A person with glasses and red shirt speaking to an Open Day assistant

Breeze through Clearing

Follow our tips to get onto the right course

1 – Do your research

When Clearing starts, you don't want to miss the boat, so start researching universities and courses in advance. Look at course content, the university's location, student satisfaction, work experience opportunities and accommodation policies for Clearing applicants. For an overview of how Portsmouth stacks up, head to our 'Why Portsmouth' pages

Make a shortlist of your top picks, along with their Clearing hotline numbers and opening times, so you can jump on the phone as soon as the phone lines open on results day.

2 – Use the Clearing 2018 listings

You'll want to get a copy of the Clearing listings and check them constantly, as they change rapidly throughout Clearing. These are the best places for viewing Clearing listings:

  • The UCAS website – You can view all Clearing vacancies from when Clearing opens. From A-level results day onwards, UCAS updates the vacancies constantly, so keep your eyes on the UCAS website
  • University websites – From early August, universities publish Clearing lists on their websites. If you have an idea which universities you want to apply to, check their websites regularly for courses you might be interested in. You can find university contact details on the Clearing contacts directory on The Student Room.

3 – Prepare for phoning universities

A call to a university is like a job interview. It's your chance to make a great impression by showing your suitability and enthusiasm for the course. You might secure a place with the first phone call, but you might need to phone a few universities till you get on a course. Prepare for making these important phone calls by following our tips. 

Phone call tips

  • Call from a quiet place, away from distractions, and with decent phone and internet access.
  • Make the call yourself – don't ask a parent, teacher or friend to call, unless you absolutely must.
  • Think about useful questions such as accommodation entitlement, bursaries and Open Day dates. This'll help you appear interested. It also helps you get the information you need to make the right choice.
  • Have an idea of what to say to stand out, such as your qualities and experience. If you're thinking of studying a different course to your original application, let them know what area you're interested in and why – they'll be able to talk about courses they offer.
  • Have all of your details ready. If you've applied through UCAS, you'll need your UCAS Personal ID (if you haven't, don't worry), details of your qualifications and exam results (including A Levels, AS Levels, BTEC, GCSEs or equivalent) and login details for UCAS Track.
  • Be prepared for a telephone interview with a lecturer. Some courses might require this. Make notes on the course and university you're applying for to prepare for their questions.
  • Keep a notepad handy, to jot down information from the conversation - you should record the person's name, job title, deadlines and a quick summary of what you discussed.
  • Remember to ask for a written email confirmation of any verbal offers you receive. Also check for how long the offer stands.

4 – Be persistent

If the first few universities on your shortlist don’t work out, keep going. Stay positive and keep calling. If your first choice says no, give them another call later in the day, as entry requirements can change during Clearing and you may get offered a place.

5 – Enter your Clearing choice on UCAS Track within the specified time

Whether you’ve applied through UCAS or not, most universities will give you a window during which their offer is valid, usually 12-48 hours. Make sure you enter your Clearing choice before this time is up. If you have any difficulty adding your Clearing choice, or have gone past the time limit, you should let the university know as soon as possible.

You can only enter one Clearing choice at a time. Only enter a choice on Track if you've spoken to the university or college and they've offered you a provisional place that you’re sure you want to accept. You can talk to as many universities as you want before you decide on a course.