Getting a First Class Economics Degree
So you want to know how to a get a first in economics? Yes. That's good, real good. But, you already know how to get a first in economics really, don't you? You study hard and long, keep organized etc. Wrong!
This article isn't like your traditional 'how to be successful at university' type where they tell you that you need to be organized, attend every lecture, work hard, read the economist etc. -- don't get me wrong this is all somewhat important, but the fact is .. you already know this (and if you were looking for this type of article, I suggest you head elsewhere) but by just applying them methods alone won't get you a first (e.g. you can work hard --but at the wrong thing etc.). Instead, I want this content to be hard hitting, I want to make it clear to you as an intelligent human being -- the three main differences I have identified between how a first class economics student approaches their degree with that of a 2.1 and 2.2 economics student.
1. They answer the following question with the answer 'Yes!'... Do You Really and Wholeheartedly Want a First in Economics?
I believe this is the most important factor and action you can possibly undertake in stepping towards getting a first in economics. I know this probably sounds like tosh, besides who doesn't want a first in their subject? But listen up.
First class economics students have sat down and actually asked and addressed themselves with this question and said 'Yes' -- perhaps not consciously, but on a subconscious level -- they have made up their mind that they are going to get a first no matter the cost. They will think nothing of going to see the TA or the lecturer on a friday night, or stay in the library for nights upon end, practising exam techniques 2 to 3 months before the exam -- as they have made a fundamental decision in their mind that they are here to get a first, although may not admit it to you personally -- they know it within themselves.
Those of you who just reply to the question with 'kinda' or half hearted attitude -- who aren't fully committed behind their answer 'yes' are those who see working hard as a bit of a problem and this is what will ultimately cost them with failing to get a first in their degree. Ultimately a difference in attitude -- the first class student will strive, the others simply won't.
2. They Know How to Study
All students get distracted whether that be with the internet or twiddling their thumbs etc. -- the difference -- however, is that first class students know how to prevent themselves from procrastination and to actually get down to business and work done. They have found out from themselves that they may for example need a certain location -- whether that be in the middle of nowhere with nobody around, along with ear plugs to prevent them from noise distraction, as well leaving the mobile phone turned off (or even at home) along with blocking certain websites to be accessed through their laptop .... Ultimately, they set themselves up for work to be done without any reason for distraction.
Moreover, they know why, what, when and how to study. First class economics students, don't simply go through a textbook making aimless and rather pointless notes, they see the bigger picture. They have assessed their academic game (every module, course, university has their own unique rules), they realise from certain past exam papers, asking lecturers, Teaching Assistants -- certain question patterns that have occurred in the past (or what is likely to come up), and know exactly how to present an answer that gets a first. So when they are looking through that textbook they realise what is relevant to the exam and grasp it thoroughly and read around it, rather than trying to learn all the content from the textbook, which is the strategy of a fair amount of students.
Also, when it comes to revision and study time, they go about it smartly -- before revision time even begins, they have already prepared quality notes to revise from as well as mark schemes knowing how and where certain information fits into the examinations coming up -- having already checked past exam papers and mark schemes months ago.
They also revise in a different way to many other students, instead of just writing notes and reading them through, time after time, they realise if they engage with many formats of revision for the same material they have a much higher chance of actually retaining the information and then being able to recall it in the exam. Moreover, they assess what they are actually doing? Is what they are doing right now effective towards achieving a first, or is there something better they could be doing (and I don't mean being down the pub)?
Furthermore, they understand the modules that they are undertaking, where if you want to achieve really high marks you will want to take as many quantitative modules as possible -- as it is easier (in terms of workload) for you to achieve top marks, rather than of a qualitative one (essays and such like).
3. Active Identification -- They Practise Initiative
They know there strengths and weaknesses -- so if they know they are weak at essays, they actively try and get better -- they look into fantastic books like Writing Essays (really great read by the way, especially if your essay marks are suffering -- or not), they ask to see their friend's essays who did achieve a first class mark. If they are weak at mathematical component of the course, they go visit the TA, maths club, they claw at help until they notice a significant improvement in their ability and grades. They realise the problems they are having and form a plan to address them, unlike most students who just accept that they are bad at that particular aspect of their course and leave it.
Hopefully, if you have got at least one thing from this article -- and that is first class economics students take initiative and that they are there to get a first no matter what it takes -- and with this they will think about what is the best way they can go about achieving this first and then from this they will automatically tick all the boxes of a good student -- they will want to know how to play the academic game, they will automatically have the grit and determination to work hard (& smartly) etc. If you have any questions or comments regarding 'How to get a first in economics' please make them in the comments section below.