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10 Reviews
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I found this book to be extremly useful. As I am probably one of the least intelligent people on my course, and only just managed to pass my first year in university, I though it best to try to give myself a push in the right direction, yet I did not want to end up constantly reading, and with a complete lack of social life. This book helped me to do this and I am now...
Published on 24 Jan 2006

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad; not good.
While this book does have some vital, yet overlooked tactics for dissertation and assignment-based degrees, its usefulness for exam-based degrees is limited at best.
Published on 15 Aug 2007 by Mrs. P. A. Fisher


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 24 Jan 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The Insider's Guide to Getting a First (or avoiding a Third) (Paperback)
I found this book to be extremly useful. As I am probably one of the least intelligent people on my course, and only just managed to pass my first year in university, I though it best to try to give myself a push in the right direction, yet I did not want to end up constantly reading, and with a complete lack of social life. This book helped me to do this and I am now on course to get at least a 2.1, and am frequently finding myself recieving some of the highest marks on my course. Although this is not all down to the book, some of the improvement being down to an increase in effort, the book does indeed contain some very useful tips, although they may not all may not apply to you. To add to this, the book is also very concise, well written and easy to read and i would highly recommend it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars you have nothing left to lose, 16 Aug 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Insider's Guide to Getting a First (or avoiding a Third) (Paperback)
Being a student at a top 3 institution in the UK, we constantly get laid into about performing well; that combined with the fact that everyone else on your course/surrounding you is coming from a similar, highly academically sucessful school career, you do feel it a little impossible to gain a first or a 2:1 relying upon talent alone, and you don't exactly want to sacrifice all the interesting parts of your life for it either.
We do also get given this dire "Learning to Learn" booklet that the college has produced; but lets be honest here, there are no real fail-safe tactics -just mere advise that every other kid on the block would follow if only they could be bothered: Turn up to lectures, take notes, engage yourself, revise.
Then we are presented with this book. It is written by someone who claims that he was capable of obtaining a 1st in his MBA with no particularly distinctive natural talent.
The tips are fairly obvious, but you probably wouldn't have thought of them unless you read them (it's like every maths problem).
The advice he gives is particularly practical, but it does focus particularly heavily on his MBA (which is a research-intensive degree, not one that simply involves reciting formulae sucessfully).
He does also play a lot up to him being a particularly "overtly helpful guy" which means others carry out favours for him in return. -However, it might be a real effort if you are stuck on a course with many people who are particularly selfish and don't give much in return for your efforts (believe me, I tried this to some extent last year and ended up doing a good proportion of most people's coursework. Not nice)
One can't really go too wrong with this book though; It is very comforting to know that one can achieve a first if they are particularly organised and have an action-plan a bit like a well organised army (only you are the general with soldiers who don't know they're in the army) and is probably the best book of this sort I have read in a while. (I did go through an obsession with improving my memory, but at university level there are more things than simply memorising numbers, facts and words.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad; not good., 15 Aug 2007
By 
Mrs. P. A. Fisher (North East England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Insider's Guide to Getting a First (or avoiding a Third) (Paperback)
While this book does have some vital, yet overlooked tactics for dissertation and assignment-based degrees, its usefulness for exam-based degrees is limited at best.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 1 Jan 2007
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This review is from: The Insider's Guide to Getting a First (or avoiding a Third) (Paperback)
Theres a really big difference in attitue between university and school/college.

When you're at school you're endlessly bombarded with help and advice on how to go about getting a good grade. Teachers will bend over backwards to tell you how the exam works, what sort of things are likely to come up and even show you past model answers. The idea is that teachers want you to do well (if im being cynical thats because many are on performance related pay packages). Infact many of the major exam boards actively encourage you to "swot up" on exam technique etc...

But at uni its different. The attitude here is that unlike school its about changing how you think - and "learning to learn". They want original answeres - and when you ask for help you're usually told that as long as you've worked hard you'll be alright. Which is of course, rubbish. They don't tell you what you have to do to get a good grade - infact sometimes actively discourage you from doing it (some lecturers at my uni even refused to let me see past papers).

What this book does then is give you the answers. This isn't a "blag you're way to a good grade" type argument, infact its made clear that you have to work hard to do get a first, just not as incredibly hard as you're led to believe. What he does then is turns learning into a exact science. Every little tip and trick is introduced to help you maximise you're chances of doing well. As another reviewer put it - they're all common sense, but you would never had thought of them yourself. And they all work.

In a nutshell this book tells you how you can play the university game and win. It'll be hard work he argues - but do-able. If like me you find that you're working hard but getting crap grades this book will de-mystify the whole of the exam system and give you great tips on how to improve. And for only £6 - you can't really aruge.

Must Buy

PS: I would also recommend Clive Woodward's "Winning" which uses almost exactly the same methology in succeding
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strangely devious yet completely honest, 25 April 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Insider's Guide to Getting a First (or avoiding a Third) (Paperback)
I must admit I thought I was going to get a book for cheats. I didn't realise what a strangely devious and yet completely honest book this was. It is written in a very user friendly style and is funny and practical. I liked the style and I like the advice. I am a second year at Oxford and shall immediately start putting Mark's strategies into place as I can see how utterly obviously useful they are. There's a sort of 'doh' factor here - if only I had thought of that. It is all so simple and yet I bet most people would never stumble upon these strategies in a million years. Quite brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short read with some good advice, 23 Aug 2011
By 
Mr. M. LEA - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Insider's Guide to Getting a First (or avoiding a Third) (Paperback)
Nice little paper back with some useful tips, worth a read I would say for anyone about to start Uni.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Believe it would work, 31 Aug 2007
This review is from: The Insider's Guide to Getting a First (or avoiding a Third) (Paperback)
I'm about to enter my second year of studies and I'm determined to get a high 2:1 and possibly a first. This book may just help me - it includes informative and common sense strategies for working efficiently throughout your degree. Many of the strategies involve common sense but they are good reminders (students often forget to do the obvious). The book itself only took me a full day to read which was perfect. You don't want to be reading a thick book on getting a first because ultimately it would just lead you to concentrating on the actual book rather than your degree. This book is snappy and quick enough for you to read before getting down to work. Recommended buy!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some useful tips but rather cynical, 22 May 2008
By 
J. D. Coward (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Insider's Guide to Getting a First (or avoiding a Third) (Paperback)
Mark Black's "Getting a First" is an accessible book and provides some useful study strategies such as forward planning and collaborative working.

However, by encouraging students to pick all modules on a basis of how 'easy' they are, Black misses the fact that university provides a unique environment to pursue intellectual interests. Hence Black demeans the value of education. Moreover, students invariably have greater success in areas in which they are interested.

Furthermore, Black's advice of purchasing every single book on a reading list is impossible on the average student budget.

Thus, Black provides a guide to "Getting a First for unmotivated, rich kids who are focused solely on the outcome of their degree, not on the journey which it entails".

For a far more positive guide to academic success, I would recommend Thomas Dixon's How to Get a First: A Guide to Academic Success.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Personal biography of author...rather than a guide, 25 Oct 2006
By 
N. Reith (Leeds Uni) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Insider's Guide to Getting a First (or avoiding a Third) (Paperback)
I decided to purchase this book for a number of reasons....a catchy title....low cost....great reviews.....and an opportunity to read a successful student`s techniques. However, when i recieved the book the first thing that hit me was the size (smallish 1 hour read).....but I thought I shouldn`t judge a book by its size so I began to read. Yes, the book is well written, interesting and an easy jargon-free read, but it begun to read like a very shallow biography, with little in-depth discussions on the points the author is presenting, he merely writes that, `you have to do ......., because it worked for me in this way`.

If you are looking for a really good book that will give you a lot of tips and techniques in getting a first I would suggest: How to get a first by Thomas dixon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I got a 1st, 2 Feb 2014
By 
CL Perry "catpea33" (Sept-Iles, Québec) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Insider's Guide to Getting a First (or avoiding a Third) (Paperback)
I bought this book years ago when I was in my 3rd year of my undergraduate Masters. I was on the border between a 2:1 and a 1st but mostly on the 2:1 side; I thought this might help give me tips to put me in the 1st range and it did!

A lot of the tips in here are common sense that were good to hear but some tips were invaluable. The tip I thought most invaluable was to quote journal articles in exam answers to show evidence of wider reading. The author also suggested putting together study groups for wider reading and then each person writes notes on what they read and photocopies it for others. I never did this in a group (I don't trust others to do the work or to do it well) so any time I read 'extra' info, I always made notes on it and studied it along with the course material for exams.

Dissertations can make or break a person. I really think I got my 1st because I got a 1st in my dissertation (the dissertation module represented 40% of the Masters grade and my Masters year was something like 50% of my overall course grade). A separate dissertation guide is invaluable, especially if you have a supervisor who couldn't care less like I did.

Anyway, I recommend getting this book. At worst, you show no improvement in grade; at best, you could get a 1st!
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The Insider's Guide to Getting a First (or avoiding a Third)
The Insider's Guide to Getting a First (or avoiding a Third) by Mark Black (Paperback - 28 Mar 2005)
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