Available Places

Every year, after the initial CAO offers have gone out, the CAO will post a list of courses that have still have places available with no waiting list. If the course you were hoping to get into is listed, or if there is another course in the list that you might be interested in, you can apply online. Visit the CAO website to view the list of available places. Keep checking back to see if there are any new places available on the course you’re interested in.

You will need to meet the minimum requirements in order to get into the course.

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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