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Went from a 3rd in first year to a 1st in final year AMA

Posted in the wrong forum section because I wanted it to be anonymous. Mods feel free to move it to a more appropriate forum section (Uni Life...).

So I have recently finished a degree in MEng Mechanical Engineering from a university in the top 5 in the UK subject wise.
I went from getting a 3rd class when I was in first year to getting a 1st in my 4th year.
Ask me anything :smile:

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Congratulations

What change did you make from your first year? How did you do things (revision) differently?
Reply 2
Original post by AthiaKarim
Congratulations

What change did you make from your first year? How did you do things (revision) differently?


For reasons that are difficult/too personal to explain here, I did not qualify for SFE. So I had to take a part-time job from first year. In first year, I took this xmas temp job for a month working 20 hours/week which made me miss several lectures and tutorials. Going back home after a long evening shift didn't really leave me with much energy to study in the evenings so I started falling behind.
It's also worth pointing out that back when I was in first year it was late 2012 and beginning of 2013 and recession was still felt at the time with most vacancies being either zero hour contracts or temporary contracts with low hours. I then landed an 8 hours/week job (after dozens of unsuccessful applications that also took much of my study time). The job was a 3 months temp job from mid-March to mid-June. When I asked around my work place, I quickly got the hind that to make it permanent, I will need to show "commitment to the success of the business" by doing overtime and showing up when extra staff are needed...etc.
I didn't have any exams in the 1st semester of 1st year, then all my exams for all the modules of the year were in late May/Early June. The Easter break before I took up my hours to full-time hours to save up enough so I wouldn't have to work as much in May and at the same time have enough money to support myself. However, my manager ended up giving me lots of overtime during exam period, and which I felt obliged to take if I wanted my contract extended.
I ended up just about passing 2 modules (40 and 43%) and had to resit one other module (33%). It was really close as my uni automatically fails your year and doesn't allow resits if you fail 45 credits or more. The module I failed was worth 15 credits and the one where I got 40% was worth 30 credits! So it was a close miss!!
Apparently, first year does not count?
Original post by Anonymous
Posted in the wrong forum section because I wanted it to be anonymous. Mods feel free to move it to a more appropriate forum section (Uni Life...).

So I have recently finished a degree in MEng Mechanical Engineering from a university in the top 5 in the UK subject wise.
I went from getting a 3rd class when I was in first year to getting a 1st in my 4th year.
Ask me anything :smile:




So you went to Sunderland then?
Reply 5
Original post by Blackstarr
Apparently, first year does not count?


True that!
However, lots of people claim that your performance in first (and second) year is a good reflection of how you'll do in later years since it can only get harder after 1st year. So I made this thread partly to dismiss that and to share my experience/advice..etc.
These are my exact grades throughout the years:
1st year: 49%
2nd year: 52%
3rd year: 64%
4th year: 69% (there's a 2% rule at my uni where if you are 1 or 2% away from the next degree classification, and more than half of your modules are +70%, it counts as a first, which was my case this year).
Reply 6
Original post by Playmaker#10
So you went to Sunderland then?


Nope, and won't answer any more guess questions about what uni I went to.
Original post by Anonymous
True that!
However, lots of people claim that your performance in first (and second) year is a good reflection of how you'll do in later years since it can only get harder after 1st year. So I made this thread partly to dismiss that and to share my experience/advice..etc.
These are my exact grades throughout the years:
1st year: 49%
2nd year: 52%
3rd year: 64%
4th year: 69% (there's a 2% rule at my uni where if you are 1 or 2% away from the next degree classification, and more than half of your modules are +70%, it counts as a first, which was my case this year).


Cool and what do you study and at what uni?
Reply 8
Original post by Blackstarr
Cool and what do you study and at what uni?


As in OP, I did mechanical engineering
Reply 9
Original post by AthiaKarim
Congratulations

What change did you make from your first year? How did you do things (revision) differently?


To continue my previous post...
Mainly because of financial issues, I decided to work the most in my part time job in first and second year since they count for 0 and 18% respectively in my course, and lower my hours later in my course.
So it went this way:
1st year: 20 hrs/wk + full time work in xmas/easter/summer
2nd year: 18 hrs/wk + full time work in xmas/easter/summer
3rd year: 8 hrs/wk throughout the year
4th year: quit my job from October

My job wasn't the only reason my results improved though, I changed lots of things both in terms of study, revision and exam techniques.
Some modules that I didn't necessarily understand from the lecturer and the lecture notes, I would read books that explain it differently, or read lecture notes from other unis both inside and outside the UK. Some world reknown unis such as MIT and oxbridge publish their lecture notes online for all free to use. I also found this really good youtube channel that broadcasts engineering lectures about every imaginable engineering topic online. Their lecturers are more in depth and cover more content. I found this particularly helpful as lectures here in the UK are too short and only give you what you need if that. But lectures in other parts of the world give a lot more context which works really well for me.
So my tip here is that different people learn differently, some teaching techniques might work on you and not others. Uni is an amazing experience in which I really learnt how to self study and look for the information I need outside the scope of my particular course/uni, and look for the type of teaching and content that suits my kind of learning. One main difference from school is that you shouldn't rely on one source of information (your lecturer) and explore the many other resources available to you (mostly free online).
In terms of exam techniques, I used to only answer questions when I fully know the answer. DON'T! Always make an educated guess, and write what you remember that closely matches the question even if it's not complete. Something is ALWAYS better than nothing. The person marking you can't give you marks for something that you didn't write. Do that especially if a question looks really hard as most of your peers wouldnt have answered it fully neither, so in terms of moderation, marks will be given for (almost) writing anything that merely approaches the answer.
Other thing is, failing an exam is only a failure if YOU let it be that. I always made sure I asked for my scripts back for exams I didn't do well in to see where I can improve, what can change, and also to understand what the person marking was looking for etc. This helped me loads with improving my grades in later years.
Original post by Anonymous
To continue my previous post...
Mainly because of financial issues, I decided to work the most in my part time job in first and second year since they count for 0 and 18% respectively in my course, and lower my hours later in my course.
So it went this way:
1st year: 20 hrs/wk + full time work in xmas/easter/summer
2nd year: 18 hrs/wk + full time work in xmas/easter/summer
3rd year: 8 hrs/wk throughout the year
4th year: quit my job from October

My job wasn't the only reason my results improved though, I changed lots of things both in terms of study, revision and exam techniques.
Some modules that I didn't necessarily understand from the lecturer and the lecture notes, I would read books that explain it differently, or read lecture notes from other unis both inside and outside the UK. Some world reknown unis such as MIT and oxbridge publish their lecture notes online for all free to use. I also found this really good youtube channel that broadcasts engineering lectures about every imaginable engineering topic online. Their lecturers are more in depth and cover more content. I found this particularly helpful as lectures here in the UK are too short and only give you what you need if that. But lectures in other parts of the world give a lot more context which works really well for me.
So my tip here is that different people learn differently, some teaching techniques might work on you and not others. Uni is an amazing experience in which I really learnt how to self study and look for the information I need outside the scope of my particular course/uni, and look for the type of teaching and content that suits my kind of learning. One main difference from school is that you shouldn't rely on one source of information (your lecturer) and explore the many other resources available to you (mostly free online).
In terms of exam techniques, I used to only answer questions when I fully know the answer. DON'T! Always make an educated guess, and write what you remember that closely matches the question even if it's not complete. Something is ALWAYS better than nothing. The person marking you can't give you marks for something that you didn't write. Do that especially if a question looks really hard as most of your peers wouldnt have answered it fully neither, so in terms of moderation, marks will be given for (almost) writing anything that merely approaches the answer.
Other thing is, failing an exam is only a failure if YOU let it be that. I always made sure I asked for my scripts back for exams I didn't do well in to see where I can improve, what can change, and also to understand what the person marking was looking for etc. This helped me loads with improving my grades in later years.


Wow thank you for such a detailed response, I really appreciate it! Sounds like you had it very tough in the first year (financially). Why didn't you qualify for SFE? Couldn't you take out a loan or something at the least :/

Also, I didn't know that oxbrige publish their notes online haha, where can I find them?

You did amazing in your overall degree which is amazing, congrats again!!

Did you find that getting a 3rd in first year made it difficult to get internships/paid exp relevant for your course?
Original post by AthiaKarim
Wow thank you for such a detailed response, I really appreciate it! Sounds like you had it very tough in the first year (financially). Why didn't you qualify for SFE? Couldn't you take out a loan or something at the least :/

Also, I didn't know that oxbrige publish their notes online haha, where can I find them?

You did amazing in your overall degree which is amazing, congrats again!!

Did you find that getting a 3rd in first year made it difficult to get internships/paid exp relevant for your course?


Haha, thanks! :colondollar:

Like I said for SFE, it's too complex/personal to explain why I didn't qualify for it. My parents and I did take a few personal bank loans (with high interest rates than student loans) to cover part of my tuition, the rest mainly came from my part time job and working full time every summer holiday (they're 4 months long when you're at uni, so you end up saving several thousands a year).

I am not sure there's a particular place on the cam.ac.uk website with a lecture notes database. I did come across this one with lecture slides for control theory: https://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/teaching/1011/PrincComm/slides/
I usually just google "lecture title" + "pdf" and that gives me what I need. So if you google say "heat transfer" + "pdf" you'll get links to lecture notes from MIT, Imperial and Toronto uni for instance...I usually just go through the top links. Youtube is brilliant too with hour long lectures from world reknown unis, feels like you're part of each of those unis. Access to quality information online is brilliant nowadays!

Concerning internships/grad schemes, I am yet to come across one that asked for my transcripts. Even the biggest companies only ask if you are expecting a 2:1 or above, and you answer yes or no. So assuming you got a first say, no one would ever know!
Lots of people over exaggerate the importance of grades at uni level, I would say so long as you learn as much as you can, including outside the scope of your course, read around your subjects, and enjoy it to the fullest, all you'll need is an average of 60% in the end.
I got a summer internship between my 3rd and 4th year with an FTSE 100. I had been applying to internships since the start of 3rd year and the grades I had till then were from 1st and 2nd year (a 3rd and a 2:2 respectively), so technically, I was expected to average a low 2:2 for my degree. But when asked in applications what I was expecting, I always answered 2:1 or above, because I knew that by lowering my working hours in 3rd year and changing my study and exam techniques I could achieve it, and I did!
By the end of 3rd year, I was left with 3 years work experience (from part-time job) on my CV, a 2:1 for that year, and am engineering summer internship with a big company lined up!!
This set the ground for a very successful 4th year because I had saved up enough by that time that I didn't need a job anymore. I also applied to my uni's hardship fund and was bursaried for the rest of the year. my 4th year's modules were so much harder than first year, and most of my peers did worst in it compared to their previous grades. Whilst for me it was the opposite. Every year of my undergrad was a whole degree classification better than the previous. So I'm actually grateful for the whole experience as I have learnt so much from it, both academic and life skills. :h:
Original post by Anonymous
Haha, thanks! :colondollar:

Like I said for SFE, it's too complex/personal to explain why I didn't qualify for it. My parents and I did take a few personal bank loans (with high interest rates than student loans) to cover part of my tuition, the rest mainly came from my part time job and working full time every summer holiday (they're 4 months long when you're at uni, so you end up saving several thousands a year).

I am not sure there's a particular place on the cam.ac.uk website with a lecture notes database. I did come across this one with lecture slides for control theory: https://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/teaching/1011/PrincComm/slides/
I usually just google "lecture title" + "pdf" and that gives me what I need. So if you google say "heat transfer" + "pdf" you'll get links to lecture notes from MIT, Imperial and Toronto uni for instance...I usually just go through the top links. Youtube is brilliant too with hour long lectures from world reknown unis, feels like you're part of each of those unis. Access to quality information online is brilliant nowadays!

Concerning internships/grad schemes, I am yet to come across one that asked for my transcripts. Even the biggest companies only ask if you are expecting a 2:1 or above, and you answer yes or no. So assuming you got a first say, no one would ever know!
Lots of people over exaggerate the importance of grades at uni level, I would say so long as you learn as much as you can, including outside the scope of your course, read around your subjects, and enjoy it to the fullest, all you'll need is an average of 60% in the end.
I got a summer internship between my 3rd and 4th year with an FTSE 100. I had been applying to internships since the start of 3rd year and the grades I had till then were from 1st and 2nd year (a 3rd and a 2:2 respectively), so technically, I was expected to average a low 2:2 for my degree. But when asked in applications what I was expecting, I always answered 2:1 or above, because I knew that by lowering my working hours in 3rd year and changing my study and exam techniques I could achieve it, and I did!
By the end of 3rd year, I was left with 3 years work experience (from part-time job) on my CV, a 2:1 for that year, and am engineering summer internship with a big company lined up!!
This set the ground for a very successful 4th year because I had saved up enough by that time that I didn't need a job anymore. I also applied to my uni's hardship fund and was bursaried for the rest of the year. my 4th year's modules were so much harder than first year, and most of my peers did worst in it compared to their previous grades. Whilst for me it was the opposite. Every year of my undergrad was a whole degree classification better than the previous. So I'm actually grateful for the whole experience as I have learnt so much from it, both academic and life skills. :h:


Wow, this is so inspiring, I'm so glad it's worked out for you-and it has amazingly! And sorry, you did say in your previous message that the SFE was a personal matter! No need to explain :smile:

Your experience is helping me plan what I should do as I can kinda relate to you (kinda hard and personal to explain). I'm glad I stumbled across your thread, this is such a good success story! Really thrilled it's worked out really good for you!
Well done :tongue: the first year not counting bit has already been mentioned, and I think it'd be an interesting debate about how it affects how you study in the later years but that's probably for another thread :tongue: and I'm not taking anything away from your achievements - well done. And it's great to see that you improved with every year.

How were you feeling during the final year? (As in, worried, motivated, knackered, stressed.. anything? :tongue:)

Original post by Anonymous
Posted in the wrong forum section because I wanted it to be anonymous. Mods feel free to move it to a more appropriate forum section (Uni Life...).

So I have recently finished a degree in MEng Mechanical Engineering from a university in the top 5 in the UK subject wise.
I went from getting a 3rd class when I was in first year to getting a 1st in my 4th year.
Ask me anything :smile:
(edited 7 years ago)
Wow congratulations, how much effort did you put into your studies in your third year as compared to the previous two? I was a consistent 2:1 student but ended up with a first because I was on the border of 68-69 median and my dissertation was quite high.
Original post by AthiaKarim
Wow, this is so inspiring, I'm so glad it's worked out for you-and it has amazingly! And sorry, you did say in your previous message that the SFE was a personal matter! No need to explain :smile:

Your experience is helping me plan what I should do as I can kinda relate to you (kinda hard and personal to explain). I'm glad I stumbled across your thread, this is such a good success story! Really thrilled it's worked out really good for you!


Another tip I might as well throw in is about friends and people you hang out in general.
From school, people used to make a small groupie of friend and stick to them throughout school. I thought it was the same at uni and I made "friends" and stuck to them throughout 1st year...which was not often enough because of my job in part, and also because I was tight enough on finances not to afford taking part in much of the stuff they do together.
Come 2nd year, those people started almost avoiding me...etc, and I guess part of it was also the fact that they considered me a bit of a failure because of my 1st year grades and didn't want me to drag back the group during common study time? Might remind you of 'legally blond' if you're old enough to have watched it :tongue: Truth is that I actually had more potential than the whole group, and that because of my circumstances back then it didn't show through grades (once again, you're not your grades). I ended up doing much better than these people in later years when taking the same modules, and although they have obviously averaged better than me for the whole degree. My grades for 3rd and 4th year were higher.
Anyways, the whole situation just really got to me in 2nd year, especially that you will need to have at least a person or two who to fall back on if not for things as simple as to ask about deadlines in case you forgot them or compare coursework answers to...
And I thought at that point that most people had already formed their "groupies" and that it was too late to join any anymore...If only I knew how wrong I was!!
In 3rd year, I decided to ditch the whole group and take different modules from everyone, and I had a chance of coming across this erasmus exchange student that was there for only a semester. We hanged out together and did lots of common study/revision. The experience brought back so much confidence in me that even after that friend left in 2nd semester, I was confident approaching people in my course I had never talked to before. Also, because I had reduced my working hours during that year, my grades improved and I had "something" to bring to other people academically which I guess made things easier.
The "groupie" from 1st year started wanting to hang out with me again end of 3rd year and in 4th year!! and they were being so clingy and trying too hard to be friends by being too nice, throwing compliments every now and again. haha :adore:

So yeah, long text again, but my point being that uni is soo different from school. The particular people I told you about (the groupie) were an exception as they still had the bitterness/high school b!tch from back in their school days. But most people in my course, like I found out later, weren't like that. So just be versatile and flexible about it, that's what uni is all about. :wink:
Original post by Anonymous
Another tip I might as well throw in is about friends and people you hang out in general.
From school, people used to make a small groupie of friend and stick to them throughout school. I thought it was the same at uni and I made "friends" and stuck to them throughout 1st year...which was not often enough because of my job in part, and also because I was tight enough on finances not to afford taking part in much of the stuff they do together.
Come 2nd year, those people started almost avoiding me...etc, and I guess part of it was also the fact that they considered me a bit of a failure because of my 1st year grades and didn't want me to drag back the group during common study time? Might remind you of 'legally blond' if you're old enough to have watched it :tongue: Truth is that I actually had more potential than the whole group, and that because of my circumstances back then it didn't show through grades (once again, you're not your grades). I ended up doing much better than these people in later years when taking the same modules, and although they have obviously averaged better than me for the whole degree. My grades for 3rd and 4th year were higher.
Anyways, the whole situation just really got to me in 2nd year, especially that you will need to have at least a person or two who to fall back on if not for things as simple as to ask about deadlines in case you forgot them or compare coursework answers to...
And I thought at that point that most people had already formed their "groupies" and that it was too late to join any anymore...If only I knew how wrong I was!!
In 3rd year, I decided to ditch the whole group and take different modules from everyone, and I had a chance of coming across this erasmus exchange student that was there for only a semester. We hanged out together and did lots of common study/revision. The experience brought back so much confidence in me that even after that friend left in 2nd semester, I was confident approaching people in my course I had never talked to before. Also, because I had reduced my working hours during that year, my grades improved and I had "something" to bring to other people academically which I guess made things easier.
The "groupie" from 1st year started wanting to hang out with me again end of 3rd year and in 4th year!! and they were being so clingy and trying too hard to be friends by being too nice, throwing compliments every now and again. haha :adore:

So yeah, long text again, but my point being that uni is soo different from school. The particular people I told you about (the groupie) were an exception as they still had the bitterness/high school b!tch from back in their school days. But most people in my course, like I found out later, weren't like that. So just be versatile and flexible about it, that's what uni is all about. :wink:


I like the Legally Blonde reference :tongue: hopefully you pulled a Warren on your old group in the end.
Original post by SeanFM
Well done :tongue: the first year not counting bit has already been mentioned, and I think it'd be an interesting debate about how it affects how you study in the later years but that's probably for another thread :tongue: and I'm not taking anything away from your achievements - well done. And it's great to see that you improved with every year.

How were you feeling during the final year? (As in, worried, motivated, knackered, stressed.. anything? :tongue:)


Sorry, didn't quiet get what you meant in the bold part, can you expand? :biggrin:

Final year was a breeze! I took some of the hardest optional modules available in my course as well as a final year project that was about building a machine (not going any further with the specifics)...and the truth is that, I have worked much harder for my 2:2 in 2nd year than for my 1st in final year!
I guess people can underestimate people's circumstances and how massively it can affect their grades although they might have potential.
Back in 2nd year, everything that could go wrong essentially did! I had 2 deaths in my family, the case about friends in my previous post, working too many hours in my job, studying as much as possible outside work and still not achieving good grades. It took the toll!
4th year I didn't have a job, was bursaried for the rest of the year, was able to focus on my modules and bring my potential to its fullest. There's also the fact that I have gathered so many study/revision techniques throughout the years and learnt from feedback on coursework and by looking back at my exam scripts, that I knew since last September that I was going to get a first this year. So this whole year was just enjoying the process of getting there. This year was the worst for lots of my peers when talking to them, for me it was the very opposite. :h:
Talk about a comeback.
Original post by InvestmentBankin
Wow congratulations, how much effort did you put into your studies in your third year as compared to the previous two? I was a consistent 2:1 student but ended up with a first because I was on the border of 68-69 median and my dissertation was quite high.


3rd and 4th year were much easier for me than the previous two. Everything improved from the reduced amount of hours worked in my job, to me actually having built up a strong studying strategy from my first 2 years, to my social life having improved due to working less and being academically better. It just all fell together in the end.
I guess a tip here is not to focus too much on grades especially in 1st and 2nd year as much as focusing on learning and becoming better at your subject. If you answer something correctly in an exam but don't know why its correct, then you're the one losing!! It's so much better in the long run to answer why you did something wrong and how to do it right, than to answer correctly and not know why.
In my 2nd year, I had failed one of my modules (38%) and so had to resit it in the summer. I also had just about passed another one where I got 40%. Despite having passed it, I felt I hadn't learnt enough from it, and that I would struggle with modules related to it in later year. So guess what? I decided to retake it too! It's actually possible in many unis to retake a module you had already passed, so that's what I did. Because I had so much more free time during the summer break than during the year, I spent enough time properly understanding both modules. In terms of grades, that didn't bring me anything since both of them were going to be capped at 40% anyways. But the point was to think much further than that.
Later down the line, all the modules I had taken in 3rd and 4th year that were related to these 2 modules I either got a 2:1 or a first in. :u:

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