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!

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