Every serious student who gains admission into a tertiary institution has the aim of graduating with a first class distinction or degree. However, the reality is that the number of first class students who graduate each year is less than the number of students who aimed to graduate with first class from the first day. Earning a First Class Honours is, invariably, a by-product of self-application. No one is pre-programmed to make a third class, or a pass, provided the individual was qualified in the first instance to be admitted into the university (even otherwise).
The class of degree a student earns in the university is also a function of a point scoring system. That is what is called the Cumulative Grade Point Average, (CGPA) which is a weighted scoring system with maximum of 5.0 in most tertiary institutions in Nigeria. You make a first class when you score a CGPA of 4.50 and above upon graduation.
Top 8 Rules of First Class Students
Let’s take a look at some important rules which if diligently followed will enable every student who aspires to make a first class in school to do so with ease.
Rule 1: Know Thyself
The problem with many students is they try to “copy-cat”. While it is good to learn from the method of another high performer, it is important to know how to adapt it uniquely. Some students don’t need to read for more than 3 hours a day before they pass, indeed do excellently well and top the class. Some must read for at least 7 hours a day. There are first class students who watched football and participated actively in campus religious activities while they were in school. Some even get involved in departmental politics.
Its about knowing one’s self. Some people have a better foundation or secondary school background than others. At the end of the day, for most first class students, reading the notes while still fresh after lectures, and not waiting till they accumulate, is a common determinant of success.
Rule 2: Know Thy Teacher Too
Knowing how to approach a question in an examination is an art itself. How do you organize your answers? It goes beyond just picking the answer script and writing down what you think is the answer. You need to know what the lecturer wants. Does he want a “lengthy story”? Or does he wants it “short and snappy”? You may have a clue into this through your seniors who had taken the course earlier. You will also get some insight into the personalities of your lecturers by paying attention during lectures. First class students study not only the course, but the course-taker.
Rule 3: Get Serious From the First Day
It is common for students to get carried away with the euphoria of gaining admission into higher institution that they forget the major reason why they are in school. It is essential to start building your grade point average from the first day so as to avoid playing catch up afterwards. The first semester of the first year in school is usually the easiest academically so its best you take advantage of it. This is the semester where many smart students set themselves up for a very good start.
Rule 4: Attend Lectures
Attending lectures may not be so important to some students during their first year in school because many of the courses are based on topics they have already learnt previously in their secondary schools. For some students, attending lectures in first year is not so enticing because of the large number of students who usually fill the lecture rooms.
However, after your first year, attending lectures must and should be a priority, this is to enable you mark attendance in class which may be the difference between an A or a B, pick salient points which the lecturer may mention in class and to pick important instructions and tips which many lecturers like to give in class. In fact, some of these tips mentioned in class might be deliberately left out in lecture hand-outs dished out by some lecturers to encourage those who come to class.
Rule 5: Begin Studying for Tests and Exams Early
Between academics and your social life, time is not something you will have in ample quantity throughout your stay in the university. One cardinal act you should always make time for is studying early for exams. There’s nothing worse than leaving all of the studying for the night before an important test or exam. The stress causes you to panic and you won’t perform as well as you normally would if you had studied early enough. Studying a little bit during the semester will not only make you better prepared but will also remove most of the stress you would have had if you left your studying for the last minute.
Early exam studying allows a student to identify weak spots in their understanding and to prioritize their studying accordingly. Just imagine studying until the early morning of the day of your exam only to find you’ve completely ignored a section that you have little or no understanding in. Don’t let that happen because it is a recipe for academic disaster.
Use your time wisely in between classes as well as before and after school. There are many opportunities to sneak in some studying or homework that many students either don’t realize or just don’t use. Some students study on the keke or bus during the ride to and from school. If someone calls you a book-worm, simple tell him or her that you like to think of yourself as someone who prefers to handle matters productively and expeditiously rather than impulsively.
There are still students who combine the time waiting for a lecture to begin with their study time. They revise their notes instead of pinging or chatting endlessly with friends. You get a frequent workout for your brain and prep it for exams and assessments when you’re constantly engaging with your study materials. Always keep your notes handy and use any spare time for simple review to make sure you’re on top of the material. All of those small moments you fill with studying will really add up to something solid eventually. You’ll discover that you will require less studying when exam time arrives. And that will be a huge relief.
Rule 6: Obtain Old Exams Question Papers and Assignments
Make attempts to get past question papers from your senior colleagues to procure a satisfactory idea of what subject matter the instructors are most likely to test you on. They are even more useful because you can attempt the exam or assignment problems as a test of your knowledge, identifying weak areas that you must take into further consideration for re-study.
There are many examples and scenarios where students paid attention to past exam questions and were given exactly the same question or something very similar in their own exams. Not every lecturer repeats past questions, but many set questions similar to what they’ve given students two or more years ago.
One common tactic many students use for science laboratory classes is to find a graded laboratory notebook from a previous year. Laboratory work is notoriously difficult with respect to time limitation and what is expected from a student’s lab report. Having a format to follow along with is a phenomenal help. Knowing where to avoid mistakes is fundamental as well.
Rule 7: Be Optimistic
Some students die many times before their academic death. How can a student gain admission into a school and the first thing he or she hears is “you can never make a first class”, “they won’t give you a first class” or “this department is very hard”? Well, don’t believe any of that. Students still graduate with first class even in the so-called “hard” departments.
Many students are defeated by a pessimistic mentality. How can you go to battle with a defeatist mentality and expect to win? Many first class students defy odds and prove the “messengers of doom” wrong by pursuing their target optimistically and pragmatically. As a student who wants to be outstanding, what you should pay attention to are stories of that Lagbaja that shattered school records, or the Saka that effortlessly broke any record breakable.
There will be such stories to motivate you. Even it there aren’t, believe that you can be the first to break the record. Don’t give your listening ears to some tale by moonlight about a sadist lecturer who denies everybody first class. This is another very vital rule for first class students. They don’t believe cock and bull stories. Rather, they craft their own stories by first believing they can.
Rule 8: Put God First:
Ultimately, God is very important. Always remember that God is the owner of all knowledge and gives only to those who he wishes to. Learn to always put God first before every lecture, test or exam. He is the only one who can see you through. The above are simply helpful human factors.
These are just the most important attributes of first class students based on observations. There are more factors to be considered which may have been omitted. Feel free to share your opinion in the comment section.
All the best!