How to prepare for UCAS clearing ahead of time - a guide from HelloGrads

HelloGrads Clearing

Hopefully, you’ll get the exam results you need for your firm or insurance choice university. But it’s important to be prepared, just in case things don’t go according to plan. HelloGrads guides you through the Clearing process, to help you secure a place on a course that’s a perfect fit for you.

Clearing and Adjustment


What is Clearing?

Clearing provides an opportunity to find the best degree course if you don’t get the grades required for your original choices, or if you didn’t receive any offers you wanted to accept, or if you have changed your mind about what or where you’d like to study.


How does Clearing work?

Universities and colleges use Clearing to fill any remaining places on their courses; vacancies will be displayed on the UCAS website. You will need to talk directly to the institutions that interest you and make a final choice from any offers you receive.

You can check if you’re eligible for Clearing by signing into your UCAS Track on results day (15 August 2019).


What is Adjustment?

Adjustment is similar to Clearing but is open to people who exceed their expected grades and who wish to apply for a course with higher grade requirements. The process is open on results day for five days only. Register on UCAS Track asap, consider your options and make your choice within the allotted time. If you don’t find a preferable course, your original offer stands, so you still have your university place.


How to prepare for Clearing

First of all, don’t worry! Thousands of students gain places through Clearing every year, absolutely love their time at university, and experience no problems with career prospects.

There’s plenty you can do in advance and on results day, to make the whole process easier and less stressful, and to boost your chances of getting a place on a course you really want.


What to do before results day


1.     Have a plan

Even if you’re fairly sure of your exam results, it makes sense to plan for scenarios where you do better or worse than expected.

Treat the Clearing process like a job application – good preparation will help you feel more confident and perform better during the telephone Clearing interviews with universities: do your research; think about your interests, attributes and aspirations; note down questions and plan answers for the interviews; show enthusiasm and try to remain calm!


2.     Research universities, colleges and courses

Aim for subjects you enjoy or those that could help your career path. You’ll have more options if you can be flexible e.g. look at courses that are similar to your original choices or consider joint honours. Ask for advice from teachers or tutors who can talk you through the alternatives.

  • Review course content to make sure it suits your needs

  • Check the entry requirements against your anticipated results but bear in mind that requirements often change during Clearing, so you might be accepted even if you don’t quite meet the grades

  • Also look at other key criteria like student satisfaction, quality of teaching, employability, location and type of university, accommodation policies and anything else that's important to you


3.     Make a shortlist

Shortlist your preferred course options.  Save website links and note their Clearing contact details, so you’re prepared for action on results day.


4.     Keep checking what courses are available

Courses are listed and updated regularly on the UCAS website from early July onwards, although most universities don’t publish their vacancies until results day. Clearing generally closes in late October, but many good options will be taken early on.  

On results day, things change fast, so it’s wise to double-check vacancies on university/college websites and phone them promptly if you’re interested in a place. Boost your chances of success by preparing well for each call.


5.     Revisit your personal statement

Refresh your memory about what you wrote on your personal statement (from your UCAS application) – your strengths, achievements and reasons for applying. If you have gained any additional relevant experience or qualifications, this could definitely be worth a mention during Clearing interviews.


6.     Think of questions to ask universities

Clearing interviews are a two-way thing: an opportunity for university staff to gauge if you’re right for them, and a chance for you to decide if it’s the best course for you. Prepare questions to demonstrate your interest and to gather all the information you need to make the right choice, e.g.

  • Do you have any open days, or opportunities to visit the university?

  • Do you help with work placements, internships or career support?

  • What accommodation is available?

  • Where could I find out about typical living costs?

  • Could I apply for a bursary?


7.     Prepare answers to common Clearing questions

Anticipate what you might be asked and prepare suitable responses, e.g.

  • What qualifications do you have?

  • Why do you think you didn't get the grades you were hoping for?

  • Why are you interested in this university?

  • Why are you keen on this particular course?

  • Why are you now applying for a different course?

  • What are your plans if you don’t get an offer?


8.     Follow your preferred unis on social media

Social media and student forums can give you a real insight into what life is like there. Contact them for quick answers about courses, applications or student life.


9.     Sort your finances

You don't need to wait until you have a confirmed offer before applying for a student loan or other student finance, so get sorted as soon as you can. If your plans change, you can simply amend or cancel your funding application.

10.     Consider your alternatives

If you don’t get the results you want, consider taking a productive gap year and reapply next year. You could retake your exams to improve your grades, travel the world, gain some relevant work experience and pick up some useful life skills.


Coming soon, part two prepares you for after results day.


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Whether you’re flapping about your future, mangled by money worries or simply submerged in a sea of revision… we’ve got tons of tips to get you sorted! The one-stop source of info, tips & real life insights from students, graduates & experts in the know. 
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