How to get First Class Marks for a Degree Assignment

A quick post on how to approach your assignments with a view to getting a first class result.

  • Start work as soon as the assignment is set, do not wait for the hand in date to approach, get ahead so you have more time to refine and get feedback on your work
  • Read and re-read the assignment brief, make sure you fully understand what is being asked
  • Speak to your lecturer to check your understanding of the brief
  • Try and find out what your lecturer is looking for, remember all assignments are designed to lead you down a particular learning path / line of thinking. There will be topics / issues you are expected to cover, i.e. are considered mandatory
  • Once you have covered all the mandatory topics, expand your research and push beyond what your lecturer has taught
  • Contrast and balance different viewpoints and arguments
  • If your view differs from what you have been taught, then introduce your view as an alternative, not as the answer or truth
  • Make sure your conclusions are robust, again, if you introduce your own arguments make sure they are balanced with the core arguments presented by your lecturer, never imply that you are right and what you have been taught is wrong!
  • Only introduce your view if you can support it with a strong argument and supporting evidence / references
  • Add as many good references as you can find to support all arguments
  • Add a bibliography of everything else you have read which is relevant
  • Format your document properly with appropriate titles, sub headings, table of contents and page numbers depending on the format requested by your lecturer
  • Make sure you spell check it properly, be aware that even English (British) spell checkers contain some American spelling’s, particularly words where Americans use ‘z’ as opposed to ‘s’
  • Be aware your spell checker will sometimes correct to the wrong word, i.e. the correct spelling, but of a word that you did not intend to use
  • Get your assignment proof read, correct it, get it proof read again. Continue with this process until you have a highly polished piece of work that is the best you can deliver

Do this with every assignment from the very beginning of your course. Earlier modules which do not carry as much weight toward your final mark should be used as training for the later more important modules.

Many students do not put effort into earlier modules, which they do not believe will contribute toward their final mark. This is a big mistake. You need to use lower level modules to learn the standard, to learn how to get a first class mark.

Trying to learn how to get a first class mark on more challenging modules which are critical to your degree is not a good idea.

The first assignments I wrote were torn to pieces by proof readers. I took lessons learned forward to later modules. Because I gained an understanding of what was expected early on, and continued to improve with every assignment, my dissertation was far easier.

My dissertation was not torn to pieces by the proof readers!