xTurn on thread page Beta
My story of how I increased marks from second year borderline third class to a first class in my final year of university to graduate with a 2.1 degree.
*p.s: When I first created the thread name I rushed in excitement afterwards I couldn't change it lol FYI the final year mark 76 was my estimate at the time and not the actual figure of my final year first class mark. I have renamed it as per the header above.
*Because many of you have asked for extra help, detail and support I have decided to create a short motivational and practical e-book for final year University students to basically inspire you to believe that your graduation dream is possible and share simple practical tested steps to help you achieve the first class marks you desire. You can visit the amazon page for the book which can be found by hovering your mouse over my username and then click "visit mijo's homepage."
*I have also edited the original post to make it more concise as some people have commented it was too long, I was just excited to share my story Enjoy
Hey guys I just joined the forum to share my story of my incredible journey and my achievement of significantly increasing my marks over to my final year of university to graduate with a good 2.1 degree. I achieved this at one of the best universities in the country(not mentioned for confidentiality) in a difficult degree in economics( 3 year course).
First of all I would like to thank those of you on the forum offering quality advice on succeeding in university; you were an inspiration for me over last year summer and encouraged me to believe this was possible. I remember last year after getting my second year results at university I was devastated to find out I had two retakes (capped at 40 marks) and on average after passing my retakes my mark was 50!
I faced a lot of pressure on me from my parents to perform well academically generally and this time I felt intense pressure to perform in my final year. I needed FIRST class marks in final year to graduate with a 2.1 degree i.e 60+ marks( many of you searching for jobs understand the pressure to achieve a 2.1).
My aim throughout this message is to provide advice where I can be useful, but most importantly to inspire any of you in a similar position where odds are against you and everyone tells you something like this isn’t possible. IT IS POSSIBLE! Please also keep in mind throughout this story that these are principles that worked for me and factors I felt were significant, in no way does this necessarily apply to every single student; but I hope I can add some value.
It’s a long and detailed story here folks I will go into specifics of a lot things but feel free to skim through it.
So lets rewind: why did I achieve 50 marks(lower second class) in my second year? Essentially, I would like to quickly go over what I did and didn’t do that contributed to this mark so that you guys can perhaps pick out what NOT to do. In addition, there are 4 significant quadrants I would like to focus on Spiritual, Social, Health, and Academic.
Academically: I only attended lectures and tutorials that I FELT like, about 50% attendance( Ironic huh lol 50%- 50 marks). I didn’t pay attention in lectures and did not put in full effort into tutorial AND even worse a crime was that I did not attempt to ask questions when I did not understand concepts. My notes were not organized and I did not have a structured way of keeping my files, lecture notes and tutorials for EACH module. I did not attend office hours to speak to lecturers for help nor did I speak to any other students for help.
Approaching examinations in June I did not finish my overview of the curriculum before the end of Easter break. As a matter of fact I started learning new material days before my EXAM. In addition, I did not prepare well for the exams i.e time management, exam technique, attending revision lectures etc. My focus of revision was mainly lecture notes and dabbled into one core textbook; I didn’t even know there was a reading list.
On the actual exam period, I got more serious as I did not want to fail. I managed to finish most of exams on time, BUT this was highly deceitful. I am sure many of you have experienced this. You come out of the exam confident, finished on time etc. Results come out.. You failed!! This happened to me in two exams.
Majority of my focus was more social, going out, having fun and dating women, joining university societies: ANYTHING BUT academics. Health wise I was great as I spent a lot of time taking care of myself and looking good. In addition, I was in the gym lifting weights, exercising and building my physique 6 days a week 2 hours+ each time. You can begin to see a lot of my energy and focus went in the wrong direction.
Finally, concerning my spiritual life I was born a Christian, however over time in university I found myself distant from God and more interested in other things. I did not attend church or take my spiritual life seriously at all; I read the bible occasionally but that was it. I will come back to the impact I believe had on me( note: I understand some of you reading are not spiritual and I’m definitely not trying to stir a debate, however I will be doing a great injustice to this story if I did not share one of the factors I FELT was extremely important to my success.)
Now that you may have possibly spotted out a few things that I may have done wrong in my second year, you may have also noted that my quadrant balance was not healthy. My academic and Spiritual side were low, however my social and health were very high.
When I started my final year I knew I was against the odds. I knew that I needed first class marks to graduate with a good degree. And this time I WANTED IT BADLY. I was willing to do whatever it took to make this happen.
Final year adjustments:
As far as the academic quadrant my first point of reference was my University tutor. Just like many other students I never spoke to him during the other years, now I needed help. “Sir” I said… “How can I achieve a first class average this year,” after a quick glance at my previous years marks he quickly noted I had never even had a SINGLE first class mark in any module. He told me it was a feat he felt was very unlikely and he can’t remember last time such happened.
After speaking to him, I spoke to other lecturers and tutors who would be teaching my modules , my core questions were “What do you expect from me as a student”, “What would it take to get a first in X module.” General consensus: Go through all books and documents on reading outline / list (on the electronic blackboard), come to office hours to ask questions, focus on understanding not rote memorisation, work daily on material and then they said something very interesting.
(1) THE BASIC TEXTBOOK AND LECTURE NOTES ARE GENERALLY NOT ENOUGH TO GET A FIRST. ADDITIONAL MATERIAL IS WHERE IT’S AT. What?!! Yes you herd me brah.
If you master only lecture notes you’d probably range about 40 marks, If you do add basic textbook material you can range 40-69 marks, however to break that 69 mark barrier you need to have done something extra. This slightly, varies module to module.
Essentially, throughout my University period I had thought I would be spoon-fed with the essential materials to do very well just like I was at A levels. I often glanced over the additional material that was mentioned or placed on the student blackboard, as they seemed irrelevant. In addition, I would only possibly look at one document from the entire reading list that I felt was full of irrelevant crap.(NOTE: additional material can be a textbook).
Now I began to understand what lecturers were looking for a first. They want to reward students who they believe have done some “extra” reading, research and pursued more understanding of content on deeper level than other students.
This will usually naturally show up in your written work. The reason why many of you may be working very hard and still remain with scores less than you feel you deserve is perhaps because you are focusing on the material they gave you (lecture notes etc and basic textbook material). The students who tend to do better usually have more curiosity or interest for topic taught and make more effort to learn more outside material provided.
Myself on the other hand was not necessarily very interested in my modules, rather I was willing to do whatever it took to finish the year well. I took this principle on board and first thing I did was to begin to go through reading list of every one of my seven modules for textbooks and “extra” reading. i.e online and library.
My goal was to quickly have an overview of available material, the depth of the module and the types of material available for it so I can come back for them around exam time. In addition I was looking for my “core” materials.
These are materials that I would refer to as my core source of knowledge and understanding – usually recommended choices by lecturer. Choose one that fits you, some like more technical material ,I prefer material that is a bit wordy but a lot of focus on understanding. And make sure to get to library first before other students snatch up material.
This was a tedious process . In addition, to the set reading list you may find that your lecturer releases new “reading” documents over time. Make sure to make notes and read the material to get key points and understanding. Which brings me to another key point.
(2) UNDERSTANDING MATERIAL IS CRUCIAL
I cant stress this enough. Your academic mindset should be centred around understanding as opposed to memorization or storing in short term memory. The more you understand the better you’ll see the bigger picture of the module and the less likely you’ll be tricked by strangely worded exam questions.
Understanding means material sticks longer in your long term memory and recall is much more precise. This can be crucial in an exam situation under exam pressure to answer a tricky question. Finally, It shows the markers even if you fail to complete the questions that you have some grasp on material and they may be lenient to give more marks.
This approach is so obvious and simple, however it is quickly overlooked by most. Everyone is always looking for the “magic-bullet”, the “best techniques, reading schedules, magic strategy.” The allure of this is the short-term solution and “avoidance” of that hard work. IT’S A LIE!!
I have news, in anything in life there is no shortcut, you have to work hard consistently to get there. And this applies to understanding your academic material. You have to decide at start of the year to make a conscious effort to try to understand the material. Its more about the mindset rather than specific actions. Try and chase up to ask questions from students/ lecturers about concepts and questions you had wrong or confused about, then go back into your private study time and use materials/ online to figure out what you don’t understand.
It’s a continuous process just like anything else. That’s why making mistakes and getting feedback is so important to developing your understanding development.
I made sure I attended as many lectures and tutorials I could (about 95%)- I wont lie it was hard especially morning times. But its important as often lecturers correct mistakes they make, give special tips for exam, helps with understanding and it helps develop your work ethic. I also made sure I put in my best effort into weekly tutorials and non graded essays etc. And followed up to find out what went wrong after it was marked. This was very important!! This feedback also served as great revision material for me later on.
From Day 1 I also made sure to keep my notes, books and documents for every module very organized in folders. This helped me greatly with finding resources for studying and especially with review work over exam period.
What about the social quadrant? Surely that doesn’t matter in final year. Well it kinda does but in a different way. Personally I stopped going out clubbing and completely dropped out of the “cool public” scene, which saved me a lot of hang overs and allowed me to sleep earlier and wake up for those annoying morning lecturers etc, but I found I had to
(3)STEP INTO ANOTHER “PUBLIC” SCENE.
These are the other students in your module that you may have recognised as the more “academically gifted” students or those who are always on top of their work. They usually move together or solo, sitting together in lectures, can often be found in office hours with lecturers or even in a specific section in library.
When I found myself stuck with concepts earlier on in the start of the year It didn’t make sense to wait for the office hour with lecturer to ask questions which was two days a week for half an hour. In addition, lecturers get very irritated when you ask them to explain something that is basic or they feel you didn’t cover the material before you came to see them. This is especially relevant if your course is built on fundamentals from previous years, which you may have not learnt.
So I began to boldly approach these top students after lectures, tutorials or whenever and say “hey sup how you doing, ive got a problem with this what you think “etc. I will admit if your someone who isnt socially savy it can be tricky, but most people are nice and want to do well in final year. The real task comes in identifying the students that make sense and most importantly willing to teach you concepts. Because you may come across students who would rather not share information or just prefer to work on their own to not be disturbed.
I luckily managed to make acquaintances with four people who were extremely patient with me throughout the year with my random basic questions and willing to help me for hours with misunderstandings I had. They knew that by teaching me they would also learn material better. I cant stress enough how important this was to me. Nothing replaces someone who is a student that mastered material and explains it to you in their words. You can relate to it much better and it clicks better than lecturer explaining.
Review Your Course: UCL History
Introduction to UCL History
I am currently studying history at UCL but I originally entered higher education last year, studying exclusively European History at SSEES (School of Slavonic and East European Studies.) During this period, I was enrolled in a module called World Histories,’ which made me realise that I had an interest historical events outside of Europe. I then decided to apply to the History course at UCL, which is broader and promotes a more diverse and global education.
So far I have been exposed to a variety of subjects, from the creation of Egyptian states and struggles in the Middle East to more conceptual ideas such as gender studies.
There are three compulsory modules: ‘Making History,’ ‘Writing History’ and ‘Concepts and Categories.’ The first two are a way of easing you into the transition from school to university. ‘Making History’ involves working with a group and can be a way of meeting more people on your course. ‘Writing History’ helps to improve your essays and outlines the expectations that are going to be made of you, in terms of research and academic language. ‘Concepts and Categories’ introduces you to a different method of approaching historical study.
Aside from these three, course content is very much dependent on you and the areas you choose to study. This year I elected to learn about ‘The Ancient Near East’ and ‘The History of Political Thought.’ Your modules can be extremely varied and will reflect your personal interests. There are lots of options and if the area of study you are looking for is unavailable, it is also possible
Contact, or the amount of time dedicated to helping you through your course, is relatively high at UCL. The history department schedules sessions that talk you through any new processes such as essay submissions or how to use a university library. There are few times where you will be presented with a situation, which you have absolutely no clue what to do or who to speak to.
I would say contact is limited to a need basis rather than for the purpose of building a relationship with your personal tutor or the department. However, there are clear points of contact and you will be aware of who you can reach out to if you are struggling for any reason.
To an extent amount of contact you have is, again, very dependent on the university experience you want to create. Keeping in contact with course tutors can be especially useful if you require a reference from someone who sees you often. Equally, while some prefer to meet with their professors, many students choose to be more independent and stick to the outlined system.
The amount of work you are required to complete will be outlined very early on, meaning you can efficiently timetable as soon as you begin your course. This usually comprises of readings, essays and some end of year exams. Overall the amount you need to do will be manageable provided you plan your time well – doing the readings during the week will prevent a panic during revision season. Essays will take time to get used to, however, ample planning will reduce the pressures of time and research. The last term is entirely dedicated to exams and so, even though it feels immensely stressful, there will be enough time to revise sufficiently.
Overall, UCL History is extremely flexible and meets the demands of many different personalities. Whether you like ancient history and need lots of contact or whether you prefer modern and greater independence, the course will likely suit you.
More by Lorna: Tips for Admission – UCL