It is the dream of many students of higher learning to be the
best among their mates. This explains why many study so
hard even to the point of becoming weary during
Despite this situation, a few of them bag impressive grades
at the end of their academic programmes. In fact, a handful
of students obtain first-class grades at the completion of
their courses. A first-class honours is considered the highest
honours in any examination conditions across many
countries. These students thus become the darling of the
authorities of their schools and preferred choices of
They are sometimes encouraged to return to the university
and become lecturers so as to ‘give back’ to the society.
But what makes a first-class honours student?
The Education Rights Campaign said hard work, commitment
and exemplary brilliance make a first- class honours student
especially given the difficult learning condition in the
nation’s tertiary institutions.
ERC through its National Coordinator, Mr. Hassan Taiwo
said, ‘‘This is why not everyone makes first-class grade.
However, one cannot also totally dismiss the role a better
funded and well-equipped school and an environment
conducive to learning plays in this process. Otherwise, it
would mean making a first-class score is simply a feat
achievable by only exceptional individuals. Individuals are
part of a collective and are to a large extent conditioned by
the material and intellectual level of that collective. This
explains why universities produce a few first-class honours
students at the end of every academic session.’’
The group added that except the country’s education sector
was overhauled, first-class students would be ‘endangered
Besides, a lecturer in the Department of English, Obafemi
Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Chijioke Uwasomba,
said apart from brilliance, first-class honours students
usually give relevant answers to examination questions.
He was also of the view that they do not lack the finances to
cater for their basic academic needs.
“These factors are important because they determine the
overall performance of students which eventually result in
some of them getting first-class grades after their
programmes. The first-class students are not necessarily
brilliant even though brilliance is an important factor. They
are students who give lecturers what ought to be by
providing cogent answers to questions. They give more than
they learn in class. It is not only about writing what is
desired by the lecturers but stating the answers in a way that
is convincing and proper. The issue of finances is also vital
because a serious student who does not lack money will
remain focused to buy some of the things needed. If
otherwise, he or she will be swayed by the harsh realities of
life,” the lecturer stated.
On his part, an educationist, Dr. Ademola Azeez, said most
students who earn first-class grades are often brilliant
scholars who work for the academic feat from their first day
He added that while other students engage in unionism and
other related activities, those who eventually make first-
class scores prefer to be busy with their books.
Ademola further said most of these set of students also
know how to cram what they have learnt and regurgitate
same during examination.
He stated, “The fact remains that students who make first-
class grades are brilliant. That is a fact. They are not average
students. They are students who start to work hard from
their first day on campus. They also do not participate in any
anti-management protest or other activities except reading
and researching. We call them bookworms. Also, the
majority of them know how to cram and write down what
they have learnt during examination. The Nigerian higher
education system makes this easy and any student who is
able to write verbatim what he or she has learnt is
Some graduates who earned first-class honours, however,
noted that there were some tips responsible for their
academic feats. For Umossoh Otobong, who was the overall
best graduating student during the 2012/2013 session of the
Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State, prayers and hard work
were her major ingredients for success.
The accounting graduate made 4.97 on a scale of 5.0.
She said, ‘‘Hard work and prayers helped me a lot. My
lecturers’ support also assisted. The teaching methods of
many of them were useful during my reading time.’’
She added that time management was the greatest
challenged she faced while studying.
“Apart from reading, I had to do others things like attending
fellowship. I cannot say I had enough money but I was able
to buy the necessary research materials and textbooks for
my course of study.
Another graduate who made a first-class honours, Kazeem
Ilias, was the best graduating student in the Faculty of Law,
University of Ilorin, during the 2012/2013 session.
He told SUNDAY PUNCH that retentive memory, experience
and hard work helped him while he was in school.
Ilias stated, ‘‘I discovered early in the second semester of my
first year in school that I could read for a little time and
understand so much. That was how I noticed the gift of
retention. I also noticed that whenever a lecturer gave any
example, I could easily expand or add to the instruction to
my advantage. Besides, I once worked as a litigation officer
in a law firm before I came to the university to study law.
The experience I had from that law firm also greatly helped
According to him, he also continued to study for two hours
daily in a semester of about three to four months despite
being imbued with a retentive memory.
‘‘That is where hard work came into place. I read consistently
for two hours in a day for a semester and that helped me a
lot. I was also involved in proceedings of the moot court in
the faculty where I participated in the carrying out of a lot of
research works.’’ he said.
The law graduate also identified lack of money as the major
challenge he faced as a student.
Ilias said it was difficult during that period but for the
support of his mentor and guardian, Tahir Adeosun.
He stated, “Adeosun was there for me during the difficult
period on campus and he is always there for me. He’s the
owner of the law firm where I worked as litigation clerk for
two years before I gained admission into the university.”
According to him, he did not experience any other
challenges apart from that of financial lack which his mentor
Ilias further said his colleagues gave him a lot of support to
his utmost surprise.
“My colleagues really showed me love as opposed to envy,”
ways you can obtain a first class grades in any institution revealed.
It is the dream of many students of higher learning to be the