Clearing: how to make it work for you

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If you think disappointing A-Level results are the end of the world, think again. AAT career coach, Aimee Bateman, offers her top tips for getting a university place through Clearing and argues that bad A-Level results can often be a blessing in disguise

Clearing is part of the UCAS process and offers a way for universities to fill any open spaces, while giving individuals the chance to secure a place before the academic year begins.

Some go through the process because they have changed their mind about the university or course they had originally picked, which is absolutely fine (better to change your mind sooner rather than later). However, many go through Clearing because their A-Level results are lower than they had originally hoped.

You may remember the article I wrote regarding my own disappointing A-Level results. It is still a day that I remember clearly.

Stay positive if you get bad A-Level results

This is likely to be a stressful time for many involved – you may be feeling emotional and apprehensive.

The most important thing to remember is you are not a failure. You are not a bad person. You should not feel ashamed.  Now is the time for you to think clearly and take action in the short amount of time you have. It is essential you remain focused on the positives in order to make the best decisions for your future.

Reflect and research

Clearing is a time for reflection. Yes, you need to act and you have a small amount of time to do this, but you must ensure you are open and honest with yourself during this time.

Have a look at other universities and courses that you may not have thought. It is best to remain as flexible as possible without compromising yourself too much. Remember there are often many routes to your desired career destination.

Why you need to sell yourself during Clearing

Competition for your chosen course and university may be high, so ensure you are fully prepared before you pick up the phone to a representative.

Have a copy of your CV in front of you and the reasons why you have chosen that course.  Be prepared to sell yourself using your personal statement, your motivators and any extra curricular activities and achievements.

Remain organised and confident

Firstly, I know this may sound obvious, but ensure you make the calls to the chosen universities yourself. It is a stressful time and you may be feeling quite low, but no-one is likely to be impressed if a family member calls on your behalf.

Secondly, make a list of any questions you want to ask the university and keep a note of all your conversations. Offers are valid for only day or two and you may need to make your decision in this time frame, so the more information you can gain the better.

Remember to record the full names of each person you talk to and request written confirmation of any verbal offers you receive too.

Patience is a virtue during Clearing

I appreciate there is a lot going on, in a short amount of time, but remain patient while you dial. It may be difficult to get hold of people at various universities. Lines are likely to be busy, but don’t give up and keep dialling.

There is so much more to know about Clearing and even though it sounds like a simple process, it can get quite complex at times, so I would suggest you have a look at these resourceful website for more information:

1. UCAS website

The official UCAS website is the only place to start. You can search the list of universities and courses available through clearing and apply and track your applications.

The website also offers advice on which type of study is best for you and even has a section dedicated to helping your parents through this process.

2. I could

This has been one of my favourite websites for some time. The website offers inspirational videos, showcasing real people, enjoying various careers.

3. The Student Room

This resource is full of facts and figures and has a huge section dedicated to the Clearing process. They talk through the entire process in detail with articles such as ‘Can you go through clearing?’ and ‘Where do I start’.

They also have a large section dedicated to student finances and other helpful topics.

4. All About Careers

This is a careers information website dedicated to students aged 16 to 24 years. Their blog articles will prove are particularly helpful during this time and their discussions forums are full of value added activity.

5. The Complete University Guide

This website does what it says on the tin really. An independent site, it provides advice on successful going through clearing and case studies and interviews with people who have been there and done it.

No matter how apprehensive you may feel, stay positive and remain focused. You have not failed, you are just taking a different path but most importantly…. get ready for the exciting journey you have ahead of you.

6. National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

University might not be for you anyway, and getting disappointing A-Level results is a perfect opportunity to re-calibrate your career aspirations.

Research has shown that more than half of existing university students would consider an apprenticeship if one was available, so why not beat them to it and consider that option now? The NAS website is a good place to start on that front.

Use AAT’s Qualifications navigator to see whether an AAT course could be an option for you.

Order your free AAT information pack

Watch Aimee’s AAT career coach videos

Visit Aimee’s website,

Aimee Bateman is a corporate recruiter turned careers champion and founder of

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