If you have been successful with your university application it changes from being an offer which is ‘conditional’ on your A level grades, to an ‘unconditional’ offer – this means you have met the offer requirements or perhaps the university liked your application and has decided to admit you even if you slipped an A level grade.

The following UCAS codes are used:

CF = conditional firm/ first choice
CI = conditional insurance choice
UF = unconditional firm/ first choice
UI = unconditional insurance choice


If you have been unsuccessful with both your university choices, this will show on Track, which will also state that you are in Clearing and give your Clearing number. However bad you feel if you find yourself in Clearing, it’s really important to try to rally yourself and sweep into action – there really is everything to play for if you get moving quickly!

If you’re in Clearing you can use Course Search on the UCAS website to look for places. Also, if you are interested in particular universities and would like to see what is on offer you should go to that university’s website and see what they are offering in Clearing. In general some of the most prestigious universities don’t go into Clearing at all, but there have been some surprises in recent years so you might like to check.

Both I and our Principal Joe will be on hand to help with Clearing and any UCAS issues after 9 am. Please note that it is vital that I have time to devise a strategy for each student who is in Clearing before I talk to individual students, otherwise there is a risk that I spend 30 minutes on the phone to one person while other people are losing out on opportunities.

Clearing is very fast moving but please be reassured that we are very good at what we do and in turn each year our students do extremely well! In fact over the past few years hardly any of our students have been in Clearing, and the only thing we have been dealing with is students declining confirmed places and putting themselves into Clearing in order to ‘trade up’ to an even better university.

Although Clearing stays open for a long time, normally for our students all the Clearing action is between 9 am and 12 pm on A level results day. The aim during this critical period is to call around to try to secure the best offers you can and it is really worth being persistent. You can obtain as many provisional offers as you like, but in the end you can only accept one in Track. You will have a bit of ‘cooling off’ time before you decide which offer to accept as this is not normally possible until in the day. As you can only accept one Clearing offer it is very important to consider your options carefully and again discuss with me or Joe before you make your choice.

Clearing Plus:

Clearing Plus is a new facility for 2021, which makes being in Clearing even simpler. If you are in Clearing you will be able to view a list of courses which you are matched to. If you want to be considered for that course you can click the ‘I’m interested’ button and your information will be sent to that uni. You can express interest in up to 5 universities at the same time and if they in turn think you are a suitable applicant they will be in touch with you.

This is a really useful facility which I think will make the Clearing search much less overwhelming than it usually is, but I would still encourage students to do their own research and make their own calls, which they will be able to do in addition to using Clearing Plus. Clearly if you have got DDD and the uni normally asks for AAA, you are not likely to get an offer, but you would be surprised what universities are sometimes prepared to accept – it is always worth having a go and you don’t know unless you try!

Decline My Place:

Decline My Place is a UCAS option that puts you in the driving seat, as you are able to release yourself into Clearing; whereas in the past you needed to get your universities to do this. Several of our students opted to do this last year and they were all successful in securing a place on a course or at a university that they liked even more than their original choice. Don’t use Decline My Place if you are hoping to move to a different course at the same university. Instead it is better to call the university directly and ask if this is possible.

Obviously, the key thing is to do your research in Clearing first and make absolutely sure that another university is prepared to make you an offer before you decline your existing place. If you think you might like to use the UCAS Decline My Place option you can do some initial research before A level results day as some clearing listings are available; however, the full list of Clearing vacancies on UCAS will not be available until 10 August.

If you are thinking of making a change, make sure you are ready to leap into action first thing in the morning on A level results day – it is definitely true that the early bird gets the worm, especially if something unusually good happens to pop up in Clearing.


Adjustment is another UCAS option, and this one is designed especially for students who have done even better than expected or predicted. You are automatically eligible for Adjustment if you meet or exceed the grades of your firm choice uni and the opportunity of using Adjustment will show on Track if you are eligible.

Adjustment is optional and if you want to use it you will have 5 days to search for another course without losing your confirmed firm place. There are no listings for Adjustment so it is up to you to research and contact universities to see if they would like to offer you a place.

Some of the most high-ranking universities do offer places in Adjustment even if they have a policy of not entering Clearing so it may be worth making a few phone calls. However, the reality is that these unis are only likely to offer a place in Adjustment if they happen to have unfilled places remaining. Our students are normally very happy with their confirmed university choice or some decide to trade up by declining their place, so no-one tends to use Adjustment, still it’s a reassuring option to have if you have gone above and beyond expectation!

Useful Links:

UCAS: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/results-clearing

Student Finance England: https://www.gov.uk/student-finance-register-login

Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA): https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowance-dsa

The Student Room: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/university/apply/

All of our students and families are of course welcome to contact me if they have any further queries. Please try not to worry as you are in safe hands and we hope you will do just as well as our students always do!

Virginia Maguire
Director of Studies

Why Choose Westminster Tutors?

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  • In 2020 A levels 68% A*-A and 92% A*-B
  • In 2020 72% placed at Russell Group unis
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  • Superbly qualified teachers who care
  • Average A level retake improvement is 2.4 grades
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We have had another superb year for A level results. Congratulations to everyone for all their hard work!

Published August 22, 2018