1. ITV Report

A-levels results: What next?

The proportion of A-level students awarded an A or A* grade has hit a six-year high, with more than one in four being awarded top marks.

With help from UCAS, here are some of the answers to the key questions students may have on Clearing, based on some of the most common Google searches on the subject in the UK last year.

Nikolina Boldero, Frances Evans, Matilda Warde-Aldam and Emily Gilbert celebrate their A Level results at Norwich School Credit: PA Wire
  • How does Clearing work?

Clearing is the annual process that allows students without a university place, or who want to switch to a different one, to search for and find a degree course with availability. You can use Clearing if you are applying for the first time after June 30, if you did not receive any offers from any universities, or none you wanted to accept, or if you did not meet the required grades needed for your chosen university course.

  • When does Clearing open and how long does it last?

Clearing opened on July 5 and closes on October 23.

Pupils celebrate their A Level results at Norwich School Credit: PA Wire
  • How do I apply for a university place through Clearing?

If you haven't already applied for a university place through the main application scheme, you need to submit an application to UCAS. You will then be sent an email and have access to UCAS's online system, Track. You'll also be given a Clearing number. Search for courses you are interested in, and when you have found one you want to study, call the university or college and ask them if they will accept you. You'll need to give them your Clearing number. Once you have found one you are happy with, and they have said they will take you, you can add the course through Track.

  • How do I add a Clearing choice?

Once you've chosen your course and the university or college has said they'll accept you, click "add clearing choice" on the Track system and fill in the course details. The university will then confirm your place. Filling in and submitting the course details means you have definitely accepted the offer, so if the university confirms it, it will show as an acceptance on your "choices" page in Track. You can only add one choice at a time. You'll be able to add a different one if the university or college does not confirm your place.

  • How long does Clearing take?

How long it takes depends on how long you want to take to make a choice, and how long it takes for the university or college you choose to confirm your place.

  • When do universities get A-level results?

Universities receive prospective students' grades in the days before A-level results day under strict embargo to allow them to confirm whether applicants have gained the required results. Students can sign in to Track on from 8am on August 16, where they will be able to see if they've been accepted.

Phoebe Crane opens her A Level results at Norwich School Credit: PA Wire
  • Is it easy to get into university through Clearing?

There are around 30,000 courses available in Clearing, and each one will have different grade and qualification requirements. You should think carefully about what you want to do and where you want to study, as well as whether you meet the requirements to be accepted on to the course. There is now no cap on the number of students a university or college can admit, so many institutions will still be looking for good candidates for their degree courses through Clearing.

Evie Bateman (left) and Charlotte Long celebrate their A Level results at Norwich School Credit: PA Wire

However if you haven't got the results you need, or have done much better than expected here's some general advice from UCAS:

  • If you just miss out, the university or college might accept you anyway.
  • You might get a place on either your firm or insurance choice, depending how well your exams go.
  • You might be offered an alternative by the university/college - a 'changed course offer' (which you'll need to accept or decline).
  • You might not get a place, but you can search through the Clearing service to see what courses still have vacancies.

If you do better than expected...

  • If you had a conditional firm offer you met and exceeded, you might be curious about courses with higher entry requirements.

If things don't go to plan..

  • Find info about exam reviews and appeals - you'll need to try to arrange the review as quickly as possible, and keep in touch with your university or college to keep them up-to-date.
  • Look for course vacancies in the UCAS clearing service, or look into other options - like a gap year, work or an apprenticeship - either instead of higher education, or just while you reapply for next year.

If you've got a place...

  • Congratulations! Your confirmation letter should appear five to seven days after your place is confirmed. (Your letter is not emailed or posted to you, it will be available in your 'Track' login)
  • Make sure you check your confirmation letter carefully - it will say if there's anything else you need to do, or if your university or college will be in touch with further instructions; maybe to provide proof of your qualifications or medical requirements for example.