A-level Results Day 2023 falls on the 17th of August and is both exciting and terrifying in equal measure. Exam boards start releasing the grades from around 8am. Depending on the grades you receive it can either be a day of celebration or a day to reassess your options.

Not getting the right exam results can, of course, be demoralising and upsetting. However, it's crucial to remember that options are still open to you, one of which is a process called clearing.

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What is clearing?

University clearing is designed to help students who have not secured a place at their preferred universities find alternative courses. These may be the same degree but at a different university or a topic that may not be quite the one you had in mind but still relates to your future ambitions.

Clearing presents an opportunity for you to explore alternative study options and pursue higher education despite not meeting the initial grade requirements. Think of it as your safety net or back-up plan, in case of the worst-case scenario.

Clearing is an option if you don't get the grades you hope for.

When can I access clearing?

Clearing is available through UCAS from July to October. If you already have your grades but don't have an offer from a university, clearing can be accessed from the 5th July. If you have had a conditional offer but don't receive the necessary grades, clearing options can be added from 3pm on Results Day itself.

Clearing opens in July.

How do I access clearing?

To access clearing, firstly register with UCAS. This gives you a unique ID number which you will need to access the course search tool and will need to provide when contacting institutions. You can register at any time from the 30th June onwards, so make sure you've done this ahead of Results Day to save yourself additional stress. Once you've found a course you're interested in, contact the university.

If you're accepted, the next step is to select the Add Clearing Choice option on the course's UCAS listing. Fill out the rest of the application online, including your personal statement, and begin working out other logistics like student accommodation and finance.

Clearing is accessed using your unique UCAS ID.

How do I choose the right clearing choice?

Think back to when you were picking your A-levels. What was it about them that interested you? Were they the right ones for your career ambitions? A similar decision-making process can work here. And remember, not getting the right grades can be a blessing in disguise, opening opportunities that you might not have considered before Results Day.

When looking at your clearing choices, take into account elements such as where you will be studying and take time to find out what past and present students have to say about the institution. In today's world of social media, finding those thoughts can be as simple as doing a Twitter search. It is also important to keep in mind that university isn't the final option - have a look at alternative routes like apprenticeships or placements.

Assess your options with tutors.

What can I do if I'm struggling to choose a clearing option?

Results Day is a hive of activity. It is only natural to feel overwhelmed by all the information being thrown at you. To help cut through the noise and make clearing applications more straightforward, UCAS introduced Clearing Plus in 2020 alongside the existing clearing process. Clearing Plus matches you with potential courses and universities and send them an expression of interest. The matches are selected based on your grades and initial choice selection, as well as information gathered by UCAS on what universities are looking for from an applicant.

Though Clearing Plus can save you a huge amount of time and stress, it is still worth contacting the university's admissions department after sending an expression of interest and keep your options open by doing your own search through clearing.

Consider using Clearing Plus to find an alternative course.

Can I resit or do a different course instead?

Of course! University doesn't always have to be the end goal. If you feel that you could get an improved grade with some extra time and revision, then a resit is a good option. At Oxbridge, our online A-level courses can be an option if you want to study at home without having to repeat a year in the classroom, or we also have a range of vocational courses such as mental health and childcare.

On Results Day, speak to your school's admissions tutor to help you decide whether a resit would be the right option for you.

Consider retaking your exams if you need to improve your grades.

Need more information?

There is always a lot to think about on Results Day. Getting a plan together for every scenario can help alleviate some of that stress. You might also want to consider looking at resitting your exams, especially if your marks were close to the grade boundaries. Our learning advisers will also be on hand to find the right course for your unique situation - we're just a message away if you want to begin exploring your options.

Good luck for Results Day 2023!