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Michael Hill
Michael Hill

The Ultimate Guide to the 2023 CAO Handbook - How to Download and Use It


Download 2023 CAO Handbook




If you are planning to apply for undergraduate courses in Irish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in 2023, you will need to use the Central Applications Office (CAO) system. The CAO is a centralised service that processes applications for most of the colleges in Ireland. To help you with your application, you will need to download the 2023 CAO Handbook, which contains all the information you need to know about the CAO system, the application process, the courses available, and some useful tips and advice.


What is the CAO Handbook?




The CAO Handbook is a comprehensive guide that explains everything you need to know about applying to college through the CAO system. It covers topics such as:




download 2023 cao handbook



  • The role and function of the CAO



  • The general and specific entry requirements for different courses and colleges



  • The common points scale and grading system



  • The online application process and important dates



  • The course choice list and how to use it



  • The offer and acceptance process and how to respond to offers



  • The change of mind facility and how to use it



  • The appeals and deferrals process and how to apply for them



  • The access routes for mature applicants, students with disabilities, students from disadvantaged backgrounds, etc.



  • The frequently asked questions and answers



Why do you need the CAO Handbook?




The CAO Handbook is an essential resource for anyone who wants to apply for college through the CAO system. It will help you to:


  • Understand how the CAO system works and what are your rights and responsibilities as an applicant



  • Find out what are the minimum entry requirements for different courses and colleges



  • Learn how to calculate your points based on your grades and bonus points



  • Know how to fill out the online application form correctly and avoid common mistakes



  • Discover what are the courses available in different fields of study and levels of qualification



  • Compare different courses and colleges based on their features and benefits



  • Make informed decisions about your course preferences and order of preference



  • Keep track of important dates and deadlines for applying, changing your mind, accepting offers, etc.



  • Get tips and advice on how to prepare for college and succeed in your studies



How to get the CAO Handbook?




There are two ways to get the CAO Handbook:


  • You can download it for free from the CAO website at . You can also view the changes to the handbook that may occur after publication on the same page.



  • You can order a personalised handbook from the CAO website at . You will need to enter your name, email address, date of birth, school name, school roll number, school year, subjects studied, exam type (Leaving Certificate, A-Level, etc.), and exam year. You will then receive a handbook by email that is tailored to your profile and preferences.



It is advisable to get the CAO Handbook as early as possible, preferably before you start your final year of school, so that you can familiarise yourself with the CAO system and plan your course choices ahead of time.


What is the CAO application process?




The CAO application process consists of four main steps:


  • Register online on the CAO website at . You will need to create an account, pay the application fee, and enter your personal details. You will then receive a CAO number and a statement of course choices by email. The online registration opens in early November and closes on 1 February. However, you can avail of a discounted fee if you apply by 20 January.



  • Choose your courses on the CAO website at . You can list up to 10 courses in order of preference for each of the two levels: level 6/7 (higher certificate and ordinary bachelor degree) and level 8 (honours bachelor degree). You can also use the course search tool to find courses by institution, exam type, working personality or career direction. You can change your course choices as many times as you want before 1 July, using the change of mind facility.



  • Use the points system to estimate your chances of getting an offer. The points system is based on your grades and bonus points (for example, for maths or Irish). You can use the points calculator on the CAO website at . However, keep in mind that the points may vary from year to year depending on the demand and supply of places.



  • Respond to offers on the CAO website at . The CAO will issue offers to eligible applicants in several rounds, starting from mid-August. You will receive an email and a text message notifying you of any offer you receive. You can also check your offer status on the CAO website using your CAO number and password. You will have a limited time to accept or reject an offer, usually one week. If you accept an offer, you will receive a confirmation email from the CAO. If you reject an offer or do not respond within the deadline, you will lose that offer and may not receive another one.



What are the CAO courses?




The CAO courses are undergraduate courses offered by most of the HEIs in Ireland. They cover a wide range of fields of study, such as arts, business, engineering, health sciences, humanities, law, science, social sciences, etc. They also vary in level and duration, from higher certificates (level 6) that take two years to complete, to honours bachelor degrees (level 8) that take three or four years to complete.


To find out more about the CAO courses, you can use the following features on the CAO website:


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  • The course search tool at , which allows you to search for courses by institution, exam type, working personality or career direction. You can also filter courses by level, duration, points, entry term and closing date.



  • The course details page for each course, which provides information such as course code, title, description, entry requirements, modules, assessment methods, career opportunities, etc.



  • The course requirements page at , which lists the general and specific entry requirements for different courses and colleges.



What are some CAO tips and advice?




To make the most of your CAO application, here are some tips and advice that you should follow:


List your courses in order of preference, not points




The most important rule of the CAO system is that you should list your courses in order of preference, not points. This means that you should put your first choice course at the top of your list, regardless of how many points you think you will get or need. The CAO will always try to offer you the highest preference course that you are eligible for, based on your points and entry requirements. If you put a course that you don't really want at the top of your list, you may end up getting it and missing out on a course that you would have preferred.


Do what you love and research your options




The best way to choose your courses is to do what you love and research your options. This means that you should pick courses that match your interests, passions, skills, and goals. You should also research the courses and colleges that you are interested in, by reading the course details, visiting the college websites, attending open days, talking to current students and graduates, etc. You should also consider the career prospects and opportunities that each course can offer you, and how they align with your aspirations.


Consider the location, cost and facilities of the college




Another factor that you should consider when choosing your courses is the location, cost and facilities of the college. You should think about where you want to live and study, and how it will affect your lifestyle, budget, travel time, social life, etc. You should also compare the fees and expenses of different colleges, and see if you are el


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