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Making the final choice

Results day and Clearing advice for parents and guardians

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.

clearing guide for parents


  1. What's Clearing?

  2. What do I need to know about Clearing?
  3. Key dates 

  4. How do I prepare my child for Clearing?
  5. Top tips for results day

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) (or are not accepted if they have near miss grades) and aren't offered unconditional offers by either of their choices 

Don’t worry. The courses available through Clearing aren’t just the unpopular ones. Thousands of places are available through Clearing on popular courses, such as Psychology 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 Hub. 

They can then search for vacancies in our Clearing course search from 1 July. 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 Hub. 


  • 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 do I need to know about Clearing?

Gail's daughter went through Clearing and found her perfect course. Here she explains her experience of results day and how what parents should know, as well as revealing some top tips on how to prepare for Clearing. 

Key dates

How do I prepare my child for Clearing?

Research and preparation will make for a far easier Clearing process. Make sure your child, and you, have looked up and made a note of any universities that have Clearing courses you're interested in. You can do this from 1st July using our Clearing course search.

Armed with a shortlist of courses, you can help your child make the right choice for them. They may even find a course available through Clearing that they prefer. In which case, they can self-release on results day and take up that option. They should call the university and get a verbal offer before they decline any offers they already have. 

Knowing what to say on the Clearing call is also important. Having everything you need with you, as well as questions prepared, will take a lot of stress and worry out of the call. Ensure they have ready: 

  • Their UCAS ID and Clearing number 
  • Their grades, with UCAS points if applicable 
  • Pen and paper or phone so they can make notes 
  • Their personal statement 

Remember, universities want to hear from the students themselves, not you. As much as you'd like to help, this part they need to do on their own.  

As a parent, your main job is to encourage, keep calm, and reassure your child. They might be disappointed, happy, confused, or even just bewildered, but you're there to guide them through it and to make good decisions. 

What you can do is help them do their research. Make sure they're ready and aware of what to do and how to do it and just be there for them.  

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.

Retaking exams to try and push their grades up is another way. 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 decides the better. But, this is likely the most important decision they've made so far, and it shouldn't be taken lightly.  

Gail advises on why you shouldn't pressure them into making a rushed decision: 

Make sure they make any phone calls themselves

If your child is going through Clearing, they'll need to contact universities directly to ask about available places. You may want to help but universities want to talk to prospective students, not their parents. If your child is feeling upset and isn’t ready to talk to universities, it’s better to wait 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. Many 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. 

Any more questions?

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