Clearing: Tips, Prep & What to Expect

We know that the last few months have been anything but normal, but now it’s time to look forward to the start of another academic year! Most of you will have gone through a historic process of not having sat any final exams, but come ‘Results Day’ all that will do nothing to blunt the nerves or the excitement.


For some the process is pretty straight forward. Your results will get you into your preferred university and your chosen course. For others, your results will mean you may have to make some last-minute changes to your plan.


Clearing allows you to explore your options when this is the case. It’s a chance to find out what else is out there. Even if your results are not what you’d hoped for you, universities will still be able to offer you a place. Perhaps in a different location or on a different course. You can also go through clearing if your results were better than expected and you want to apply to a different university. Or if you simply have decided the place or course you applied for is not the one for you, clearing is your chance to make it right.


Any student, home or international can apply regardless of current qualifications. Using UCAS will make the whole process straight forward but some universities will also accept applications directly. As long as you’re determined to go to university, there’s a way to make it happen.


Here are some tips to so you are ready to ace the day should you find yourself in this situation.


Preparation Is Key

You’ll hear this saying time and time again in various aspects of your life. The reason it’s so popular is because it is 100% true: preparation really is key. Having a solid plan in place for every outcome allows you to act fast, and acting fast can make the difference.

You might be super-confident that you’re going to get the results that you need for the course that you want to do. But it’s important to prepare in case you don’t, especially considering that clearing is a scenario where you will have to make informed decisions very quickly.

Universities will be offering you places on courses that you might not have even considered before, so the best course of action is to come up with a list of all the potential universities and courses, and then put them in order of which you’d prefer to do – you never know, this could be the difference between you or someone else securing a place. Clearing is open from July through to October, so if you already have your grades, you can start searching before results day in August.



Think Positive

You might not think that clearing is the ideal situation, and we get that. You’d prefer to collect your results, secure your chosen course, and go and celebrate straight away. But clearing isn’t all bad. In fact, clearing can be your friend. It’s your lifeline if you want to go to university that year but you weren’t clear of your path before Results Day.

You’ll be surprised by the wide range of courses available in clearing, and even some of the top universities will have courses made available during this process. If you keep a positive attitude and don’t get disheartened, you might even find a course that’s more suited to you than your original choice.

Remember, many universities offer courses as combined honours. So let’s say you wanted to study History but you don’t get a place in your chosen university; that course could still be available if it is studied in conjunction with another subject, such as English. This means you’ll be able to study your course and learn another new topic at the same time!


Be Flexible

You might have your heart set on a course, or you might be open to choosing a different route. Either way, being flexible with your options will give you the best chance at securing a place. There are hundreds of different topics that you could study, and knowing which ones you’re most suited to will give you a head start when it comes to the clearing process. The more flexible you are with your choices, the more likely you are to secure a place.

Remember, start phoning the universities directly and discuss your options with them. They want to fill the empty spaces with the right people, so if you fit the bill (and, just as importantly, if they fit your bill), then you’ll have a place in no time. It’s also worth noting that you should phone the clearing department yourself, because they won’t be too impressed if they expect to speak to you and end up speaking to your mum, dad, or second-cousin twice removed.


Keep Checking UCAS

UCAS is the all-seeing eye when it comes to university courses. It is the place to go to find out all about the goings-on in the world of higher education, and it plays a pretty big role in the clearing process too. Here you can find the list of all the courses with clearing options, so you can use this to get to work in choosing a course that’s right for you.

UCAS Track is your portal to higher education, and is the resource that you must keep your eye on if you’re hoping to land a course through clearing. Log in and wait patiently for your application status to change to ‘add clearing choice’, because this means that you’ve been approved for the clearing process and you can start to choose alternative courses. Find out more information here.


Whatever The Result: We’re Here For You

Once you’ve secured your place, it’s time to choose where it is you’re going to live. We’ve got accommodation options in many major UK cities, so head to our locations page and see how you can kick-start your student experience.