Peer Assisted Study Session (PASS)

Coming to college for the first time can be both an exciting and a worrying prospect. There are new people to meet, new friends to make, and the opportunity to study in depth a subject you enjoy.

At the same time, you’ll probably be wondering whether you’ll be able to keep up with your studies, write assignments to an appropriate standard, organise your time effectively, and have the confidence to present your ideas in front of other people.

PASS is designed to help first year students cope better with all these aspects of life at third level. It plays a key role in enhancing the experience of first year and easing the transition to third level.


What is PASS?

The Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) Programme is designed to foster support between students on the same programme. The programme encourages First Years students to support each other and learn co-operatively under the guidance of trained students(Peer assisted Learning Leaders)

  • Integration
    PASS programmes help new students integrate socially and academically with other students in their classes, on their courses, and across the wider institution.  It does this by providing opportunities for them to meet and work together in small groups under the guidance of a more experienced student.
  • Engagement
    PASS programmes encourage students to become more actively involved in discussing the subject matter of their course.
  • Support
    PASS programmes enhance the level of support and advice available throughout first year and improves students’ experience of college life.
  • Empowerment
    PASS programmes empower students to improve and develop PAL by providing them with opportunities to give their feedback via PASS Leaders and PASS Coordinators.
  • Leadership
    PASS programmes provide an environment in which PASS Leaders can practice and develop a range of personal and professional skills.


  • quickly adjust to third level life
  • acquire a clear view of the academic requirements of your course
  • improve your learning and study skills
  • enhance your understanding of the subject matter of your course through collaborative group discussions
  • prepare better for assessed course work and examinations
A student working on his assignment on a laptop

Why become a PASS Leader?

PASS Leaders benefit greatly from their experience as a leader – their confidence grows, key skills are strengthened, and their own academic understanding is deepened. Some of the key skill areas include;

  • Time management 
  • Communication 
  • Group working
  • Leadership
  • Group facilitation
IT Sligo Students Studying together

Here is what some PASS Leaders had to say:

How do I Become a PASS Leader

PASS Leaders are recruited and selected from currently registered second, third, or fourth year students. PASS Leaders must complete an application form and a self-assessment form to apply for the role. Successful applications are then short-listed for interviews and final selection. 


What Happens Next

A comprehensive, training programme for PASS Leaders is provided. Also, workshops and information sessions are run for IT Sligo staff. Contact for the upcoming training dates.

The National PASS Student Leadership Handbook containing information and advice on running PASS sessions will be distributed to PASS Leaders and PASS Course Contacts in advance of the training programme.

You will have weekly contact with your Academic Course Contact, on PASS session updates, or seek guidance from lecturers on the first year assignment schedule/what’s happening in lectures. 


PASS Sessions are timetabled for participating first year programmes (one hour per week for ten weeks each semester).

First year students will see PASS sessions on their timetable.  They can then register with their leaders for a PASS session or PASS session topics of interest

One or two PASS Leaders will run each PASS session. The topics to be discussed can be selected by the students in advance. PASS Leaders will decide techniques and activities they will use to ensure collaborative discussions take place.PASS Leaders can also seek guidance from the PASS Course Contacts and the Institute PASS Manager.

PASS sessions are intended to be structured, organised, and purposeful, while also being informal and friendly. During a session the group may:

  • review course material
  • analyse assignment requirements
  • go through past exam papers
  • discuss lectures or project work
  • discuss how to use the library for research
  • practise citing references
  • air other matters of concern, such as financial or accommodation issues

In PASS, the emphasis is on everyone in the group working co-operatively and interdependently to develop their understanding. PASS is about exploratory discussion led by the PASS Leaders. The more everyone in the group joins in these discussions, the better the sessions work.

At the end of each semester, PASS session evaluations and surveys will take place, with the aim of improving the performance of the PASS Programme in future academic years.


Contact us

PASS Leadership Academic Programme Coordinator

Dr Perry Share