CAO Offers 2024: Your Complete Guide to Accepting Your Place in College!

For freshly graduated Sixth Year students, late August features two very significant milestones.  Leaving Cert Results come out on the 23rd August, and Round 1 CAO Offers are released on August 28th. After this, things will move very quickly, but we are here to help break down the Round 1 CAO offers so that there is nothing to worry about!

How Do CAO Offers Work?

Around the same time you receive your Leaving Cert Results, so too will the Central Applications Office (CAO). 

The CAO is a computerized system, so it will process your Leaving Cert results, rank you against the other candidates who applied for the same course(s), and determine whether you receive an offer for one of your course choices based on availability and the Points System. 

Round 1 CAO Offers are the first set of offers made to applicants. If a student has enough points for their first-choice course, they will receive an offer for that course

If not, the CAO will consider their second-choice course and so on, until a suitable offer can be made. Once an offer is made, students have a limited time to accept it.

Accepting a Round 1 CAO Offer

Round 1 CAO offers will be released from 2.00 pm on the 30th of August 2023. They will be available to view online via the My Application page on the CAO website, and will also be issued by e-mail and text.

To view your offer on the CAO website, you will need:

  • your CAO Application Number (should start with 23)
  • your date of birth
  • your account password

Once you input this information, you will be taken to the Offers/Acceptance Section of your application. The table below provides a sample of the Course Offers Available section, which is where your Round 1 Level 6/7 and Level 8 offers will be displayed:

Once you accept an offer, you’ll receive an email confirmation. If you don’t see this, check your Spam or Junk folder, and if after that there is still no sign, double-check that you followed the instructions correctly.

If you intend to accept your offer, do not wait until 2.59 pm on the 5th of September – just in case there’s an issue with your internet!

Deferring a CAO Offer

If you wish to defer taking up the place for one year, don’t accept it. Instead, you should get in contact with the course provider (not the CAO) and do the following:

  • email the Admissions Office of the college or university immediately. You must give your name, CAO number, and the course code of the CAO offer you wish to defer, as well as the reason why. Use “DEFERRED ENTRY” as your subject line and make sure your email arrives at least two days before the reply date.
  • check the college website to see if they have a deferral policy

Not Offered Your First Choice in Round 1?

There are multiple reasons why you may not be offered your top choice course, but in most cases, it is because you did not achieve the minimum points for this round.

This can be quite disappointing for students, but it’s not necessarily the end of the world

If you accept one of the other courses from your CAO in Round 1, you may still receive a higher offer in Round 2 if you are eligible, and you are able to accept this in place of your Round 1 CAO offer.

Round 2 offers will be issued on the 11th of September at 2.00 pm.

That said, it is not guaranteed that you will receive another offer, but it is handy to have the option of your Round 1 offer in case this happens.

Didn’t Receive Any Offers?

Not receiving any offers at all is of course a possibility. However, once again, it’s not a reason to panic. 

The first thing that will happen if you do not receive any offers is you will receive a Statement of Application email. This email will ask you to log in to your CAO Account to review your account information

If there are any errors or omissions, inform CAO immediately

If there are no errors, it is most likely that you did not meet the minimum entry requirements and/or points requirements for the various courses on your current CAO application, but there still may be other courses available to you via Available Places.

Some Places Still Available at End of CAO

Available Places are open spots for particular courses after all the offers have been made.

For example, if a course has 140 places, and only 115 are filled, the course will thereafter be displayed on Available Places.

Only courses for which you meet the minimum requirements will show up on the Available Places list, but you don’t need to achieve any particular amount of points.

Apply For/Accept Available Places

Available Places goes live at 12 pm on the 31st of August 2023, the day after Round 1, and at that point, you will be able to log in to your account and add a course from the Available Places to your own original course list.

If you have previously filled up your course list, any courses you add will take the place of your lowest preference (i.e. your tenth favourite course on each list – you have ten slots for Level 8 and ten for Level 6/7).

Don’t take off any courses you still want to be considered for, and as before, make sure to rank them in order of preference!

Once you have applied for available places, the CAO will process your applications, and offers will be made to you in subsequent rounds based on your points and course preferences.

The table below shows the opening and closing date of each of the offer rounds for 2023 applicants:

Round 1:28th of August @ 2.00 pm3rd of September @ 3.00 pm
Round 2:9th of September @ 2.00 pm11th of September @ 3.00 pm
Round 3:17th of September @ 10.00 am19th of September @ 3.00 pm
Round 4:24th of September @ 10.00 am26th of September @ 3.00 pm
Round 5:1st of October @ 10.00 am3rd of October @ 3.00 pm

To accept an Available Place offer, you pretty much follow the same process as you would have for Round 1 offers.

Remember, if you accept an Available Place offer, it will take the place of any previous offers.

Not Happy with Any CAO Offers?

It may happen that you’re not willing to commit to any of the CAO offers you receive in 2024.

You may have had your heart set on your top choice and not received an offer, or perhaps your Results were not what you expected, and that can be really disheartening.

Allow yourself to have an emotional response if you are feeling disappointed. Chat with a loved one about how you are feeling. Don’t feel obligated to put on a happy face if you are disappointed – it is more than okay.

Many students face rejection and disappointment when it comes to CAO offers, so remember that you’re not alone, and there are plenty of supports out there for the thousands of students who don’t get their dream course.

Once you have dealt with your feelings, it can be helpful to examine some next steps:

  • Repeating your Leaving Cert: If you can’t bear the idea of doing anything but your top-choice course, then you may want to think about repeating your Leaving Cert. Hundreds of students repeat every year – often those aiming for top-point courses like Medicine or Dentistry – and while it isn’t the most attractive choice, it can be one way of getting into your dream course.
  • PLCs and Certificate Courses: Post-Leaving Cert and Certificate courses are a cheap and effective way of getting into your top-choice course. It takes about the same amount of time to complete a PLC as it does to repeat the Leaving Cert, but is cheaper, less stressful, and offers the opportunity to do something different, learn new skills, and meet new people instead of returning to secondary school.

Let’s look at an example of PLC can be an effective backdoor entry route into a course with high CAO points:

Sophie sat her Leaving Cert in 2022 and achieved 379 points. Her dream course is Social Policy and Sociology in UCD, but she did not receive this course as a CAO offer during Round 1 or subsequent offer rounds.

While disappointed that it did not work out for her first time round, Sophie’s guidance counsellor had told her of a so-called “backdoor route” into her top choice course. Each year, UCD reserves 20 spots on Social Policy and Sociology for students progressing from QQI FET courses.

Sophie applied to study Pre-University Social Studies at Sligo College of Further Education and emerged with 358 FET points, making her eligible for admission into the course of her dreams. She will commence her studies this September.
  • Working or doing an apprenticeship: Going straight into the working world can actually be a great way to figure out what you really want out of life. Furthermore, it allows you to earn a bit of money before heading off to college, and a lot of experience to add to your CV. Apprenticeships are a fantastic way of earning money, experience, and a qualification in your chosen discipline. Check out Apprenticeship.ie for a comprehensive list of the best apprenticeships in Ireland!
  • Direct Entry Undergraduate Courses: Not all Third Level courses require CAO points. There are many private HEI in Ireland that will allow for direct entry, meaning once you pay, you’re in. They can often be more expensive, but if you are willing to settle for online courses, you can save a lot of money on student accommodation by studying from home!

And there are plenty more options, too – from taking a gap year to travel to studying abroad and so much more! Just know that whatever the situation with your CAO offers, there are always ways for you to get where you want to go.

These things always have a funny way of working out!


With so many different possible outcome, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by Round 1 CAO offers. It’s important to remember that everyone else is going through the same process, and this starts an exciting new journey in a students life! So, Hopefully this guide to the Round 1 CAO offers made the process a bit more simple.

TJ— CEO of Breakthrough Maths.

Need help in Maths? Contact the Breakthrough Maths team here.

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