Why Only Some Students Get a First?

Let us tell you a secret from an insider perspective. There are always subjective elements when it comes to marking your law essays and exam papers. When two professors mark the same essay, they rarely come up with the same mark. It is more common for them to come up with marks in the same classification but this is not guaranteed. A mark of 60 is in the same classification as 69, but the difference is huge. A mark of 59 is not so much different from 60 but the repercussion is significant.

At the end of each semester after finalising marks, all professors and lecturers in the same department will come together to review the marks given by each other to each class. In this meeting, if there are any unusual marks such as 1 or 100, or skewed distributions of marks such as too many first-class marks or fails, the professor responsible for this irregularity will need to explain why and defend his marking in front of everyone.

To save trouble, most professors have an ideal marks distribution in mind when allocating marks to students in the same class:

First ~ 20%
2.1 ~ 50%
2.2 ~ 20%
Third ~ 10%
Fail ~ 0-2%

As a result, even if all students are brilliant and deserve a first, the professor cannot give everyone a first-class mark, otherwise he will be blamed by university management for failing to differentiate stronger students from weaker ones.

To achieve this ideal marks distribution naturally, professors intentionally avoid teaching students how to write law essays and answer exam questions. The consequence is that only a few students will achieve 70 or above, and most of them will fall into the 60-69 range, while some unfortunate ones will fall below 60 or even 50.

This teaching strategy worked for most professors, but this is definitely not what a legal educator should do. A true educator should maximise the potential of all students, so teaching them how to write law essays and answer exam questions step-by-step to achieve first-class results is the duty of all professors. This is also the vision of UOLLB First Class Law Notes. You can check out our highly acclaimed Law Exam Guide and equip yourself with essential law exam skills you will not learn in class. Don't miss out!

Back to blog

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
INSEAD
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham
ESSEC Business School

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law

    Terminology

    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory

    Exam-focused

    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.