Mature Student Nursing getting started


I've decided to go back to study Nursing/Midwifery as a mature student, what next? 

After making the brave decision to go back to college and study for a nursing/midwifery degree as a mature student, you might be wondering what you should do next. 

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Nursing and Midwifery - A Career For You 2019 Booklet

The first thing that we suggest you do is to read the Nursing and Midwifery – A Career For You 2019 booklet. This booklet is an excellent booklet that is published each year by the NCC – the Nursing Career Centre. The NCC is under the management of An Bord Altranais.

This booklet contains:

  • the key dates for the application process
  • an overview of nursing and midwifery
  • the honours degree course programmes
  • the programme structures
  • the number of places available on each degree course
  • the requirements for mature code applicants
  • other useful information


Self-Assessment Questionnaire

You should then complete the self assessment questionnaire developed by the PAS – Public Appointments Service. This questionnaire is not compulsory but it is useful for helping you to decide if nursing and/or midwifery is suitable to your personality.


Applying with the CAO

It will also be necessary for you to apply for your chosen nursing / midwifery degree course(s) with the CAO – Central Applications Office before the 1st of February. The CAO is the organisation that sorts the exam scores and offers places to applicants to the vast majority of third level courses in Ireland.  As a mature student, you can apply for a nursing / midwifery degree course online at  

Watch the CAO's Guide Video for Mature Applicants below. 

Remember: You must read the CAO Handbook and follow the instructions provided in the application form before submitting an application.

For additional assistance with this you can refer to the CAO website

Prepare for Success with our Preparation Course

After reading the Nursing – A Career For You booklet, you will be aware that applicants that apply for nursing as mature applicants will have to sit an exam called The Assessment Test for mature nursing / midwifery applicants. The Assessment Test is a computer-based assessment (as of 2018) and is conducted by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) on behalf of the Nursing Career Centre (NCC).  The points / scores from The Assessment Test are used by the CAO instead of Leaving Certificate Exam points when allocating places for each of the nursing degree programmes to mature applicants.

In order to help you reach your full potential in The Assessment Test we hold 1-day preparation courses at venues nationwide including Athlone, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Sligo, and Waterford. These courses are extremely popular and fill up each year. We have limited spaces available on each course so make sure to book early. For more information, click on The Preparation Course Details


Register with the Public Appointments Service

This is a very important step that many people forget to complete. In order to be eligible to sit The Assessment Test you will have to register to sit the exam with the Public Appointments Service.  It is only possible to register between the dates that are given by the PAS. Registration has to be completed at


The Official Test Date

The official Assessment Test usually takes place in April of each year. The online assessments for the 2018 exam took place during weeks commencing 9th April 2018 and 16th April 2018 in the PAS office (Chapter House) in Dublin.  The office is located at 26/30 Abbey St. Upper, Dublin 1.


A Recommended Step by Step Guide 

  • Research online: Join forums on groups/ Facebook group. Get information and advice from others who have applied and are current students.
  • Study the two documents: Test Familiarisation Booklet and “Nursing/Midwifery – A career for you”.
  • Attend open days in your university of choice, usually held in December/January.
  • Research course choices in detail. Look at the university websites and the course content and timetables.
  • Apply to the CAO before 1st February.
  • Enrol in the Career Services preparation course, held around the country in the months and weeks before the test.
  • Attend The Assessment Test in early April.
  • Early June. Results released in early June via PAS website (order of merit place) with breakdown of results from the PAS with test scores and group position
  • Early July. First round of offers. If offered a place, accept online – or don’t accept if deferring. Contact your university and proceed with deferral process.
  • Early August: second round of offers from CAO
  • September/October: more offers may be made at this stage
  • Go to for information about grants, fees and social welfare entitlements.

  Preparation Course