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Key CAO reminders ahead of February deadline




By Niamh Dwyer 

As the first significant deadline for CAO 2023 approaches, it is very important that students, parents and guardians take time to familiarise themselves with the application process.

There are lots of helpful resources, video guides and a ‘Demo’ version of the CAO form on so take some time to look at the ‘Applicants’ and ‘Parent/Guardians’ section of the site. Remember that this is not your final decision regarding course choices, you will have lots of time to change your mind after February 1 at 5pm, and amend course choices from May 5 up to July 1, but some restrictions apply.

Register by January 20 to avail of discounted application fee.

To register, log on to and click on 'Apply', it will ask you first to input your personal and contact details along with the category of applicant you are. Once you create a password and submit payment you receive you CAO number which means you are registered. Applicants who register before January 20 at 5pm will be charged the discounted application fee of €30, which increases to €45 up to February 1. Once you have registered you have until February 1 to add and change your courses, free of charge. On May 5, the Change of Mind facility will open and you will have the chance to change your courses, with certain restrictions, up to July 1 at 5pm.

Course choices

You have the option of filling in 20 courses in total – 10 choices on Level 8 (Honours Bachelor Degrees) and 10 on Level 7/6 (Ordinary Bachelor Degrees/Higher Certificates) and it is advisable to fill as many as you can to give yourself the best chance of being offered a place on a course you like. It is essential though that you research carefully all the courses you are going to include. Often students are careful about their first couple of choices but don’t research the courses that are further down the list well enough. Don’t make this mistake. Every course you put down should be one that you are genuinely interested in and willing to do, so consider all options carefully. The majority of Level 7/6 courses have progression routes onto Level 8. The lists operate independently of each other so, by filling up choices on both lists, you are giving yourself a great chance of getting two offers, the top one for which you qualify from both lists.

Order of Preference

This is the golden rule of the CAO and a very common mistake made by students every year. Always put down your courses in order of preference, not in the order of the points from the previous year. Points for courses change each year and you will not know the points for 2023 until the day that the Round 1 offers are issued by CAO. You don’t know what points you are going to get until the Leaving Cert results come out so focus on listing your course choices in order of preference. This means placing your favourite course in your favourite college as number one, second favourite course as number two and so on down to choice number 10. Do this for both lists.

Restrictions for the February deadline

While you will get the opportunity to change your course choices later in the year, there are certain restrictions to take note of regarding the February 1 deadline. If you are applying for ‘restricted courses’ they must be added in by February 1 as they require some other form of assessment apart from Leaving Cert points such as an aptitude test or a portfolio. Students who are applying for medicine must apply to do the HPAT by January 20 on Any students applying for the HEAR (Higher Education Access Route) or DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) schemes must have applied to CAO by February 1. You then have until March 1 to complete those applications and up to March 15 to have supporting documentation sent to CAO (see In the case of mature applicants, most HEIs (Higher Education Institutions) require applications to be in by the February 1 deadline.

Language Exemptions

Students who have language exemptions must contact the relevant colleges where Irish or a third language is required and follow their guidelines. If applying to TCD, University of Limerick or Mary Immaculate College, you must contact the relevant Admissions Office directly. In the case of NUI institutions which include UCC, UCD, Maynooth University, NUI Galway, RCSI and NCAD, you must contact the NUI (see for details). Apply to the NUI without delay and no later than 21 days after opening your CAO account.


The CAO plan to host an Information Evening for Parents and Students on January 17 at 6.30pm. Places are limited but a recording will be available. See for details.

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore and a member of Kerry Branch of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors. See or follow @mycareerplan on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.



30 years of Innisfallen Island MassThe annual special concelebrated Mass on Innisfallen Island takes place next week.

Next Friday (June 21), members of the public are invited to attend the Mass taking place at 6.30pm. Now in its 30th year, the Mass was originally an idea by […]




Next Friday (June 21), members of the public are invited to attend the Mass taking place at 6.30pm.

Now in its 30th year, the Mass was originally an idea by Geoffrey O’Donoghue who sadly died four years after it began.

“There was an Augustinian Monastery on Innisfallen Island and the people, including priests and monks and they say Brian Boro, went out there to study. The lake, Lough Lein is called ‘The Lake of Learning’,” said his wife Mary who carries on the tradition in his memory.

“My husband Geoffrey was a descendent of the O’Donoghues and he wanted to have Mass on the island. The O’Donoghues built Ross Castle and owned the lands and the lake surrounding it which was later donated by John McShane to the people of Killarney. He [Geoffrey] asked one of the friars and one day he got a call from the OPW that there would be a plaque unveiled to John McShane and they asked if the Mass could coincide with it. It was attended by Sr Pauline, John McShane’s daughter.”

She added that all the public are welcome to attend. Boats, which will have a nominal fee to cover their costs, will be carrying passengers out from 4pm onwards.

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Photo of “hidden gem” wins Camera Club’s latest competition

A photograph of one of Killarney’s hidden beauty spots was deemed the winner of Killarney Camera Club’s most recent competition. Th standard was high throughout all categories but in the […]




A photograph of one of Killarney’s hidden beauty spots was deemed the winner of Killarney Camera Club’s most recent competition.

Th standard was high throughout all categories but in the Novice category, Iryna Halaieva’s photograph of O’Sullivan’s Cascade was deemed the winner.

“A waterfall is my favourite waterbody and long exposure is my favourite photographic technique,” she said. “I do my best to have as many waterfalls as possible in my photo collection. I heard a lot about O’Sullivan’s Cascade and wanted to visit that hidden gem of Kerry. So, shortly before our club competition I went with a friend to Tomies Wood to photograph it. It was a dream come true for me.”

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