Mature Student Nurse's Experience

The following is a report written by a mature student who was successful in her application for Nursing. The report is in her own words...


I’ve wanted to do Nursing since as far back as I can remember. However, I did not have the required science subjects when I was doing my Leaving Cert in 2007. I went ahead and completed a degree in Journalism and Irish in DCU, but I was never entirely happy in my career and always thought about going back to do Nursing.

As soon as I turned 23, I applied for the Mature Nursing exam. I sat the paper exam in the RDS in Dublin in 2014. I wrongly assumed that because of a previous degree, the exam would come easily to me – but there was more to it than I imagined. I fell short of the entry requirements that year by 10 points and dropped the dream of pursing Nursing. It wasn’t until I began volunteering with a First Aid group in 2016 that one of the other volunteers mentioned how Career Services had equipped him with the skills for passing the exam.

In November 2017, I took a chance and re-applied through the CAO for Nursing. This time however, I also applied to the One-Day Preparation course with Career Services in Cork Airport Hotel.


CAO Application

Applications can be made online through There is an application fee of €30. The code for your relevant course can be found in the CAO Handbook; but I also double checked this against the code provided on my chosen university’s website.

I found the Timetable of events on the CAO website very beneficial. The following are the main events relevant to Mature Nursing:

• Nov 6th to Feb 1st : Online CAO application

• Feb 2nd to 22nd : Registration for Mature Nursing exam with PAS

• Mid-April: PAS Exam

• End of June: Exam results displayed on your PAS message board

• Early July: CAO offers


PAS Application

You must register as a user with in order to apply for the entry exam to Mature Nursing. It is important to remember that this is a separate process to the CAO application. Although the results of your exam will be sent to the CAO, and the CAO will ultimately provide your university offer – the two websites require two different applications. You will be prompted by the CAO to register with PAS when this becomes available however. I signed in to the PAS website regularly, before and after my exam, to check the message board. I also received email notifications whenever this message board was updated.


Career Services One-Day Course

I attended the Career Services preparation course on February 21st, 2018. My main reason for attending this course was because I had a lifelong fear of maths and had zero confidence in my skills for the Numerical Reasoning part of the exam. I did not think that I needed any extra help with the Verbal Comprehension part of the exam. Ironically, when I got my results in June, my score had risen the most in this section compared to my 2014 results. Lesson learned – all parts of the Career Services preparation day were helpful.

I was also surprised at how the course could prepare me for the Job Simulation section, the tips came in extraordinarily useful.

Exam Practice

The eLearning facility provided by Career Services, post-workshop, was the most useful part of all my exam prep. I logged in to this website daily, between the preparation course on Feb 21st and my exam on April 9th 2018.

I completed every practice test provided by the facility and made sure that I was achieving a passing score in all sections before the exam. I also attended a maths grind in-person for one lesson, but this proved to be pointless as the instructor on the Career Services preparation course had covered all tips and tricks.


The Test Day

I sat the exam on April 9th in the PAS Centre on Jervis Street in Dublin. I’m not going to lie, I found it very intense having all three tests – one after the other.

• Verbal Comprehension

• Numerical Reasoning

• Job Simulation

I’m a thorough person and I read through things very carefully, so I felt that the timer was putting me under pressure. However, I kept in mind some advice from my preparation course instructor that the tests are not designed for you to be able to complete all questions – quality is better than quantity here. The silver-lining was that I found the computer system much more efficient than the paper exam that I had sat in 2014. The Career Services eLearning facility had prepared me well for the functionality of this system. I panicked a bit during the Numerical Reasoning exam but kept reverting back to my skills from the preparation day.



The results of my exam became available on the PAS website at the end of June. I achieved a score of 171, ten points higher than my 2014 results. I had progressed the most in the Verbal Comprehension part of the exam – to my surprise.


CAO Offer

I was offered a place in General Nursing in UCC on July 5th 2018, and I absolutely couldn’t believe it. I had completely given-up on the idea of pursing Nursing after not receiving an offer in 2014. Four years later, and I’m now going back to study.


The proof is in the pudding that the Career Services preparation day helped me to gain this place. Having two exams results to compare to one another – one with, and one without the preparation course. I would highly recommend this course to anyone wishing to take the PAS exam this year.

Best of luck!



Thank you for sharing your experience Sophie from all of us at Career Services.