Blog post

Clearing: How to nail your Clearing phone call

Here are some top tips on making that all important call on A-level results day and how to make a good impression when going through Clearing.

By Mike Youlton - 5 August 2022

What will the university want to know?

The university will want to know the grades you have. Don’t be despondent if you don’t get the grades you need. Many institutions run foundation-level courses which can require fewer qualifications for entry.

Lecturers will want to know what interests you about the subject and for you to display your passion. If you have appropriate work experience or have read any books or journals about a specific area of the subject you’re applying to, tell them about it. Give them a sense of who you are and why you want to study the course.

What tips would you give to potential students making the call?

Take a deep breath and try not to worry – Clearing can be stressful but universities will do their best to put you at ease. They will want to talk to you, not to your relatives – not because they want to quiz you but because they want to understand you and make sure you understand what they are saying. And finally, make sure you have everything to hand such as your qualifications, certificates and a copy of your personal statement.

What would you advise potential students to do to prepare before, during and after the call?

Before you make the call, have a look at universities which offer the course you’re interested in. Take a look at the course information, module descriptions and the method of assessment to see if this would be the right option for you. It’s also a good idea to have a look at the types of accommodation and to get a general ‘feel’ for what the university is like.

During the call, stay calm and confident. The university is there to put you at ease and to help you make the right choice. Show your passion and make sure to let the call handler know of any relevant work experience, along with your qualifications.

Once you have a place confirmed, then you can take a look in more detail at the university and secure your accommodation. Social media is a great place to connect with students who will be starting at the same time as you – join forums, social media groups and keep an eye on the Students’ Union channels to hear about social events and activities planned for new students.

How would you advise them to have the courage to make the calls?

Remember that Clearing is not a bad thing; it can have an incredibly positive outcome and open up a world of possibilities! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

What should they say on the phone?

The truth. If you are tempted to increase your grades be aware that all universities will check these via UCAS.

For further information contact the Corporate Communications team at or call 01332 591891.

About the author

Mike Youlton - Interim Head of Admissions

Mike Youlton
Interim Head of Admissions

I'm the interim Head of Admissions at Derby and have worked as a university admissions specialist in Higher Education for over 20 years to help people access their chosen courses and to develop admissions teams to provide a high-quality admissions service.