Seven things people are always getting wrong about results day and Clearing

Not sure what to expect from A-level results day? Allow us to cut through the hype...

Two hectic years of A-levels are behind you - but there's still one final hurdle to jump: results day.

Most people get a bit nervy in the run-up to the big day. You'll want to do well and you may well have a university offer that's dependent on your results. 

Getting your head around everything that’s out there will help you feel confident and prepared for results day. So we've taken a look at some common myths and misconceptions around results day, uni offers and Clearing.

Myth #1 | You won’t get into your firm choice if you don’t get the grades

Even if you don't quite get the grades for your firm university offer, you might still get the place you're aiming for.

Universities are always flexible on results day, and it's fairly common for students to get their place with results that are one grade - or maybe even two grades - below what they needed.

Your grades give one indication to universities about how well you're likely to do on the course you've chosen. But these aren’t the only consideration and universities will judge each application on its merits.

If you do miss out on your first choice then give them a call. They may offer you a place on a related course or perhaps the option of a foundation year.

Myth #2 | Ucas Hub will update in the middle of the night

This is the perennial myth that appeals to anyone who’s hopeful and short on patience. 

But don’t be tempted to keep checking your Ucas Hub throughout the early hours. 

It updates shortly after 8am on A-level results day – and no sooner than that. Get some sleep instead!

Myth #3 | Your options will be limited if you’re using Clearing

If you don't get the grades you need on results day for either your firm or insurance choices, you'll be automatically entered into Clearing.

This provides another way to find a university place, from those courses that are not yet full up. But don't fall for the misconception that only unpopular courses are featured.

Every year, thousands of courses are advertised in Clearing when it opens on 5 July. You can search through these as much as you like before results day (via the Ucas website) so you can get a good idea of the type and quality of the courses availabe.

young man on mobile phone

Myth #4 | Clearing is always a mad dash on results day

Clearing is very much associated with results day, but there's a lot you can do with it before that time.

While you're waiting for your grades, calm your nerves a little by building a 'just-in-case' plan.

Hunt through the Clearing listings on Ucas to see what's available in your preferred course areas. Take a look at individual universities' Clearing pages to find more detailed information on those courses, along with virtual tours and open days. Sign up for university Clearing listing emails.

Build up all this information in July and early August, so you know what courses you will go for in Clearing if you need it. That way, Clearing goes from being a mad dash to a much simpler process of ringing round the universities you've already targeted.

Myth #5 | You have to make a phone call to universities in Clearing

If you do find yourself in Clearing, you'll probably be picking up the phone. Once you've found a course you like, you'll need to get in touch with the university to discuss your options there - and a quick call is a simple way to do this.

But many universities now provide other ways to get in touch - which is great news for anyone who dreads the idea of dialling up a uni in Clearing.

Many university websites feature live chat - or quick forms that you can complete to express your interest. Some will communicate with Clearing candidates through their social media channels.

If you’re connecting online, bear in mind that you still need to have everything together. Be sure to gather all the relevant information – such as your Ucas number and previous grades – before you start your virtual chat.

Myth #6 | You need to make a decision right away

One of the biggest misconceptions about Clearing is that, once you’ve been given a verbal offer, you have to decide on the spot.

You’ll always be given some thinking time - exactly how long will depend on the university and the popularity of the course you’re applying for. Make sure you ask when the deadline is, so you know how long you’ve got.

Really, the idea is to phone around lots of universities and (hopefully!) load up several offers. You can then work out what option is best for you.

For this reason, the option to accept a specific Clearing option on Ucas Hub is locked until 1pm on A-level results day (15 August 2024) - you won't be able to add a choice until after that time.

Myth #7 | You won’t get a place in halls if you’ve gone through Clearing

The last-minute nature of Clearing can lead students to worry they won’t be able to find university accommodation, but many universities will have reserved places specifically for students using Clearing

It’s a good question to ask when you are looking for course places. Check also for accommodation virtual tours - which are becoming increasingly common - so you can take an up-close look before booking anything.