A-Level results day is undoubtedly a day of mixed emotions. It marks the end of your time at school and college and the last two years of hard work. 

The day can be full of great highs and lows. Celebrating reaching the finish line whilst also saying goodbye to close friends and teachers. On the day you could also be faced with the challenge of having to navigate the Clearing process if you have missed out on the grades that you were aiming for. 

The process of getting a university place through clearing is different to the traditional UCAS application. You find courses with vacancies and are required to contact them directly to try and secure a place. The Access Project staff are in our partners schools every year on results day, helping students navigate the clearing process. Over the years we have developed some expert advice for students, staff and parents if you find yourself in this position.


TAP top tips: How to get the most out of clearing 


  1. Arrive at your school as soon as they allow. Clearing places tend to get snapped up quickly so it’s good to try and get in there early. 
  2. Bring your phone charger and headphones to school with you. The phone lines at universities can get very busy and you could be on hold for a long time! 
  3. Be prepared – have a list of the universities you are interested in, their clearing phone numbers and times when lines will open. You can search for these courses before results day.
  4. Make sure you have a copy of your personal statement with you. When on the phone with universities it is an opportunity to sell yourself as you have done in your personal statement.
  5. If appropriate make clear to the university any relevant circumstances surrounding your application. For example, was there disruption to your studies that they may not be aware of? It can be helpful to let the universities know if you would usually be eligible for a contextual offer from them also. 
  6. There is no limit to the amount of universities a student may contact on the day and you can receive multiple offers before making a decision
  7. There’s sometimes places available that aren’t listed on UCAS so you can just call universities if you are in doubt. Similarly, there are sometimes reserved ‘superstar’ places for AAA students that aren’t advertised.
  8. Don’t give up. You can be on hold for a long time but keep calling until you get an offer you want to accept. 
  9. Timing is key. You can only enter a Clearing choice on Track after 3pm on results day after you have called the university to confirm your offer. Once you are offered a place you are likely to be given a time frame to accept the offer.
  10. Lots of top third universities do foundation years, and this can be a good way to get into an excellent university if you missed the required grades for first year entry.
  11. If you receive an offer, ask for email confirmation. Do not put yourself into clearing voluntarily unless you have secured a verbal offer and an email.
  12. Celebrate! If you accept an offer, make sure you celebrate everything you have achieved. 

Trying to secure a university place through clearing can be challenging. It can knock your confidence if you don’t get the grades for your first choices but this doesn’t mean you won’t secure a place elsewhere and go onto achieve incredible things. Be sure to remember on the day that you have got to this point and that in itself is an incredible achievement. Try not to panic and seek advice if you need.

For more information and advice on navigating Clearing check out our helpful document or  visit the UCAS website. For Access Project students you can speak to your University Access Officer or another member of Access Project staff who will support you on the day.


Interested in volunteering? Sign up here