If you’re a CAO student facing your final year at secondary school and thinking about what’s coming next, we’d like to offer some hints and tips we’ve learned that might help.

NCI NCI's Student Services desk


Choosing a course

When deciding what course you want to pursue be sure to research it in detail. Make sure you know the content of the course. How many years will it require you to be in college for? How is the course assessed – project work, end of year exams etc.? And know your options. What other colleges lecture in this area? Do they have a similar course?

Deferring your place

The procedure for applying for a deferral can be found here, you can contact our Admissions Team by emailing admissions@ncirl.ie. Applications for deferrals must include relevant supporting documentation. Do not accept your CAO offer.

The points system

Don’t focus too much on last year’s points. Be mindful of what you need to aim for but don’t let the points determine how you fill out your CAO form. Check if there are any special entry requirements (e.g. Portfolios). Make sure you put your courses down in order of preference and don’t base it on the amount of points required. For more information on filling out your CAO form visit www.cao.ie.

Choosing a college

Visiting the colleges you’re putting on your CAO form is very important. This is where you plan on spending a lot of your time over the next few years so you want to make sure it’s the right place for you. Most colleges have Open Days during the year. Take note of these dates and make sure to pop along.

Visiting an Open Day

Come prepared. What courses are this college offering that you are interested in and what information would you like to know about it? Know the answers to these questions and make sure to talk to the relevant lecturers. Speak to staff and students on the day; they can each give you a unique perspective of what life is like at the college.

Applicants with a disability

NCI is committed to providing equal access to education and equal opportunities for students with disabilities. We encourage students to be open about their disability so that we can support their individual needs. We would urge people to let us know about a disability or specific learning difficulty before the first day of their course, so that supports can be accessed in an open, relaxed, friendly and confidential way. More information can be found on the Disability Support Services Section of the NCI website.


NCI participates in DARE and HEAR, which are schemes that offer college places on reduced points to people with disabilities. The first step with both schemes is to apply through the CAO, after which applicants should submit additional information – details are available on the HEAR and DARE section of the NCI website.

Useful Websites

If you have any questions about applying to NCI through the CAO, just give us a call on 1800 221 721 or email admissions@ncirl.ie.