Why is it so hard to get a first? Watch

Kitty Pimms
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#21
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#21
I find it really interesting that so many TSRers who are still in school seem obsessed with getting a first. When I went to university three years ago I had no idea what I was capable of - I was more interested in being at university and learning as much as I could. I didn't try very hard for my first pieces of assessed work, and was really shocked when I got the marks back as I hadn't expected to do very well at all. Thereafter I put in a bit more work, but I still maintain that slogging is not a pre-requisite of, or a route to, getting a first. I did read a lot but I don't believe I did more work than my peers, I just worked differently and had a different take on my subject.

I suspect you will all find that you get into a groove of working to your ability, whatever that may be, once you get to university. Chasing a first as the absolute purpose of being there, though, is liable to make you miserable and actually be self defeating, because you'll be working for the sake of it not for love of your subject. There's nothing wrong with working hard and being enthusiastic, but don't break yourself over it.
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7589200
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#22
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in medicine u just need to learn EVERTHING - then ur ok
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7589200
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#23
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(Original post by n1r4v)
Aha that's quite an interesting thing you say VazzyB. I couldn't help but notice that you got a first [no I'm not stalking you lol, I think I recall you getting one from the Medics thread or something], so congrats for that, and I think I should trust your judgement. But what do you mean you have to learn everything? Although it's cliched, people say that it's impossible to learn everything for medicine, even confined to a particular topic. How true is that, and how would you learn everything; like would you just memorise information from a variety of textbooks lol?
thanks lol - what happened to your rep btw :confused:

Well for Cambridge medicine there is a realtively simple (but not easy) strategy to getting a first - it is simply...learn everything lol.

Im saying this after looking at some evidence actaully. This year if you correlated the final score in 2nd MB (50% of the overall grade and basically a test of facual knowledge for the most part) and the overall degree class there was a very strong correlation. People with a high level of factual knowledge did extremely well. The reasons for this are not just that having more knoweldge means you can answer straight-forward reguritation questions correctly because these are rapidly disappearing with the increasing number of past papers. Mainly its because you can answer 'knowledge application' or these so-called 'understanding' questions and because you can write your essays more quiickly and with more confidence. You can't be expected to apply your knowledge if its not there in the first place and the 'bottleneck' in medicine is at the having the knowledge stage rather than in the actual application because the application is so trivial usually.

The other advice I would give is to utilise your supervisions fully. Throughout the year they will give you excellent 'general rules' and pointers which will help you to find clever ways of remembering a lot of information. This holds true particuarily in Anatomy where small rules will make the difference between an 5-10% of an exam, sometimes. So, learning facts in an efficient manner by utilising supervisions is very useful. Some people confuse this 'intelligent learning' with understanding lol - they're not the same thing!

The final thing is to understand that although textbooks are very useful at aiding your learning because they offer a different perspective, they very rarely include core information (knowledge which can be examined) - only in some Biochemistry courses, specifically, the ones on cell signalling, (5 lectures) will they have core information - this is in 'Essential Cell Biology'. I made the mistake early on of reading a lot of textbooks and thinking I might be examined on information present there...very silly thing to do because it was so time-consuming and really quite pointless. Although this is a degree at Cambridge, an university which promotes wider-reading, the medicine course is still quite prescriptive, just with a lot more information that at A-level.

Anyway, good luck with your things, take care
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Blue Rose
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#24
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(Original post by aster100)
Why do you think.

In uni you can't just "learn the textbook". In pretty much all subjects I can think of, you need to read outside of the syllabus to help you in examinations.
:ditto: And have you seen the thickness of biology textbooks?!:eek:
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ixivxivi
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(Original post by gangsta316)
I don't get it. In Biology couldn't you just learn the textbook and get near full marks?
TBH, I think this might work to an extent, in some of the parts in my biochem degree. The more biological papers really were alot about regurgitating certain facts, metabolic pathways, control, sequences of events, and as long as you could piece together a decentish essay, you'd be pretty set (although, actually I didn't miss out an excessive amount of poss. elementary facts, and just scraped a first in the biologically papers (&less overall), so I expect to get a secure first you'd have to know more of the out-there facts/have some skill in essay-making. The problem solving papers lean alot more on brain (guess who did worse on them? ), and I'm definitely under the impression that the biological style stuff requires more brain as the degree goes on .


(Original post by jermaindefoe)
what are the chances of geting the top marks if you treat the course like a full time job (in uni from 9-5 mon - fri) thats what i did with my BTEC
As someone else said, it's more like 8am-10pm (and at times worse. I remember during one particularly work-heavy term I was getting up at 7am, having lectures 'til noon, then libraring until 11pm/labbing till 6pm/going to bed and getting up at 5am the next day to finish), and that's just to get by...
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Bebbs
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#26
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because if it was easy to get a first, it would have no value at all. Anyone can get one though, if they are willing to work for it.
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brown
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#27
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Personally I think it's easier to get a first if you have a natural flair for your subject or a particular interest in the modules you are taking. But at the end of the day it varies from person to person and depends on the university and examiners marking your papers/essays, as to whether they award you one or not.
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trm90
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#28
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With regards to biology, what is the 'natural flair'? A natural flair for being able to memorise information? I still don't get it. I asked this question in another thread, but how do you have a natural flair for a descriptive science? Would this just imply that the top 10% of biology students were much better at retaining masses of information than others?
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fairycakes
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#29
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i've completed my preclinical medicine and intercalated bsc and gained a first. basically i found that you really need to know the basic, core textbook stuff and also be reading around stuff that the lectures don't mention, and also the up-to-date ground breaking stuff. the year just gone (intercalated bsc year) i read about 10 papers for only half the modules, and there were 10 modules. if only i knew about the importance of paper reading and wasn't so lazy at the beginning, i would have got a much better mark.

the intercalated bsc part of my course had essay based exams, and you really need to show you know the basics back to front and then impress them with something different, not mentioned in the lectures and with up to date research or examples.

the other parts of my preclinicals were mcq and emq based, and you still need to know every single point in the lecture and know everything back to front, and beyond if you want to get top 10-20% at my uni. there were names and diseases in the exams that i had never heard of in the lectures at all. the only way you would have come across them would be from your wider reading. which is very tough to ask for given the sheer volume of 'basic' stuff we are meant to know.

edit: also regarding essays, you need to learn not to waffle and just write down everything you know around a subject because you are panicking or you don't know enough to answer the question. this is another thing i learnt, which was my tactic the last time i had essays to write, probably GCSEs and got very good marks doing that. however at degree level, it just doesn't cut it. it is very obvious when you read the essay.

another point i should mention is that different unis have different expectations of what is first/2:1 etc material and where the boundaries lie. i guess you just do your best at the beginning and suss out if your work and effort is at the level you are satisfied with. if not, ask advice from your tutors, lectures and past students.

good luck guys.
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rock_ten
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#30
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textbooks? I never owned, borrowed or even read one - seriously. If you get the lecture slides as a ppt or a paper hand-out then learn what's on them. Everything that's on them, and nothing more - unless you know they're specifically looking for wider reading ****. Other bits and pieces can be found online.

In my course, in the final year they made a bigger deal about wider reading for exams, but that was simply overcome - just read two or three papers (by papers I mean abstracts) and remember a few key facts and examples that weren't in the lectures, and drop them in where you can. There's your "wider reading", *tick*

Play the game however you see that it needs playing. I think that's what it's all about - how good are you at exams and other asssesments? It's a skill in itself and I think it's seperate from any particular subject. People who do well in one subject while not doing much work can usually do just as well in any other subject.

It's all genetics, like everything else, tbh.
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shuvle
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#31
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(Original post by rock_ten)
Play the game however you see that it needs playing
that’s what it’s all about. I know people that try twice as hard as I do and put in twice the hours and come out with the same grade sometimes worse.

Have I got natural ability?.. nope, but I can learn intelligently.

You need to make good use of your time. Do you NEED to do wide reading?.. well sometimes yes, but certainly with a scientific degree you can be very selective with your learning.
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shuvle
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#32
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(Original post by rock_ten)
It's all genetics, like everything else, tbh.
lol, wouldn't say its genetics but some people seem to grasp the concept "playing the system" easier than others.
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rock_ten
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#33
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whatever it is, some people just can't help getting A*'s, A's or firsts. And some people probably never could.
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cpchem
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#34
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(Original post by rock_ten)
textbooks? I never owned, borrowed or even read one - seriously. If you get the lecture slides as a ppt or a paper hand-out then learn what's on them. Everything that's on them, and nothing more - unless you know they're specifically looking for wider reading ****. Other bits and pieces can be found online.

In my course, in the final year they made a bigger deal about wider reading for exams, but that was simply overcome - just read two or three papers (by papers I mean abstracts) and remember a few key facts and examples that weren't in the lectures, and drop them in where you can. There's your "wider reading", *tick*

Play the game however you see that it needs playing. I think that's what it's all about - how good are you at exams and other asssesments? It's a skill in itself and I think it's seperate from any particular subject. People who do well in one subject while not doing much work can usually do just as well in any other subject.

It's all genetics, like everything else, tbh.
Memorising lecture handouts gets a mid-2:1 if you do it perfectly. No more. Exams are a little more than just regurgitating lectures. Well, ours are, at least.
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shuvle
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(Original post by cpchem)
Memorising lecture handouts gets a mid-2:1 if you do it perfectly. No more. Exams are a little more than just regurgitating lectures. Well, ours are, at least.
he didn't say memoring, he said learning.. theres a difference
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prospectivEEconomist
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#36
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lol funny how hard people make a first out to be. In developing and backward countries a first is the only way to get a job, so there is no option but to get your head down and study day and night; why is the attitude so different in uk? Are most people happy doing ****ty admin jobs or rely on the dole?
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shuvle
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(Original post by prospectivEEconomist)
In backward countries
such as?
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prospectivEEconomist
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African countries probably?
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shuvle
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lol I'm sure "backwards countries" isn't particularly politically correct. but hey you’re not offending me.
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faber niger
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(Original post by prospectivEEconomist)
African countries probably?
Oh shut up, and get reading Friedman. I hope you are, you know; I'd hate to see you in a ****ty admin job.
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