Does Medicine Have Clearing?

Clearing is an option if you have missed your grades or did not initially receive any offers. But how does the clearing process work?

May 2021
Sakina Lakda (Blogger)
UCL - 2nd Year Medical Student

Does Medicine have clearing?

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In short, yes. However, it is important to remember that Medicine is a competitive course, therefore places available through clearing will be limited each year and fill up quickly!

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What is clearing?

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Every year, hundreds of students do not achieve their grades required to meet their medical school offer requirements. Clearing is an option on UCAS which enables students to apply for unfilled course spaces for the next academic year. Courses are available for students who have met the required entry grades but have not received any offers for the courses that they originally applied to. Equally, if you have missed your grades for Medicine, you are still able to apply for many unfilled courses, some of which may be Medicine at other universities.

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However, spaces available for Medicine through clearing are usually very limited due to the competitive nature of the course. This means that it is likely there are more courses available for other healthcare degrees and therefore may be something that you wish to consider.

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Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find out your grades and application status until results day, however, if you think that you may not meet the required grades or do not hold an offer, clearing may be an option for you. This article will guide you through the process and help answer common questions.

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How can I find out which universities offer medical spaces through clearing?

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In the weeks leading up to results day, many university websites will have published whether they hold unfilled course spaces. It is worth regularly checking these websites to see if they hold spaces for Medicine through clearing.

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What should I do before results day?

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Clearing is a time-sensitive process that requires students to apply for unfilled courses on a first-come-first-serve basis. With emotions running high on results day, one of the most important pieces of advice would be to prepare beforehand. Take some time to think about what your options are.

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Organising your clearing information in one document can help to make the process less overwhelming and stressful by having all of the information and contact details in one place. It will also save you time from having to search for these on the day. Here is what to include in your clearing document:

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1. Research the universities that are offering medical school places through clearing. Make an organised table of the ones that you’re interested in with:

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2. Log on to the UCAS website > click on 'UCAS Track' > then 'Your Choices', and copy over:

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3. Keep a pen and paper ready to make notes and jot key information down from your phone calls.

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4. Charge your phone and laptop the night before! You will need these throughout the day to make phone calls and regularly check the UCAS website as well as refer to your clearing document.

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5. Iron a smart outfit to wear in case you are called for an interview on the same day.

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How to apply for clearing?

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If you have not received any university offers, for some courses, you can apply for clearing prior to results day. However, for Medicine, this is rarely the case and clearing takes place on results day. Below I have outlined the steps you should take on results day, should you miss your offer and want to apply for clearing.

1. On the UCAS website, use the search tool to find Medicine courses with vacant spaces. Due to the limited number of spaces available and highly competitive nature of the course, vacant spaces will fill up quickly! Therefore, try to search these quickly upon receiving your results so you don’t miss out.

2. Call each university that you would like to apply to through clearing. Give them your grades and ask whether they would accept these. You may be required to answer a few questions or confirm an interview date so prepare yourself for these beforehand.

3. After the phone call, if the university has agreed to offer you a place, go back to the UCAS website. Click on 'Your choices' > then 'Add a Clearing Choice' > and finally add the course details and fill in the required information to complete this process.

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Further options

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A-level Re-sits

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Re-sitting your A-level exams may be an option if you missed your grades and feel like you would be able to perform better given another opportunity. This may also be an option for students with extenuating circumstances. However, medical schools have different approaches to re-sits - with some accepting them while others seeing them as unfavourable as they prefer your exams to be taken in the same academic year. Certain universities may even require higher grades with exams that have been retaken.

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Bear in mind that re-sitting you’re A-level exams can be potentially more stressful given the additional pressure and tight turnaround after having recently taken them. Do consider this when planning your options as it is important to look after your mental health and wellbeing. While some students may be able to physically and mentally dedicate the hours to revising over the next few months, it may not be feasible for others.

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When determining whether or not to re-sit you’re A-levels, check the website course page for the specific medical schools that you wish to apply to. You can additionally contact the university medical admissions team for further clarification.

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Graduate Entry Medicine

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If you have just missed your grades for Medicine, this might be an option for you. Given the competitive nature and high entry requirements for medical school, if you have just missed the mark, there is a strong likelihood that you can still meet the requirements for an alternative undergraduate degree and then pursue Medicine at graduate entry-level. While it may seem long-winded, studying another degree before Medicine can be incredibly fulfilling and enable you to strengthen your skills and qualities, helping you to flourish throughout the rest of your career. When considering this option, however, be sure to check the type of undergraduate course as some medical schools will require a science-related degree such as Biomedical Sciences.

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Some universities also facilitate pathways into Medicine through undergraduate degree courses. This can be particularly useful if your goal is to pursue Medicine as a post-graduate degree as it can increase the chances of your post-graduate application into Medicine. You can check for courses that have a pathway into Medicine by looking at university websites and comparing ones with availability through clearing.

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Other healthcare courses

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Upon receiving their results, many students may choose to embark upon alternative healthcare courses through clearing such as nursing. This can enable you to gain direct patient contact, diagnostic and treatment opportunities in a healthcare setting.

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Summary

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While it can be incredibly disheartening to miss your grades when opening your results, remember that there are always alternative options. Some may be entirely different to what you had initially intended, while others can eventually lead you to pursuing a Medical career.

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The most important thing to do if you are considering applying through clearing is to prepare well before results day and remain calm on the day itself.  

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And while your grades may not be exactly as you had hoped, remember everything that you have accomplished in the build-up to your exams. Undergoing the rigorous medical application process alongside you’re A-levels is challenging! Your experiences will have helped you to develop resilience and determination. Furthermore, it is important to remember that Medicine is a significant mental, physical, financial and emotional commitment. You may feel that you need to take some time to explore your options further. Clearing can be a stressful and intense process for many students so do consider taking a gap year and reapplying to Medicine the following year if you feel that this would be best.

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We wish you the very best of luck!

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Author: Sakina Lakda

Editor: Allegra Wisking

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