The third-level education is highly competitive in Ireland. Students compete for entry based on results achieved in the Irish Leaving Certificate Examination. Students are graded on their six best subjects scores. Entry requirements for courses may vary from year to year, depending on the number of places available and the number of applicants, thus there exists a great deal of competition for the more sought after programmes.
a) Attend upper secondary school in Ireland and complete the Leaving Certicate Examination with Irish students. This route is chosen by a number of students who commonly take the examination in conjunction with English language tuition.
b) Undertake recognised public examinations in their own countries. This is a more common route and it is essential that every applicant check that the educational qualifications she/he is presenting are adequate to satisfy entry requirements. To have a realistic prospect these results should be very good, e.g. for medicine 3 good 'A' Level passes (grades A/B) or the equivalent, in relevant subjects are required. The minimum requirement for most degree level programmes is 3 grade 'C's at A level or equivalent. If there is any doubt about the acceptability of an applicant's qualifications, clarification should be sought in good time from the particular third level institution.
As English is the language of instruction at all Irish Institutions of higher education, students must demonstrate a proficiency in English to be accepted for a third level programme. Generally, the required minimum score in TOEFL is 550. Many universities and colleges provide English Language training programmmes for intending students. Furthermore, there are over 150 private English language training schools throughout the country, which run both short and long-term courses.