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Making the final choice

Results day and Clearing

Waiting for exam results can be stressful but having a plan should make it easier. Use our guide to help you plan for the days ahead.

Happy students have received their exam results


  1. Before results day

  2. What if you get your expected results?

  3. What if your grades are better than expected?

  4. What if you miss your grades?

  5. Helplines

Before results day

Most of you will have to wait for your exam results before you find out if you’ve been accepted by your university choices. So, while you should relax and enjoy your summer, you should also plan for results day.


You should make a list of potential alternative courses and universities you're interested in in case you don’t get the grade you need. Note down the numbers you may need to ring for each course when Clearing opens.

Clearing is an exciting opportunity to find a different course that may be more suitable. Grace, a Loughborough University student who found a place through Clearing, shares why going through Clearing was the best decision for her:

If you're an International Baccalaureate or Scottish Higher student, you'll get your exam results before A Level students. This gives you less time to prepare, but a head start into Clearing.

Unconditional offer holders

If this is you, results day is a formality. However, still double-check all terms and conditions of your offer and be sure you want to study the course. If you change your mind about your course or university, Clearing offers you the opportunity to find something new.

If you're awaiting results in August, don't panic about others catching Clearing places before you. Plan ahead. Have a list of possible Clearing options. You can even contact universities in advance of results day, and pre-register for vacancies on their websites.

James Seymour, Director of Marketing and Student Recruitment at the University of Gloucestershire

What if you get your expected results?

If you've met the conditions of either your firm or insurance choice, this means you have a place at university. Universities receive grades in advance of results day, so your UCAS Hub profile should be updated as soon as, or just after, you find out your results.

However, you should check UCAS Hub, especially if you've fallen short of your Conditional Firm (CF) but met the conditions of your Conditional Insurance (CI), as your firm choice might still accept you with lower grades.

You'll get confirmation of your place from UCAS, with an online form to confirm you still want to go. Details from your chosen university of when and how to register will follow.

If you have any more questions or just want some reassurance, you can call or email the university. Have your UCAS number to hand and be sure to make the call yourself.

This is a busy time of year so it may be hard to get through. If your question isn’t urgent, wait a few days before calling.

What if your grades are better than expected?

Congratulations! Your hard work has paid off and there are several options available to you:

  • Stick to your original Conditional Firm (CF) university choice
  • Take a year out and reapply to a university with higher entry requirements next year
  • Go through Clearing for a course with higher entry requirements

What if you miss your grades?

Check your UCAS Hub profile to see if you’ve been accepted. Even if you just miss your grades, you may find your CF or CI still offers you a place, as the university may be short of applicants or other offer-holders could've got worse results than you.

If UCAS Hub doesn’t show you as accepted, it’s worth calling the university and asking directly if they'll accept you. If they don’t offer you a place on the course you applied for, they may offer you a similar course.

For instance, if you applied for Psychology, they may offer Psychology and Sociology as a joint honours course – this is called a ‘changed course offer’.

If both of your choices have been rejected, you can:

  • Go through Clearing – this is where UCAS matches students without places to courses without students
  • Retake your exams and reapply next year
  • Take a gap year – this can give you some valuable headspace to think about your future and the extra experience could enrich your personal statement
  • Take a mini-gap year and reapply for January – some universities offer entry points at the beginning of the calendar year


If you need more help, there are hotlines you can call for advice about Clearing and your exam results:

  • UCAS: 0371 468 0468 for UK callers or +44 330 3330 231 if calling from outside the UK
  • For those with hearing difficulties: Text Relay service on 18001 followed by the relevant number (UK callers) or +44 151 494 1260 (text/phone) – you'll need to ask the operator to dial the relevant number if you're calling from outside the UK
  • The SQA candidate advice line: 0345 279 1000 – you can also email
  • Skills Development Scotland's exam helpline: 0800 917 8000

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