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The January deadline for UCAS undergrad applications has been extended to 29 January 2021. Learn more about applying to uni and UCAS deadlines.
Making the final choice

Results day, Clearing and Adjustment

Waiting for exam results can be stressful, so to make it easier you should try to plan for the day. Read through our guide to results day.

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. Adjustment

  5. What if you miss your grades?

  6. 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 ahead for results day.

Clearing 2021 dates


If you don’t get the results you need, you should make a list of potential alternative courses and universities you're interested in, with numbers you may need to ring when Clearing opens.

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're awaiting results in August, don't panic about others catching Clearing places before you. 

Plan ahead. Have a list of possible Clearing or Adjustment 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. 

However, you should check UCAS Track, 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 morel 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 Adjustment


Adjustment allows students who've achieved better grades than the conditions of their CF offer to hold their place open while looking at other courses with higher grade requirements.

If you're eligible for Adjustment, your UCAS Track profile will display a ‘Register for Adjustment’ option.


  • If you change your mind and want to attend somewhere different, make sure your decisions are measured and rational
  • If you want to live away from home, make sure to check accommodation availability before making any agreements with a university or UCAS
  • Adjustment can be useful in larger cities where there are two or more universities in close proximity, and it’s easy to switch universities if accommodation isn't an issue

How to use Adjustment

Once you've registered for Adjustment and your conditional firm (CF) choice has changed to an unconditional firm (UF), you'll have five days to find a new course. If at the end of this five-day period you haven't found a new course, you'll still be able to accept your UF.


  • There's no vacancy list for Adjustment so you need to check course details and contact universities or colleges directly to ask about vacancies
  • When talking to the institutions, remember to say you’re applying through Adjustment and that you're just gathering information
  • Don't verbally agree to an offer until you're absolutely sure you want to go there

What if you miss your grades?

Check UCAS Track to see if you’ve been accepted. Even if you just miss your grades, you may find your Conditional Firm or Conditional Insurance 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 track 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 0 468 for UK callers or +44 330 3330 230 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 customer@sqa.org.uk
  • Skills Development Scotland's exam helpline: 0808 100 8000

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