Guidance, education & careers news

  1. The Importance of Breakfast for Students
  2. Online “Career in Law” Information Session for Leaving Certs
  3. Upcoming Events in UCC
  4. Webinar on Careers in Counselling, Social Care & Religion
  5. OECD Teacher Newsletter
  6. Crumlin College of FE Virtual Open Days
  7. WIT English Study Guides for Leaving Certificate Students

What is the CAO?

By your final year in school, you will have experienced open days, assessments, psychometric tests, careers focussed classes and individual appointments. Hopefully you have narrowed down your course choices and are ready to begin the process of selecting course and putting them in order on the basis of preference, content, points, location and duration.

1. What is the CAO?

The CAO is a centralised applications system that processes all course applications into courses at universities and institutes of technology in the Republic of Ireland.

  • demonstration on how to complete the CAO form is available here.
  • Note – there are a small number of similar courses available through private colleges (fee paying) which can be applied to directly – see Non CAO Courses.
  • Courses in the CAO system are funded by the state, although there is a substantial registration fee which all students must pay. This is also known as a ‘student contribution’ – it covers student services and examinations.
  • The amount of the contribution varies from one institution to another. The maximum rate of the student contribution for the academic year is currently €3,000.

Video Presentation of the CAO System

The CAO does not deal with FET / PLC applications or college applications outside the Republic of Ireland. It is just one of several options available to your child after 6th year. The other options are:

  • College in the UK
  • College in Europe or further afield
  • Post Leaving Cert Course
  • Repeat Leaving Cert
  • Apprenticeship
  • Job

What is a CAO Application Number? The CAO application number is the number assigned to candidates when they submit an application.

The number is unique to each individual and it is important to keep it safe and secure from interference by anyone.

Students often store the number on their phone along with PPSN and other important information. 

If everyone is agreeable it is useful for a parent of guardian to have a record of the number also.

Guidance, education & careers news

  1. Art Teachers Event in IADT
  2. Women in Medicine at NUI Galway
  3. Interested in a Career in the IT Industry?
  4. Time Management and Online Teaching
  5. Let’s Talk Equine webinars
  6. GMIT Launches Four New Phd Research Scholarships
  7. Drogheda Institute of Further Education Virtual Open Day
  8. Maynooth University Live Talks This Week
  9. News Items from Dunboyne College
  10. UCAS Extends January Deadline for all Applicants
  11. Inchicore College of Further Education Open Day
  12. Inchicore College of Further Education Online Open Day
  13. UCC Live Q&A

Guidance and education news

  1. Information Options in Maynooth University
  2. Studying Medicine, Veterinary and medical sciences in Poland
  3. New Courses in West Cork Campus
  4. Trinity CAO Information Evenings
  5. Change to Maynooth University Accommodation Booking Process
  6. LIT Virtual Engineering Information Evening
  7. Open Evening in Carlow IT
  8. Tips for Students Preparing for Maths Exams
  9. Generation Apprenticeship Competition

Education & Careers News

  1. Music Auditions in DkIT
  2. Talks on CAO Courses in IADT
  3. DkIT Online CAO Information Morning
  4. Studying Law in UL
  5. Undergraduate Virtual Open Day
  6. UCD Quinn School Business Open Evening – 18th January 2021
  7. Maths Week Ireland Newsletter
  8. Enterprise Ireland News January 2021
  9. Ballyfermot CFE Applications and Open Day
  10. MTU Kerry Campus Parents Information Evening
  11. Leaving Cert Guidance Podcast
  12. Video on Studying Law in UL

CAO – COVID-19 update

  1. Where do I send my documents?If you are required to supply documentation to support your application you must post your documents to CAO, Tower House, Eglinton Street, Galway, Ireland.

    More detailed instructions can be found here.

    There is no upload facility on the CAO website and documents are not being accepted electronically.
  2. I cannot get a stamp for my documents because my school is currently closed, what should I do?If you cannot obtain a stamp on a document, send what you have without a stamp – you may receive a request for a stamped copy or sight of the original at a later stage.
  3. The grading process for my examination has changed, will this affect my CAO application?If the grading process for your qualification has changed due to pandemic restrictions, we expect that grades issued by examining authorities will be treated as normal.
  4. My examination results will be later than expected, what should I do?CAO and the HEIs understand that there is much uncertainty at the moment. The best advice we can give is to send any evidence you have of relevant results now and send any further results as soon as you receive them. If you cannot obtain a stamp on a document send what you have without a stamp – you may receive a request for a stamped copy or sight of the original at a later stage.
  5. I have a query about my HEAR/DARE application.DARE/HEAR instructions for documents are available here (further instructions will be given in the relevant sections of your CAO account when you have entered your information).

    Do not leave your DARE and/or HEAR application and documentation to the last minute.
  6. I am applying for medicine – can you tell me about the application process for this year?For entry to medicine the instructions for documents are available here.
  7. I sat the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations in November, what happens now?Information for applicants who sat the Leaving Certificate examinations in November is available here.
  8. When will CAO offers issue this year?The CAO offers and acceptances schedule will be published on the CAO website when a date is agreed (by the State Examinations Commission) for the release of the 2021 Leaving Certificate examination results.
  9. Have you received my documents?Documents received since the 18 December are currently being processed. If you did not include a self-addressed postcard with your documents, then it is not possible for us to tell you if your documents have been received at this time. You may email again in two weeks’ time to check on the status of your documents. Alternatively, there will be an opportunity to view your documents in your CAO account in early April* – you will receive an email from CAO at this time asking you to check that all of your documents are present and correct. (*DARE HEAR documents will not be available to view in your CAO Account)
  10. I cannot obtain a translation of my certificates due to the lockdown in my country, what should I do?Please submit your certified photocopy of the original certificate with a note stating that the translation service is currently unavailable to you. Please submit your certified translation as soon as the service becomes available to you. Do not forget to include your CAO application number on the front of all documentation sent to CAO.

Christmas Poem


Christmas time

A time to reflect on the past

A  time knowing all could not last.

We have memories of pain

We have memories of love

All is not in vain

God’s promise renews our love.

Renew our passion

Break through the pain

Allow our love to be full of compassion

We have so much to gain

Christmas is not just a party or game.

The birth of our Newborn King

Brings a visit from the three wise kings

Gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh in hand

Symbolism of our New promise land.

This Christmas time

How will you shine

As you share gifts from hand to hand?


Guidance & Education News

  1. Season’s Greeting from The Heritage Council
  2. UCD QQI-FET Entry to Science, Sustainability, Computer Science, Agriculture & Food Science Open Day
  3. RCSI Mini Medical & Mini Health Sciences 2021
  4. Keeping up to date with Irish College Leuven
  5. New Video Showcase of Ireland’S Native Plants and Wild Places
  6. Courses this Winter in Griffith
  7. How Adolescents Deal with and Adjust to Pandemic ResTrictions

Leaving Certificate Subjects

English, Irish and Maths are compulsory, so it’s really important to research the subjects you are considering for the Leaving Certificate.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment ( is a good starting point to find the full range of subjects for Senior Cycle. In this booklet  you will find a range of subjects for Senior Cycle and get an opportunity to evaluate the subjects you are considering. If a student has a particular career or college course in mind they should make sure they understand the subject requirements of that career or course now.  It is too late in sixth year deciding to be a primary school teacher without having taken Higher Course Irish  from fifth  year, or wishing to apply to the National University of Ireland  which require three languages for most courses, or wishing to go to Dundalk I.T. without passing English and Maths at least at ordinary  level.  Colleges and courses have various requirements and research is needed in third and transition year to make sure your desired options are available to you in sixth year.

The following websites are useful:


Why study a language 


UCAS U.K College Applications             


National Council for Curriculum and Assessment 

Careers Ireland                                                











Home Economics                                           

  Tips for  choosing Leaving Certificate subjects

  • Talk to students in senior cycle and listen to their experience.  Maybe you have an older sister or brother who is studying the same subject. 
  • The most professional person to speak with is the teacher of the subject – listen to the facts, hear how they promote and show an interest in their subject. It’s really important to get a glance at the textbooks that you will be using.  Choose subjects you like, not the subject that your friends would like you to do.
  • Reflect on your CAT test performance as they indicated your strengths in the following areas; verbal or numerical reasoning, spatial awareness, mechanical reasoning. Strengths in these areas will point you in the direction of career areas that could compliment your ability. It is also important to look at how you did in the Interest assessments.  This can be very enlightening for students. Through answering a series of preference questions interest assessments can reveal a lot about your work preferences.  You can repeat the interest assessments free of charge with Careers Portal and Qualifax.
  • Research college courses and colleges that you have an interest in that will lead you on your choice of career pathway and ensure that when you make your CAO application you are not caught out because you did not study a particular subject for the Leaving Certificate. Many students will study a third language which is recommended as it is a matriculation for the vast majority of courses in the National University of Ireland. Some students will decide on a science subject to keep their options open, this is important if you are considering science, pharmacy, veterinary science, nursing, human nutrition and dietetics,  engineering or medicine as a possible career. It is recommended that students  also consider subjects that offer coursework and projects where they can achieve a grade mark before sitting the Leaving Certificate, e.g. home economics, art, LCVP, history, geography, music.