The Official 'How To Get A First Class Degree' thread Watch

snailsareslimy
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(Original post by Motorbiker)
True the % varies from uni to uni but the point stands, getting a high % in earlier years is easier.

I know a lot of people who get like 60/65 in earlier years then even with a first in their final year they don't get one overall. That's just piss poor effort in earlier years tbh.
Surely in essay based subjects it's not, though? At my uni they basically never give out firsts for essays higher than 72, so a lot of people do get 2:1s. I wouldn't say it's 'piss poor effort', just the marking criteria make it almost impossible to get a 'good' first.

Of course, this is just my experience with studying English!
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pleasedtobeatyou
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(Original post by snailsareslimy)
...
I have a question that's been bothering me over the last few days. How exactly do they mark papers for arts subjects at undergraduate level? At GCSE, you basically grade candidates by checking if they can use full-stops, semi-colons, etc.

I'm guessing at uni everyone get use basic punctuation, so what does the mark scheme actually look like?
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snailsareslimy
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(Original post by pleasedtobeatyou)
I have a question that's been bothering me over the last few days. How exactly do they mark papers for arts subjects at undergraduate level? At GCSE, you basically grade candidates by checking if they can use full-stops, semi-colons, etc.

I'm guessing at uni everyone get use basic punctuation, so what does the mark scheme actually look like?
Spoiler:
Show

CRITERIA FOR FIRST CLASS MARK
These are the key features which we would expect to find in a 'definite' first, but higher
achievement in some areas might compensate for lower achievement in others. A
'high/excellent' first should be outstanding work, even by the First Class criteria. A 'low'
first should show the criteria fulfilled, but not all convincingly, with perhaps some elements of
the next class down.
Relevance
An answer which is directly relevant to the question and also considers the implications,
assumptions, and nuances of the question.
Knowledge
An answer which demonstrates an excellent degree of knowledge in breadth and range of
reading.
Analysis
An answer which demonstrates a very good analytical treatment of the evidence, resulting in
a clear synthesis.
Argument and Structure
A coherent and structured answer.
Originality
A distinctive answer showing independence of thought and approach.
Presentation
A very well written answer with standard spelling and syntax, in a readable style, and with
appropriate documentation.


CRITERIA FOR SECOND CLASS, FIRST DIVISION MARK
These are the key features which we would expect to find in a 'definite/solid' 2.1, but higher
achievement in some areas might compensate for lower achievement in others. A
'high/excellent' 2.1 should show abundance of class criteria, with perhaps some elements
of the next class up. A 'low/clear' 2.1 should show the criteria fulfilled, but not all
convincingly, with perhaps some elements of the next class down.
Relevance
An answer which is directly relevant to the question.
Knowledge
A sound and substantial familiarity with the material, showing awareness of the issues
raised.
Analysis
A good analytical treatment of the evidence.
Argument and Structure
A generally coherent and logically structured argument.Updated 8 January 2008
Originality
May contain some distinctive or independent thinking; may begin to formulate an
independent position.
Presentation
Well written, with standard spelling and syntax, in a readable style, and with appropriate
documentation.


CRITERIA FOR SECOND CLASS, SECOND DIVISION MARK
These are the key features which we would expect to find in a 'definite/solid' 2.2, but higher
achievement in some areas might compensate for lower achievement in others. A 'high' 2.2
should show abundance of class criteria with perhaps some elements of the next class up.
A 'low/clear' 2.2 should show the criteria fulfilled, but not all convincingly, with perhaps
some elements of the next class down.
Relevance
Some attempt to answer question; may drift away from the question into broad
generalisations.
Knowledge
Adequate knowledge of a fair range of material.
Analysis
May show some analytical treatment, but tends towards description.
Argument and Structure
Some attempt to construct a coherent argument, but tends to be superficial or predictable.
Originality
Sound, but derivative thought and approach.
Presentation
Reasonably well written, with standard spelling and syntax, in a readable style, and with
appropriate documentation.


CRITERIA FOR THIRD CLASS MARK
These are the key features which we would expect to find in a 'definite' third class
performance, but higher achievement in some areas might compensate for lower
achievement in others. A 'high' third class mark should show abundance of class criteria,
with perhaps some elements of the next class up.
Relevance
Some significant degree of irrelevance is common.
Knowledge
Basic understanding of a limited range of material.
Analysis
Largely descriptive with little evidence of analytical argument.Updated 8 January 2008
Argument and Structure
Basic argument may be evident, but tends to lack clarity and coherence.
Originality
Largely derivative in thought and approach.
Presentation
Some deficiencies in written expression.


CRITERIA FOR FAIL MARK
These are the key features which we would expect to find in a 'marginal' fail.
Relevance
An irrelevant answer.
Knowledge
An answer demonstrating lack of basic knowledge.
Analysis
An answer offering inadequate and often inaccurate description.
Argument and Structure
An answer showing no evidence of coherent argument or structure.
Originality
An answer demonstrating no evidence of originality.
Presentation
A garbled and poorly presented answer.
'Nothing of merit' is used either when nothing is there, or when there is a significant degree
of plagiarism, or when the answer given is worthless, even though some attempt may have
been made to write something. Credit can be given for any positive qualities.


That's what we have access to. Not that useful, though!
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Motorbiker
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#84
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#84
(Original post by snailsareslimy)
Surely in essay based subjects it's not, though? At my uni they basically never give out firsts for essays higher than 72, so a lot of people do get 2:1s. I wouldn't say it's 'piss poor effort', just the marking criteria make it almost impossible to get a 'good' first.

Of course, this is just my experience with studying English!

I didn't mean it like that in a science v essay based subjects.

I meant if you get 60 in first 2 years then 72 in final year and get a 2.1 overall it's your fault for not working harder in earlier years to get the 72 each year.

I met a lot of people who half assed early years and then paid for it with their classification in later years. I know one person that got a first in final year but a 2.2 overall due to poor earlier performances.
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Antifazian
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Many of these may have already been mentioned, but these would be my tips;

- Work smarter, not necessarily harder - this means finding out exactly what is required for your subject, the conventions, presentation styles, the seminal texts that your subject is built upon etc. and making sure that you keep all of this in mind in any work you submit. Learn how to skim read, or look for summaries/analyses of texts rather than trying to read the whole thing, read the intro/abstract first and decide whether it's worth reading on or not

- Challenge the premise(s) of the question if you can, rather than just answering it - this shows you have thought a bit more deeply about what's being asked of you, and will get the lecturer more interested in what you have to say

- It pays to be organised, so start work early, know when deadlines are etc.

- Make sure you actually do your work in first year even if it doesn't count, because it is an excellent opportunity to adjust to the way of working at uni. Plus it gives you an idea of what level you are working at and what you need to improve on.
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火龙王
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Does anyone have any specific tips for history, english and languages?
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-=|Jay|=-
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History - find out who is marking your paper and talk to them about what they like to see in the essays.

Additionally it's useful to know where they lie on their beliefs because if you're arguing against what they believe it can be much harder to be convincing and resultantly you might get a lower grade.
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moutonfou
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(Original post by 火龙王)
Does anyone have any specific tips for history, english and languages?
Languages are quite different to any other subject. You could pull a history or English first out of the bag without working hard for most of the year, as long as you worked hard at assignment/exam time and had good essay technique. But for languages you've got to put the time in all year. There's just no way you can suddenly develop a 5000+ word vocabulary and fluency in a language three weeks before the exam. To get a first in a language you need to have a solid independent practice routine - learning vocabulary, watching foreign TV, listening to radio, reading in your language - all year round. As well as putting in the extra hours at deadline/exam time and having good essay technique!

In more general terms, I think good essay technique (for arts at least) is the number one thing you need to get a first. Somebody who does independent reading for 10 hours a week all term but has poor essay technique is going to do worse than somebody who only starts reading around the topic two weeks before the deadline but has good natural essay technique. Often it doesn't come down to what you know at all, it comes down to being able to identify what the lecturer wants to read, finding enough secondary material to support that, and presenting it convincingly.

Do also agree with somebody else's comment that arts firsts are harder - at my university science majors could get up to 100 on assignments whereas arts majors could only get 80 - and to make it worse, lecturers considered 80 to be 'perfection' meaning in reality you were looking at having to average 70+ from a maximum of 73/74 over three years - a tough ask.
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-=|Jay|=-
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(Original post by moutonfou)
Languages are quite different to any other subject. You could pull a history or English first out of the bag without working hard for most of the year, as long as you worked hard at assignment/exam time and had good essay technique. But for languages you've got to put the time in all year. There's just no way you can suddenly develop a 5000+ word vocabulary and fluency in a language three weeks before the exam. To get a first in a language you need to have a solid independent practice routine - learning vocabulary, watching foreign TV, listening to radio, reading in your language - all year round. As well as putting in the extra hours at deadline/exam time and having good essay technique!

In more general terms, I think good essay technique (for arts at least) is the number one thing you need to get a first. Somebody who does independent reading for 10 hours a week all term but has poor essay technique is going to do worse than somebody who only starts reading around the topic two weeks before the deadline but has good natural essay technique. Often it doesn't come down to what you know at all, it comes down to being able to identify what the lecturer wants to read, finding enough secondary material to support that, and presenting it convincingly.

Do also agree with somebody else's comment that arts firsts are harder - at my university science majors could get up to 100 on assignments whereas arts majors could only get 80 - and to make it worse, lecturers considered 80 to be 'perfection' meaning in reality you were looking at having to average 70+ from a maximum of 73/74 over three years - a tough ask.
This 100%

I got a first in History and my highest score over 3 years was 72. It's about consistency in history, there's no such thing as getting a good grade to pull your average up. It just won't happen.

The highest score given out that I ever saw was a 79 I believe. Arts are relatively easy to get a 2.1 in but pretty hard to get the elusive 1st.

Then my Chemsitry friend is upset that he got like an 88.
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Trustno1
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Tips for a computer science degree?


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-TheSpecialOne-
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Going to revisit this when I arrive in September. Really enlightening stuff.
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fifitrixiebell
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If anyone has any tips regarding psychology, that would be wonderful!
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TheNote
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#93
Go over your notes each day so you shouldn't need a massive revision session before exams

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SebastianMesser
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(Original post by fallen_acorns)
aside from all the great tips that have been give, one thing I would want students to consider, is:

Do you need a first?
I'm a lecturer and I will only talk about my discipline, Architecture, not generalise. However we have a fantastic record for graduate employment but, during the recession, there was a clear correlation between degree classification and employment (after 6 months). Students graduating with firsts got architectural jobs. 50% of graduates with 2:1s had graduate jobs and 25% of 2:2 students were in paid graduate employment. That's not to say they didn't get jobs eventually, it's measured around Xmas time - I'm afraid some polling company will be pestering you on your last known mobile number - I also know from experience it can be utterly disheartening to send out hundreds of CVs and not even get a courtesy reply. [It's very easy to allow yourself to be exploited in that position and to work for free: please, please don't.]

I'd also add, statistically-speaking, that the grades you are getting in first and second year are a pretty accurate indicator of the final degree classification that you receive. If you're getting marks around 50% in first and second year, your are simply not going to get 70-80% in third year. Nearly everyone steps up in the final year, but if you've not been in "training" for the previous two years you won't suddenly be playing in the premiership/ running like Usain Bolt (chose your own sporting metaphor here...). In Architecture, second year is the critical year, as it is where you learn the most and it is safe to "fail" if your ambition over-reaches your skills, knowledge and ability.

Final comment, this is a great thread, but I disagree with point 8. A handful of tutors will be lazy - happens in all walks of life - but the majority will give you what you need to get started. If you're stuck, talk to your peers first and then, if you're still stuck, maybe go together to talk to the tutor. If everyone is stuck, ask for a seminar or to go over the queries in a tutorial or at the end of a lecture. Generally we're there because we are passionate about our subject, so we love a chance to talk about it if you show an interest! Usually we're also interested in teaching, so if we know that something is proving difficult, we can try to make it clearer in the future. However, you won't be given the answers because you are paying for an education, which means working it out for yourself. Ultimately, that's the difference between a really good 2:1 and a first, not just acquiring knowledge, but acquiring "know-how" and using it.
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ItsJustMe17
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Any tips for law?

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glitterphobia
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Brilliant post - definitely favouriting, but I think this point was only briefly mentioned and I think it's one of the most important ones:

Look at the feedback you get from every essay and make sure you cover everything - carry on the positives and work on the negatives. Make sure you're visibly improving.

Also try to be as organised as possible with notes etc. and save any readings you find (PDF journals) along with your notes for each lecture in folders. IDK if this only works on Mac, but the highlighter tool on PDFs is a God send.
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LoveLockdown
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(Original post by ItsJustMe17)
Any tips for law?

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Know cases inside and out, and make sure you do plenty of extra reading with journals. Nearly everyone will have their cases on point, so you've got to stand out. Also talk a lot with the module convenor and your personal tutor.
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LondonLove29
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Just reminded myself about this thread as im preparing for my second assignments. Thanks for all the tips they are great.

To those of you who already have a first, question:
Im in my first year and averaged 60% for my first pieces of coursework. Am i on track to get a first? i feel like im slacking already.
What did you all average by the end of first year?

Thanks
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gutenberg
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(Original post by LondonLove29)
Just reminded myself about this thread as im preparing for my second assignments. Thanks for all the tips they are great.

To those of you who already have a first, question:
Im in my first year and averaged 60% for my first pieces of coursework. Am i on track to get a first? i feel like im slacking already.
What did you all average by the end of first year?

Thanks
That depends. How much effort do you feel you put into the assignments where you got 60%? 'Cos if you were absolutely busting a gut and are averaging 60%, then a first may be a bit beyond reach. But if you feel you still have a lot more to give, then it's perhaps reasonable as a goal. Don't forget too that you do tend to become 'better' at assignments as you go, as you learn what examiners want, how to do research more effectively, etc.
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ionaboner
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I'm studying a BSc in Psychology with Clinical and Health Psychology and currently averaging 69.8% (just rounded up to a first), this is a really helpful thread!

One thing I'd stress is read anything put on Blackboard/given as handouts when it comes to assignments and exams. You need to know what is expected of you. I've still got a way to go as I'm only just finishing my second year (and my grades aren't as high as I'd like them to be).

ALSO... if you are a student who isn't achieving these kind of grades you can get here. My A-Level grades were (BCDe) and I study completely differently to how I did during A-Levels. The transition is hard but it is possible to change.
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