The step-by-step guide to Clearing

Nicola Jones on 12 August 2020
The step-by-step guide to Clearing

With A-Level Results Day around the corner, it’s time to get prepared for all the possible outcomes.

So here’s our handy guide to Clearing, to help make the process stress-free and straightforward.

What is Clearing? 

Clearing is how universities and colleges fill any remaining places on their courses, and is a great way to find yourself a course if things go awry on Results Day. 

Clearing can also be used if:

  • You didn’t receive any offers (or any offers you wanted to accept)
  • You applied for university late (after 30 June)
  • You have declined your firm offer using the ‘decline my place’ button in UCAS Track
  • You've paid the UCAS multiple choice application fee

Through Clearing, you can find courses you’re interested in that still have spaces available, and contact the institutions directly to see if they will offer you a place. 

When is Clearing open? 

Clearing is available from now until 20 October. When you can use it depends on your circumstances; if you already have your exam results but you have no offers, you can use Clearing right away. However, the majority of places will be allocated from Results Day (13 August) onwards.

How do I apply through Clearing?

Step 1. Register with UCAS

Most of you will have already done this, but if you haven’t already, register on the UCAS website to receive a Clearing number. The UCAS website also offers in-depth information on Clearing, advice on searching for courses and details of the new Clearing Plus function. 

Step 2. Look for courses

Check the UCAS website, The Telegraph and universities’ own websites for information on the courses available through Clearing. 

It can be a bit of a race against time, especially for popular courses, so don’t lose heart if your ideal subject isn’t available. Be open to joint honours courses where you can study a mix of subjects, and other related or similar courses. 

It’s a good idea to regularly check what’s available as universities will be updating their course information over the Clearing period to try to fill their courses.

Step 3. Do your research

Get on the phone and call the universities you’re interested in to find out:

  • If they will accept your application 
  • What courses are available
  • What accommodation is available

You’ll need to give them your UCAS Clearing number and Personal ID so they can view your application. 

It’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into, so if you can visit the university in person, do so - if it’s not possible due to Covid-19 or timing, see if there is a virtual tour or open day you can attend instead.

And don’t forget; you don’t necessarily have to accept the first offer you receive, so consider holding out for a few more calls if the first one doesn’t appeal.

Step 4. Make a decision

Once you’ve picked a course, and the university has given you permission, go to the UCAS Clearing page, click ‘Add Clearing choice’ and fill in the course details.

You’ve now accepted the offer which means it will show as an acceptance on your ‘Choices’ page in Track. You can only add one Clearing choice at a time so if the university doesn’t confirm your place, don’t panic; you’ll be able to add another institution later.

Step 5. Get an offer

It shouldn’t take too long for your chosen institution to confirm your offer but if you haven’t heard within a few days, get in touch with them to make sure. Then it’s time to celebrate and start getting ready for your new student life - congratulations! 

This may all sound pretty daunting, but don’t worry - once you begin the process it’s really quite straightforward. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and good luck!

Did you know that four in 10 students are considering applying through Clearing this year? If you want to share your opinions on Clearing and student life, join our panel today. 

Nicola  Jones
Nicola Jones on 12 August 2020