How to get a 1st in your degree
18th Feb 2019
By Jemma Slingo

As you limber up for coursework deadlines, job applications and three hour exams, here are a few tips on how to get top marks in your degree.

Work regularly throughout the year. While cramming works wonders at GCSE — learning five quotes from Lord of the Flies only takes so long — things get trickier once you hit university. Keeping on top of work throughout the year pays off when summer arrives, with its long exams and distractingly good weather. Once the revision period gets going, or your dissertation deadline starts to loom, make a do-able timetable and stick to it. While cramming late into the night has a certain glamour, nobody can survive for long on a diet of Red Bull and Nescafe.

Don’t work all day in your room. There is something uniquely depressing about rolling out of bed, moving half a metre to your desk, and commencing revision. Although working in the library means you have to tolerate other people sniffing, rustling and walking around with no shoes on, psychologically it really helps to separate where you work and where you sleep. Plus, it forces you to leave the house, meaning you will pick up some much needed Vitamin D en route.

Invest in good stationery. Although a Paperchase spending spree won’t get you a first, nothing combats revision blues like a new set of coloured fine liners. When a lot of your day is spent in a stuffy library, you’ve got to find pleasure where you can.

Answer exam questions in an imaginative way. Don’t go too rogue of course, particularly if you’re a medic or an engineer…But bear in mind that examiners have to read hundreds of bad, boring scripts and a glimpse of originality might just earn you their gratitude. This is particularly important if you’re an arts student. Don’t go into exams with a fixed idea of what you’re going to write in an essay. Have the confidence to experiment.

Prioritise what’s important to you. If you’re a history student paying £30,000 for three contact hours a week, skipping classes is probably the last thing on your mind. Plus, missing genuinely useful seminars and lectures is rarely a good idea. Sometimes, however, when work piles up, you just have to miss stuff. Is that lecture on medieval taxidermy really going come in useful? Or are you just putting distance between you and your sad, half-written dissertation?

Don’t let work become the be all and end all. However keen you are to smash your degree, don’t allow uni work take over you life. Ultimately, if you have to sacrifice your Friday nights and personal hygiene to get a first, it’s probably not worth it. University is about a lot more than the certificate you get at the end and the sad fact is, once you’ve got a job, nobody will even ask what you graduated with.

Hope you enjoyed this blog!

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