14 Simple Tips on How to Get a First-Class Degree At Uni

1st October 2019 Joe Graham News and Events, Study

So, you want to get a first in uni?

In this fast-paced guide, we’re going to break down how to get a first in Uni into 14 bitesize tips so you can smash your studies and wow your parents.

Sound good?

Let’s jump straight in with the first tip…

Understand How Your Memory Works

Improving your memory for a first class degree

You don’t have to be the next Stephen Hawking or Will Hunting to succeed in Uni, but you should have a good understanding of how your memory works so you can seek to improve it.

Learning the inner workings of your mind might sound boring but it’s surprisingly interesting and will give you important insight on how to succeed. This can be used to improve your revision techniques as well as your recall techniques.

There is a range of revision techniques that rely on advanced memory findings, some more potent than others. They all revolve around the concept of semantic meaning. This involves connecting your learnings with something that associates with something you’ve previously learned and provides a basis for strong comprehension.  

Using deliberate recall also helps, which involves actively recalling information you’ve already learned. Additionally, attempt to manipulate the knowledge you learn, critically analysing new information and placing it into the context of other knowledge you have picked up.

Challenge what you’ve learnt and discuss it with peers (if they’re interested!). Follow this advice and you’ll soon be a memory genius.

Go To Your Classes (And Take Notes!)

Lecture Room

Lectures can be boring. There’s no denying that. However, just because they’re boring doesn’t mean they aren’t useful. They are specifically structured to complement existing learning as well as build foundations for further research.

You’d be surprised at the attendance rates of many students. Hint: it’s not great. You’ll probably have that one friend who would rather sit in their student accommodation eating baked beans than to attend his law lecture.

However, it’s your duty NOT to be that person! Be a good student and attend your lectures. You’ll thank us in the end.

Make Sleep a Priority

Sleeping Cat

Sleep is very important. For years sleep has been proven to play a huge role in the realms of concentration and focus. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you risk being fatigued when trying to study. If you are fatigued, you’re going to struggle absorbing new information from lectures and your own study.

Make sure to get 7-8 hours. For most students, this is difficult, especially when you’re going out all the time and staying up late with your pals in the living room. A good method to use involves setting a bedtime alarm as well as a morning alarm.

Sleep becomes even more important when you’re studying for an exam or writing an essay. So, make sure you get some shut-eye!

Eat Your Greens – They’ll Give You Uni Smarts

Eating healthy for Uni

‘Garbage-in, garbage-out’ applies to many things in life. What this phrase means is that you get out what you put in, and the same applies to your body.

If you’re putting junk food into your body, your thoughts are going to lack clarity and focus. You need to be taking care of yourself, especially with your diet. The odd pizza or takeaway burger won’t hurt but when you’re munching on this kind of food on a daily basis, problems can begin to arise.

Aim to eat healthy and workout at the gym frequently. Keeping up with your vitamins is important, so make sure you are consuming greens with every meal. If you’re tight on budget, getting frozen veg down at your local shop is cost-effective.

A clean diet equals a clean brain. Treat your body like a temple and it will reward you with good grades, we promise.

Keep Everything Organised – A Clean Desk if a Happy Desk

Organise your desk for a first

It can be a pain keeping your room and desk tidy, but it can highly beneficial for your overall academic performance. They do say a tidy desk is a tidy mind and when it comes to smashing your Uni degree, this definitely rings true.

Try to keep all your files and lecture slides filed in categories so you can pull them out quickly if you ever need them. A tight organisational structure can also aid memory, as you’ll have spatial information to rely on when recalling certain topics.

The last thing you want is to be in a panic trying to find an article for a piece of coursework due the next day! Keep everything in your workspace tidy and you’ll have a more peaceful experience at Uni.

Keep a Lid on Your Social Life (But Don’t Cut it Out Completely)

Social life and Uni

When people think of Uni, the first thing that comes to their heads is late nights and binge drinking. Nights out and socialising are important, however, keeping this element contained is important if you want to get a first.

Too many students fall victim to the nightlife. They spend their nights out in the club and their day spent lying in bed, suffering from the hangover. As a result, they don’t go to lectures, complete their assignments, and some even drop out. Don’t let this become you!

Go out and enjoy yourself but plan your studies ahead of the event. Keep nights out to a minimum. You shouldn’t avoid seeing friends completely. In fact, this can damage your mental health, so cutting social occasions completely is a bad idea.

One night out every week should be the max (with the exception of freshers). Keep your head in the books and stay away from students who would rather drink beer than get good grades.

*Bonus Tip* Study with a Buddy

Study buddy

A sneaky top tip, if you don’t want to give up the social life, is to get a friend to study with. This has a number of benefits. Firstly, it helps you stay social and academically active at the same time, so you’re killing two birds with one stone.

Secondly, you can use the added company as a way to improve your revision. Test each other on different topics and compete on who can get the most correct answers.

Studying in pairs tends to be more efficient and can help you get that much deserved first.

Keeping a Mental Note of Your Mental Health

Mental health and uni

Around 1/5 of University students [LP/S1] have some sort of mental disorder. When you take into consideration the general population of students, that’s a lot! So, it’s worth staying aware of how this problem can influence your final Uni grade.

Mental health is a huge talking point and making sure it doesn’t influence your experience is very important. There are a lot of pressures when you first move in, especially from family, friends, and coursework. It’s important to take a breather and make sure you’re getting enough you time.

Have a day off every now and again. Go and see family, go for a walk, there are loads of different ways you can rest your brain and calm that overthinking that we’re all prone on doing.

Remain mindful and aware of yourself and you’ll be able to tackle any situation.

Studying Throughout the Year, Not at the End

studying for a first

Cramming… a word that all students are too familiar with. Students have been told time and time again they shouldn’t be revising everything in the space of one evening. The very idea of it sounds stupid, yet thousands of students will do it every year.

We don’t have to tell you cramming is bad, your teachers have probably been drilling it into you since year 7. What we recommend instead is to revise consistently throughout the year.

Try and download the presentation slides of lectures early and give them a read. Once the lecture is finished, go to the library and do some extra research around the lecture slides. This should be enough to stimulate some new thoughts and help embed the ideas into your brain.

The Library is Your New Home, Learn to Love it

Using the library to get a first

Although revising and studying for your first-class degree in your home is good, going to the library is even better. You’ll be surrounded by books and resources that can be used to upgrade your knowledge on a specific topic as well as other students who are working towards the same goal as you.

Also, it can be a good idea to make sure your home isn’t associated with Uni and stress. Attempt to complete coursework in Uni and keep your accommodation for chilling and socialising. You can of course work at your desk from time to time but making sure your haven isn’t tainted with stress is important.

The great thing about Uni libraries is they are often 24/7 as well, so you have access to resources around the clock.

Social Media: A Friend or a Foe?

Social media and studying

Social media has revolutionised the way we communicate with each other. However, as much as a gift it might be, it can also be a huge burden for our productivity. When you’re constantly being distracted by the latest notification, your coursework and lecture attendance can suffer. It’s just too easy to stay in bed and flick through Instagram!

Social media can be fine in moderation. So, make sure to limit your exposure as much as possible without cutting it out completely. Cutting yourself off completely would leave you in the dark about meetups and social events, so avoid deleting everything at once.

However, during exam season, deleting your social apps can be a huge help. Without any distraction available, you’ll be focused on your work, allowing you to put more hours in allowing you to achieve that glorious first.

You’re Paying Your Tutors, So Use Them!

Using tutors at Uni

The truth is you’re paying your tutors and teacher too much to not use their advice and wisdom. In fact, many of them recommend using them if you’re stuck on a subject. They’re full of useful analogies and explanations of concepts that you may be struggling with.

If you’re aiming for the high marks, going in and seeing your tutors and lectures frequently can give you a huge advantage. Lectures are often happy to help you and will feel valued that you have questions about their lecture.

They’ll be able to guide on the right path and with the array of knowledge regarding the subject matter in question, you’ll be well on your way to achieving a first.

Learn to Praise Yourself and Give Yourself a Break

relaxing and chilling out

Sometimes, you need to show yourself some love. University life is stressful and constantly pounding the books can tire your brain, actually leading to worse grades! Yikes! So, it can be a good idea to have a break from the studies and spend some quality ‘you’ time.

Take some time away from your work and go and see family, friends, or take a day trip with your housemates. They’re bound to be attractions around the city you live in, so go and try something different.

Taking a break from your studying can leave you feeling refreshed and motivated to return, giving you the necessary boost to get those tip-top grades.

Have a Clear End Goal in Mind – Let it Motivate You!

Setting goals

One of the top methods to pushing yourself and achieving a first is by having a large goal to aim for. If you haven’t given yourself a reason to be in Uni, how will you ever be motivated to try your best? All the methods and techniques in the world won’t work if you can’t be bothered to try them.

Define a clear, concrete goal that can be measured. Use this goal like your northern star, letting it motivate you to keep moving forward. Keep working towards it and you’ll eventually have your achievement, whether it be a doctor, lawyer, or anything in between.

To Conclude

If you’re curious on how to succeed in university, getting a first should definitely be on your list. Of course, achieving is no walk in the park. You have to work for it. However, with the above tips, you can drastically improve your chances of achieving it.

We’re positive you’ll get awesome grades, but if you have any more questions about these tips or want to know more, leave us a comment!

Joe Graham

Joe Graham

For more great posts from Urbanest about accommodation, London life, study tips and much more, visit the Student Journal.