Going to university is a big decision to make, and for many students is a major change to adjust to. By going to university, you open yourself up to a whole range of new experiences, people, expectations and pressures, and if you feel overwhelmed by this, you definitely aren’t alone! However, you may have heard university students talk a lot about how “your first year of university doesn’t count towards anything” – even when I was attending university, I heard the same thing! This can leave you wondering: how true is that statement?
Your first year of university does and doesn’t count in a variety of different ways. For example, at most universities, your first-year exam results will not count towards your final degree classification. However, this is not the case for every course at every university, so check with your tutors! Additionally, at most universities, you need to at least pass your first-year exams to continue your course into your second and later years. Your first year also counts in other ways, such as socially.
University can seem quite intimidating from the outside, but don’t worry – as a university student, I’m here to give you all the details about how important your first year of university is!
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Does the first year of university count towards your degree classification in the UK?
The answer to this question varies between universities and between courses, even courses at the same university. For the majority of courses and universities, the marks you achieve in any first-year exams will have no effect on your final degree classification.
For example, the University of Bristol states in their policy that “first year marks do not contribute to your degree classification”, which you can read more about here.
However, this is not true of all universities or all courses. For example, the examinations of first-year BSc History and Politics at LSE count for 10% of your final degree classification, which you can read more about here.
If you are unsure whether your first-year exams count towards your degree classification, speak to your tutor or your university’s Academic Officer.
If you need some more information to help understand the UK degree classification system, check out this Think Student article.
Does the first year of university count towards your degree?
Outside of your degree classification, your first year does still ‘count’, in some ways, towards your degree.
Most universities require you to pass your first-year exams in order to continue your course, for example at the University of Oxford, as stated on this page of their website. However, the pass mark for university exams is only 40%, so first-year exams are designed to be relatively easy to pass.
First year also counts for teaching you the format of your course, how essays are structured, and more. Even if your end of year exams don’t affect your degree classification, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put any effort in. A good first year will set you up for the rest of your degree!
What happens if you fail the first year of university?
Although failing your first-year exams is a situation no student wants to find themselves in, don’t panic. The majority of UK universities will allow you to resit your exams, and if you pass your resit, great! You can move on to second year just like everyone that passed the first time.
For more information on what happens if you fail an individual course module, I’d recommend reading this Think Student article.
If you fail the re-sit of your first-year exams, you may have to retake the first year of your course or you may even be excluded from the course. The decision is up to your university, but they should make it clear to you what your options are after you fail your exams the first time.
Failing your first year is a stressful experience for many students. If you need advice on how to manage university stress, you may find this Think Student article helpful.
How important is the first year of university?
The first year of university can be important in a lot of ways.
Of course, your first year is important academically. Your first year is where you learn and develop important skills like essay writing, critical thinking, and more. Although your exams may not have any weight, it also allows you to become familiar with the university exam format.
You still need to pass to continue, so it’s obviously important! Your exam grades will also be considered if you’re looking for placements or internships in your second and third years, so take this into consideration.
However, your first year can be important in other areas too.
University is all about new experiences, and your first year of university is generally the most “calm”, because it has little effect on your final degree classification (for most students). This means that you have plenty of time to try new things and be independent, without sacrificing your study too much.
First year is also important socially, because it’s the time to meet new people and make new friends. Freshers’ week is one of the biggest parts of your first year, which you can read more about in this Think Student article or read the Think Student freshers’ week guide here.
Lots of university students will tell you not to take the first year of university too seriously. This is definitely true in some respects – don’t ignore your work, but don’t overwork yourself either, and let yourself have fun! University doesn’t have to be a chore, and many people call it the best time of their life for a reason.
Is your first year of university the most important year of your degree?
As a university student, I can tell you first-hand that your first year is definitely not the most important, but this is a good thing.
As I just mentioned, there’s no question that your first year is important, but universities don’t want to pile on the pressure right from the start. It may seem super important and stressful in the first term, but don’t worry, it will soon get easier!
For most courses at most universities, your first year is probably the least important. It’s only really meant to help you transition smoothly into your second and third years (which are more important).
However, this isn’t a reason to ignore your work or to not put any effort into your work, so be mindful!