Key dates for 2024 Leaving Cert students and CAO applicants

Timeline for this year’s college application process

Applying to the CAO this year? From early-bird applications in January to the release by the SEC of Leaving Cert appeals at the end of the process in September we list each important date in the CAO calendar along with important links, reminders and information about fees.

January 20th (5pm): Closing date for the CAO early-bird online applications. A fee of €30 applies before this date and increases after that date to €45, until February 1st.

January 21st (5.15pm): This is the registration date for Hpat-Ireland 2024 (fee €152.80). Applicants must already have registered with the CAO and have an application number. Late registrations for Hpat are open ( until February 2nd, 5.15pm (€222.80). An exceptional late registration fee (€257.80) applies until February 4th, 5.15pm.

February 1st (5pm): Closing date for normal applications to the CAO for entry to all first-year undergraduate courses. People applying for restricted application courses (those with early assessments such as interviews or portfolio assessment) must list any such course on their application by this date.


February 5th (12pm): Online facility to amend course choices becomes available for a late fee of €10 until March 1st (5pm). Only those who have omitted a restricted application course need to utilise this facility.

February-April: Interviews and portfolio presentations for restricted application courses take place. 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 (5pm): This is the closing date for completion of the Mature Applicant section of the CAO form for those seeking places under this classification. It is also the final date for CAO applicants to add any restricted application course choices, and to complete the online sections of the application process under the Hear (Higher Education Access Route) and/or Dare (Disability Access Route to Education) schemes.

Who gets those places is at the discretion of each course director and may favour those with specific disabilities or who qualify for both Hear and Dare.

March 5th (noon): Late application facility opens for those who have not as yet applied to the CAO, at a cost of €60. It remains open until May 1st at 5pm.

March 15th (5pm): All supporting documentation for Hear or Dare must be supplied to the CAO to arrive in its offices in Galway by post by that date.

School Easter holidays: The State Examinations Commission’s (SEC) Leaving Cert oral tests in Irish, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Japanese take place in schools throughout the country.

Late April: Results are released for UL and mature applicants who sat the Hpat undergraduate medical entry aptitude test in February.

May 1st (5pm): Closing date for late CAO applications. After this, no further applications will be accepted for the 2024 academic year.

May 5th: The CAO change-of-mind facility opens, which enables applicants to amend, or list for the first time, their course choices. Candidates get a statement of application record online in the correspondence section of their CAO account, before the end of May, listing all details supplied by applicants to date. Applicants must inform the CAO immediately if they do not receive this record, or if any errors appear.

June 5th: Leaving Certificate written examinations begin and will continue until late June. On the day of the last Leaving Cert written paper: Applicants under 23 who sat the Hpat test in February receive results to enable them to factor these marks into their final consideration of course choices before July 1st CAO deadline.

July 1st (5pm): Final date for any amendments to course choices and order of preference on all CAO applications for entry to college in September 2024. Most 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 about 6,000 offers to mature (over-23) applicants, and to applicants who accepted and then deferred college offers of places in 2023. These offers are made online only at and remain open for about a week.

July 22nd (5pm): An exceptional closing date for registered third-level students who wish to drop out of their current college programme and reapply for a new list of course choices through the CAO (€60 fee).

Round zero offers, early August 2024: More than 4,400 places on courses are offered to applicants presenting further education (FE) awards and to an additional cohort of mature applicants. Applicants for graduate medicine are also offered places in this round. Offers are open for about one week.

Late August: The State Examinations Commission delivers 2024 Leaving Cert results to more than 730 second-level schools, and makes them available through a secure online service at from noon.

Late August: Immediately following the release of Leaving Cert results an application to view scripts can be made online only on the SEC Student Portal. Students will also have access to the component marks of their various scripts at this time.

Within days: The CAO releases round one offers to candidates online that afternoon. Minimum points required for entry to each course will be available on the CAO website at that time. Shortly afterwards: Leaving Cert students who are unhappy with a grade they received and wish to view their marked exam scripts may do so online. There is no charge for viewing marked exam scripts. Shortly afterwards: Students who wish to appeal the result in one or more Leaving Cert subjects can apply online through the SEC Student Portal to do so between these dates.

Within a few days of round one CAO offers: Closing date for receipt of acceptance of CAO round one offers.

A few days later: The CAO makes round two offers available to applicants online. The minimum points required for entry to each course are released on the CAO website on that date.

A few days later: Closing date for receipt of acceptance of CAO round two offers.

Late September: Results of Leaving Cert appeals are released by the SEC to students. Students whose scripts have been upgraded may receive a new offer of a place on a course higher up their CAO order of preference than what they have previously been offered. The offer may be for the 2024 academic year, but in some cases where there is no capacity to accommodate additional students on a course, the offer may be for a place in the 2025 academic year.

NOTE: The exact dates for the release of this year’s Leaving Cert results and the subsequent CAO offers, and all that follows, have not as yet been determined. The Irish Times will update these details when these dates have been confirmed.

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Brian Mooney

Brian Mooney

Brian Mooney is a guidance counsellor and education columnist. He contributes education articles to The Irish Times