How To Get A First-Class Degree | Tips, Tricks and Hacks Here

Congrats! You’ve made it to (possibly) the best page on our whole website, aimed to get you to smash your university degree! Yes, it may just be a blog page, but the contents within are designed to allow you to take control of your studies and get the highest honours degree you can.

If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, wondering ‘how can I budge my grades to get the best outcome?’ we can help. Read through our full guide here on how to get a first-class degree, you won’t regret it!

What Is The UK Honours Degree System For Undergraduates?

graduates throwing gowns in the air - how to get a first-class degree

The university undergraduate degree system of the United Kingdom is historically unique. This system may be different from your normal school system or your schooling. Here’s a snippet of what you could achieve during your years at university.

First-Class Honours (70% and above): This is the highest award you can receive whilst studying at university. 

Upper Second-Class Honours (60-70%): there are two levels of second-class degree. This would be illustrated as a 2:1.

Lower Second-Class Honours (50-60%): This is the lower half of the second-class degree, illustrated as a 2:2.

Third-Class Honours (40-50%): This is the lowest honours degree available.

What Is A First-Class Honours Degree?

A first-class degree is generally seen as an impressive and beneficial achievement for any student. First-class Honours degrees are awarded to students who have accumulated a minimum of 70% or higher during their academic year.

The 1st Class Honours degree requires three years of full-time study and six years of part-time study. Getting a first-class Honours degree effectively indicates a student’s best academic achievement possible! 

Girl wearing graduation gown thinking how to get a first-class degree

How Much Do You Need To Get A First-Class Degree?

To gain a first-class degree, you need to get at least 70% or higher in your classes combined.

Paper that reads Bachelor of Arts , First Class

How Common Is A First-Class Honours Degree?

Getting an honours degree is not that common. In the academic year 2021-2022, only 32% of students got a First Class Honours Degree. These numbers have steadily grown since 2015. 

Over recent years, receiving a first-class degree has become more common. For every student who got a first in the early 1990s, nearly 20 do now.

A group of students graduating happy

Does Getting A First-Class Degree Matter?

studying together in university block

Having a first-class degree does not define you, and getting lower than a first-class is still something to be proud of.

Grades are only part of who you are and employers will be looking for much more when it comes to hiring you. Yes, good grades will enhance your CV, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all. 

How Do I Get A First-Class Degree?

Need some help on how you can aim high and get a first-class degree? Read on to discover our best tips!

1. Turn up

When you move to University, you hear all the rumours about students who miss their 9am lectures because they’re too hungover, or those who just don’t even bother going in the first place. We can guarantee you that those individuals will have struggled when it comes to finishing their deadlines and getting good grades.

Turning up to your lectures and seminars is the first step in even being on the path to a first-class bachelor’s degree. 

Making it a consistent habit to turn up to classes will help you understand everything that the lecturer teaches. This will also help you do your assignments and exams a lot better!

Regardless of how many friends you ask, at the end of the day, there is nothing like being present in class to understand the material that is being taught.  

Make the effort and you’ll be rewarded!

Students sitting in a classroom

2. Ask questions

There’s nothing worse than having multiple burning questions to ask your tutor, but being too afraid to say anything. Build the courage to ask the questions you want to know – we bet someone else is thinking the same thing and will be grateful that you said something!

Professors are more than happy to clear your doubts as it shows that you are paying attention. If you think it is complicated to quickly ask them during class, you can set some time aside after the class is done or during your breaks to clear your doubts.

Always remember that your professors are there to help you and you shouldn’t shy away from asking questions cause you are just a student!

dog putting paw up to ask a question

3. Religiously Read The Grading Grid

Within your modules, you should be given a grading grid which summarises the steps you need to take to receive a specific grade. If you use this religiously whilst completing your work, you should be able to work out if you’re doing enough to be on the path to a first-class degree.

Some modules have a higher weightage than others, so this can also give you an idea of how you can focus your efforts so you can be on the right track. 

Girl wearing black shirt holding papers and a laptop in front, thinking how to get a first-class degree

4. Be Prepared And Organised

Organisation is key and it will allow you to stay focused whilst managing your excessive workload. 

While it sounds simple, it is important to make a learning schedule that works best for you. What works for your friend might not work for you and vice versa.

So always make sure to organise your classes and your work so that you can perform well.

hand writing on a sticky note on top of an organiser , next to a laptop

5. Balance Your University Life and Social Life

Balancing your university life and social life is one of the most important steps in this process. You’re aware that aiming for a first-class degree is difficult, but salvaging your social life just to get a grade is not healthy.

If you are organised, you can plan when to see your pals, go for a meal or even go to the cinema. Try not to limit yourself from the joys of student life since you will only be a student for so long!

Make sure to set aside time for your friends and things that bring you joy so that you don’t burn out.
4 students laughing and having fun

6. Read Outside Of Your Recommended Reading

Most university courses will give you a selection of books, articles and research papers to read and become aware of the subject. Too many students have a laissez-faire approach to this part of uni, but if you want to squeeze past that upper-second-class honours degree, further research through reading will help you out massively. 

Speak to your tutors and see if there’s any they can recommend for you! They will be more than happy to find some for you, or certainly point you in the right direction. 

Most importantly, if you want to come out of university as a well-rounded student, you should take the time to learn about topics, beyond just for your exams.

Girl wearing blue shirt wearing headphones and looking at laptop , learning

7. Learn How To Reference Correctly

Referencing in University is key to smashing your grades. Any ordinary degree will dedicate 10% of the grade to referencing, demonstrating its utmost importance in your work. 

If you know how to reference correctly, you can almost guarantee 10% of your mark before you’ve even started – how crazy?

Universities usually publish a detailed guide on the referencing technique used, so make sure to check them regularly so you don’t lose marks unnecessarily. 

Hand typing on a laptop

8. Don’t Leave Your Dissertation Till The Last Minute

It’s easier said than done, but DON’T leave your dissertation till the last minute!!!! Just don’t do it, you’ll hate yourself (we promise).

Start it as early as you can! You’ll have the time to get feedback and redraft as much as you like if you do. 

You will never want to be rushing the most important assessment ever!

girl studying late at night because she left it till the last minute

9. Speak To Your Coursemates

Working in a group or speaking to those around you is a brilliant way to understand more about the course you’re on. Step out of your comfort zone and message those around you! They can help in ways some tutors can’t.

Always remember that it is not a competition. There isn’t only a limited number of people who can get a First Class degree. So if you help each other, all of you can succeed!

A group of university students studying together

10. Keep Positive And Work Hard

At the end of it all, don’t get disheartened with one bad grade. Keep trying your best and we are sure that you’re going to be an honours student. That’s certainly something to wear with pride. 

Girl wearing yellow shirt writing on a book with laptop in front , wondering how to get a first-class degree

And that’s a wrap, a whole guide about how to get a first-class degree at university! Do you feel prepared?

Click here to read a blog on Study Strategies to Discover.

If you would like to learn about great time management techniques for students, click here.

Make sure to let us know on our socials if you have any burning questions 🙂

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