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9 Top Tips On How To Get a First Class Degree at University

By Chloe Lane

Updated July 1, 2021 Updated July 1, 2021

Earning a first-class degree at university in the UK  can make you more employable and prove that you can consistently work to a high standard.

To get a first-class degree at university, you’ll usually need an average of around 70 percent or above overall. This average is calculated across coursework, presentations, projects and exams, so you’ll need to achieve consistent good grades throughout university. 

This may sound difficult, but it may be simpler than you think you get a first-class degree. 

Here are nine easy things you can do to boost your chances of securing that top degree classification.

Go to all (or most of) your lectures and seminars

Go to your lectures and seminars

While some lectures are more interesting than others, making the effort to go to them will likely pay off in the long term. Attending your lectures and seminars - even the boring ones - will cut down on your study time and may help you understand the course material in a different way. The lecturer may also give extra hints and tips about how to improve your assignment or presentation, or even what to revise for an exam.

Lectures offer you a sound basis for course material. This means that when you go to study you can revise efficiently rather than trying to learn it all from scratch. Seminars can be useful for clarifying aspects of the course material that you don’t understand.

Talk to your tutors

Talk to your tutors

Making an effort to get to know your tutors can really be the difference between getting a first-class degree and not.

There are several ways to arrange to talk to your tutors. Most university lecturers have office hours which they will inform you of at the start of the year. During these hours you can stop by their office and ask for help or clarification if you’re struggling with anything. Alternatively, you can drop them an email or speak to them after class.

Know what they’re looking for

What do they want?

Knowing what your lecturer is looking for from your assignments is one of the most important aspects of producing good work at university. Knowing what your work should look like means that you can approach your assignment with a clear aim of what you’re trying to achieve.

To do this, read the marking criteria to find out how your work is going to be assessed. If there are any aspects of the marking criteria that you don’t understand (it can often be quite vague), talk to your lecturers to clarify.

Be original

Be original

When writing an essay, try to use sources beyond the reading list or sources that are from a different field but are still relevant to the question you’re trying to answer. The best pieces of work at university are those which contain sources from a wide range of places, including online journals, archives and books.

Too many students just take what someone else has written and use that as their main argument in an essay. If you want to get a first-class degree, you’ll need to expand on these arguments and develop your own comments and ideas.

Do the required reading

Do the required reading

At the start of each module, you’ll be given a list of required reading. Although it can sometimes feel like a drag, doing the required reading is essential if you’re looking to get a first-class degree. In some universities, they won’t let you attend the seminar if you haven’t done the required reading beforehand. 

Explore the whole reading list, not just ones that you need to answer a question on an assignment. Most of these books can be found either online, through online archives, or in the library. 

Be organized

Be organized

Being organized means understanding the assessment structure for each of your modules, whether they contain exams, coursework or group work, knowing when all these are due and being aware of the weighting of each piece of work. This will make sure you don’t miss a deadline. 

Keeping each of your assignments in specific folders will mean you can easily find them in the future and will help keep track of feedback so you can easily refer back to it later.

Go through feedback

 Go through feedback

Although on first glance feedback can be a bit disheartening if it isn’t very positive, it will usually give you a great deal of guidance in how to improve your learning and help you understand how to change your work for the better.

If you’re unsure about any of your feedback on an assignment, make sure to go over it with your tutor as soon as possible.

Get enough sleep

Get enough sleep

There have been plenty of behavioral studies which suggest that the quality and quantity of sleep each night has a significant impact on learning and memory.

Getting better quality sleep has been proven to help you absorb information better and record that information later on.

Study and work hard throughout the year, instead of just for your exams

study throughout the year

This goes hand in hand with attending your lectures but making sure you understand the course material throughout the year – and asking when you don’t – will make revising for exams a lot quicker and more straightforward. 

This article was originally published in September 2020 . It was last updated in July 2021

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Written by

A Content Writer for TopUniversities.com, Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. She enjoys writing articles about a wide range of topics for a student audience. 

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