A-level results: What is clearing and how does it work?

A-level results are released this week. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA WireA-level results are released this week. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
A-level results are released this week. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire | Other 3rd Party
STUDENTS across the country will be collecting their A-level results this week.

While many will be celebrating getting the required grades needed to get into their university of choice – there will also be disappointment for some.

However if your exam results don’t go exactly to plan it is not the end of the world and students still have a few options.

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This includes going through clearing, here’s all you need to know:

What is clearing?

Clearing is the system that universities across the country use to fill any places they still have left on their courses.

It is open from July until October 23.

According to UCAS’s website, you can use the clearing system if:

- you’re applying after 30 June

- you didn’t receive any offers (or none you wanted to accept)

- you didn’t meet the conditions of your offers

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- you’ve declined your firm place using the ‘decline my place’ button in Track

So if you don’t get the results you are hoping for on August 15, then you can go through clearing to find a different university place.

You will be able to find courses with vacancies and you can contact the universities directly to see if they will offer you a place.

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How does clearing work?

If you end up needing to use clearing after getting your A-level results, this is how it works:

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- Your UCAS track page will show your eligibility for clearing if you go on it after results are released.

- You will receive a Clearing Number – which is needed for universities to access your application.

- On the track page there will be 'Add a Clearing Choice' button

- In clearing you need to contact the universities directly and can apply for as many as courses as you would like

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- You can then accept any offers you receive from universities, but students don’t have to accept the first offer they get – if you don't feel that university will be the best for them.

Top tips for going through clearing

The National Union of Students have a series of tips for students who are going through clearing.

These are:

- Do your research

If you think you are unlikely to get the grades you were expecting, do some research into other courses or institutions that you may like to study at. This means that on the day of results you will be well prepared.

You can use sites like The Guardian’s University guide or Unistats to search for more information about individual courses and institutions.

- Be quick

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Vacancies listed on Clearing tend to fill up quickly, so a fast response will increase your chances of being accepted on the course you want. Make sure you have all the paperwork you’ll need to hand.

- Be realistic and flexible

Check the requirements and if you don’t have the grades you need for your chosen subject, consider an alternative course, as well as an alternative institution.

If you have a specific career in mind, vocational qualifications such as foundation degrees are becoming increasingly popular.

While flexibility is important, the course and institution you choose must still be right for you. You can also research institutions on their websites or contact them directly with any questions about requirements for the course.

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Keep an eye on your account on the UCAS website to make sure you haven't already been offered a place.

- Think carefully before accepting

Think carefully before you accept an offer, as you can only accept one. Make sure it really is the right choice for you.

- Make sure you have financial support

Make sure you have all the financial support you are eligible for. For more information on this see Student Finance England Clearing Guide.

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