How to prepare for Clearing

Our top tips to help you make the most of Clearing in 2024

If you're thinking about Clearing but you're not sure where to start, we've pulled together some tips to help you prepare and secure your place.

We know there are many reasons to consider applying through Clearing, such as:

  • Getting lower than predicted grades, or feeling uncertain about your exam results
  • Changing your mind about the course or university you originally chose
  • Applying later than the 30 June.

Whatever your story, we’re here to help you prepare and find the place that’s right for you.

Tip #1: make a plan B

Even if you’re confident you’ll get the grades you need, there's no harm in having a backup plan. 

Clearing gives you the chance to spend a bit more time looking at universities. You could visit universities that you couldn't get to before the January deadline. You might even explore some universities that you haven't considered before. 

Clearing can be a chance to change your mind – even if you’ve already accepted an offer. If you're feeling uncertain, look again at the course and university you’ve chosen. Where else is offering similar courses, and how do they compare to your initial choice? Make sure you’ve picked a course that best matches your skills and interests, and a location you love. 

Tip #2: restart your research

Imagine that you're researching courses and universities for the first time. 

Most universities will publish a list of courses that are available through Clearing. Explore the courses on offer, and think about your interests and ambitions. Has anything changed since you made your initial selection? What do you know now that you didn't before, and what new experiences have you had? 

You might still be interested in the same topic, but maybe you haven't explored related courses yet. For example, you could switch from a broad subject like Psychology to something more specialised, such as Forensic Psychology. If you’re interested in more than one subject, you could also investigate combined honours degrees

Make a note of everything that interests you, and bookmark the pages so you can easily find them again.

Spend time considering the university too, as it’s somewhere you’ll live as well as study. Ask yourself:

  • Are the facilities high quality and easily accessible?
  • What's the town or city like? Do you like the atmosphere? Is it bustling, chilled or somewhere in between? What would you prefer?
  • How easy is it to travel between your accommodation, important locations and your classes?
  • What clubs and societies are available at the Students’ Union?

Tip #3: write clear notes

Once you’ve made your shortlist, note down the Clearing phone number for each university and the UCAS codes for each course.

When you get in touch with the university, you’ll need to provide details such as your address and qualifications. Your qualifications, including A-levels, AS-levels, BTEC Diplomas, and the Welsh Baccalaureate, are key to securing your place. University Admissions teams may also ask about GCSEs for certain courses.

Printing out your personal statement and having it in front of you on the day is a good idea, too. It'll make it easier to remember your relevant experience. 

Tip #4: ask questions

The best way to get in touch with your chosen universities during Clearing is to call the Clearing number. Ask the person on the phone to help you with answers you couldn't find during your research. You could ask:

  • How does accommodation work for Clearing applicants?
  • What wellbeing support is available for students?
  • How can the Careers service support you?
  • Are there any bursaries that you may be eligible for?
  • Is there an upcoming Open Day, or another chance for you to visit the university?

Remember, you don’t have to accept the first offer you receive through Clearing. You can get as many verbal offers as you like, and make your decision from there. Once you've made your final selection, you'll need to log into UCAS and ‘Add Clearing choice’. 

Tip #5: plan a visit

If you can, it’s a great idea to visit the university you’re considering. Many will have the chance to visit before and around Results Day. Check out your chosen university's Open Day page to book your place.

Tip #6: apply for Student Finance

You don’t need to wait until you have a confirmed place to apply for student finance. Apply as soon as you can, as it’s one less thing to worry about after Results Day. 

Student Finance England (SFE) have published some advice for students applying through Clearing. Our tip is to complete the application form early, noting the university and course you've currently chosen. You can always amend it later if the details change. 

Tip #7: don’t feel rushed

It might be tempting to accept the first offer you get through Clearing, but most providers will give you a bit of time to consider. Universities may say that their verbal offer is valid for anything from 24 hours to two weeks. If in doubt, check with the person you speak with on the phone.

Courses can fill up and close during Clearing, but it's still worth taking some time to choose the course and university that’s right for you. Then you can submit your ‘Clearing choice’ in the UCAS Hub.

Tip #8: relax!

It might seem easier said than done, but try not to panic. We hope the advice given above will help you feel more confident about Clearing and starting university in September 2024.

Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.



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