3 min read

How does Clearing work?

How does Clearing work?

by Amy Cousins

The thought of not getting the grades you need on Results Day for your university offer can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t mean the end of your journey to higher education.

UCSA Clearing can help you find the degree and the university that’s right for you, and our step-by-step guide will help you work through the process, calmly and confidently.

What is UCAS Clearing? 

Clearing matches university applicants with courses that still have unfilled places. It opens on 5 July, but most applicants usually wait until they receive their results before they apply.   

This year, Results Day for both A Level and Scottish Highers (SQA) exams falls on the same day – 10 August. 

Universities start to publish their course vacancies in July, and you can also explore courses that are in Clearing using the free UCAS search tool. 


Who is UCAS Clearing for? 

You are eligible to go through Clearing if: 

  • you apply after 30 June  
  • you don’t receive any university offers, or none you want to accept 
  • you don’t meet the conditions of your offers 
  • you decline your firm place using the ‘decline my place’ button in UCAS Track 
  • you paid the multiple choice application fee of £25 when you submitted your UCAS application  

If you get better grades than expected, then UCAS Adjustment might be for you. This allows you to ‘trade up’ and get a place on a different course with higher entry requirements. 


How does Clearing work? 

If you think you might be in Clearing, or want to be prepared just in case, here’s a step-by-step guide to how the process works. 


1. Prepare for Results Day 

Getting your exam results is the moment you have been working towards all year, so finding out you haven’t got the grades you need for your university offer can be a shock.  

However, there are things you can do now that will help you navigate the Clearing process and find your dream degree on Results Day. 

First, start exploring universities that have vacancies on courses you might be interested in. Use the UCAS Clearing search tool to find available courses by subject, or search by university location. Follow this up with more in-depth research on specific university websites.  

Next, shortlist your course choices, writing down any key pieces of information you may need when you contact the university. This will give you confidence and help you demonstrate your interest in the university and its degree programme when you speak to a Clearing adviser.  

Finally, check our blog for a full list of what you need to prepare for Clearing. 


2. On Results Day 

You will be able to check the status of your offers from 8.30am on Results Day by signing in to UCAS Track.  

If Track hasn’t updated, you may need to contact the university directly to confirm the status of your offer.  

If you are eligible for Clearing, your Track status will say 'You are in Clearing' or 'Clearing has started’ and a unique Clearing ID number will show on your account.  

You won’t be able to see your grades in Track, so will still need to pick up your results. 


3. In Clearing  

It’s time to start calling the universities you are interested in using their dedicated Clearing hotlines. 

Once you are connected to a Clearing adviser, you will be asked for your Clearing ID number and UCAS ID so they can access your details. 

They will talk through your grades with you and might want to chat about why you want to study a particular course. 

Be prepared to talk about yourself, your passions and career ambitions, as well as what interests you about the degree and the university. This is also your chance to ask any questions you might have.  

Remember, Clearing advisers are trained to guide you through this process. You can also find some great advice on what to say during Clearing in our blog. 

If you do meet the course requirements, the Clearing adviser could make you a verbal offer. 


4. Add your Clearing choice  

After you receive a verbal offer from a university, you should also receive an email confirming what you need to do next. To accept an offer, sign in to UCAS Track and add the course as your Clearing choice.  

You can only add a Clearing choice if you have been given permission by the university to do so and you can only add one Clearing choice at a time. 

Your email confirmation should also set out how long you have to accept your offer. The earliest you can add a Clearing choice in Track is 2pm on Results Day. 

Adding a Clearing choice counts as you accepting the offer. The university will then confirm your place and this will show as an acceptance on your ‘Choices’ page in Track. 


5. Changing your Clearing choice

If you change your mind and want to change your Clearing choice, don’t panic. Contact the university whose offer you have accepted and ask them to cancel your place. 

Once you are released back into Clearing, you can start the whole process again and add your new Clearing choice to your account.  

You may have to wait for Track to update before you can do this, so be patient. 


Learn more about what Clearing is really like from our current students who secured their spot at Newcastle University through Clearing. Check out our Clearing hub for more helpful resources and don’t forget to sign up for our Clearing alerts to get all the support and advice you need straight to your inbox.