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Making the final choice

Results day and Clearing advice for parents and guardians

For parents, knowing the best way to support your child through results day is important. Read our advice to make sure you’re fully prepared for any scenario.

Teenager with his father looking at laptop at home


  1. What's Clearing?

  2. What's Adjustment?

  3. Top tips for results day

  4. Clearing and results day FAQs

What's Clearing?

Clearing matches applicants to university places yet to be filled. It’s available to anyone who's made a UCAS undergraduate application and doesn’t hold any offers. It runs from early July until late October. 

Your child will be eligible for Clearing if:

  • They submit their UCAS application after 30 June
  • They didn't get any offers (conditional or unconditional) from the universities they applied to
  • They don't achieve the grades required for either their Conditional Firm (CF) or Conditional Insurance (CI) and aren't offered unconditional offers by either of their choices

Courses available through Clearing aren’t just the ones nobody wants. Thousands of places are available through Clearing on popular courses, such as English and Law, every year. 

How to use Clearing

If your child is eligible for Clearing, they’ll be given an option to ‘add a Clearing choice' in the ‘next steps’ section when they sign in to UCAS Track.

They can then search for vacancies in the UCAS search tool. Once they've 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'll be able to add this choice in their UCAS Track.


  • Clearing only allows one choice at a time 
  • Once a choice has been selected, they can't add another unless they've been unsuccessful with the first one
  • If they want to apply elsewhere once they've added a choice, they'll need to ask that university to cancel their place – then they can apply again through Clearing

What's Adjustment?

Adjustment is only available to students who've exceeded the grade requirements for their firm choice university.

UCAS Adjustment starts on A Level results day and gives your child the chance to switch to an alternative university or course if they want to. 

How to use Adjustment

If your child's eligible for Adjustment, it'll say so on UCAS Track once they have their results, where they can register to take part.

Your child has five days from results day (or whenever their firm offer becomes unconditional) to use Adjustment.

While they search for a new course, their original Conditional Firm offer (CF) remains safe unless they confirm they'd like to go elsewhere. If at the end of the five-day period they decide not to use Adjustment, they'll still have a place at their CF university.

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're 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 the application first time around (although there’s no guarantee they’ll have any spaces).

You should encourage them to think carefully before diving 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’ll have sorted out accommodation and finance, both of which they'll need to arrange again if they change universities.

Mother pleased with her teenage daughter academic achievements

Top tips for results day

There are several dos and don’ts you should follow to make sure results day goes smoothly regardless of what grades your child gets.


Your research

Your child may not be the best at communicating important information to you. However, the last thing they need in the build-up to results day is being bombarded with questions. Try to do a little bit of research about the important times and dates and save you both some stress. 

Keep calm

Exam results day is stressful – try not to make it worse. If they don't get the results they were expecting, try not to add to their disappointment with your own. Stay calm, be comforting and constructive, particularly if they're overwhelmed by friends celebrating success.

Be reassuring

If your child has fallen short of the grades they needed, they may be upset and worried about what the future holds. Try to reassure them this isn't a problem and there are plenty of ways to make the best of the situation.

Talk about other options

If they don’t get the results they need, the obvious option is to enter Clearing. However, they might not find a course or university they like, or may not want to enter it to begin with.

Keep other options in mind. 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.

Retakes to try and push their grades up is another option. However, be aware that some universities ask for higher grades from students who retake exams. Above all, remember that any preference you have for your child isn't as important as what their preferences are.


Rush them into making a decision

This is a hard balance to get right as the sooner your child makes a decision the better, but this is likely the most important decision they've made and it shouldn't be taken lightly. You should give advice but don't pressure them into making a rushed decision. 

Make sure they make any phone calls themselves

If your child is going through Clearing or Adjustment, they'll 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, not parents. If your child isn't ready to talk to universities, it’s better to wait until they are and let them do the talking.

Be ready for an open day

Make sure you're in the country for results day and the days after. A number of universities hold Clearing open days after results day. These are useful for prospective students to be sure they're picking the right university. With that in mind, have the car filled up with petrol, or be prepared to pay for train fares.

  2. Clearing FAQs
  3. Guide to UCAS Clearing
  4. Results day stress and mental health

Clearing and results day FAQs

How long does your child have to find a course through Clearing?

The last day to add a Clearing choice and for universities to accept Clearing applicants is in late October. However, you and your child should aim to get a place through Clearing as quickly as possible as spaces will be filled quickly.

What steps does your child need to take between results day and starting university?

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

The main things they'll need to sort out are finances and accommodation. These aren’t the most exciting tasks, but they're 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 possessions they're going to take with them and what can be left at home.

How can you help your child prepare for university?

There are many ways you can help your child 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. Sit down with them and work out how much money they’ll have per week, and if they’ll need any additional financial support.

Any more questions? See our results day and Clearing FAQs.

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