Top 10 tips for Ucas Clearing 2021
Clearing can be a daunting prospect. Here's some advice to help get you through it, with wise words from 10 students who've survived to tell the tale...
What is Clearing? Read our ultimate guide to Clearing.
1. Persistence pays off
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 Track.
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.
2. Be an early bird
Clearing opened on 5 July 2021 and closes on 19 October 2021. All the current vacancies have been up on the Ucas website since 5 July, although many will not be published until the morning of A-level results day 2021 (10 August) and they will be updated regularly until mid-September.
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 need the internet and a phone: internet to search for and research unis offering your desired course (or a similar one) and a phone so you can call each of them up straight away to see if you can get a place. You will be put on hold, or the lines may be too busy for you to get through in the first place - so while you’re waiting, keep researching. It’s all a panic but I was finally offered places at two different universities.
3. Be prepared
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.
Make sure you also have all the details you'll need to hand:
- The phone number for the university and your own contact details
- Your Clearing number from Ucas Track
- Your A-level, AS-level, GCSE and equivalent results, including module marks
- Your personal statement from your Ucas application
- Your log-in details for Track
- 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.
4. Keep an open mind
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, as well as other universities.
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.
Watch our video for Clearing tips from the experts
5. Speak to the right people
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.
6. Sell yourself
You might feel a bit nervous about making Clearing calls, 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.
And 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. Asking questions also makes you look keen, inquisitive and motivated – all good qualities that tutors will be looking out for.
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.
7. Hang on in there
You can only enter a Clearing choice on Track after 3pm on A-level results day (10 August 2021). 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 Track 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.
8. Keep calm and carry on
Lots of people find university places through Clearing every year – in 2020, more than 70,000 students were accepted through Clearing.
There are still plenty of options available to you, so there's no need to panic – chances are, you'll be able to find a course you love through Clearing.
9. Get all the help you can
Don't forget that your teachers are there to help if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed or confused by all your options.
If you're struggling to settle on a new university or course, you can also use The Student Room's dedicated university forums to speak to a university's official representatives and other students who are already studying there to find out more information about the university or course.
10. Don’t make a rash decision
The lead-up to results day can be really 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.
If the worst happens and your grades aren’t quite what you hoped for, you’ll have one less thing to stress about if you’ve already spent a bit of time researching other universities and courses you might be interested in attending.
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. 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.
Want more advice? Here's what some other students had to say