Be Clear about Clearing – it‘s Here to Help!

Jess is a Clearing success story! Having missed the grades she needed, she got a place at Bournemouth to study Nutrition, which was actually a higher-rated course than her original choice uni. 3 years on (after a wonderful time at Bournemouth), she has graduated with a 2:1 and is about to begin a Masters in Dietetics at Kings College, London!
So, if you don’t get the results you hoped for, don’t worry, UCAS Clearing can certainly help you achieve your goals!
Follow our simple guide on how to prepare for Clearing, to reduce the stress on results day and improve your chances of getting a place on the best course available. And read about Jess’s experience of Clearing below, so you know what to expect on the day.
fingers crossed waiting for exam results

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels


If you’ve missed your grades on results day, all is not lost… you don’t need to give up on going to uni! We’ve put together an easy guide to UCAS Clearing.

Clearing is designed to match universities and colleges who need to fill places, with students who need a place. So you’ll get a second chance to choose a degree that appeals.

Loads of institutions (including high-ranked universities) will have vacancies for various reasons: from other students deferring or not taking up places, to increased availability since the cap on university places was lifted in 2015.

In this guide, HelloGrads guest blogger Jess, explains the basics and shares her personal experience, plus tips for how to be prepared rather than panicked on results day.


Results Day – Clearing & Adjustment

Here’s what happens on results day:

guide to ucas clearing

If you miss your grades

If you don’t want to take up your firm/insurance choice

If you do better than expected – UCAS Adjustment



If you miss your grades:


1. Check UCAS Track

Even if you missed the grades you needed, you might still have been accepted by your firm choice or insurance uni.


2. Consider calling your firm/insurance universities

If you haven’t received an offer and your grades are a little lower than you needed, it could be worth phoning the universities– they were impressed enough to make you an offer in the first place, and if they have spaces, they might still accept you if they know you’re keen and determined. Some universities are more open to this than others, and your tutors may well be able to guide you.


3. UCAS Clearing – how does it work?

If you don’t get an offer from your firm/insurance choices, you are automatically entered into the Clearing process. This status will show up on the UCAS Track service, which also gives your Clearing Number and Personal ID number (which universities will need to access your online application).

Clearing vacancies are generally advertised online from early July to mid September, and are regularly updated. Identify courses that interest you then call the universities/colleges to see if they will consider you. You have plenty of control, because you can talk to as many as you want and obtain verbal offers before you make a decision. You normally have a couple of days to respond to an offer, so think calmly and don’t feel rushed.

Once you decide to accept a Clearing offer, you add the details to Track, and the university will need to confirm your place. Offers are usually finalised within a couple of days.



If you don’t want to take up your firm/insurance choice:

You need to call the university. If they allow you to change your choice, you will be released into the Clearing system



If you do better than expected – UCAS Adjustment:

If your results have exceeded the grades required for your firm choice (CF), you might want to reconsider where and what you want to study. The UCAS Adjustment system allows you to switch courses if places are available.
Adjustment is open from results day until the end of August. You can register in UCAS Track and contact the university admissions office for the course you’re interested in, to obtain a verbal offer.

If you don’t find anything, you still keep your existing university place.

Find out more:

What is clearing? – UCAS



My Personal Experience with Clearing

Up until results day, I didn’t really know what Clearing was. During exam season, Clearing was known as the place for ‘UCAS rejects’ or the place on the deep dark web where you would go to if you didn’t receive any offers on results day, but no one really understood how it worked, or what steps you would take in the situation I landed in.
Logging on to UCAS the morning of results day and having no offers is a very scary and daunting moment, and made me question exactly how badly I had done, if neither my firm nor my insurance wanted me. Flooded with worry, I arrived at school feeling like a failure, and as though I was the only one of my friends who wasn’t now going to University. Results day is stressful enough as it is, and there is a pressure amongst peers with comparing marks, so it was definitely humiliating having to explain to everyone that I hadn’t got the grades. The window between when the results came out on UCAS at 8am, to when we could collect our exam results at 11am, felt like forever, and I just wish that I’d known then what I know now about Clearing and how it all works.
I arrived at school to collect my papers and assess the damage, and after a little cry, I went to speak to my tutor, who suggested I log on to Clearing and see if there were any spaces at universities that have lowered their entry requirements. I was astounded at the number of places offering much lower entry requirements! I felt this immediate relief, as university could once again be an option for me.  After having a browse, I was surprised at how many of the popular universities were listed. I specifically remember seeing Nottingham University advertising entry requirements as BBB, when it was previously AAB via UCAS at the application stage.
I finally came across Bournemouth University (which was actually a higher-rated course than my firm choice!), and on the advice from my tutors, I made the phone call directly to the university, where I spoke to the unit lead. I explained my situation, gave my grades and had a chat about my interests and why I would be an asset to the university (very similar to a job interview, but less intense!). I was then offered a place on the course for the upcoming year, and had one week to either accept or decline. Whilst receiving an offer was a huge relief, it was also very unsettling as I had initially planned on deferring my place at my firm/insurance to take a gap year and go travelling, which is unfortunately not allowed when you go through Clearing, as the places are much more limited. This was a shock to the system, as I wasn’t planning on going to university so soon, I had nothing ready, no accommodation and no student finance set up, and if I chose to accept the offer, I would be leaving home in 2 weeks! However, after much deliberation and caring support from family and friends, I decided to accept the offer and I can comfortably say that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!
For the first couple of months at uni, there were times when I thought I had made the wrong decision, but I made a conscious effort to live by ‘everything happens for a reason’ and I just had to trust that I had done the right thing.
If I could go back and do it all again, I would make all the same decisions to put me where I am right now.
So, from my experience, here are my top tips for dealing with the Clearing process…


Clearing Top Tips

If you ever find yourself in the position of waking up on results day to no university offers, and you feel as though the world is crumbling around you, here are some top tips for survival, and how to better the situation for your future:

1. Stay Calm

Breathe! Although this is not what you planned, you have got options and this is not the end of the world.


2. Collect your results

You may be thinking of writing the day off and drowning your sorrows in tequila, but you will actually need to know what grades you received if you wish to go through Clearing.


3. Speak to your tutors as soon as possible

Ultimately, they are there to help you, and can be great shoulders to cry on. They should put you on the right track to Clearing, or talk you through alternative options that you might not have considered…


4. Think through your options

There could be other ways to achieve your goals e.g. degree apprenticeships that combine full-time paid work and part-time university study, Internships or work experience schemes, resit and reapply, or even taking a gap year and going travelling. Or find a different course through Clearing.


5. Log in to Clearing  

Deep breaths, and make the phone call! Logging on to clearing will let you see which universities have lowered their entry requirements, and lists the relevant numbers to call. You will most likely be directed to speaking with the unit leader, so brush up on your social skills and be prepared to charm them away.


6. Prepare what you’re going to say

Just like a job interview, you need to sell yourself. Show that you’re motivated and positive. You’ll need to explain why you want to do the course, why you’re keen on the uni, and what you can offer. Take the opportunity to ask a few pertinent questions.


7. Don’t give up

The online list of vacancies is updated regularly, so if you can’t find what you’re looking for, keep referring back to the list.

Uni hotlines will be extremely busy on results day, but persistence pays off. You can contact as many universities as you like and you’ll have more choice if you can be flexible on courses and location.


8.Talk to friends and family

This time will involve a lot of fast paced change, and could mean you are considering choices you had never thought of before, which can be both daunting and unexpected. So it’s really important to have a secure support base around you, as well as listening to others’ experiences and seeing what inspires you to make your own personal decision.



We hope your results will be everything you want them to be, but don’t worry if they’re not – Clearing is easy to use and it’s there to help.

Good Luck! 😁