Clearing – Frequently Asked Questions
Results Day can be an emotional time, so much so that it can be hard to organise all your thoughts and questions you have.
Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of answers to key questions about Results Day, UCAS Clearing and Adjustment. If you don't find an answer to your question here, go to Ask and our team of experts will be on hand to help.
Q. How should I prepare for Results Day?
A. Whatever your expectations regarding your exam results, you should have a contingency plan in place.
You should by no means expect the worst. Hopefully you’ll have worked hard and achieve the results you deserve! However, things don't always go exactly to plan so it's worth thinking about what to do if you don't get into either your Conditional Firm (CF) or Conditional Insurance (CI) choice. Will you resit your exams, take a year out and reapply or go through Clearing?
If you are feeling nervous, talk to people who have experienced Results Day already. It could be a parent, older sibling, friend, teacher or another member of staff.
Q. How do I check if I have a place at university?
A. The best way is to regularly check UCAS Track on the UCAS website.
UCAS Track updates as soon as UCAS receives updates from universities. Even if you do not achieve the grades for your CF or CI, you should first check UCAS Track to see if you have been accepted anyway – you may still be offered a place.
Make sure that you have your password and ID number to hand for UCAS Track and also that your email inbox is not full, and can accept bulk emails – many universities will send confirmation messages automatically to a list of their applicants.
Q. What should I do if I'm away for Results Day?
A. Our advice is that you should never go away on Results Day, but there are measures you can take.
Make arrangements with your school to get access to your results if you can't get them online. You should also check UCAS Track as soon as possible on Results Day. If you need to go through Clearing, do not leave until you return from holiday to contact universities as this could significantly reduce the options you have.
Q. I’ve got my expected results and met the entry requirements of my Conditional Firm (CF) choice. Do I need to do anything on Results Day?
A. Congratulations! You should have a place at your first-choice university.
For peace of mind, you should still check UCAS Track, especially if you have an offer expressed in UCAS points rather than grades. Once Track confirms that you have met the conditions of your offer, you should wait for the confirmation email from your university. Check that the university has the right email address for you and that their ‘ac.uk’ domain name is in your trusted sender lists.
If you have any questions for your university, it is best to wait until the following week to contact them as they will be extremely busy for the first few days after Results Day. In the meantime, you should celebrate with your friends and family, your success is well deserved!
After you've celebrated you can start thinking about preparing to go to university.
Q. I just missed out on my CF choice, is it worth calling them to see if they’ll still offer me a place?
A. Yes, it is worth contacting them, but be aware that it may not change anything.
This will usually mean that the course is full, but that’s not to say there isn’t any hope. It’s worth getting on the phone to see if anyone decides not to take up their offer or finds another place via Adjustment. It’s unlikely to work, but definitely worth it.
Q. What is UCAS Clearing?
A. Sometimes, things don't go to plan and Clearing is created for one of those instances.
Essentially, UCAS Clearing is a way of matching universities without students to students without a university place.
Q. Who can use UCAS Clearing?
A. Many students are eligible. This includes those who have not obtained the grades required to gain a place at either their CF or CI choices.
Clearing is also open to students who apply after the 30 June deadline – all applications received by UCAS after this date will automatically entered into Clearing. In addition, those who haven't yet applied to university can also apply through Clearing. Remember, you will need to have completed a UCAS application in order to use Clearing. If you haven't yet applied, apply online now via UCAS Apply. Remember that you will need a reference as well as your personal statement.
Q. What is the most effective way to use Clearing?
A. Preparation, positivity and pragmatism are key to going through Clearing successfully.
Make a list of universities and their telephone numbers. Think about what you might say beforehand and make notes if you need to.
When you do make the calls to universities, be positive about yourself and the university! This is an opportunity to sell yourself to the university – remember that you are competing for places with other students.
Be prepared to say why you want the particular course and institution and what you can offer. Be ready to answer questions on your exam results, your motivation and experience.
Have your own questions to ask the university as well. Most importantly, if you are not immediately successful, do not give up! Keep ringing – your persistence will pay off.
Finally, be pragmatic. Getting a place through Clearing is not as difficult as it sounds, and you may be surprised at the number of vacancies.
However, depending on your results, there will be certain courses and universities which will be unattainable and recognising this early on will save you a lot of time wasted on the phone.
Q. When does Clearing begin and end?
A. UCAS Clearing runs from 5 July (the day after International Baccalaureate (IB) results are published) until mid-September.
Remember, you need your results to go through Clearing, so if you are sitting A Levels, you will not be able to enter Clearing until mid-August. In addition, try to avoid being in Clearing all the way up to the September deadline. Consider setting yourself your own deadline for finding a place as the longer you live it, the fewer places there are available.
Q. How will I know if I'm in Clearing?
A. You will know that you are in UCAS Clearing if your UCAS Track status says ‘You are in Clearing’ or ‘Clearing has started’.
If you did not achieve the entry requirements of your CF or CI choices, but your Track status does not say you’re in Clearing it could mean that your results have not been updated, or that the universities are still considering your application.
Q. Which universities accept students through Clearing?
A. There is a stereotype associated with Clearing that only less prestigious universities will have spaces available.
This is not true at all. With the number of university applications decreasing in recent years, many more universities have spaces that they look to fill through Clearing.
Q. Can I reject my insurance offer and go through Clearing instead?
A. You must ask to be released by your insurance choice before you can go into Clearing.
We advise that students identify available places in Clearing, talk to the universities that offer them and secure a verbal offer before requesting they are released by their insurance choice. The last thing you want to do is be left without any university offers at all, unless you’re happy to take a year out and reapply in next year’s cycle.
Q. Will universities go below their usual entry requirements during Clearing?
A. Within the context of Clearing they may well go lower than the normal offer listed on their prospectus.
It depends how much demand each university and course is seeing, as well as the grades of the students interested. The best way to find out is to ask the universities directly.
Read more about university entry requirements.
Q. If I receive multiple offers via Clearing, can I put them all into UCAS Track?
A. You can only add one Clearing choice at a time to Track.
If the university doesn't confirm your place, you can then add another.
Q. I’ve applied for deferred entry to university and have been unsuccessful with both my Conditional Firm (CF) and Conditional Insurance (CI) choices. Can I go through Clearing or will I have to reapply?
A. You can go through Clearing.
You have nothing to lose, so if you don't get a deferred place you can just reapply. Make sure to be clear with the university that you want a deferred place when discussing places.
Q. Is it true that you cannot enter Clearing until you've been declined by your choices?
A. You will automatically be entered into the Clearing process if you do not receive an offer from either your CF or CI choices.
If you do achieve the required grades, but decide you want to go somewhere other than your two choices, you can request to be release by them. However, we strongly recommend that you err on the side of caution if you're thinking of doing this. Get on the phone to some universities and secure yourself a verbal offer first.
Q. I didn’t meet either of my offers but the universities haven’t declined yet, what shall I do?
A. Call the universities concerned to check the status of your application.
It may be the case that some results are missing, or you have not met the grades and universities are placing near misses such as yourself in order to see who they can take. They could also be waiting for other candidates' results to come in before making a decision.
The UCAS system does not update every minute so decisions can take time. If it hasn't updated later in the day, do something constructive such as calling a few universities with Clearing vacancies. It never hurts to have a plan B.
Q. I can’t get through using the hotline number, what shall I do?
A. Be patient. Unfortunately, this is the reality of Clearing!
University hotlines will be extremely busy, but persevere and you’ll get through eventually.
Q. I'd like to go through Clearing but haven’t applied yet, when is the deadline for Clearing and can I still apply through it?
A. You can still apply, but you will need to get organised!
You’ll need to complete the UCAS application as normal, including a personal statement. You can’t add course choices but once registered you’ll receive an email with a link to the track service and your Clearing number.
Read our expert advice on writing the perfect personal statement.
Q. Does going through Clearing affect getting my student loan?
A. Once you have secured a place through Clearing, you need to turn your attention to your student loan application.
If you have already applied for funding but changed your course or university, you need to update your details as soon as possible.
If you have made your first application through Clearing and have not applied for finance yet, you need to apply now to give yourself the best chance possible of receiving your first loan in time for starting your course.
There is a possibility that you will not receive your loan in time for the start of the year.
Q. How do I find accommodation whilst going through Clearing?
A. If the course and university is right go for it, and think about accommodation later. But if you've got a few options, the availability of accommodation could be a useful way to decide where to go.
You’ll need to stay relaxed and be prepared to compromise. If you have your heart set on a university but they have run out of spaces in the type of accommodation you’re after, then you will have to think about what is more important – your university or where you live.
Importantly, be proactive, you do not want to be left homeless during Freshers' Week! Go to house viewings, keep ringing the accommodation providers or estate agents, get onto social media groups to find potential housemates and do your research. The accommodation you end up in can have a major bearing on your first year experience so it is worth putting in the effort to find somewhere right for you.
Find out more about student accommodation.
Q. What is Adjustment? Who is eligible to use it?
A. Adjustment is a way for students to swap their confirmed place at a university for one at a different university.
The service is for students who ‘meet and exceed’ the conditions of their CF choice. For example, if your CF asked for ABB at A Level and you achieved AAB (or higher) you could use adjustment to find a place on a university course asking for those higher grades.
Q. How do I use Adjustment?
A. Unlike Clearing, there is no comprehensive list of vacancies available for those going through Adjustment.
You need to contact university admissions offices directly to enquire about vacancies. Tell them you're applying through Adjustment and provide them with your UCAS number. Make sure they know that you're only researching course vacancies – once you are sure of a course you want to switch on to, you can verbally agree an offer with them.
If the institution wants to accept you they will update your UCAS Track with a new choice and send you a confirmation later. Remember to only verbally accept one offer.
We strongly recommend that, at what is a stressful and busy time, you don't make hasty decisions to adjust or upgrade. Think carefully before you register for Adjustment, as higher entry requirements doesn't always equal more enjoyment.
Q. How long does Adjustment last?
A. Adjustment is available from A Level Results Day until August 31.
Eligible students have to register for Adjustment and will have a maximum of five calendar days in which to register and secure an alternative course. If you’re CF offer changes to an Unconditional Firm (UF) offer less than five days before August 31, you will still only have until August 31 to use the service.
Q. By going through Adjustment, do I forfeit my place at my CF choice university?
A. No. While looking for a place through Adjustment, you keep your existing university place.
If after the five-day period is up and you do not find anything, you keep the place you already have. You only lose this place once you have confirmed that you want to go elsewhere and your new university of choice adds themselves to your UCAS Track.
Q. I haven't achieved the grades required for my chosen university course, and I'm feeling very disheartened. Do you have any advice?
A. Stay positive! You have a number of options.
There is time for you to find an alternative course via Clearing, to resit exams or take a year out and re-apply for entry next year. Take a look through the other Clearing FAQs and read through advice on applying.
You might want to consider asking your first choice university what you can do over the coming year to make a successful application next year, such as volunteer work, work experience, or simply better grades.
Remember that you need to be flexible but not desperate! Make sure that any course you choose is right for you. You need to be happy on the course and at the university, so don't feel under pressure to accept the first offer you receive.
While it's important to stay positive, you should try to be realistic – particularly if you're considering changing subject. Assuming you made your original decisions on what and where to study after careful research, make sure you now carry out any more research required. Consider attending some open days and interviews offered by universities to Clearing applicants.
Above all, stay positive! Poor exam results are not the end of the world, as our Clearing success stories testify.
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Next page: Clearing Success Stories