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Blog - Ucas Clearing: A-level results day myths and reality

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Results day is here, and for the 60,000 students who miss out on their offers each year, that means one thing: Clearing. Often paraded as the last resort for sixth form students who failed to get their grades, Ucas Clearing has developed a bad reputation over the years. What’s not often talked about, however, is that thousands of students use the system every year to find a place at university, and for many of these, it’s a great experience.

So does it really deserve its much-maligned reputation? How much do you think you know about Clearing and how much of that actually reflects reality?

Clearing is, actually, a fairly simply process; providing you have done your initial research.

Myth: You can apply for Clearing places now, despite the fact you don’t have your grades

Reality: False – Yes, Clearing is open, and yes, there are lots of courses available, however, this doesn’t mean you can technically apply for any yet. You have to wait for Ucas to enter you into the Clearing process, before you can officially enter new course details and apply. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t make speculative phone calls. Scout out some courses and see if you can speak to university admissions tutors ahead of Results Day to get ahead of the game.
Myth: Clearing is only for ‘failures’

Reality: False – Clearing gives you the chance to reassess choices you may have made a year ago. Even if you get into your firm choice, you can still ask to be released into Clearing (although this can take 10 days) and apply for a different course at a different university. You can also search for a university through Clearing if you haven’t applied for a place yet.
Myth: There is no need to collect your grades on Results Day, as Ucas Track will display them online

Reality: False – exam results do not appear in Ucas Track. Track can only inform you whether you have been accepted into your firm or insurance choice university. This is fine if you have been accepted, but if you are entered into Clearing you will need to get your results from your school or college to be able to tell university admissions officers your grades.
Myth: Ucas Track opens at midnight on A-level Results Day

Reality: False – Ucas Track opens at 8am on A-level Results Day, so make sure you have your login details to hand. In previous years, Clearing opened at midnight on A-level Results Day, but this year it opened on July 5th, so you can search for vacancies now. For students collecting results on August 18th, you’ll be able to enter details of any Clearing courses you’re applying to at 3pm on the day.
Myth: You can apply elsewhere through Clearing if you achieve the grades you need for your firm or insurance choice

Reality: False – you can only apply through Clearing if you have no offers, so you would have to negotiate a release from your firm choice before being able to apply through Clearing. Be warned, this can take up to 10 days and there is no going back, so it’s important to think carefully before you commit.
Myth: If you don’t get the grades for your firm choice, but you do get into your insurance choice, you can still apply for an alternative course in Clearing

Reality: False – You can only apply through Clearing if you have no offers, so you would have to negotiate a release from your insurance choice to be able to apply through Clearing.
Myth: If you get the grades needed for your firm choice, you can opt to accept your insurance choice instead

Reality: False – if you get the grades you need for your firm choice, you’ll have to go there unless you can negotiate a release into Clearing. You can then apply to your insurance choice through Clearing if they still have places available.

Myth: In Clearing, you can apply for a course in any subject, not just the one you applied for originally

Reality: True – Clearing allows you to apply for subjects other than the ones you originally applied for, however it’s worth reminding yourself of what was important to you when you were making your initial choices. Don’t just make a snap decision under pressure without thinking it through.
Myth: When applying through Clearing, you can apply to universities that previously rejected you

Reality: True – Clearing allows you to apply to any university that has vacancies, even if the university rejected you in the initial round of applications. If you are really keen to go and have met their entry requirements, it could be worth getting back in touch.
Myth: If you do better than expected in your exams, you can swap your firm choice for a place on a different course with higher entry requirements

Reality: True – this is possible through a process known as Adjustment which you register for on Ucas Track. You only have five days from Results Day (or from when your firm offer becomes unconditional) to use Adjustment, but while you are looking for your new place your original firm choice remains safe.
Myth: If you don’t receive a confirmation letter, you have missed your place at university and should apply through Clearing

Reality: False – There is no blanket rule for confirmation letters, some universities send them out and some don’t. Don’t panic if your friends receive a letter and you don’t. You will know if you have been rejected by a university by checking Track from 8am on Results Day. If you miss your grades for both your firm and insurance choices, you may be entered to Clearing – otherwise you will be accepted, and it will be time to celebrate.