3 min read

What to say during Clearing

What to say during Clearing

by Abby Danecki

Look, we get it. Clearing is daunting. But don’t see it as a ‘going out of business' sale. Clearing is actually just another opportunity to find your perfect university.

During Clearing, you will have to call each university you’re interested in and have an informal chat about why you’d like to study with them

For lots of people, this is a pretty intimidating prospect. But it doesn’t have to be.

In this guide, we’ve broken down what to say during Clearing, as well as how to prepare for the call, and what to do once you’ve secured a place through Clearing.


  1. Before the call

  2. During the call

  3. After the call


What to do before your Clearing call

  • Research

This is a big one.

Don’t be tempted to just get on the phone as quickly as you can. As we said, this isn’t a 'going out of business' sale. This is a big decision that’s going to shape your future. 

Use university websites to dig into the course modules, the types of assignments you’ll get, and maybe even pieces of research the university has done in your field of interest.

Remember, it’s not just about whether the university has a space for you. This is about you finding a university that feels right for you. It’s a two-way street!


  • Make notes

Take lots of notes before you pick up the phone, and organise your notes by university. 

For example, a page with ‘Newcastle University’ at the top could include some of our research strengths, courses that interest you and modules you like the look of listed below. 

Also, remember the power of questions. 

When you ask questions it shows genuine interest, as well as a natural inquisitiveness that will appeal to academics and admissions teams. 

So, write down a couple of questions you’d like to ask the universities. You might want to ask about your course’s contact hours, the kind of support available if you’re struggling, what the seminar-to-lecture ratio is like, etc.


  • Practice makes perfect

Practising answers can be very effective, especially if you’re someone who gets quite nervous on the phone. 

Reflect on questions you may have had in interviews before, or what you included in your personal statement. Practise saying these things out loud a couple of times, but avoid writing yourself a script. When you rely on a written script, you can quickly lose your train of thought if you’re asked something you didn’t expect. 


  • What to expect

Let’s talk through what to expect when you pick up the phone. 

Clearing is a busy time for universities, so it’s normal to be put on hold for a few minutes. Don’t panic. Be patient. 

If you’re really struggling to get through on the phone, try the live chat function. You could also call one of the alternative universities you’ve listed in the meantime.

Once you’re through, note down any names, emails and direct phone numbers of the people you speak to. 

Universities will rely on members of staff from all departments to support them during Clearing. This means it’s really important to have a direct line of contact with whoever you’ve spoken to, in case you need to call back later. 

Once you’re through to someone, you will be asked what course you’re interested in. 

  • If you do have grades that meet the entry requirements you’ll be put through to a relevant member of staff in the department or faculty your subject sits under. 
  • If you don’t have grades that meet the entry requirements, or the course you want to study doesn’t have spaces, you may be asked about similar courses you might be interested in that do have vacancies or lower entry requirements.

What to say during your Clearing call

Our trained Clearing advisers are used to talking to students who might be feeling stressed about going through the Clearing process, so try not to panic.

Though an element of Clearing is about us deciding whether you’re a good fit for Newcastle, the call is also about you deciding whether Newcastle is a good fit for you.

Stay focused, and make notes throughout the call of any important information you hear. Speak clearly and confidently and try to take your time.


What to say:

  1. Go into detail about why you’re interested in the course and university, and what you're passionate about
  2. Don’t shy away from explaining low grades and what you learned from them, especially if extenuating circumstances were involved 
  3. Be honest about your career ambitions and interests 
  4. Mention specifics about the course in question; talk about modules that appeal to you or facilities the university has that look interesting
  5. Be polite, positive and enthusiastic 
  6. Ask questions about the course content and the university itself 
  7. Really sell yourself, and draw on your personal statement 
  8. It's normal to change to a new course or subject in your Clearing choice, but make sure you explain why you're legitimately interested in the course and try not to change your options too drastically
  9. Whatever the outcome of the call, thank the member of staff for their time


What NOT to say:

  1. Don’t say you’ve ‘never really thought about’ something when asked
  2. Don’t say you’re only getting in touch because you don’t have any other options
  3. Don’t try to get a parent or carer to make the call on your behalf 
  4. Don’t be impolite or rush the person on the other end of the phone

What to do after the Clearing call

Once you've received a verbal offer from a university you're interested in, you need to add your choice to your UCAS Hub.  

You will also need to update your student finance. Alternatively, if you haven't applied for your student finance yet, read our guide on applying for student finance after you've missed the deadline.