Careers: Top tips to handle clearing

11 Aug 2021

11 Aug 2021

It may seem like a daunting time, but try not be disheartened. Instead, be in the know and prepare yourself for the clearance process.

Get started

THE sooner you apply for clearance, the better. Some courses cap the number of students they will take, so you will need to apply early. That way you are more likely to receive a conditional offer. That is far better than missing the boat if you leave it to phone on results day.

Be positive

MANY students get their place at university by going through the clearance process – it is not a negative situation to be in. Clearing is not a desperate last-minute scrabble to get a place somewhere, and universities do not discriminate against those who apply through the clearance process – they are always keen to hear from good and enthusiastic candidates.

Ask yourself what you want

IF you have not got the grades you expected, you might not get into your first choice university, but that does not mean going through clearing to get in just anywhere. If staying at home is important to you, find out what the options are available locally. If you are passionate about a specific topic, find out where the next best place on the list is and what grades they expect currently. It is also acceptable to ask how many people they took through clearing last year. They might not be able to tell you on a course by course basis, but you should be able to get a breakdown across the institution.

Be realistic

OXFORD and Cambridge may be out of reach, but decide what is a priority for you. If you have not got the results you expected, what is more important – the course, the location or a degree in general? The last thing you want is to get on a course and find out it is not what you want.

You are not stuck

REMEMBER, you are not stuck: If you start at a university and you realise it is the wrong course or the wrong place for you, you can always change.

Be in the know

  • According to UCAS, over 70,000 students were accepted through clearance in 2020
  • Keep visiting the UCAS website at to see what courses are available and where, because the site is continually updated during clearing
  • Prepare questions for your chosen centre and be ready to explain why you are applying there
  • Always have any important information and documents ready, including your UCAS number, your clearing number and your A-level and GCSE grades to hand
  • Cover all bases. Be prepared for a short conversation or a full interview. Different institutions have different approaches
  • If the institution wants to consider your application, enter their name and course details into the ‘track’ section of the UCAS website. The university can then look at your application. Do not enter a clearing choice until you have discussed it with the university or college, as this may delay the process