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Clearing – Frequently Asked Questions
Got a burning question about results day or Clearing? If you've already read our guide to Clearing and what to do on results day and not found what you're looking for, the chances are that we've got the answer for you right here!
If you don't find an answer to your question, go to Ask and our team of experts will be on hand to help. Alternatively, you can wait until A Level results day (Thursday 17 August) and submit your question to our live Q&A.
Q. What should I be doing to prepare for results day?
A. Whatever your expectations regarding your exam results, you should have a contingency plan in place.
Hopefully you'll receive the results you require in order to take up your firm or insurance university place. However, it is worth taking some time to consider what you will do if you don't – will you resit your exams and/or take a year out and re-apply for entry in 2018, or will you obtain a university place through Clearing?
Consider all your options, and read through our FAQs and take a look at the pages on Results day, Clearing and What if I just miss my grades for advice. If you do take up an alternative course through Clearing, remember to update the course/institution information on any loan and grant applications.
Q. I'm away for results day. Should I wait until I'm back to check my results, even though I may have missed out on Clearing opportunities?
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 a place in Clearing, you should check for vacancies on UCAS/university websites or by calling universities directly.
Leaving it until you return from holiday, depending on the subject you're interested in, could significantly reduce the options you have.
Q. What is the best way to check whether or not 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 haven't obtained the required results for your firm or insurance choice, you should first check UCAS Track to see if you have been accepted anyway – you may still be offered a place.
If you become eligible for Clearing, an 'Add Clearing choice' button will appear on your Track Choices screen. You must use UCAS Track because UCAS will not send you confirmation via the post.
In the event that you are not offered a place, it may be worth telephoning the university as it may be flexible or be prepared to offer you a place on a similar course.
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. I've got the results I expected, and I've met the entry requirements of my firm choice. Do I need to do anything on results day?
A. Congratulations! You should have a place at your chosen university. Do check UCAS Track carefully, though, especially if you have an offer expressed in points rather than grades.
Check out our page on results day for clarification.
If you have any questions for your university, you are best to wait until the following week to contact them as they will be extremely busy for the first few days after results. You should also check that the email address you gave to UCAS/universities is up to date, and that your chosen university's 'ac.uk' domain name is in your trusted sender lists – they may be emailing you with information.
Q. I missed out on my firm choice – but only just. Is it worth calling the university to see if they’ll reconsider?
A. You can try 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 that 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. Where can I obtain advice on my exam results and Clearing?
A. There are a number of services at your disposal.
An obvious place to start is with your school and careers advisor. We have a whole section covering all aspects of applying to university, including results day and Clearing. You can also submit questions through our Ask service, or via our live results day Q&A.
For additional impartial advice, telephone the Exams Results Helpline on 0800 100 8000. This opens for Scottish students on 3 August, and for students in the rest of the UK on 13 August. The service is provided by Skills Development Scotland to Scottish students, and by UCAS to students in the rest of the UK, to help with questions on applying through Clearing and with queries on your application.
Q. My exam results are worse than I expected and I don't have a place at university. What can I do to get onto a university course starting this year?
A. You can find a place through Clearing.
While searching for a place, you should remain realistic, and act positively and assertively – don't allow parents or teachers to push you into an unwise or badly thought out decision. Having said that, you also shouldn't isolate yourself from family, friends and your careers advisors either.
Q. Who can use the UCAS Clearing Scheme?
A. Many students, including those who have not obtained the grades required to gain a place at their firm or insurance choices.
Bear in mind that universities may not be enthusiastic about students making their initial university applications via Clearing, unless there are extenuating circumstances. Think carefully about whether you need to start higher education this year, or whether you can take a year out and apply to university for entry next year.
Q. What is the best way to deal with Clearing and obtain a university place?
A. Treat Clearing as you would a job application. Take time to prepare and be professional.
Make a list of universities and their telephone numbers, and make the calls yourself. Think about what you might say beforehand and write it down, preparing honest answers as to why you are in Clearing.
These calls are an opportunity to sell yourself, so 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.
Don't be afraid to ask questions, so make note of any that you want to ask. For example, not all universities can offer accommodation to first year students by the time Clearing comes around, so make sure to ask about its availability and cost.
Perhaps most importantly, have to hand your UCAS Clearing number (the six-digit number starting with the letter 'C' displayed in UCAS Track), your UCAS Personal ID (the 10-digit individual number assigned to each applicant when they register on UCAS Apply), your address (including postcode), and details of your results, including GCSEs or Scottish Standard Grades.
Q. Can I reject my insurance offer and go through Clearing?
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. I have 'x' grades, and want to do 'x' course. Which universities will accept me?
A. It’s hard to say exactly what grades universities are willing to accept via Clearing.
The best thing to do is to identify universities with places on related courses using the UCAS search tool. Make sure to search for places available in clearing. Then get on the phone to the relevant universities and see if they’ll consider you.
Q. Is a university likely to go below the grades listed on their prospectus as Clearing requirements?
A. Within the context of Clearing they may well go lower than the normal offer listed on their prospectus.
It depends on how much demand each university and course is seeing, as well as the grades of the students interested. Get on the phone and see – it won't do you any harm!
Q. I have received 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’m applying for university but have deferred a year. However, I've been unsuccessful with both my firm and insurance choice. Can I go through Clearing or do I have to reapply?
A. Clearing is available to you.
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 firm and insurance choices?
A. That’s true. You will automatically be entered into the clearing process if you're rejected by your firm and insurance choices.
You can also request to be released by your firm and insurance choices, but we 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 my insurance or firm 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 just part 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.
Q. What if my grades are better than expected?
A. Well done if you have achieved better than expected grades! You can either stick with your original offer, or go through Adjustment.
Going with your original university and course is still a good choice. After all, you will have made your original application based on research and consideration of what you want from your time at university – all very important.
Alternatively, if you'd like to set your sights a little higher, you can go through Adjustment.
Q. I have heard about a UCAS procedure called Adjustment Period – what is this?
A. Adjustment enables students students who have achieved better than expected exam results to hold onto their original Conditional Firm (CF) place whilst looking at other courses with higher entry requirements.
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. 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.
Q. I've not acheived the grades required for my chosen university course, and I'm feeling very despondent. 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 here and read through our advice on applying for further advice.
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 your 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