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My marks just aren’t improving

I’m a second year law student at Oxford and I’ve been stuck getting a mid level 2:1 (like 64-67) for over a year now. I work really hard and study for 45 hours a week, I do all the reading, spend ages on my essay, really try to make sure I understand everything and I get my marks back and it’s just constant failure/lack of improvement.

It’s not a case of refusing to take criticism/feedback because I am CONSTANTLY asking my tutors how I can do better and trying to implement the feedback they give me but I’ll try to follow the feedback and always just get comments saying I’ve done everything wrong or haven’t understood loads of it.

Is the issue just a lack of talent/aptitude and it’s the case that my hard work and trying to follow feedback can drag me up to an average grade but I’ll never be good/above average? Do I just resign myself to getting a mid level 2:1? Obviously I’m going to keep trying but it’s never gonna pay off
Original post by Username123ab
I’m a second year law student at Oxford and I’ve been stuck getting a mid level 2:1 (like 64-67) for over a year now. I work really hard and study for 45 hours a week, I do all the reading, spend ages on my essay, really try to make sure I understand everything and I get my marks back and it’s just constant failure/lack of improvement.

It’s not a case of refusing to take criticism/feedback because I am CONSTANTLY asking my tutors how I can do better and trying to implement the feedback they give me but I’ll try to follow the feedback and always just get comments saying I’ve done everything wrong or haven’t understood loads of it.

Is the issue just a lack of talent/aptitude and it’s the case that my hard work and trying to follow feedback can drag me up to an average grade but I’ll never be good/above average? Do I just resign myself to getting a mid level 2:1? Obviously I’m going to keep trying but it’s never gonna pay off

@Username123ab

These are just my thoughts. I don't know if any of this is helpful...

1) You may be trying too hard. I know that sounds strange but you can overdo things.....a bit like when you overcook something. There's a fine balance between well done, and overcooked!

2) You might need more originality, so you might be referencing the usual or standard sources but might need to show more original or critical thinking rather than using typical arguments.

3)You might need to discuss the feedback with your tutor rather than just reading the comments as it appears there is some misunderstanding going on. It might be good to ask questions to check you are understanding what is being said and to refer to some examples so you are clear on the feedback.

Finally, the marking criteria for assignments might be different each time, so you may need to double check that you are meeting the criteria for the assignment that you are writing for, rather than trying to write a new assignment based on the previous criteria.

(You are doing well, even though it may not feel like it!)

All the best,

Oluwatosin 3rd year student University of Huddersfield
Reply 2
Are tutors really saying you have "done everything wrong or haven’t understood loads of it", as this would be surprising feedback for marks in the mid-2:1 range. To get these kinds of marks, you clearly have to have done some things right and understand some of it! Can you be a bit more specific about the feedback, in particular are there any common themes to the feedback?
Original post by cheadle
Are tutors really saying you have "done everything wrong or haven’t understood loads of it", as this would be surprising feedback for marks in the mid-2:1 range. To get these kinds of marks, you clearly have to have done some things right and understand some of it! Can you be a bit more specific about the feedback, in particular are there any common themes to the feedback?

They don't word it like that but that is the essence of their feedback. I often get comments that just say things like "not relevant" or "you have misunderstood the caselaw here" or "I don't follow your argument".
Original post by Username123ab
I’m a second year law student at Oxford and I’ve been stuck getting a mid level 2:1 (like 64-67) for over a year now. I work really hard and study for 45 hours a week, I do all the reading, spend ages on my essay, really try to make sure I understand everything and I get my marks back and it’s just constant failure/lack of improvement.

It’s not a case of refusing to take criticism/feedback because I am CONSTANTLY asking my tutors how I can do better and trying to implement the feedback they give me but I’ll try to follow the feedback and always just get comments saying I’ve done everything wrong or haven’t understood loads of it.

Is the issue just a lack of talent/aptitude and it’s the case that my hard work and trying to follow feedback can drag me up to an average grade but I’ll never be good/above average? Do I just resign myself to getting a mid level 2:1? Obviously I’m going to keep trying but it’s never gonna pay off

Hi @Username123ab ,

I've got a few things which usually help me to achieve my best so I thought I'd just share these with you.

1) I know you have spoken to your tutors but if you have a personal tutor I would recommend scheduling a meeting with them where you can discuss your grades and the feedback you have been getting and seeing if this helps. They may be able to look over previous assignments and help you with what you could improve.

2) I'm not sure when you have been asking your tutors for advice but usually they are happy to help me if I ask them for help a few weeks before the assignment deadline as they can offer good advice and then I have time to implement this into my work. I would also email them to see if you can set up a meeting with them to discuss your work.

3) If there is a specific area which you are struggling - e.g. referencing then I would try and see if there are any sessions at your uni where they help you with this. There may also be sessions on critical writing or anything that may help you to achieve a better grade.

4) I would also say to make sure you are using journal articles if this is appropriate for your assignments as this helps you to achieve a better grade as it elevates your work.

5) Always follow the assessment criteria as it sometimes says how much % of the assignment each part is worth and it's worth checking this to see if you are putting equal weighting into each bit of your assignment.

I hope some of this helps!

Lucy - SHU student ambassador.
Original post by hallamstudents
Hi @Username123ab ,

I've got a few things which usually help me to achieve my best so I thought I'd just share these with you.

1) I know you have spoken to your tutors but if you have a personal tutor I would recommend scheduling a meeting with them where you can discuss your grades and the feedback you have been getting and seeing if this helps. They may be able to look over previous assignments and help you with what you could improve.

2) I'm not sure when you have been asking your tutors for advice but usually they are happy to help me if I ask them for help a few weeks before the assignment deadline as they can offer good advice and then I have time to implement this into my work. I would also email them to see if you can set up a meeting with them to discuss your work.

3) If there is a specific area which you are struggling - e.g. referencing then I would try and see if there are any sessions at your uni where they help you with this. There may also be sessions on critical writing or anything that may help you to achieve a better grade.

4) I would also say to make sure you are using journal articles if this is appropriate for your assignments as this helps you to achieve a better grade as it elevates your work.

5) Always follow the assessment criteria as it sometimes says how much % of the assignment each part is worth and it's worth checking this to see if you are putting equal weighting into each bit of your assignment.

I hope some of this helps!

Lucy - SHU student ambassador.

I don't get weeks before a deadline, it's 1-2 essays a week and they don't like to help before a deadline because they want you to have a go for yourself first
Reply 6
Original post by Username123ab
They don't word it like that but that is the essence of their feedback. I often get comments that just say things like "not relevant" or "you have misunderstood the caselaw here" or "I don't follow your argument".

I stand by my original comment, which is that you are actually doing reasonably well with your grades but I accept that you are frustrated at not improving - you feel stuck.

So taking each of the comments you have provided as typical examples...

"not relevant" - is it possible that you drift off the point, bring in things that are sidelines and not directly pertinent to the subject?

"you have misunderstood the caselaw here" - this could simply be an accuracy issue - are you double checking that any statements you make about caselaw are watertight?

"I don't follow your argument" - are you going off the point, or failing to build your argument - are you planning in order to build your argument across the sections of the essay?

I would suggest once you have drafted your essay to read it aloud, or use the read aloud tool in Word to listen to it - this can expose particularly mandering arguments and the like.
Original post by cheadle
I stand by my original comment, which is that you are actually doing reasonably well with your grades but I accept that you are frustrated at not improving - you feel stuck.

So taking each of the comments you have provided as typical examples...

"not relevant" - is it possible that you drift off the point, bring in things that are sidelines and not directly pertinent to the subject?

"you have misunderstood the caselaw here" - this could simply be an accuracy issue - are you double checking that any statements you make about caselaw are watertight?

"I don't follow your argument" - are you going off the point, or failing to build your argument - are you planning in order to build your argument across the sections of the essay?

I would suggest once you have drafted your essay to read it aloud, or use the read aloud tool in Word to listen to it - this can expose particularly mandering arguments and the like.

I think I’ve understood it and it’s all relevant then I get the feedback and it’s not
Reply 8
Original post by Username123ab
I think I’ve understood it and it’s all relevant then I get the feedback and it’s not

I can hear your frustration. I think what might benefit you is for someone to go through an essay with you. Are there any support services on offer? These are often based in the university library services.

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