Is it possible to predict what universities will do on results day?

Worried girl

Worried about your grades and your chances of getting into uni?

While you're waiting for your A-level results, you're probably wondering what would happen if you missed your offer by a grade or two.

The answer will depend on the university you've firmed, as well as the course you've chosen. But that doesn’t mean you have to feel completely in limbo until then.

Here are all your big questions answered, as well as some useful advice on how to prepare if you think you might need to use Clearing.

Get Clearing advice from the experts in this video from our sister site The Uni Guide

Will unis accept people with lower grades in Clearing?

Every year, people get into university when they've missed a grade or two, and some courses in Clearing ask for lower grades than their usual entry requirements. However, this isn't true of every course at every university.

Universities do this when they're struggling to fill a course with students with the previously advertised grade requirements. Basically, it happens when lots of students miss their offers. 

Your chances of being let in having missed a grade are higher when:

  • You've only missed one grade, eg you were asked for ABB and got ABC.
  • The grade you missed isn't in a subject directly relevant to the course, eg the C was in French, and you want to study history.
  • It's not a GCSE grade. Grades for GCSE English and maths are usually pretty hard requirements, so if you miss the 4 or 5 the university is asking for, you probably won't get a place even if you achieve or exceed the A-level grades you need.

It's not worth emailing or ringing unis to ask about this before results are out – the admissions departments won't be able to give you an answer.

Instead of worrying, try to focus on the things you can control. Maybe start researching courses and universities you might be interested in if you do end up using Clearing.

On The Uni Guide: guide to Clearing

How can I tell if a particular course will be in Clearing?

Until results day comes around, you can't be certain about all  the courses that will appear in Clearing. Universities don't know for sure themselves until they've received the grades of all their applicants.

But there are many under-subscribed courses available in Clearing from 5 July, so checking through those is a good starting point. Just bear in mind that, on results day, course availability changes quickly - so you might not see the same courses available then.

Still, Clearing is a good tool for keeping your options open. You can get ahead by researching courses that interest you, as well as perhaps organising some more university visits or going on virtual open days

Some courses, such as medicine, are almost never available via Clearing and some unis, like Oxford, Cambridge and LSE, don't release places into Clearing. 

When will Clearing vacancies be available?

Clearing opens on 5 July 2022 – any courses that are definitely not going to be full in August (regardless of the results) should be listed at that point.

This list will then be continually updated leading up to A-level results day on 18 August 2022. 

student on laptop

Why is this university in Clearing? Aren't they really good?

Some universities will be in Clearing because they've got the capacity and want to grow – whether they'll drop their grades or not will depend on what the market will bear. 

Having places in Clearing doesn't mean anything about the quality of a university  in fact, almost all universities have at least one course in Clearing these days. Over on our sister site The Uni Guide, you can see a guide to the highest ranked universities that offered undergraduate places in Clearing last year. 

If you want to know if a university is "good" or not then use a mix of the government's Discover Uni tool and league tables to get the facts and figures. Also, on The Uni Guide, you can find and compare universities and courses. Here on The Student Room, you can talk to other students who have already applied to that uni or are currently studying there to find out what they think and what they like about it.

Some universities and colleges will list a lot of their courses in Clearing. Quite often this is because they're in a town or city not many people have heard of, they're a specialist college or because they're just not very high profile among 16-18 year-olds. 

Who is most likely to get accepted with lower grades – firm students, insurance students or Clearing students?

Universities will always give preference to students who have shown some commitment already over anyone phoning up on results day in August for the first time. Dropout rates for Clearing students are much higher than for firm or insurance – and a student who drops out is a student that the university gets no funding for. 

The very last thing any university wants to do is to recruit students that they know have a high chance of failing or dropping out. That's a complete waste of their time and effort – they'd rather have fewer students than students who won’t do well.

This preference for safer bets can be used to your advantage if you think you're likely to end up in Clearing. There is no harm in getting in touch early with universities, asking about courses, likely vacancies and sorts of qualifications they might be looking for, as well as any chances of accommodation for Clearing students (this varies hugely so make sure you double-check). 

Will courses like medicine, vet med and dentistry be in Clearing?

Courses that interview, such as medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry, are rarely listed in Clearing. That doesn't mean they don't recruit that way though – they just use the pool of students they've already interviewed and contact them directly to fill places.

I have no offers – that means I can apply through clearing in July doesn't it?

Although Clearing opens in July you are not able to apply or are eligible for an offer until you have your results.

Because you're only eligible after getting your results back, Clearing offers are all unconditional. 

My course is in Clearing – does that mean I've failed?

Not at all! It just means there are still spaces available.

My course isn't in Clearing – does that mean I'll be rejected if I miss a grade?

No, it just means that the university currently expects to fill all their spaces from the students who have chosen them as firm or insurance.

That could include accepting students with a grade or more lower.

I am expecting CCC – can I inquire or apply for a course that asked for ABB before Clearing begins?

This is likely to be a big waste of your time. Entry grades are a benchmark for the capability unis expect from students. In this example, the grades you're expecting aren't close enough to the grades the uni is asking for. In Clearing this course might drop to BBB but that all depends on both the course and the university’s circumstances. 

Universities might post specific grades on their online Clearing pages, in which case you know exactly where you stand.

Some unis won’t have specific grades for Clearing. In this situation it is worth a phone call if you're within a few (up to three) grades of their standard offer.

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