Young people smiling in study area

Having a good Plan B if your results surprise you

Clearing hotline – 023 9284 8090

Clearing gives you a great opportunity to find the best course for you if your exam results surprise you, you don’t get any offers, you change your mind or you’re just starting to think about uni.

Most students wait until they get their exam results before they think about Clearing and Adjustment. But there are plenty of things you can do before you apply through Clearing to prepare yourself, even if you think you know what grades you're set to achieve.

Preparing for Clearing and Adjustment

Follow these 10 steps to prepare for Clearing and Adjustment and boost your chances of starting your ideal course this September.

1. Plan for different outcomes

Although you can’t predict the future, you can make plans for getting different results than you expect.

Consider a few different outcomes so you have something to base your Clearing preparation on. For example, some scenarios where you do better than you expected and some scenarios where you don’t do quite as well as you hope.

For each outcome, write down possible grades so you can match these to course entry requirements.

2. Research universities and courses before you get your results

Universities publish their Clearing vacancies from 5 July (although they may not publish some until Thursday 15 August).

This means you probably have more than a month to research universities and courses based on the different exam results you wrote down in the previous step.

To help you in your research, we've created a free Clearing help sheet (PDF) for you to download and fill out.

Starting your research

Approach your research as if you're applying for university for the very first time.

Consider all the courses you're interested in studying, even if you didn't apply for them the first time.

Maybe you’ve picked up interests in the months since your initial application. Maybe you've decided that instead of taking psychology you'd rather focus on forensic psychology or even a completely different subject like economics or sport and exercise science.

Clearing is the perfect time to ask yourself these questions.

Shortlisting courses and universities

Make a shortlist of your possible course options and bookmark or save the links to course web pages.

As well as checking the entry requirements, you can rate courses on things like quality of teaching, availability of scholarships, course content, location, accommodation options, facilities, the learning and personal support, and anything else that's important to you.

Remember that entry requirements can change during Clearing. Keep this in mind if you like a course but don't quite meet the entry requirements.

Considering a gap year

You could also consider taking a gap year if your results surprise you.

This gives you time to gain work experience in your chosen field and apply again when you know your exam results, either next year or through ‘deferred’ entry in Clearing if your chosen course and university allows it.

3. Make space in your diary

Clearing day can be competitive and the best courses fill up quickly. So it's best to be free on the day you get your exam results and for a few days afterwards.

Let friends and family know in advance, book time off work, and try to make sure you won't be travelling.

4. Write down university Clearing contact details

Once you've shortlisted your courses and universities, note down their Clearing contact details so you have a list to work from when you get your results.

We've included space for contact details in our free Clearing help sheet (PDF). Just download it and print it off.

To contact us and apply through Clearing:

Our Clearing hotline is open 8.30am–5.15pm.

5. Follow your shortlisted universities on social media

To see what it's like to study at your shortlisted unis, follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

Expect to see information about the research they do, student case studies and experiences, and loads of photos to help you picture yourself there.

You can also contact them on social media to get quick answers about courses, student life and how to get your place. Some unis will allow you to direct message current students directly during Clearing so you can get insight from those already studying there.

Girl looking at University of Portsmouth social media accounts on smartphone

6. Prepare your finances

You don't have to wait until you get an offer from a university before you apply for student loans and other student finance.

If you haven't applied yet, apply as soon as you can.

You don't need to wait until you get an offer to apply for student finance – apply as soon as you can.

7. Prepare questions to ask

Having questions ready to ask when you contact universities helps you get all the information you need to make the right choice.

Here are a few examples of what you might want to ask:

  • What accommodation can I apply for?
  • What are the typical living costs in the town/city?
  • What learning, personal and career support is there?
  • Am I eligible to apply for bursaries?
  • Are there any Clearing open days coming up so I can visit the university?
  • Will I need to come in for a face-to-face interview?

8. Dig out your personal statement

It probably feels like you wrote your personal statement ages ago. So refresh yourself on what you wrote when you first applied for courses to remind you of your qualities.

Also, think of any achievements or experience you’ve gained since you first applied. Mentioning these when you contact universities in Clearing could give you an advantage.

Girl making clearing application

9. Prepare answers to common Clearing questions

When you contact universities, there are some common questions advisors ask. Most are just a formality, so don't be nervous.

The best thing to do is to prepare your answers to the questions below. Some universities might not ask them all, and other universities might have a slightly different set of questions for you.

  • What qualifications do you have and when did you get them?
  • Why are you interested in this course?
  • Why are you interested in the University?
  • Why do you think you didn't get the grades you were expecting?
  • Why are you applying for a different course?

10. Take a step back, and relax

As we've seen, there’s loads you can do to prepare for Clearing, so try not to feel overwhelmed. Take your time when researching, and make as many notes as you can to prepare yourself.

To help you out, we've written a guide on how to beat stress and anxiety during Clearing. We've also made a Spotify playlist to keep you energised on the day – make sure to follow it.

And remember, if you're reading this before you contact unis, you’re already ahead of the game.

Good luck!

Contact us about Clearing

To contact us and apply through Clearing:

Our Clearing hotline is open 8.30am–5.15pm.

This site uses cookies. Click here to view our cookie policy message.

Accept and close