The long-awaited A-Level results day is here. But if you're a student who is worried that you might have missed out on your university offer, don't panic.
Ucas Clearing gives prospective students the chance to find places on university courses that still have vacancies, including at a number of top institutions.
Here's our guide to understanding the process and what to do when.
What is Clearing?
Ucas’ Clearing process lets you apply for courses that still have places available. This is normally for those who have not received any offers, rejected all their offers, or missed the conditions of their offers.
This year, Ucas are allowing applicants with firmed university places to release themselves into Clearing in order to apply to different institutions. This became available on track from July 1st.
In previous years, students had to contact their chosen university and ask to be released before they could contact other institutions.
When does Clearing open and close?
Any 2019 entry applications received after June 30th are automatically entered into Clearing, which officially opened on July 5th.
Clearing remains open until mid-September, which is the deadline for Clearing choices and for universities or colleges to accept applicants via Clearing.
How do I know if I'm in Clearing?
You will know whether you're in Clearing or not because your Ucas Track page will say 'You are in Clearing' or 'Clearing has started'.
If your status has not been updated, your application might still be under consideration by your university, even if you have missed your grades. It’s worth ringing them to see what your current status is, so you know what steps to take next.
While it is simple to self release into Clearing - you just have to sign into Track and click the ‘decline my place’ button on your homepage - Ucas has incorporated a series of warnings to ensure that all students make an informed choice.
It is also advised that you consult with your teachers or advisors before self releasing.
How do I apply?
You can search for all available courses on the Ucas website.
Once you’ve made a shortlist of which courses you’re interested in, you should call up the individual universities. It is very important that you call up yourself, rather than asking your parents to speak on the phone on your behalf.
Make sure you have your Clearing number – which you can find on Track – and your Personal ID number at the ready. In the heat of the moment you might forget your individual A-level and GCSE grades, so make sure you write them down, and also note their Ucas points value.
Ucas also offers a Direct Contact Service, an optional service allowing universities and colleges to contact you throughout Clearing if they have places available for your chosen course.
What happens when I call?
Do your research before the call as it could end up being an interview. Either way, you'll need to sell yourself and explain why you want to do the course, so make sure you do your research beforehand. Also, be prepared to talk about your results.
Most universities will give you an informal offer during your call, so you will still have time to consider other options afterwards. It’s important that you don’t rush into a decision, and that you choose a course that you will be happy to study for the next three or four years.
What should I do when I have my offer?
Once you have the offer you want – and you are 100 per cent sure you want to accept it – you should add your Clearing choice on Track.
You should only add a Clearing choice once you have permission from the university of college.
You are only able to add one course, unless that university does not confirm your offer.
Remember to be prepared! Universities will list available courses before Results Day, so there’s no harm in doing some research beforehand. Read our in-depth guide on how to prepare for Ucas Clearing here.
Know what subjects you’re looking for, and make sure you have thought about why you want to study them.
Ensure you have all the relevant information on a piece of paper in front of you when you’re on the phone. Some universities will ask you to send them scanned copies of relevant qualification certificates, so make sure that you can do this on results day.
Make notes during the conversations – you may forget who has said what if you’re contacting a number of universities. Also remember to jot down names and direct contact details in case you need to talk to a particular person later on in the day.
Clearing can be an extremely stressful time, but try and stay calm. You will sound more confident and will be able to sell yourself better if you are in the right frame of mind.
Missing your grades is not the end of the world – in fact, many people who go through the process say they are very happy about how things worked out.
A-level-results day: timeline
6am The UCAS social media team will be available to answer questions about applications via Twitter and Facebook.
Track goes live at 8am The big moment has arrived. Log in to Track to check whether your university has confirmed your place. If you don’t have a confirmed place at your firm or insurance choice, you’ll automatically be entered into Clearing. Track won’t show your A-level grades, though. It will simply tell you whether your university application has been successful or not. (UCAS receives students’ exam results a few days before A-level-results day, matches them to students’ applications and then sends them to the relevant university under strict embargo for them to confirm the place.)
Collect your exam results Most schools and colleges open bright and early on results day, usually from 8am onwards, so check the time on the website and get there as soon as you can. Achieved your grades and secured your university place? It’s time to celebrate. Just missed your grades? Don’t panic – your university may accept you anyway and you’ll be notified on Track. Or the university may offer you an alternative course, which you’ll need to accept or decline on Track. Missed your grades and Track says you’re in Clearing Keep calm – you can now search through Clearing on the UCAS website to see which courses still have vacancies.
Time to talk If you’ve been released into Clearing, you need to contact universities directly to talk about the courses you’re interested in. Have your UCAS Personal ID (available on Track) and exam results at the ready, as well as contact numbers for the universities you want to discuss options with. “Be prepared to demonstrate your suitability and passion for the subject,” advises Michael Welsh, team manager of the UCAS Customer Experience Centre. Remember, universities won’t discuss your application with anyone else but you, unless you’ve nominated someone (such as a parent, carer or relative) to speak on your behalf. Check the UCAS website to find out how to do this.
Offers through Clearing If a university accepts you through Clearing, they will make you an offer, either verbally over the phone or via email. You may receive several offers – but you can only accept one.
3pm You can now add your Clearing choice or reply to offers on Track. Once you have accepted an offer, the university will then confirm the place.
Making plans When your place is confirmed, you need to think about student finance and accommodation. You may be able to visit the university to look round in the coming days. Most universities are happy to arrange visits from students applying through Clearing, while many hold designated open days for Clearing applicants, often the weekend after A-level-results day. “If you’re unable to visit in person, lots of universities have virtual tours available on their websites,” says Welsh.
The next few days... Your confirmation letter should appear in Track five to seven days after your university place has been confirmed.