Application Procedure

Application Procedure

Application Procedure

Below is an overview regarding submitting an application to the CAO as a mature student and information on the assessment tests that may apply, depending on your course choice. 

To be considered as a mature student, you must have reached 23 years of age on or before 1st January of the year of proposed entry. 

Applications are made through the Central Applications Office (CAO) Tower House, Eglinton St., Galway.  Tel: +353 (0)91 509 800.

All applications should be made online at

It is important to note that the application closing date for the 2019 Mature Entry Route will be 5.15pm on the 1st February 2019. Applications open early November 2018.

When completing your application make sure that you select Option 8 for Mature Applicants in the Qualifications and Assessment Summary (see image below).  Note:  Mature students can also apply on the basis of their Leaving Certificate results (post 1985) if they have the required CAO points for entry to the degree programme of choice and/or on the basis of a FETAC/QQI Level 5 or 6 course undertaken. You are allowed to submit your application under all three pathways if you so wish and you can do this by selecting options 1 and 2 of this section.

When you have specified that you are applying as a Mature Student you will be required to complete a statement of interest.  The importance of the statement of interest cannot be underestimated as in some cases it is the sole basis for selecting successful applicants for certain degree programmes.

When completing the statement of interest the following areas should be included if applicable:

  • Relevant life experience 
  • Educational goals and objectives
  • Relevant work experience
  • Voluntary work experience
  • Previous academic history
  • Hobbies and interests

You also have the option to send hard copies of your statement of interest by post, if you feel that you do not have sufficient space online. Please include any documentation that is relevant to the application.  Remember to send copies of your documentation and not originals as you will not get them returned to you.  Include your name and CAO number on all additional documentation sent to the CAO. Further details on completing the statement of interest can be found in the CAO handbook on


MSAP assessment for admission to the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences

Mature students applying to the College of Arts, Celtic Studies & Social Sciences (all course codes from CK101 to CK118) must complete a written assessment - Mature Student Admissions Pathway (MSAP).  This will consist of a two hour paper designed to determine the candidate's verbal reasoning; candidates will also be required to complete two short essays.  The MSAP is independently administered by ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research). Click this link for further information.

Application procedure and cost:

In addition to their application to the CAO, students must also apply directly to ACER to complete the MSAP assessment.  Applicants for the assessment must apply on-line to ACER at  The cost of applying for the MSAP assessment in 2019 will be €83.00 per candidate within the normal registration period.  This fee will cover on-line registration for the test, materials required for the paper test, provision of test results to the candidate and the transfer of results to the CAO. 


For students with a Disability click here

MSAP test registration period:

The only sitting of the MSAP assessment in 2019 will take place in early March 2019.  There will be no alternative assessment date. 

Details of the exam time and venue will be send to applicants by the MSAP organisers.

The application period for the MSAP registration will commence in early November 2018 and will close in early February 2019. Late registration will incur an extra cost.

Test centres:

Test centres will be located in Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Galway (details of your test centre will be emailed to you by ACER closer to the test date).  Every effort will be made to accommodate applicants in their preferred test centre.  However, as capacity in some test centres may be limited, places in those venues will be allocated on a first-come basis.  Early application for the test is advisable. 


The test date for the MSAP will be in early March 2019. 

HPAT assessment for entry to the Honours degree in Medicine CK 701

The admissions test selected by Irish Medical Schools is called HPAT-Ireland (Health Professions Admissions Test-Ireland).  This test is independently administered by ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research).  The HPAT-Ireland test measures a candidate's logical reasoning and problem solving skills as well as non-verbal reasoning and the ability to understand the thoughts, behaviour and/or intentions of people.  It does not test academic knowledge and candidates do not require special understanding of any academic discipline.  However, some familiarity with the question types typically presented in HPAT-Ireland would be an advantage and therefore sample questions will be available at  The test results will be the criterion for the selection of mature applicants for interview. 

Format of test:

The HPAT-Ireland test is a 2-hour paper-based test consisting of three modules or sections:

  1. Logical Reasoning and Problem Solving
  2. Interpersonal Understanding
  3. Non-Verbal Reasoning

All questions are in multiple choice format with 4 or 5 possible responses, from which the candidate is asked to choose the most appropriate response.  There is only one correct response.  Further details regarding the test, including the approximate number of questions in each section, can be found at   Reasonable accommodations will be made for students with a physical and/or specific learning disability. 

Scoring of test:

Each of the three sections of the test is given equal weight.  The maximum score a candidate can receive is 300.  In addition to their overall score, HPAT-Ireland candidates will also receive an overall percentile rank to give them an indication of how well they performed against other HPAT-Ireland candidates. 

Application procedure and cost:

In addition to their application to the CAO students must also apply directly to ACER to complete the HPAT-Ireland test.  Applicants for the test will apply on-line to ACER at  The cost of applying to the HPAT-Ireland test in 2018 will be approximately €135.00* per candidate.  This fee will cover on-line registration for the test, materials required for the paper test, provision of test results to the candidate and the transfer of results to the CAO. 

HPAT test registration period:

Registration opens in early November 2017 at a cost of approximately €135*.

The closing date for registration will be 5.15pm on the 20th January 2018.

Late registration closing date will be at 5.15pm on the 24th February 2018 at a cost of approximately €205*.

The very late registration closing date will be at 5.15pm on the 3rd February 2018 at a cost of approximately €235*.

Test date:

The only sitting of the HPAT-Ireland test in 2018 will take place on the 24th February 2018.   There will be no alternative assessment date. 

Test centres:

Test centres will be located in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford (details to be confirmed).  Every effort will be made to accommodate applicants in their preferred test centre.  However, as capacity in some test centres may be limited, places in those venues will be allocated on a first-come basis.  Early application for the test is advisable.

*Subject to change

Some UCC degree programmes require Mature Students to sit a specific in-house assessment test.  In these situations you will be contacted directly by the relevant department with the details of the test. 

Here are the UCC degrees that will require you to sit an in-house assessment test:

If you have any questions with regard to this you should contact the faculty or course coordinator directly.  Click here for contact information.

Having applied through the CAO by 5.15pm on 1 February 2018, Mature Applicants must also register and apply through the PAS between specific dates (tba) in 2018, via the Public Jobs website This is  required as the PAS undertakes the assessment on behalf of NMBI ( Firstly you must log-on to and if you have not previously registered and you are a New User you must ‘Register’ before applying. The PAS undertakes the assessment stage on behalf of NMBI, you therefore must remember your User Name and Password for this process. Please do not confuse Registering with Applying. Once you have registered you must then access the application form, complete and submit it. Failure to register and apply may lead to disqualification of your application. The application form will only be available on between specific dates (tba) in 2018, under the job category ‘Medical’, sub category ‘Nurse/Nurse Management’ To register and apply with the PAS you should have to hand your CAO number, a valid e-mail address and your Personal Public Service (PPS) number (if you have one). Please note that once you have applied, you are advised to check your Message Board (located within your personal profile) for communications from PAS.

Please note: your application will be invalid if you do not complete all three steps

  1. Apply to CAO;
  2. Register with PAS;
  3. Apply to PAS for assessment test.

Applicants will receive an immediate email confirming that their application has been successfully submitted. This message should be retained. If the confirmation email is not received within two days please contact General Service Recruitment in the PAS at (01) 858 7730 immediately.
Please note that this application will only be available between specific dates (tba) in 2018.

The booklet can be downloaded from the NMBI website or obtained via post from:

Nursing Careers Centre, An Bord Altranais, 18/20 Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

Tel: +353 (0)1 639 8528 



Guidelines for Personal Statement

  • As mature students, it is a requirement for entry to most undergraduate degree programmes in University College Cork to submit a personal statement as part of your application to CAO. This is your opportunity to tell the university why you are suitable for your chosen course(s). You can do this by demonstrating your enthusiasm, commitment and suitability. Candidates submit their application through CAO 

Your personal statement will need to include the following information:

An explanation as to why you want to study your chosen course of study.  This will include

  • What has influenced your decision to pursue this course
  • Be very specific about your reasons and why you want to work in this particular area

Explain why you are suitable for this course.

  • What specific skills and abilities do you have that relate to this profession/sector?
  • What transferable skills have you gained that you feel are relevant to a role within this profession/sector (e.g. Communication, Management, Leadership, Research, Numeracy skills etc…).

Explain the relevance of your previous education and training to your chosen course (s)

  • Give details of your knowledge and experience. While information about previous education qualifications and performance is relevant, details about your area of study and the classes/courses you have taken may be more relevant. You should detail how your education relates to the course you are applying for even if you did not study anything directly related to the field, you can highlight how you gained skills and knowledge that may be relevant. This places your education in a context that increases your value as an applicant and keeps your abilities at the forefront of your statement
  • If you have been out of education for years, you may think that you lack relevant information, on the contrary, discussing any aspect of your education background shows that you are committed to continual learning.

Highlight relevant work experience

  • By tailoring your work experience to the course, you subtly highlight the transferable nature of any previous experience and skills you developed. This might be in the voluntary sector, unpaid work or work shadowing. Explain how it has developed your interest in the course (s) you are applying for
  • Give details of academic, professional or personal achievements, particularly if they relate to your course (s).

 Personal Interests

  • Include your interests if they relate to the course (s) you are applying for.  These will further demonstrate your skills and abilities
  • Highlight your achievements.

Future Goals

  • If you have an idea of future aspirations after you complete your degree (e.g. postgraduate study, career) explain how studying this course will help you reach these goals


  • This should relate to the key points you have made already.


Additional  information:


  • Your Personal Statement will form part of your supporting CAO documentation.  When you are completing your online CAO application you should mention Statement of Interest to follow. Ensure your CAO number is on the top of each page of the hardcopy before you post it to Central Applications Office, Tower House, Eglinton Street, Galway, H91 X25V, Ireland
  • It is only possible to submit one Statement of Interest to the CAO regardless of the number of courses you wish to apply for
  • It is recommended that your Personal Statement be no longer than 1,500 words


    Please check our Mature Student Guide, here to find out which courses require a Personal Statement. 


Tips & Pointers

  1. Grammar and sentence structure is of vital importance. Have a trusted individual read over your Statement of Interest.  Use a clear font (Times New Roman, Calibri, etc.,.).
  2. Explain your reasons for applying to the course(s). E.g. looking for a career change, a passion for your intended area of study, future career goals, etc.,
  3. Show that you have researched the course(s). What are some of the modules (subjects) you look forward to studying? It might be beneficial to speak to a lecturer on the course or a professional who works in this area
  4. Highlight your skills and strengths. Perhaps you have worked in a related area or have volunteering experience.


Have I answered these questions? 

  1. How did I learn about this area of study?
  2. Why am I interested in it?
  3. What life experience has sparked my interest?
  4. What skills or personal characteristics do I possess that make me stand out?
  5. What are my achievements throughout life?
  6. What are my career aspirations?
  7. Why UCC and this programme of study?


Anatomy of a Statement

  1. Past: What in your personal history made you decide to pursue this study?
  2. Present: Why do you feel you are suited to studying in this area now? (if applying for more than one course, you will address each course of study under 2 distinct headings)
  3. Future: How do you see your career developing in the future?


From everyone in the Mature Student Office, best of luck with your CAO application!

Programme Requirements

Please click here for the Programme Requirements, Application and Selection Methods and other details about your preferred degree(s).

Mature Student Office

Oifig na Mac Léinn Lánfhásta

1 - 2 Brighton Villas, Western Rd, Cork, T12 V304