How to set study goals

When first faced with the prospect of an exam, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with so much to learn and a larger than usual amount of pressure to handle. Having study goals in place can make life easier for everyone at home, meaning no last minute panics, no unnecessary stress and no realising too late that not enough time has been set aside for each subject.

We recommend that the student and mum or dad sit down together to set study goals so everyone is clear on what needs to be done. For mum and dad, it offers peace of mind that exams are being taken seriously, for students, it’s a chance to get organised (which can relieve stress and anxiety) and demonstrate that you’re organised, responsible and take your studies seriously. Here are a few ways to get started and things to keep in mind:

Make sure your goals are specific

It’s worthwhile setting study goals for each subject. The individual goal for each subject will vary, but it should be something specific. It’s important that a goal clearly defines what the desired outcome or achievement is, so that it serves as motivation and gives a clear target to work towards. A non-specific goal such as “get better at Maths” isn’t really helpful, whereas “conquer decimal multiplication” or “complete two practise papers” makes it clear what you’re aiming for.

Make sure goals are measurable

The whole point of a goal is that it gives you a destination – something to work towards. In order to know if you’re on track to reach that goal, it must be measurable. This allows you to tick off your progress and know when you have achieved that objective. If you complete just one practise exam paper this week not two for example, you know that you aren’t on course to reach your goal.

Having a measurable goal also helps you to know when you have achieved it, so you can confidently tick it off and get a sense of satisfaction. This then acts as motivation towards the next goal.

Make sure goals are achievable

Study goals can act as a great motivator and give a confidence boost that tangible progress in a certain skill or subject is being made, but for that to be the case, the goal must be achievable. Allowing too little time for the goal or being too ambitious means it’s unlikely to be reached, which can be demoralising and demotivating. Goals should be challenging but not so difficult that they are almost impossible.

Track progress

Keep a record of all study goals set and mark off progress towards those goals as studying and revision progresses. This makes the effort put in tangible and shows that advances are being made, even when the subject is difficult or practise papers first appear challenging.