How To Get A First - Which Uni Gives The Best Chance?

Article _howtogetafirst 01

How To Get A First

Thinking about uni? Want to be a high-flier and start your career with a bang? Getting a first is quite an achievement and there is no harm in planning ahead. Why not choose your course carefully, matching up your interests with the subjects that seem to offer the greatest chance of a first.

What is a ‘first’?

Article _howtogetafirst 02University degrees are graded differently to GCSEs and A levels. School and college qualifications change quite often but university degrees have been graded the same way for years. The actual marks attained or the percentage score that equates to the different grades varies between universities but the overall bands are:

  • A first– students achieve outstanding results and are considered the best of their year and subject group.
  • A 2:1 or upper second classdegree – students do not quite achieve the same high standard but put in a good, all round performance.
  • A 2:2 or lower second class degree– more of an average grade.
  • A third class degree– still a degree but more of a pass.

Which courses offer the most firsts?

Current data provide this top ten but things do change from year to year – this is a outline guide in how to get a first. At the moment, maths and the physical sciences dominate the lists, perhaps showing that these technically challenging subjects attract students with great talent and then push them to do well.

1. The top slot is maths: a staggering 31.7% of students doing a mathematics degree in the UK will come away with a first. Over 66% get a 2:1. And it’s not because maths is easy – this is obviously a course that is suited to the brightest and most able students with an aptitude for their subject.

2. Engineering is a close second: 23.97% of budding engineers get a first with 62.4% getting a 2:1

3. Physical Sciences completes the hat trick: 22.1% of students doing physical sciences get a first and 66.73% get an upper second class degree.

4. Keeping up the trend is computer science: 21% of students are awarded a first class degree with just over 56% getting a 2:1.

5. At last, an arts subject – creative arts and design is in fifth spot: 16.74% of students get a first and just over 66% get an upper second.

6. First for farmers – agriculture comes in next: 16.67% of students get that elusive first and just under 61% get a 2:1.

7. Languages are in seventh place: 16.65% get a first with a massive 76.87% getting an upper second.

8. Medical degrees also offer plenty of chances of a first: 16.65% of students doing medicine or a subject allied to medicine got a first with 55.79% getting an upper second.

9. History and philosophy makes it to the top 10: 15.93% of students get a first while 78.41% get an upper second class degree. That’s higher than any subject in the rest of the top 10.

10. Architecture just makes it: 15.66% of future architects get a first and 60.28% get an upper second.