Other Options

What to do if I don’t get an offer from the CAO or I didn’t apply in the first place?

Getting into popular CAO courses can be difficult for applicants who get modest points in the Leaving Certificate. The good news is there are a wide range of opportunities which will enable you to continue your education beyond school.

Private Colleges

There are a number of private or independent colleges, which apart from offering courses through the CAO also offer programmes for which students may apply directly to the college involved. Many of these courses are validated by bodies outside the State, such as universities in the UK

CAO Vacant Places

If you do not receive an offer from the CAO, you can check out the list of vacant places on the CAO website under the heading “Available/Vacant Places”. These are programmes which have not received sufficient applicants to fill the number of places on offer from the college in question. People who have not applied to the CAO may make an application online for a vacant place. If you have applied already, you simply go into your record in the CAO website and place the vacant course at the top of your CAO application list (free of charge). Applicants for available places must meet the normal entry requirements for the course in question.

UCAS Clearing

Clearing is how UK universities and colleges fill any places they still have on their courses between July and September each year. It's an ideal way for you to find another course. It is similar to CAO Vacant Places.

Post-Leaving Certificate Courses (PLC)

Students apply directly to PLC courses. Minimum academic qualifications for these courses are normally five passes at Leaving Certificate. These courses are designed as a step towards skilled employment and, are closely linked to industry and its needs.

A PLC course will provide you with an excellent opportunity to gain entry to a university or an Institute of Technology, as it will allow you to apply again to the CAO the following year, presenting the result of your PLC course as your method of entry. Many students who earn distinctions in their exams can progress on to higher education.  Check out courses on Qualifax click here

Studying abroad

More and more Irish students are going abroad to study. Many third level institutions across mainland Europe are struggling to fill their courses. Entry requirements are very reasonable, programmes are taught in English and the fees are surprisingly low. Even as late as August there are still places available on courses in countries such as the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Spain, Italy and Norway. The quality of your education combined with an international experience will impress local and global employers. Contact EUNICAS at http://www.eunicas.ie/

A list of useful websites in popular countries can be found here.


Students who have reached the age of 16 years and who have, as a minimum obtained grade D in any five subjects in the Junior Certificate are eligible for an apprenticeship. You can apply directly to local firms for an apprenticeship. An Appenticeship comprises on-the-job training with the employer and of-the-job training in a Solas Training Centre or the local Education and Training Board.

Leaving Certificate 2020

What to do if you're unhappy with your Calculated Grades results

What options are available if you're not happy with your results

If you are unhappy with your results, you can submit an appeal.  There is no appeal fee.

Click here for information on the appeals process and how appeals will work with the timing of college courses this year.

Written Leaving Certificate Examinations in November 2020

Arrangements for holding written Leaving Certificate Exams in November 2020
The SEC is finalising plans to run the standard written Leaving Certificate Exams, beginning on 16 November next. The exams will take place at evenings and weekends and further details will be provided by the SEC at a later date.

Schools will not be able to provide tuition to anyone sitting these exams in November as they have already returned to teaching current students.

For details on the written exmainations and how to apply to sit the Novmeber exams click here

Combining Calculated Grades results with the results of the written exams

If you decide to sit the postponed Leaving Certificate examination, your final Leaving Certificate will reflect the best results for you.

For example:

  • if you sit the later exams and you receive a grade lower than the Calculated Grade that you received in the subject, your final certificate will display the Calculated Grade, as this is higher
  • if you receive a higher grade in the later exam, then this is the grade that will appear on your final certificate

However, it should be noted that results from the November exams will not be available in time to begin college this year.

For information on dates of the results of the exams, appeals process for the written exams, fees and other relevant information click here

Repeat Leaving Certificate courses

Repeating the Leaving Cert. may not be right choice for everyone who falls short of being offered a CAO place. Students must ask themselves “Can I really give it more the second time around?” If the answer is most definitely yes, then repeating is the right choice. For hard-working students who have fallen short in their points, repeating may not yield better results. These students are strongly advised to consider any of the above options.


back to top

server 01