Get a Geoff, not a Douglas

April 1, 2005

It is the holy grail sought by generations of undergraduates: how to get a first-class degree with the least possible work.

The latest self-help book for students - The Insider's Guide to Getting a First  - claims to hold the secret.

Author Mark Black sets out in 107 pages the strategy he used to secure a distinction on an MBA. He says the same tactics will guide undergraduates to a first (known as a "Geoff Hurst" in rhyming slang).

Mr Black advocates careful organisation, not only planning for particular essays or projects, but choice of modules, tutors and even trying to pick seminar groups with lively rather than quiet students.

Mr Black says that students should:

* Pick courses run by lecturers they have a rapport with as they will be more likely to "give their time and help"

* Share ideas and let fellow students see drafts of your essays and then take account of their comments and suggestions

* Ask tutors what it takes to get top marks for each project and look at copies of past top achievers' work

* Hit deadlines but schedule time to take a break to "recharge your batteries".

Mr Black, who got a 2:2 in his undergraduate law degree at Northumbria University, said: "This system isn't a way to trick or cheat your way through -you can't do that.

"The book says you have to attend lectures and do the reading, but it tells you to be as prepared as possible and suggests ways of working as productively as possible."

The Insider's Guide to Getting a First , by Mark Black, was published this week by White Ladder Press, £5.99.

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