Tuesday 20 March 2018

It's a good idea to spread your options in 2014

Aoife Walsh

This chart is unique in that it gathers strands of information that are nowhere else available in one place. Every year there are a number of changes to it as new courses are added, some are removed and others are consolidated or modified.

It brings together the most up-to-date information, including changes to what appears in the CAO Handbook 2014. A number of courses that appear in the handbook have been withdrawn since its publication, and these have been excluded. New courses, which did not appear in the CAO handbook, have been included.

Information from the 'important changes' list compiled by the CAO has also been included. The Important Changes list can be seen on the CAO website. Changes can occur on this list right up to July.

The final cut-off points for 2013 have been included as well as the mid-point, the figure for the points score of the applicant midway between the highest and the lowest applicant being offered a place. In some cases, there will be no points shown, because courses appear in the handbook for the first time.

Courses have been arranged by subject area rather than by college. This allows students to easily check the area that they are interested in and see, in one place, all of the courses that are relevant to that area. This is a good way to check whether there are courses available in a student's area of interest of which he/she may be unaware.

It allows students to see easily any courses similar to their area of interest that they have not considered. Finally, it can be useful to see the general points range for each subject area. This can help applicants to ensure they have 'covered all bases' with regards to their possible points.

In some cases, a course may appear more than once as it was considered relevant to more than one subject area, and students may consider courses from different perspectives.

When filling out the CAO form, research is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, every year, students presume they understand the contents of the course from the title, or believe courses in different colleges with similar names will have similar content. However, this is not always the case. Applicants should research thoroughly their choices using the college websites and literature, and the CAO handbook and website.

A common mistake is thinking that they must apply for the highest-point courses possible. Sometimes students talk about not wanting to 'waste' their points and only look at courses whose cut-off points last year are similar to the points they expect to achieve.

They should follow the advice of the CAO and choose courses based on genuine order of preference only. Remember the points are based on supply and demand and not on how difficult, interesting or suitable that course will be for a particular student. Students may list 10 choices on both the Level 8 list and the Level 7/6 list.

Irish Independent

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