University Clearing guide 2022
Each year, tens of thousands of students get university places through clearing. To make sure that the choice you make through Clearing is the right one – both in terms of the university and degree – it’s super important to take your time and not rush into any decisions.
For the happiest outcome, we’d recommend some solid research and preparation. Stick with us, and we’ll show you how Clearing works, and how best to use it to your advantage.
How to prepare for Clearing
Even if you wait until results day to decide whether you need (or want) to apply through Clearing, you should still spend some time preparing for it, just in case.
Things move pretty fast once you’ve got your results, so it’s important to think about what your contingency plan is going to be. We’d recommend the following:
- Make a list of some possible courses and unis you’d like to apply to (and prioritise them).
- Jot down contact details for unis and departments (although unis often run special Clearing helplines on and after results day).
- Do some practice interviews – consider common interview questions and plan some answers to them. You should also have a think about why you’re passionate about your course or university, and what previous experience you have in the area.
Where to find Clearing places
Your first port of call when it comes to finding Clearing places should be UCAS – they have live updates of which places are available at unis around the country, allowing you to search and browse.
Beyond that, check individual university websites as they’ll have accurate and up-to-date information on any vacancies. Target the unis you picked out as part of your preparation.
However, it’s important to be aware that some universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge, or some courses, such as Medicine, are unlikely to offer Clearing places at all.
Applying through UCAS Clearing on A-Level results day
Here are the best ways to find a university place through Clearing on results day:
- Check on results day morning – Check your UCAS account for any status updates and to see if you made the grades for any conditional offers.
- Contact your chosen unis – Even if you didn’t make the grade, contact your chosen unis first. They may still be able to offer you something.
- Choose your ideal unis/courses – Once you’ve identified subject areas that suit you, get searching for vacancies. Places may go quickly, so don’t hang around if you see something you like the look of. Get in touch with the university as soon as you can.
- Contact your new choices – Some universities will have helplines open from 8am on results day (the lines may be very busy, so don’t give up if you don’t get through the first time).
- Keep your phone switched on – Make sure your phone is fully charged and near you at all times in case universities call you to offer you a place.
- Have your details to hand – Universities will want your UCAS points and your Clearing number or ID. Use our checklist below to make sure you’ve got everything you need.
- Be prepared for a mini-interview – Some universities might want more than just your details. They might expect a quick phone interview too, so be ready to talk about why you think this uni’s a good choice for you, what you can contribute and why you like the subject (check out our phone interview tips here!).
- Receive your university offer – If it all goes to plan, you should find yourself with a provisional offer. You then need to add the university’s details into your Clearing choices on your UCAS account. Wait for official confirmation of your new place by letter/online alert.
- Do your victory dance – Off to university? It’s now time to celebrate and get the lowdown on what’s to come: what to take to uni, surviving freshers’ week and getting your head around uni life.
Tips on calling universities
n addition to our more general guide to acing phone interviews, here are some more tips to consider before calling universities to apply through Clearing:
- Treat the phone call like a job interview – Before calling, think about your best selling points as a student (keep your CV and personal statement to hand in case you need a prompt).
- Research the course – You don’t need to know the entire course inside out before calling unis, but make sure you at least have a vague idea of what modules you’ll be doing and what makes this course different from others.
- List specific reasons you’re applying for the course – Think about why this course is a good match for you and your future ambitions and note them all down ahead of the phone call. Talk up your best bits and try to sound positive.
- Prepare questions to ask universities – This is a super quick way to impress your interviewer and demonstrate your interest in the course. For example, you could ask what kinds of graduate jobs their alumni have gone on to do, or how their course is structured and assessed.
- Think about why you didn’t make the grades – They might ask you this, so prepare an honest answer, and be upfront about any weaknesses you need to work on. This shows them you’ve learnt from your experiences and want to improve.