Results Day – A Guide to Adjustment and Clearing for Careers Leaders

University Choice


Adjustment might give students an opportunity to reconsider where and what to study.

If they met all the conditions of their firm choice and exceeded at least one they could change their place for another course they may now prefer. Adjustment begins on A level results day and lasts until 31 August. If your student registers but do not find an alternative course, they keep their place at their original firm-choice institution.

Only a small number of applicants receive places through Adjustment. Last year the total was 1,040.

How Adjustment works

For students to be eligible to use Adjustment:

  • their results must have met and exceeded the conditions of their conditional firm choice
  • they need to have paid the full application fee (£24 for two to five choices).

Students are not eligible to use Adjustment if:

  • they are confirmed at their firm choice but did not exceed the conditions of the offer
  • their results have met and exceeded the conditions of their conditional insurance choice
  • they have a confirmed place on a changed course offer
  • their original offer was unconditional.

To use Adjustment students will need to:

  • register in Track by clicking on ‘Find out about and register for adjustment’ on the ‘Your choices’ screen
  • contact a university or college to find another place. They will have five 24-hour periods (including weekends) within this time to use it, starting from when their conditional firm offer changes to unconditional firm (UF), or on A results day – whichever is the later. If their offer goes UF less than five days before 31 August, they’ll only have whatever time is left between then and 31 August.

The university or college will check that your student met and exceeded the conditions of their firm choice and will tell the student if they can offer them a place. Students tell them if they want to accept it.

If the student is accepted through Adjustment, Track will be updated with the new choice and they’ll find a new confirmation letter available for them to print.


If students do not get the grades they had hoped for and their offer is not confirmed, they can consider using Clearing. If they’re flexible and have reasonable exam results, there is still a good chance they could find another course through Clearing, which helps those without a place to find one. Last year, 66,865 students found places by using this service, an increase of 3.1% on the previous year (1,990 more acceptances).

Students are eligible for Clearing if they paid the full application fee and have not withdrawn from the UCAS system and:

  • they are not holding any offers (either because they did not receive any, or because they declined the offers they did receive), or
  • their offers have not been confirmed because they have not met the conditions (such as not achieving the required grades), or
  • they made their UCAS application too late for it to be considered in the normal way (after 30 June).

What can students do?

Students need to search the lists of courses with vacancies to see if there are any that interest them. Course vacancies are published from the beginning of July until late September. Arrangements for the publication of vacancies vary from year to year and precise sources of guidance for the summer of 2019 will be announced by UCAS closer to the time. Usually, official lists of vacancies are published on the UCAS search tool and in some national newspapers. The national Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000, which is staffed by trained advisers, is also a useful source of information and advice.

Students will also see many advertisements from universities and colleges that have vacant places in the national press.

Students can make a list of the courses that interest them and contact the universities and colleges, in order of preference, to ask whether they will accept them. It is recommended that they telephone or email because the admissions tutor will want to speak to them personally, not to you or their parent. The student should keep their Clearing number (given on Track) to hand as they will probably be asked for it. If they’re not convinced that a course is right for them, remember that they do not have to commit themselves. They need to contact universities or colleges direct about any vacancies they are interested in.

If one agrees to give your student a place on the course they want, the student should enter the institution and course details on UCAS Track and they will then be able to be accepted. Only when your student is certain they have found the right course should they accept an offer of a place. Once they have accepted, they will not be able to take any further part in Clearing and they will be committed to taking up their place.

When students have secured a place through Adjustment or Clearing

Make sure they get from your new choice of university or college the information they will need about:

  • accommodation
  • term dates
  • introductory arrangements.

By Beryl Dixon, experienced careers adviser and author of How to Complete Your UCAS Application (9781911067863).

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