Here's everything you need to know about the CAO before Friday's 'early-bird' deadline

The Pat Kenny show took a look at all the key dates opportunities as thousands of people prepare to apply to the CAO

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With the deadline for early-bird applications for the CAO fast approaching, thousands of people around the country are finalising their plans for the future.

Up to 80,000 applicants will apply for a CAO place over the next few weeks and with a range of issues in the education sector facing unresolved issued - not least the ongoing dispute between the Association of Secondary teachers in Ireland (ASTI) and the government - Newstalk’s Pat Kenny sat down with Irish Times columnist and education councillor, Brian Mooney to discuss the year ahead.

ASTI dispute

Mr Mooney began by giving his take on the ASTI dispute as the union’s Standing Committee prepares to decide on a ballot for industrial action.

He warned the union now finds themselves in a difficult position as the mock examinations are looming and they have yet to reach a decision.

He said ASTI members are losing money all the time while their counterparts in other unions are receiving wage increases and payment for substitution and supervision duties under the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

He said the union is likely to go with tamer industrial options than they did in 2016 - with the “nuclear option” of measures that could result in the closure of schools now “effectively ruled out.”

“It will just drift on and on and on and at the same time teachers are losing income and children who are meant to be doing the Junior Cert English assessments are going to end up being marked out of 90% of the overall mark - and that is going to be very, very distressful for many students,” he said.

CAO Applications

The closing date for the CAO early-bird on-line applications is January 20th at 5:15pm.  A fee of €25 applies before this date before increasing to €40 right up until February 1st.

“If you want to throw away €15 wait till after 5:15pm on Friday to apply,” said Mr Mooney.

He said you don’t need to make any decision before applying, “you just have to tell them who you are.”

“Effectively you have until July 1st ultimately to make your final choice of subjects.”

Mr Mooney gave Pat his expert advice on all the key dates for the CAO applications - from the changes in nursing courses, the potential point requirements and options for studying abroad to advice for those who plan to take a different route toward bettering their future.

You can listen back to the whole conversation here:

The key CAO 2017 dates are below: 

  • January 20th, 2017 (5.15 pm): Closing date for the CAO early-bird on-line applications. A fee of €25 applies before this date and then increases to €40 - until February 1st.
  • February 1st, 5.15pm: Registration date for HPAT-Ireland 2017 (fee €130). Late registrations will incur a fee of €200 - until February 1st, 5.15pm.
  • February 3rd, 5.15pm: An exceptional late registration fee of €235 applies until February 3rd, 5.15pm. The HPAT test takes place in centres around the country on Saturday, February 25th. HPAT - Ireland is required for entry into the MSc Occupational Therapy and MSc Speech and Language Therapy (both professional qualifications) at UL.
  • February 1st (5.15pm): Closing date for normal applications to the CAO, for entry to all 1st year undergraduate places. People applying for restricted application courses (those with early assessments such as interviews or portfolio assessment) must list any such course on their CAO application by this date.
  • February 5th: Online facility to amend course choices becomes available for a late fee of €10 until March 1st.
  • February - April: Interviews and portfolio presentations for restricted application courses in colleges throughout the country during this period. Following these assessments, applicants learn if they are approved for consideration for a place on each programme. Marks are awarded in many cases, which are added to an applicant’s CAO points score in August, to determine offers of places.
  • March 1st (5.15pm): This is the final date for CAO applicants to complete the online forms under the HEAR (Higher Education Access Route) and/or DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) schemes.
  • HEAR is an admissions route for school leavers who for social, financial or cultural reasons are under-represented at third level. DARE is a supplementary admissions scheme offering places on reduced points to school leavers with a designated disability.
  • April 1st (5.15 pm): All supporting documentation for HEAR or DARE must be supplied to the CAO by post by
  • 27th March - 7th April: The State Examinations Commission’s Leaving Cert oral tests in Irish, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Japanese, in all second-level schools.
  • Late April: Results are released for UL and mature applicants who sat the HPAT undergraduate medical entry aptitude test on February 25th.
  • May 1st (5.15 pm): Closing date for late CAO applications. The fee for an online application up to this date is €50. After this no further applications will be accepted for the 2017 academic year.
  • May: The CAO change-of-mind facility opens on May 5th. Candidates get a statement of application record by post before the end of May, listing all details supplied by applicants to date. Inform the CAO if you do not receive it, or if there are any errors on this form.
  • June 7th: Leaving Certificate written examinations begin, and continue until Friday 23rd.
  • June 26th: Applicants under 23 who sat the HPAT test on February 25th receive results, to enable them to factor these marks into their final consideration of course choices before July 1st CAO deadline.
  • July 1st (5.15pm): Final date for any amendments to course choices and order of preference on all CAO applications for entry to college in September 2017. The vast majority of current year Leaving Cert applicants make their final course choice decisions/amendments during this “Change of Mind” period in May-June each year.
  • Initial CAO offers during first week of July: The CAO makes over 6,000 offers to mature (over-23) applicants, and to applicants who accepted and then deferred places in 2016. These offers are made by post and online on, and remain open for a week. Mature and deferred applicants who may be away from home should ensure any offer in early July is dealt with, as offers lapse if not accepted within a week.
  • July 22nd: An exceptional closing date for current third-level students who wish to drop out of their current college course and re-apply for a new list of choices through the CAO. Over 300 students exercised this option in 2016.
  • Round Zero offers, early August 2017: Over 2,000 places on courses are offered to applicants presenting further education awards and to an additional cohort of mature applicants. Applicants for graduate medicine are also offered places in this round. Offers are open for one week.
  • Wednesday, August 16th: The State Examinations Commission delivers 2017 Leaving Cert results to over 700 schools, and makes them available through a secure online service at from noon.
  • Monday, August 21st: The CAO releases Round One offers to candidates online at 6am. Offer notices posted to candidates to arrive on this date. Minimum points required for entry to each course are available on the CAO website from 6am and are printed in full in that day’s Irish Times first round college offers supplement.
  • Tuesday, August 222nd: Leaving Cert students who are unhappy with a grade and wish to view their marked exam scripts in their school must return the application forms, in their Leaving Cert results envelope, to their school by this date. There is no charge for viewing your marked exam scripts.
  • Monday, August 28th (5.15 pm): Closing date for receipt of acceptance of CAO Round One offers.
  • Wednesday, August 30th: The CAO posts round two offers to applicants, to arrive by post on Thursday August 31st. The minimum points required for entry to each course are released on the CAO website at 6am on that date.
  • Friday-Saturday September 1st-2nd: Students, along with one person of their choice, can view their scripts in school. The scripts cannot be viewed by anyone else unless the student is present.
  • Wednesday, September 6th (5.15 pm): Closing date for receipt of acceptance of CAO Round Two offers. Final date for receipt by the State Examinations Commission of Leaving Cert appeal applications. A fee of €40 per subject applies, which is refunded in the case of an upgrade.
  • Mid October: Results of Leaving Cert appeals released by the SEC. Final offers of places by the CAO will be made up to October 18th.