The Central Applications Office (CAO) is the organisation responsible for overseeing undergraduate applications to colleges and universities in Ireland.
The primary mission of the Central Applications Office is to centrally process applications in a fair and efficient manner. The colleges and universities delegate the administration of admissions to the Central Applications Office; colleges and universities retain full control of admissions.
The CAO awards points to students based on their achievements in the Leaving Certificate examination. A student’s points are calculated according to these tables, counting their best six subjects only (resulting in a maximum score of 625 points since 2012 with the introduction of the extra 25 points awarded to those who sit the honours mathematics exam and pass). If a student has sat the Leaving Certificate examination on more than one occasion, their points are calculated according to their best year’s performance. Students’ points are used as a queuing system for over-subscribed courses, with the available places offered to those students ranked highest by the points scale.
More information about the CAO can be viewed on the CAO website