The Wait is Over – Analyzing Your CAO Round 1 Offer

By Steven Galvin - Last update

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For Leaving Cert students across Ireland, CAO Round 1 offers represent that long-awaited moment. Now that the results are in, it’s time to carefully weigh your options.

Here’s some advice on navigating Round 1 offers:


Don’t panic if you didn’t get your first choice course. Look objectively at the offer(s) you did receive. Could any make a good alternate path? Was your original dream course realistic given your points? Evaluate choices based on your skills, interests and career goals.

Lower Preferences

While fixation on your first choice is common, take time to research any lower preference offers thoroughly before declining. They could end up being a great fit once you learn more about the programme, modules and career options. Keep an open mind.

Next Rounds

If you didnt get your first choice,remember you can accept a lower preference course in the first round – you will still receive offers from courses higher on your preference list in later rounds.


If your top choice requires higher points, deferring your offer and reapplying next year may be wise. Many courses allow deferral if you meet certain criteria. Deferring allows you to gain work experience, travel, or retake exams to score more points.

Available Vacancies

From late August, vacancies arise as some students get later offers or decide to defer/decline. Track vacancies daily on the CAO website and consider available courses that genuinely interest you. Act fast if you want to snap up a vacant spot.

Beyond CAO

Look into options beyond CAO such as Post Leaving Certificate courses or private colleges. Many accept late applications. Other options include apprenticeships and the new tertiary degrees.

Other Pathways

If CAO didn’t work out this year, remember there are always alternative pathways. Some lead to adventures abroad, while others let you rejoin formal education later. It’s not necessarily the end of the road.

While CAO Round 1 launches new futures for some students, others will need to adapt plans. With an open mindset and some strategic planning, you can still achieve your higher education dreams. Analyze the possibilities and make decisions thoughtfully.

Steven Galvin

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