Clearing 2018: How might your Clearing phone call go?
What questions can you expect when you call a university during Clearing — and how do you tackle them on the spot? Our mock Q&A covers some popular scenarios...
You might simply be asked to confirm your A-level (and possibly GCSE) grades to be accepted there and then.You alternatively be passed on to a subject department tutor to answer a few more questions about your suitability for the course. Don't celebrate just yet...
Our other guide covers the basics of a Clearing call – including what to do before, during and after. But to help you prepare, below we've outlined some common scenarios students face in Clearing, the usual questions asked on a Clearing phone call with a university and some good (and bad) examples of responses.
What is Clearing? Read our ultimate guide to Clearing 2018
Clearing call #A: Why you want to study their courseYou’ve come across an English literature course through Clearing that appeals to some of your interests from A-level.
- Question: Why do you want to study this English literature course?
Bad response: ‘I’ve always enjoyed reading, from an early age. I studied The Great Gatsby at A-level too.’
Tip: Show that you’ve actually read the course description for the course and researched the department or faculty at that university, too, including its academic specialisms and even academic tutors. Relate your subject interests back to specific elements of the course to clearly demonstrate your engagement with it.
Clearing call #B: Explaining a low gradeYou needed an A in maths but narrowly missed this, getting a B instead. You call a university regarding a similar maths course they offer. They’re interested to know why you didn’t get the grades you were predicted.
- Question: Why do you think you missed the A in maths you were predicted at A-level?
Bad response: ‘I don’t know. I haven’t really given it much thought.’
Tip: Examine your unit marks to see which areas have let you down and where you performed best. Reflect and be honest with yourself, and show that you’ve tried to understand where you came up short and how you intend to improve yourself.
Clearing call #C: Applying to a different subject/joint degreeYou previously applied to study history only, but now you are calling a university regarding a joint history and politics course. The university asks about your interest in the politics portion.
- Question: Why do you want to study a joint history and politics BA now?
Bad response: ‘I voted for the first time in the recent election and got quite into it. I watched all the live debates.’
Tip: It’s perfectly acceptable to discover a new course or subject through Clearing that you’re legitimately interested in. Don’t feel like an admissions officer will be automatically sceptical about an interest in a subject which seems newfound. We wouldn’t recommend you change your options too wildly, though.
If you were planning to enter Clearing to find a different course before you received your results, tell them (including why).
Clearing call #D: Demonstrating a deep interest in the subjectYou enquire to a university through Clearing about a psychology course it offers. You meet the official entry requirements but you’re asked more about your interest in the subject outside your studies.
- Question: Tell us about anything you’ve done outside the classroom that has cemented your interest in psychology.
Bad response: ‘I like to watch psychology documentaries and went to a psychology taster lecture recently.’
Tip: Choose something interesting, relevant and unique to you to talk about. Don’t just explain what you did in a short, bland way. Explain how it’s helped you to develop your understanding and passion for your area of study.