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Navigating clearing: what to do if you don’t receive your grades

Don't let clearing overwhelm you. Here's a breakdown of how to choose the best university and course for you

  • Student life

Alex Dalton

August 6 2021
Clearing - applying to university


What do you do if you don't receive the results that you were expecting on A-level results day? 

The first thing to remember is that you have some options. Read this handy guide of how to select the best university and course through Ucas clearing, so that you’re prepared for your next step.

1. Check Ucas Track at about 8am on results day. If you have not been accepted into your first choice, stay calm and head to school or college as soon as possible to find out what your results are.

2. If you have missed your grades by only a few marks, it could be worth appealing to your first choice. If this is the case, contact the university to discuss this as soon as lines open.

3. If your first choice will not accept your lower grades, you can accept your insurance choice. If you’ve met its requirements, your Ucas Track will update soon.

4. If you still want to go to university – and don’t want to resit or take a year out – you can choose to go into clearing. Clearing runs from Results Day to 23 October, and you will be entered automatically if you didn’t get the grades for your first and insurance choices. It allows you to browse university courses that are still available. Remember that some institutions may close their courses very quickly if they are in high demand or have only a few places to offer, so don’t wait around.

5. Speak to your teachers or advisers and see what they recommend. If you originally applied for only one course at the reduced £12 fee, you’ll have to pay the additional £11 to allow you to apply for multiple courses through university clearing.

What to do when you receive your A level results
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6. Search through the clearing vacancies on the Ucas website, on your chosen university’s site or on Twitter. 

7. Make a shortlist and get calling. Be professional and tell them why they should offer you a place on their course – you’ll also need to provide them with your results and Ucas ID. Remember that the course needs to be right for you and your future plans – don’t settle for just anything.

8. When a university you’re talking to accepts, you’ll get a letter or online notification. You will then have to log into Ucas Track and refer yourself to your institution of choice.

9. Relax, pat yourself on the back, and celebrate. Keep checking for any additional correspondence from your new university over the following weeks about accommodation and course materials. 

Alex Dalton is a copywriter, authoring the piece on behalf of Northumbria  University

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