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A Level results: How the whole Clearing process works

HAPPY DAYS: A university or college may offer you a provisional place

CLEARING BROKE another record last year, with 64,000 students securing a place through the system that matches applicants with university and college vacancies.

Of these, more people than ever (15,000 students) were accepted to university after applying directly through Clearing, after the June 30 UCAS deadline.

Clearing is for anyone left without a place after receiving their exam results, and anyone who wants to make a late application if they’ve only just decided they’d like to go to university.

If you fall into one of these categories, this is a great route for you to consider. Follow the steps below to help you with this process.

Check Track
You can sign in to Track from 08:00 on A level results day to see if you’ve secured your place, or whether you are eligible for Clearing.

The facility to make a formal Clearing choice on the UCAS system goes live at 15:00 on A level results day. So you can use the morning and afternoon to research courses and universities, before calling admissions officers in search of a provisional offer. Each course will have entry requirements — it’s important to check to make sure you can meet them.

Make a phone call
Once you’re feeling reasonably confident about your choices, call the universities and colleges to see if the vacancies you’re interested in are still available. Be ready to discuss why you’d like to study a particular subject, and ask intelligent questions about the course as well as the accommodation arrangements.

Louise Evans, head of adviser experience at UCAS has some personal advice to anyone considering Clearing: “A positive attitude will put you on the front foot if you’re looking for a place in Clearing, which, once again, will have thousands of courses available this August.

“Importantly, you need to make sure you’re prepared, make sure you understand how Clearing works and thoroughly research what’s on offer to you — you’ll find all the information you need on the UCAS website and UCAS has experienced advisers on Twitter and Facebook ready to answer your questions.

“I understand that it can be stressful, but try to remain calm. This will put you in the best possible position when making those all-important calls to university and college admissions officers.

“When you’re confident that you’ve found a suitable option and you do call, explain why you would be a great fit for the course they’re offering, and remember to ask sensible questions about the content and structure – show them you’re serious about studying with them and passionate about the subject.”

Accept an offer or reapply
If a university or college offers you a provisional place, it’s likely that you will be given a deadline for making a formal commitment to that course in Track, by adding it as a Clearing choice.

You can only make one choice at a time, and remember that if you haven’t discussed your application with the university first, this will be likely to delay the process.

Although there will be a huge variety of courses in Clearing, ranging from architecture to zoology, you shouldn’t choose something you’re not happy with.

Make sure you have a genuine interest and passion for the course, as three years is a long time to be studying something you don’t enjoy. And if Clearing isn’t right for you?
There’s always next year. Around half of 18 year olds who don’t get in to university apply again the following year – and 85 per cent get in the second time.

Seek advice
Independent, professional careers advisers are on-hand to run through all the options before you commit to a decision. It’s worth calling the Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000 for expert advice.

The UCAS website will provide all the information you need to guide you through the application process. UCAS also has social media advisers on Twitter and Facebook, ready and waiting to answer your questions.

As well as people who are unplaced and looking at Clearing vacancies, there are always those who have done better than expected – by meeting and exceeding the conditions of their firm choice. If you’re one of them, you may be reassessing your decision and thinking about other options.

UCAS provides the Adjustment service, which allows you to look at the possibility of being accepted on a different course while retaining your original offer.
It’s still a big step to change from the provider or course you originally had in mind, so do your research and speak with the universities if you’re thinking of taking this route. Visit for more information on Adjustment.


August 18: A level results

00.01 List of courses with Clearing vacancies goes live on clearing.telegraph. and

06:00 UCAS’ social media team is available on Twitter and Facebook.

07:30 UCAS’ Customer Experience Centre opens for telephone enquiries.

08:00 Track goes live on You can sign in to see if you’ve been accepted. Applicants who have not been accepted can call universities and colleges to discuss vacancies as soon as they have their exam results.

From 15:00 eligible applicants can enter a formal Clearing choice in Track.

September 20 at 18:00 Final deadline for 2016 entry applications.

October 20 Last date to add Clearing choices and for unis and colleges to make decisions.

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