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What is Clearing and Adjustment?

Follow our guide to the dos and don’ts of dealing with Clearing and Adjustment on A-level results day.

The Clearing and Adjustment processes may sound daunting but our guide makes them simple to understand…

The Clearing process

If you don’t get the grades you need for your first-choice university, the Clearing process enables you to search for a place at an alternative university.

You will be entered automatically into Clearing by UCAS, the body through which you’ll have applied before sitting your A-levels.

Not getting the right grades will leave you feeling disappointed – but you CAN turn things around if you tackle the Clearing process in a calm and methodical way.

What you have to do

Firstly, you will need to go on to the UCAS website to register on ‘Track’ then follow the instructions.

You’ll have to make phone calls to lots of universities. It is vital that it’s you (not your mum or your teacher) who does the talking, no matter how upset you feel. Universities want to talk to potential students in person and this is a second-chance situation only YOU can handle.

Research alternative unis and courses carefully – don’t rush into anything because you feel panicky. Getting onto the wrong degree course, out of desperation, could end up being worse than having to do retakes, in the long run. This is why it’s important to have visited a few university Open Days  prior to making your final choice.

You will have to discuss your grades so have a list of your A-level, AS and GCSE results handy and the number of UCAS tariff points those grades add up to – you will definitely be asked about these by each university you contact.

Initially, you’ll speak to the university’s Clearing team and if you have a good case, they’ll put you through to a programme administrator. At this stage you’ll be able to discuss things in detail and now’s the time to put your case forward confidently as well as deciding whether the course measures up to the one you wanted to study originally.

If all goes well, the university will make a verbal offer which will stand for 24 hours but you must ask for confirmation in writing and make a decision as soon as possible.


If you’ve done better than expected, you can go through the Adjustment process to get on to a better degree course at a different university to the one you chose initially, as long as a place is available.

What you have to do

Register on ‘Track’ via the UCAS website and make sure you have your personal ID ready. You will have to do all the research into which course you would prefer to study and where yourself and then call up the university, to state your case. If they have a place they may well offer it to you verbally but do not accept it until you are absolutely sure. Once you accept, the university will add itself to your application and your Track screen will be updated.




About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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