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Clearing — your simple step-by-step guide

How to survive the Clearing process in six stress-free steps.

09 Jul 2021

So you’re getting your A-Level results soon, and your university life awaits. But what if you don’t get the results you need to get into your first choice? Or you’ve changed your mind about where you want to go, or what you want to study? Or you’ve only just decided to apply for this year?

Clearing is a great option in all these scenarios. Follow these six steps to get through the process without any  unnecessary stress.

1. Understand what Clearing is

Clearing is a way to make sure that everyone who is looking for a place on a university course has a chance at getting one in the summer before the academic year begins. Universities list any courses that still have places available, and make them available to applicants.

You might apply through Clearing if:

- You didn’t quite get the results you wanted on A-Level results day

- You’re applying to university after 30 June

- You didn’t receive any offers (or any you wanted to accept)

- You have offers but you’ve changed your mind about what or where you want to study.

Clearing is open now, and you can apply either via the UCAS system, or outside of it.

If you have a UCAS tracking number, then it’s important that you have it to hand when you apply, but if you call a university without having registered with UCAS, you can still be accepted onto a course.

2. Consider Clearing early

As Clearing opens before A-Level results day, you can start considering if might be for you, preparing for the process, and even applying, well in advance of that milestone.

The main things to think about are:

  • What would you like to study — have you changed your mind since your original application?
  • Where would you like to study — if you’ve received offers, do you plan on declining them, even if you get the grades you need?
  • Have you taken time off from education? if so, do you want to dive back in as soon as possible?
  • How confident are you feeling about your results? Do you think there's a chance you might miss a grade or two and want to have a Plan B ready to go?

If the answer to any of these is yes, then Clearing could be for you, and it's a good idea to start preparing.

3. Research courses and the universities

The next step is to do lots of research. If you’ve considered the questions in step 2, hopefully you’ll have an idea of what you want to study, and possibly where.

You can see all the courses that are currently available - and loads of advice - on the UCAS Clearing page, or check the individual websites of any specific universities you’re interested in.

Look through what's on offer, make a note of those that interest you the most, and shortlist your top choices.

Make sure you write down the relevant Clearing phone number for each one, too — this is the number you’ll need to call to apply.

4. Get in touch with universities ASAP

The next step is to get in touch with the universities you want to apply to as soon as you can.

If you’re ready to apply and it’s after 5 July, you can get in touch right away and begin the process.

If you’re waiting for your results to find out if you will be going through Clearing, you’ll need to be ready to call on the morning of results day.

5. Be prepared for your Clearing phone call

Making the call might feel a bit daunting, but preparing in advance will help make sure it all goes smoothly. Here's what to do:

  • Make sure you’ve got your qualifications and UCAS tracking number (if you have one) in front of you when you make the call.
  • Be prepared to be interviewed on the phone, and to be asked questions about what you want to study, and your education history
  • Make sure you’re the one who calls us — not a family member or friend.
  • Check out our top tips for Clearing for more advice.

6. Don’t rush your decision

While things can feel hurried and intense as you aim to get your phone call in and apply for the course you want (especially on A-Level results day), remember that the choice of whether to accept the place on the course is totally up to you.

We don’t confirm your place on the phone when you apply with us — instead, we send you an offer email so that you can read through it, think about any questions you’d like answered, and take the time to make the right decision for you.

7. Confirm your place

Once you’ve been offered a place through Clearing and decided it’s the right one for you, the final step is for you to confirm your acceptance.

You can do this online through UCAS — if you don’t have an account yet, don’t worry: one will be set up for you during your application.

After that, you’ll just need to arrange your student loans and accommodation, if you need them.

Good luck!