Five common mistakes you should avoid making in the clearing call

The idea of going through Clearing might be a little stressful – that's OK, you're human. The good news is that knowing a few useful tips and techniques can help you be prepared and stay calm. We put our heads together with the experts in the University of Gloucestershire's student recruitment team to come up with a list of common mistakes and how to avoid making them – they'll all make the process easier and hopefully help you secure a place at uni. 

Girl on phone

1 – Not actually being in Clearing

You're only eligible for the Clearing process if your UCAS track says 'you are in clearing'. If it doesn't - you might be holding an offer from your insurance choice, for example – any unis you contact won't be able to offer you a place, however much they might want to. 

If you're holding an offer but want to go into clearing, what should you do? “You need to speak to that university and be released before you can get offers from anywhere else,” says Sarah Maddrell, student recruitment support officer at Gloucestershire. 

Don't forget, missing out on the grades you need doesn't automatically put you into Clearing. “We sometimes get calls from people who maybe missed out by a grade but it turns out they have still been accepted by their firm choice,” says Sarah. “Always check UCAS track first.”

2 – Not checking the vacancies list first

Getting a place through Clearing can involve a fair bit of time on the phone, and also a fair bit of pacing up and down. You can save some time (and some wear on the carpet) by making sure any unis you contact actually have Clearing vacancies in your chosen subject. 

“Do your research before you call,” says Sarah. “Universities will advertise which spaces they have available on their website, or through UCAS.” You can join Gloucestershire's mailing list here and find out more about what info is where in our Clearing guide, too. 


3 – Not having all the paperwork handy

The night before results day you might want to go out with friends, hide under the bed whimpering or just sit on the sofa while your stomach tries to gnaw its way out of your body. It's totally understandable. But before you do any of those things, the single best thing you can do to prepare for Clearing is to get all your info together in one place.

Write down your UCAS ID number (unis will need it), the course you're interested in, have a copy of your personal statement to hand and maybe even a few bullet points about why you want to study the subject. Once you get your grades, gather all that info together before you pick up the phone. 

“The last thing you want to do is to be scrabbling around,” says Sarah. “I’ve had students read out the wrong grades or mix up their subjects because they’re stressed out or nervous. Have it all in front of you and you’ll feel better prepared.”

4 – Not giving a uni all your grades

Don't sell yourself short. Some unis will gladly accept points gained for other activities on the UCAS tariff, so make sure you have a record of all your achievements to hand. “Got an AS-level that you didn’t take on to A-level? Done an extended project?” asks Sarah. “Tell us about it! It might be the difference between getting an offer and missing out.”

Girl on laptop

5 – Not asking any questions

The Clearing conversation should be more than you whispering “Oh please, oh please,” down the line, as tempting as that might be. You put a lot of effort into your initial uni research, so don't rush now – ask the same questions and try to find out if a uni and course will be right for you. 

“Don’t panic buy your degree,” says Sarah. “Have a pen and paper to hand, note down which university you are talking to (you may speak to a fair few!) and ask us about the course and any other things that matter to you in your choice of university.” You can find out more about Gloucestershire's courses here. 

Yes, Clearing can be stressful, but it can also be the first step towards a great student experience – so prepare, avoid these mistakes and you'll have a great chance of success. Good luck!