Whether you are looking to improve your grades, maintain them, or simply want to learn how to study, knowing how to set goals is essential. Let me introduce you to the SMART method of setting your goals and shows you how to reach them.
This method was originally used by management professionals to set-up goals, monitor and evaluate success. SMART is an acronym for Specific goals, Measurable results, Attainable goals, Realistic goals, Time-bound. Let’s look at each specific terms and relate them to learning how to study:
S – Specific
When you plan for success, setting up attainable goals will give you a sense of direction. Knowing specifically what you want to achieve makes it easier to focus your mind and energy on the necessary steps to reach your goals. For example, instead of “I want to improve my grades.” you might say: “I want to increase my English average by 5% by the next term.” Yes, being specific demands to put numbers on the table.
M – Measurable
Putting numbers down also allows you to measure your progress. When planning for success, what are you really planning for? What would be – for you – the most obvious indicator of success? As you are learning how to study, you will also learn how to quantify your success. Although understanding more is a virtuous ideal; it’s also far from being observable! Setting measurable goals is done by setting up a range of improvement (e.g. 2-5%) or a specific target grade like 85%!
A – Attainable
Whether you are aiming for a target grade or simply want to improve your grades by an average of 2-5%, both numbers must feel attainable. Knowing that you are capable of reaching your goal is motivating. You might want to be honest with yourself about this one. Although we all want to achieve the highest grades; not all of us can score 95% in physics! First, look at your current grades, then set your goals in line with your real abilities.
R – Realistic
Even if you have the potential to score 95% in physics; those 3 weeks before exams might not do it. In other words, attainable goals still have to be realistic. Other factors such as time and commitments might come in the way of your goals. Setting-up goals, sometimes, demands to revisit your priorities to adjust them to your new plan.
T – Time-Bound
Just like school years have beginnings and ends, improving your grades is a process that starts and ends with your success. Break down your improvement in steps, like climbing up a ladder. Use school terms or semesters to evaluate how much your grades have increased. In other words, part of setting-up goals is to break them down into smaller – more attainable/realistic – ones you will achieve step-by-step. An increase of 2% per term per subject would be a great example of breaking down your improvement by term and then by subject.
In sum, we work better and achieve more when we plan for success. Knowing specifically what you want to achieve, making sure it’s attainable and realistic, knowing how to measure your success, and structuring your improvement over time are key factors of success. Don’t forget to reward yourself along the way!
Let me know if these tips were helpful, or if you would add anything!