Top 10 tips for Ucas Clearing 2024

student working on laptop

No matter how good you think your grades will be, it's a smart move to get your head around how Clearing works

Hopefully you'll get the grades you need for your firm uni offer. But a bit of preparation now can help you make sure you're ready to make the most of Clearing, should your grades not come out as you'd hoped. 

We’re here to help you get prepared just in case things don’t go quite as planned on results day.

1. Do your research and be prepared for Clearing

The lead-up to results day can be nerve-wracking, and on the day itself you might feel pretty disappointed if you don’t get the grades you needed for your top-choice university.

Ahead of results day, researching alternative university and course options can help you be prepared with a plan B. 

It’s also worth understanding the actual process of Clearing. We'll go through that in this article, but you can also find more support in The Student Room's Clearing hub.

When you’re researching other courses, think about things like the university’s location and the course content to help you focus on what you want to get out of Clearing. Try using our university guides A-Z to get a better idea of what each university is like.

Keep a clear idea in your mind of what you're willing to be flexible about and what you won't want to compromise on.

When going through your options for Clearing, it's also worth checking things like what the accommodation policies are for Clearing applicants. 

You can also use The Student Room's dedicated forums for specific universities to speak to a university's official representatives and other students who are already at university to find out more information about the university or course. 

And on our sister site The Uni Guide, you can find this guide to Ucas Clearing

teenager on laptop

2. Check the Clearing 2024 listings and Clearing Plus

Clearing is open from 5 July 2024 until 21 October 2024. You can view any current vacancies on the Ucas website from 5 July onwards. Vacancies will be listed then and updated regularly until mid-September, but some will not be published until the morning of A-level results day 2023 (17 August).

Although the listings on Ucas will be updated constantly, things move fast on results day. Visit universities' own websites to double-check vacancies and, if you see something of interest, give them a call to see if the space is still available.

You’ll also be able to use Clearing Plus, if you want to.

Clearing Plus is an optional tool that you’ll be able to use within Clearing to get a personalised list of courses with available places that have been matched to you and the universities' contact details for you to get in touch with them. You can still also make your own list and phone the universities if you prefer to do it that way, though.

When Clearing opens and you sign into Ucas Hub, you’ll be given the option to see a list of courses that have been matched to you under Clearing Plus. You’ll be able to use Clearing Plus from 5 July until the end of August.

3. Find a quiet place to phone universities

Clearing places do go quickly, but you have time to take a couple of minutes to compose and prepare yourself before you pick up the phone – you’ll give a much better impression to universities and colleges if you’re feeling calm and confident, after all.

Choose a quiet and comfortable spot to make the call from, and if you’re nervous have a drink of water close by just in case you need to clear your throat.

You might be using a landline to make calls, but it's best to give your mobile number to any universities who ask for your contact details to get back to you on. This way, they’ll easily be able to get in touch with you even if you’re not sitting by the phone.

You'll be able to find the contact details you'll need either on the university websites or in our directory of university phone numbers for Clearing 2024.

4. Have your details to hand

This is the information that you’ll need to have to hand during your calls to universities:

  • The phone number for the university and your own contact details
  • Your Clearing number from Ucas Hub
  • Your A-level, AS-level, GCSE and equivalent results, including module marks
  • Your personal statement from your Ucas application
  • Your log-in details for Hub
  • Your notes on the course and university and any answers you’ve planned to questions they might ask
  • Any questions you want to ask them
  • If you've called the university before, the name and details of whoever you’ve spoken to.
student on phone

5. Make the Clearing call yourself

You’ll need to make the Clearing call yourself – your teachers or parents won’t be able to do it for you because the university won’t be allowed to talk about your application with anybody else.

You might feel a bit nervous about phoning, but remember universities are friendly and want to help. The university staff you speak to about Clearing places will even have had specific training to help you feel at ease during the call.

Make sure you have your notes about why you want to study the course with you, as well as a copy of your personal statement. These will help you remember what you want to say. Show them how enthusiastic you are about the course and the university and if you get flustered at any point just take a deep breath and start again.

Remember to stay positive and focus on your strengths, rather than talking about your negatives or things you didn’t do so well on.

6. Make notes during the Clearing call

Have a pen and paper handy to make notes as you go, otherwise you may forget what the person is telling you. This will also help keep you grounded and focused if you're feeling a bit anxious. If you're making a lot of phone calls, it can be really easy to get confused or forget something important.

It’s a good idea to write down job titles, names, dates and times as well as a summary of what you said and what they said. These details will be useful if you end up needing to get back in touch with the person you spoke to on the call. 

7. Have some constructive questions to ask them

Clearing interviews aren’t just a chance for tutors to see if you’re right for their university, but also for you to work out if they’re the right choice for you. Do your research so you already know the basics that are easily answered on their website – this will give you more time to go over more complicated questions that aren't covered in FAQs.

Check whether the accommodation and bursaries you’ll have access to are affected by you being a Clearing applicant, as this can vary from university to university.

You might also want to ask about open days and opportunities to visit the university so that you can have a look around, or find out if there's any online information they might want to point you towards.

Remember that asking questions makes you look keen, inquisitive and motivated – all good qualities that tutors will be looking out for.

8. Ask for email confirmation

If the university decides to give you a verbal offer, ask them to confirm their offer and how long it stands for in an email.

Having it written down in an email will leave no room for misinterpretation, and will mean you have evidence of the offer just in case there are any problems later on with your Clearing choice not being accepted by the university.

student looking at laptop

9. Be persistent and flexible

If at first you don't succeed, just keep trying. Even if you have an offer, you can keep calling universities and getting more offers before deciding which one to add as your Clearing choice on Ucas Hub.

Things can change quickly in Clearing and, even if a university wasn't interested in you initially, there’s no harm in trying again if it still has free places a few days later. And if you end up on a reserve list, keep in touch with the university about it so they know you’re still interested.

You’re more likely to be successful at finding a place in Clearing if you’re flexible and willing to consider similar courses to the one you originally applied for. A lot of courses have similar content and you might be interested in joint honours degrees such as English and History. Check the course content carefully to see if it interests you and what options you have to change to a single honours course later.

10. Add a Clearing choice within the allotted time

You can only enter a Clearing choice on Hub after 1pm on A-level results day (15 August 2024). Most universities will give you a time period that their offer will be valid for, typically around 12 to 48 hours. If you enter a Clearing choice after this period has passed then the university may reject you.

It’s really important that you only enter a Clearing choice on Hub once you’ve spoken to the university or college and they’ve provisionally offered you a place on the course. If you enter a Clearing choice without discussing it with the university or college, they may take a while to reject you and this can slow down your application and waste valuable time while other Clearing places get taken up.

You can only add one Clearing choice at a time, so only add a choice if you are sure you want to accept the verbal offer that the university gave you. You won’t be able to add a Clearing choice until at least 3pm on results day, so there’s loads of time for you to make sure that you’re happy with your choice and comfortable with studying at your chosen university for three or four years.

Go back over your prepared notes to double-check where you’re flexible and where you’re not willing to compromise. If you’re not totally sure about where you want to go, you might be better off taking a gap year and reapplying rather than risk starting a course that isn’t going to be right for you.

For more information about Clearing 2024, head over to our Clearing hub. Alternatively, talk to people who’ve been through it before on the Clearing forums or take a look at this list of all the threads on TSR where you can get help and advice on Clearing 2024, including university-specific Clearing threads. 

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