How to locate a university course in Clearing if your A-level, BTEC, or SQA grades weren’t what you hoped.

Results day

Date of A-level results?


A-level results

August’s A-level results day (usually the second or third Thursday of the month). This is the day A-level students around the country receive their results and hear if they met the requirements for their (first or insurance) university offer.

Thursday, 15 August was A-level results day.

A-level results day preparation

If you have a question regarding your place or need to apply via Clearing, have the following information handy:

UCAS ID (and log-in details)
Clearing phone numbers for universities you’ve applied to or are interested in – you can find these on their website working pens and paper – you’ll get lots of information on the spot a phone charger your personal statement – universities you speak to in Clearing will be able to see this and may ask you q.
GCSE outcomes could arise.

Even if you’re confident, have a plan B (or C,D,E, etc.) We have more recommendations to help you find a Clearing course.

Mini-interviews might help you prepare for a Clearing call.

Results day for A-levels:

School or college will have your results. School opening and closing times differ.

Ucas updates Track at 8am when it receives your findings. The system will be busy, so you may need to be patient.

Universities may take a while to decide, which shows on Track. Call them to obtain a faster response.

Check Track to see if you got into either of your selections, but collect your results to see your grades (especially if you need to enter Clearing).

Going to school or college to collect your results has perks, like gaining support from teachers if things go wrong. If you can’t collect them, let your school know and someone will.

Universities will want to speak to you, not a parent or family member, if you need Clearing.

Next steps for A-level results day

Use our A-level results planner to see what to do next.



SQA day

In Scotland, students apply to university with already-earned grades (for the most part).

Applicants to competitive courses will learn on results day if they’ve met university offers.

Date of SQA results?

Tuesday, August 6 was SQA results day.

It’s normally a Tuesday, 10 days before A-level results day in the UK.

What SQAs do I need for university?

Most colleges demand four or five Highers from S5. With these, you can apply to universities for the next year.

Universities may require these in S5 or grant retakes in S6.

Scottish institutions don’t require Advanced Highers (earned in S6) – Highers grades are usually enough. Exceptions include medicine and law.

You may need to take an extra Higher or two to complete out your schedule. Even if you don’t need Advanced Highers for your university, taking them can help.

Some universities may provide straight admittance to second year for scientific and engineering courses.

How can you prepare for SQA results?

S6 pupils hoping to start university in September should prepare. They’ll be waiting to see if they have the grades needed for their offer, whether it’s the retaken Highers or the Advanced Highers they took that year.

If so, you can prepare like A-level students by looking for back-up courses in Clearing.

Scottish universities start advertising Clearing openings weeks before results day.

English, Northern Irish, and Welsh institutions publicise most Clearing positions closer to A-level results day, so if you’re considering of studying here, you may have to wait to view the full breadth of vacancies.

Results day for SQA:

On results day, you’ll receive your SQC (first class, no less). MySQA members can request them via email or text while on vacation.

If you’re applying to university, SQA will instantly send your results to Ucas so you can track your application online.

Immediately contact your school or college if you don’t receive your results. Your SQC will list your SQA credentials and units.

Next steps for SQA results day





S6 retakes

After S5, you’ll have your Highers results and know which courses and universities fit your grades.

If you don’t receive the Highers scores you wanted, you can retake them in S6, along with any Advanced Highers.

Check if your university accepts retaken S6 Highers. Some institutions and departments only consider Highers taken in one session.

If they accept retaken Highers, conditions may apply.

The University of Edinburgh will consider retaken S6 Highers, however the minimum entry criteria rise a grade (so an ABBB requirement in S5 would become AABB if it includes a grade retaken in S6).

Retaking Highers alongside Advanced Highers or extra Highers will be a busy year.


Here’s all you need to know about BTEC outcomes, alone or alongside A-levels.

BTEC results day is.

BTEC results are released later than A-level and Scottish Highers.

Mid-July is when schools and colleges will get BTEC results. Timings vary by course and assessment method.
Some schools may wait until A-level results day in August to inform students their results.
Check if you need to pick up your results in person or if they will be mailed or emailed to you before summer vacation.
BTEC students may be more Clearing-ready

Ucas Clearing begins in July. If you get your BTEC results in July and don’t need A-level grades, you can enter Clearing.

Most Clearing positions aren’t posted until August. This isn’t a problem if you find a fantastic course, but don’t pick the first one.

Otherwise, wait and ready for August’s Clearing peak.

BTEC Clearing tips

BTEC students can use their qualification in Clearing by:

Level 3 students who have focused on one subject (unlike A-level students) may have investigated broader topics and ideas within that field.
BTEC students may have received relevant work experience. You may have done live briefs for employers, among other activities. These might show your insights and engagement with a topic.
As a BTEC student, you probably obtained occupational skills. All BTEC exams are coursework-based. This can include group work, presenting, and utilising technology or equipment A-level students don’t have.
BTECs show motivation and devotion. After GCSEs, choosing a vocational path and going from school to a local college is a bigger step than continuing in the sixth form. It displays maturity and focus, which generally represent BTEC course success.
Even if you didn’t get the grades you wanted, don’t underestimate your BTEC workload. BTEC students are graded in several ways and have many tasks in two years. BTEC students study 8+ units per year, with 3+ examinations per unit.

Clearing: FAQs

Clearing is the official Ucas mechanism to obtain a position on a similar programme if you don’t get the required grades.

Same or different university.

Clearing permits colleges to fill any unfilled course spaces; they don’t want empty seats in September.

Clearing admitted 60,000 students in 2018. (source: Ucas, September 2018).

Around 46,000 applied through Ucas, while the rest waited until Clearing.

In 2018, 14% of UK applicants used Clearing.

You should still explore your options before calling a university, whether that’s before or on results day.


Clearing begins each July. On A-level results day, it’s in full swing.

Clearing deadline is usually late October (in 2019, this was 22 October).

Popular courses will fill up considerably sooner (usually on results day itself or in the week following).

Is Clearing available?

If you don’t get the A-level (or BTEC, Scottish Highers, or IB) marks your employer and insurance chosen institutions required, you can attend Clearing.

This is the most prevalent reason students go through Clearing.

You modify your firm and insurance options and want to go to a different degree or institution. You applied before 30 June but don’t have any offers. You applied after 30 June and are automatically enrolled into Clearing.

If you nearly missed the grades you wanted, check Track or contact your university before presuming Clearing is your next step.

Clearing how?

On results day, check Ucas Track early to see your application status. If you’re eligible for Clearing, you’ll be given a Clearing number to give to colleges.

Ucas Track doesn’t show your grades, only if you got into your desired university/universities.

Contact the university if you’re unsure about your university place. They’ll have extra employees accepting calls on the day, so be patient.

If you’re eligible for Clearing, you can call universities’ Clearing phone lines to discuss a course. Having back-up courses saves time.

Ucas will live-update all Clearing courses. Before phoning, research a course’s modules, what graduates have done, and anything else that matters to you.

When calling a university in Clearing, you may be asked for your grades; others may inquire why you’re interested in that subject, like a mini-interview.

If a university accepts you, you’ll have 24 hours to accept or look elsewhere.

Once you’ve been offered Ucas Track, confirm it.

Clearing prep

Have a backup plan in case results day goes wrong. You don’t have to start from scratch.

Start with Ucas alternatives

You’ve already applied to these colleges and programmes through Ucas, so Clearing will know you’re interested.

These universities may have Clearing spaces, but there’s no certainty.

Alternate universities

Some universities (Oxbridge) don’t participate, but many do, including Russell Group schools.

Maybe you want to study in a certain section of the country or near home. If so, find neighbouring colleges.

Different-but-similar courses

Would you combine your favourite subject with another for a dual degree? Is there a similar course or subject that can help you reach your career goal? You may already qualify.

If you’re not satisfied with a course, try Clearing or one of the alternatives below.

Clearing colleges

How about Clearing call questions?

An admissions officer may…

Why take their course Why study English literature at our school?
To explain a bad grade: “Why did you miss the A in maths in A-level?”
Why you chose a different major or dual degree
To show your enthusiasm in the subject, example, “Tell us about an extracurricular activity that sparked your interest in psychology.”

Clearing calls require organisation. In addition to researching the course, follow these tips:

Ucas ID, Clearing number, and grades.
Keep a few (functioning) pens and paper around to jot down names, phone numbers, and instructions.
Prepare notes or bullet points about why each university’s course interests you before calling.
Ask them questions to show you’re interested.

Think back to admissions interviews you’ve attended and practise answering questions out loud to prepare.

Reread your personal statement to refresh your memory. Clearing tutors will see this and may ask about it.

Get a quiet room and charge your phone.


During Clearing, you may be on wait for a while; don’t panic.

If it’s busy, try again later.

If you need to reconnect or follow up, get names, emails, and phone numbers. Universities often hire extra staff during Clearing, so remember who you’ve spoken to.

Speak clearly and confidently, and if asked, be honest about your grades.

Why should the tutor accept you? Use examples to show your interest for the subject, and make specific references to the course you researched.


You must confirm your acceptance of a university’s offer on Ucas Track.

Check how long a university will hold an offer before accepting it. Do this before hanging up the phone.

After results day, do the following. You have alternative options if you can’t find a course in Clearing.

Clearing substitutes

If you can’t find a new course you’re happy with in Clearing, don’t take anything that comes along. It can cause you difficulty, disappointment, and financial hardship.

Some options:

Grade appeal

If your marks seem poor or you’re on the border between two grades, appeal or get them noted. A university may hold a spot for you this year while you apply.

Next year, reapply

Applying again next year may be the smartest decision after seeing friends off to college.

Work experience and volunteering will enhance your Ucas application, as will reading, watching, and doing more in your topic.

This year off might be used to travel and save for college.

You can make a better informed university choice after applying once. Universities will want to know how you used this year to improve as an application, so be prepared.

Degree apprenticeships

Higher or degree apprenticeships let you study and gain real-world experience.

Your employer pays your tuition. Depending on the supplier, degree apprenticeship application deadlines may be approaching.

Work your way up:

If you want to start working, obtain an entry-level job and work your way up.

Many well-known brands and companies offer training and education to employees with ambition. This may help you see more of a business and understand how it works.

Ucas Adjustment


Ucas adjustment:

If your grades were better than expected, you could use Ucas Adjustment to switch to a course with higher entry criteria.

If you have:

you’ve been accepted to your firm option and it’s now unconditional; or you’ve exceeded the conditions of your firm offer, including subject-specific grade criteria. For example, if your offer is for ABB but you get AAB, you could use Adjustment to find a place at another university.

Adjustment mechanics

A-level results day is Ucas Adjustment. You have five days (or when your firm offer becomes unconditional) to use Adjustment, so act quickly. The trade-up scheme ends August 31.

Adjust Track. While you look for a new place, your prior pick remains safe unless you say otherwise.

Adjustment doesn’t have a vacancy list. You must search university websites and admissions offices for vacancies. If you’re confident in your outcomes, research alternate courses before results day.

When you call, mention Adjustment.

Using Adjustment, you can contact any university, even if it rejected your application (though there’s no assurance they’ll have spaces).


Just because you can, doesn’t imply you should take a course at a ‘better’ university.

You’ve probably previously visited your current course option (perhaps more than once). You’ve also arranged student finance and housing.

Are you ready to rapidly leave?

After results, what should I do?

New course… Congrats!

Last-minute moving tasks:

Finances: update

It’s crucial to notify your student finance body of any changes, such as a new course. If you’re studying in London, you may qualify for greater maintenance funding.

Arrange housing

Ask a university about this during Clearing. Universities attempt to house all first-year students in their own halls, however if you come through Clearing, you may need to locate alternate housing (e.g. private halls, private renting).

University housing can help you.

Explore housing possibilities.

Student budgeting

If you’re moving, it could affect your student budget. Housing, travel, and entertainment costs vary by city.

Our student budget calculator can help you estimate your monthly expenses.

Enjoy your new home

You may have spent the last year preparing to live in one spot for three years but are suddenly moving elsewhere.

Google it, look up its hashtag on Instagram, and watch student vlogs on YouTube to learn what it’s famous for and what to do.