How does one go about getting a first? Watch

faber niger
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I have a distinct aim to get one. (As I want to do graduate work at a top university, most hopefully Oxford.) Is it a reasonable aim? Does anyone who has actually got one have any advice? Anyone who hasn't, but think they know how it's done, have any advice, equally? Is there a definite way of going about it?
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Kitty Pimms
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Personally, I think the first step is to lose the obsession with it. It's all very well working hard and being dedicated to your subject, but even genii slip up occasionally. If your overriding aim at university is 'I am here to get a first and go to Oxford' you will make yourself very miserable IMHO. Just read around your topic and enjoy it, and if it's meant to be, it will come easily. I think it's a shame people here don't seem to want a first as the culmination of a fascinating three years.
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Lord Hysteria
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(Original post by IlexAquifolium)
Personally, I think the first step is to lose the obsession with it. It's all very well working hard and being dedicated to your subject, but even genii slip up occasionally. If your overriding aim at university is 'I am here to get a first and go to Oxford' you will make yourself very miserable IMHO. Just read around your topic and enjoy it, and if it's meant to be, it will come easily. I think it's a shame people here don't seem to want a first as the culmination of a fascinating three years.
I agree, it takes the enjoyment out of the subject. And makes it a drag or hassle.
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Ad-Alta
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Always try your hardest, then you can't be disappointed with what you get. It's people who say "Oh, I could've gotten a 1st if I'd done X" that are annoying - if you know you gave every piece of work your best try, then you're more likely to be setting yourself up for a triumph than a failure if you get my drift.

Like Ilex says, enjoy your subject - try and be original whenever you can; don't just regurgitate what you learnt in class and leave it at that. Also, try not to overly fixate on "I must get a 1st" - if you do, you do; if you don't, you don't. Like I said, if you've always worked your hardest consistently, then you're more likely to get what you deserve in the long run.
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Lord Lawz
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I think you have to get obsessed with the subject. Find things that really make it interesting to you and use that interest to take in as much info as you can. Not just working hard, but loving the work you do. I think you should aim for a first - but as said - don't let it determine everything you do, otherwise your uni experience will just be a means to an end. No real enjoyment. And if you don't get a first, you'll do serious emotional damage.
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Dionysus
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To begin with, you need to be naturally very intelligent and highly skilled in your subject. On top of that, you need to understand material well above and beyond what is expected of you to complete the course. Essentially, you need to be formulating entirely new lines of thought rather than regurgitating what you've read. You also need to demonstrate a deep and detailed knowledge of opinions on subjects. Just do your best, and remember that not getting a first is not the end of the world.
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Kitty Pimms
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(Original post by Ad-Alta)
Also, try not to overly fixate on "I must get a 1st" - if you do, you do; if you don't, you don't. Like I said, if you've always worked your hardest consistently, then you're more likely to get what you deserve in the long run.
Agreed. Do your best, always, and if your best isn't a first, then c'est la vie.
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xxxchrisxxx
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Keep your eyes on the prize (a 1st) and remind yourself of it every time you want to procrastinate or feeling lazy.
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WoWZa
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1) Concentrate on the assessed elements of your course (e.g. unless background reading is necessary for an assignment, don't bother with it).

2) Take your work to your lecturers/tutors and ask how it can be improved (possibly mentioning a 1st class).
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faber niger
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(Original post by IlexAquifolium)
Personally, I think the first step is to lose the obsession with it. It's all very well working hard and being dedicated to your subject, but even genii slip up occasionally. If your overriding aim at university is 'I am here to get a first and go to Oxford' you will make yourself very miserable IMHO. Just read around your topic and enjoy it, and if it's meant to be, it will come easily. I think it's a shame people here don't seem to want a first as the culmination of a fascinating three years.
I accept what you say. Though I never said that I don't expect to have a fascinating time at university -- Classics interests me intently, as does the idea of joining certain societies at Manchester and engaging in university life generally. I realise that it is a bit risky to invest a lot into such an ambition as of course if it doesn't work out it's obviously going to be quite hurtful, but it is my intense interest in the classical world which makes me want to study it at graduate-level, at a top university. And for that I need a first. So it's somewhat of a vicious circle. :p:
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alio~
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You only need 70%, for a first don't you? You can get 3 out of every 10 marks wrong.
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oriel historian
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(Original post by imtired)
Is getting a first that unusual and difficult? I read that 10% was the average amount of people getting a first in most degrees, so i wouldn't say it's an unreasonable aim, if you think you're anywhere near the top 10% in your classes there no reason why you shouldn't try.
It's rather a presumptive position to put yourself in though isn't it? I mean at Oxford everyone there is 'meant' to be capable of a first but in the end only a small group of people get them and others come pretty damned close. And that being a traditional system where there are final exams. In many university courses where the level of achievement has to be extremely consistent right through 2 or 3 years of study then it's quite hard. Either way, how the heck would you 'know' that you're in the top 10% of the class? How do you know that the questions that crop up on exams are the ones you're in the best (i.e. first class) position to answer? It's a pointless exercise to desire a first so badly.
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WoWZa
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(Original post by alio~)
You only need 70%, for a first don't you? You can get 3 out of every 10 marks wrong.
Lol, that isn't quite how it works sweetie.
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faber niger
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(Original post by alio~)
You only need 70%, for a first don't you? You can get 3 out of every 10 marks wrong.
Well, I wouldn't imagine that it's a case of tick-box marking, as A-Levels and GCSEs are. In Humanities subjects you seem to be assessed on the quality of your argument, and they mark harshly it seems, so getting 70% is much more of an achievement at degree-level than it would be at A-Level or similar exams.
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oriel historian
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(Original post by jismith1989)
I accept what you say. Though I never said that I don't expect to have a fascinating time at university -- Classics interests me intently, as does the idea of joining certain societies at Manchester and engaging in university life generally. I realise that it is a bit risky to invest a lot into such an ambition as of course if it doesn't work out it's obviously going to be quite hurtful, but it is my intense interest in the classical world which makes me want to study it at graduate-level, at a top university. And for that I need a first. So it's somewhat of a vicious circle. :p:
No, you really do not. I got a 2.1 and have been offered a place again at Oxford. and Cambridge were interested but didn't have the right supervisory staff. I'm afraid that a 1st is not the limit and if it was many of these universities wouldn't fill their courses. And, please understand this, people understand the futility of exams as a test of a person's skill. After all, for a MA it's research that counts, something that is not tested in an examination hall.
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Kitty Pimms
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(Original post by alio~)
You only need 70%, for a first don't you? You can get 3 out of every 10 marks wrong.
Undergraduate marking does not, by any possible stretch of the imagination, work like that.
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apotoftea
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(Original post by alio~)
You only need 70%, for a first don't you? You can get 3 out of every 10 marks wrong.
Doesn't work like that, especially not for the Arts subjects.

Take a subject like History or English where there is no right or wrong answer (gone are the days of a 30mark question referring the sources a,b and c (god I DETEST A-levels :mad: ). You have to write 3000 words on a question you choose out of say 15 that you're given. You go off, read, read and read some more. Take notes, collate notes into your arguement. Go read some more, possibly down a side route to make your arguement a bit better and then you write the 3000 words.

You've spent hours on this, days, weeks etc and it comes back with a 62 on it. Why? Whole host of reasons that can and will include arguement's not good enough; you failed to mention a key text; you misunderstood a key text; the person marking it doesn't have the same viewpoint as you (yes this does happen and they can be marked accordingly); you left out a point because it was e on your list of important info, where as the tutor thought it was worth mentioning etc etc etc.

Getting decent marks of 65, let alone 70 is much much harder than it sounds. Added to this, going to university of the sole aim of "getting a first" will drive you insane and unless you do have a natural flair for your subject and it is meant to be like Ilex said, 70s probably won't appear in your first year. If they do, then you're pretty lucky but with the gap between A-level standard and university standard getting bigger - don't be surprised, even if you got ABB that you don't automatically average a very high mark.
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faber niger
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(Original post by oriel historian)
No, you really do not. I got a 2.1 and have been offered a place again at Oxford. and Cambridge were interested but didn't have the right supervisory staff. I'm afraid that a 1st is not the limit and if it was many of these universities wouldn't fill their courses. And, please understand this, people understand the futility of exams as a test of a person's skill. After all, for a MA it's research that counts, something that is not tested in an examination hall.
Well, yes, I know that. Though I would like a first as this would all but guarantee me success, which is not the case with a 2.1, however high. Also, you're at Oxford already, and so I presume that they may treat you ever-so-slightly more leniently than 'newcomers' as of course they know you personally and such. Moreover, there's an argument to say that getting a 2.1 at Oxford is harder than getting a 2.1 at other universities -- though obviously I can't judge myself.

Oh, and I do accept that there is not a direct correlation between exam success and 'potential'. Though I just want the certificate -- I don't care what it 'says about me'!
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Kitty Pimms
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(Original post by jismith1989)
Well, yes, I know that. Though I would like a first as this would all but guarantee me success, which is not the case with a 2.1, however high. Also, you're at Oxford already, and so I presume that they may treat you ever-so-slightly more leniently than 'newcomers' as of course they know you personally and such. Moreover, there's an argument to say that getting a 2.1 at Oxford is harder than getting a 2.1 at other universities -- though obviously I can't judge myself.
You know only 40% of applicants with firsts (and often an MA at distinction on top) get AHRC funding? Admittedly it's only 18% of 2.1 applicants, but a first is by no means a golden ticket.
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generalebriety
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(Original post by jismith1989)
Is it a reasonable aim?
No, no one ever gets a first. Ever. Anyway, you're crap at Latin.

What do you want us to say? Of course it's a reasonable aim if you're good at what you do!

(Original post by jismith1989)
Does anyone who has actually got one have any advice?
I got one. Um... I don't know how. :confused: I just worked when I felt like working, stopped working when I got bored, and made sure I did all my work to the best of my ability. It helps if you love your subject (and obviously if you're good at it), but it doesn't help if you're easily stressed and are thinking "I must get a first because I want to go to Oxford!".
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