Results Day and Clearing Advice for Parents and Guardians

Results Day can be the most stressful day of the whole university process. As a parent, you have a very important role to support, reassure and hopefully celebrate with your child.

However, it can be hard to know the best way to support your child if things don’t go completely to plan. Read our advice to make sure your fully prepared for any scenario.

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Clearing and Adjustment Explained • Top tips for Results Day • FAQs

Mother helping teen exams

Clearing and Adjustment explained

Clearing and Adjustment are available for students who either fall short of, or exceed, the entry standards for both their Conditional Firm (CF) and Conditional Insurance (CI) university or college choices.

What is Clearing?

Clearing matches applicants to university places yet to be filled. It’s available to anyone who has made a UCAS Undergraduate application and doesn’t hold any offers. Running from 5 July until late October, your child will be eligible for Clearing if:

  • They submit their UCAS application after 30 June
  • They did not receive any offers (conditional or unconditional) from the universities they applied to
  • They do not achieve the grades required for either their CF or CI and are not offered unconditional offers by either of their choices.

If your child does have to go through Clearing, remember the courses available aren’t just the ones nobody wants. Last year, thousands of places were available through Clearing, and popular courses such as English and Law, also had spaces. In total, over 64,300 applicants obtained places.

There are many reasons why courses are still available. It’s an opportunity for those who have missed their conditions, or had a last-minute change of heart about the university or course they want to study.

How to use Clearing

When your son/daughter sign in to UCAS Track, if they’re eligible for Clearing, they’ll be given an option to ‘Add a Clearing choice' in the ‘Next Steps’ section.

They can then search for vacancies in the UCAS search tool. Once they have found the course they’re interested in, encourage them to give the university a call to check for vacancies.

If the university offers your child a place, they will be able to add this choice in their UCAS Track.

Your son/daughter can apply for one choice at a time through Clearing. Once a choice has been selected, they cannot add another, unless they have been unsuccessful with the first one. If they want to apply elsewhere once they have added a choice, then they will need to ask that university to cancel their place so they are able to apply again through Clearing.

What is Adjustment?

If your child is looking at using Adjustment then it is time to celebrate! Adjustment is only available to those students who have exceeded the grade requirements for their firm choice university.

So, if your child is offered a place with a conditional offer of ABB and achieves AAB or better, they can choose to use Adjustment.

UCAS Adjustment starts on A-level results day and gives your son/daughter the chance to switch to an alternative university or course should they wish to. It's essentially the opposite of Clearing.

How to use Adjustment

If your child is eligible for Adjustment, it will say so on UCAS Track once they have their results.

Your son/daughter has five days from results day (or whenever your firm offer becomes unconditional) to use Adjustment, so they’ve got to act fast. The ‘trade up’ system officially ends on 31 August.

They register for Adjustment in UCAS Track. While they search for a new course, their original CF (which is now unconditional) remains safe – and will do so unless they confirm they would like to go elsewhere. If at the end of the five-day period they decide not to use Adjustment, they still have a place at their CF university. 

Unlike Clearing, there’s no vacancy list for Adjustment, so your child will need to check university websites and contact admissions offices at the universities they’re interested in. They’ll need to have their personal ID number ready and make sure they tell UCAS straight away if they are applying through Adjustment. 

Your child can contact any university they like if they're using Adjustment, even if it's one that didn't accept your application first time round (although there’s no guarantee they’ll have any spaces).

You should encourage your child to think carefully before they dive into finding a course at another university – just because they can, doesn’t mean they should.

They probably put in a lot of work to find a university course they were excited about starting. They have sorted out accommodation and finance, both of which they will need to sort out again if they change universities. 

Top Tips for Results Day

There are several dos and don’ts parents should follow to ensure that, regardless of what grades your child gets, results day goes smoothly.

1. Keep Calm

Your child may already be tense – try not to make it worse. If your child gets the exam results they wanted, then celebrate with them! If they don't and disappointment reigns, don’t add your own. Stay calm, be comforting and constructive, particularly if they are overwhelmed by friends celebrating success.

2. Do your research

If your child is like a lot of 18-year olds, they may not be the best at communicating important information to you. The last thing they will want in the build up to results day is being asked when and where they can get their results. To help yourself, and them, do a little bit of research about the important times and dates.

3. Be reassuring

Many students get their results and they’ve fallen short of both their firm and insurance choices. At this point, your child will be upset, and they may be worrying about what the future holds. As their parent, try to reassure them that this is not a problem, and there are plenty of ways to make the best of the situation.

4. Talk about alternative options

If your son/daughter does not get the results they need, the obvious option is to enter Clearing. However, they might not find a course or university they like through it, or may not want to enter it to begin with.  Be aware of the other options: gap years are very popular, and if used effectively can enhance your child’s application – having some work experience, travelling, or both, looks very good on a personal statement. Re-takes to try and push their grades up to what one of their choices was asking for are another option. However, be aware that some universities ask for higher grades from students who re-took exams.

5. Don’t rush your child into making a decision

This is a hard balance to get right, as the sooner your child makes a decision the better, especially when it comes to entering Clearing. However, this is likely the most important decision they have made and that should not be taken lightly. You should provide advice but do not pressurise them into making a rushed decision. Remember that any preference you have for your child is not as important as what their preferences are.

6. Make sure your child does any phoning

If your child is going through Clearing or Adjustment, they will need to contact universities directly to ask about available places. You may want to help out – especially if they feel too upset to talk on the phone – but universities want to talk to prospective students and not parents. If your child is not ready to talk to universities it is better to wait until they are and let them do the talking.

7. Be ready for an open day

A number of universities will hold Clearing open days after Results Day. These are useful for prospective students to be sure they are picking the right university (chances are they have not visited their Clearing options before). With that in mind, make sure you are in the country for Results Day and the days after, have the car filled up with petrol, or are prepared to pay for train fares!

Clearing and Results Day FAQs

Q. How long does my child have to find a course through Clearing?

A. Clearing opens on 5 July and is open until late October.

The final deadline for 2019 application is 20 September, Clearing vacancies are removed from UCAS search on 30 September. The last day to add a Clearing choice and for universities to accept Clearing applicants is 22 October. However, you and your child should aim to get a place through Clearing as quickly as possible as spaces will be filled quickly.

Q. What steps does my child need to take between results day and starting university?

A. Once your child has secured a place at university, there is some serious preparation to be done before they start.

The main things they will need to sort out are finances and accommodation. These aren’t the most exciting tasks but they are the most important. Your child should also open a student bank account – most major banks offer these with varying incentives, so shop around to find the best one. They should also use this time to start deciding what they are going to take and what can be left at home.

To make sure they get everything done, make a checklist together and tick every task off once they have done it.

Q. How can I help my child prepare for university?

A. There are many ways you can help your son/daughter prepare for independent life at university.

Teaching your child practical skills for independent living is important. If they don’t do these things already, use the time between results day and start of university to get them doing their own washing and cooking their own meals. Budgeting is also very important, and something your child is unlikely to want to do. Sit down with them and work out how much money they will have per week, and if they will need any additional financial support from yourself.

Any more questions? Check out our page of Results Day and Clearing FAQs.