The science behind goal setting claims that by setting yourself a goal, you are investing yourself into achieving this objective as if you have already accomplished it. Your brain believes that obtaining this goal is an essential part of who you are. Translated into student terms, goal setting will drive you towards obtaining the grades you want to ensure reality matches this view of yourself.
The biggest mistake many students make when setting goals is thinking that knowing what you want to achieve is enough and this will motivate you to reach your destination. Unfortunately this easy road to exam success is simply a myth. Remember, if it isn’t a challenge then it isn’t worth doing.
Here are more pitfalls students fall into when setting goals:
1. Types of Study Goals
You’re not alone in reaching the point of cripplingly low motivation levels where the thought of even lifting a pen makes you break out in a sweat. Keeping your goals in mind when you’re studying does not mean putting pressure on yourself to reach your long-term aims right now. It’s not realistic to take giant steps in the direction of exam success every day. Having this mind-set will make you feel as if you have the world on your shoulders and stressing will not positively impact your studies.
Firstly, you need to understand there are 3 main types of goals which you can apply to your school year:
– Long-term: Major targets you wish to reach by the end of the school year
– Mid-term: Goals you want to achieve by the end of the term for example
– Short-term: Tasks and projects you need to complete in the coming weeks
Focusing on goals which you can accomplish in the short-term is the motivating factor. Thinking about the bigger picture will encourage negativity as you will constantly feel unfulfilled with what you have achieved. Every class test, participation mark and group project will add up to your long-term study goals.
2. SMART Goals
The SMART goal setting concept has been widely used as it can easily guide you to understand how to outline your goals. Each component of the acronym is beneficial when applied to education. A handy way to make sure your study goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely is to create a visual overview.
Here’s an example of long-term SMART School Year Goals created using our mind mapping tool:
Create your own SMART Goals Mind Map with ExamTime:
3. Celebrate Achievements
Acknowledging small wins along the way will boost your confidence and enable you to believe that your SMART goals are achievable. Spending time seeking a massive breakthrough can cause your focus to shift and you may undervalue other aspects which contribute to your education.
Word of warning; don’t confuse celebrations with time-wasting activities. Rather than couch surfing for the rest of the day, take a moment to acknowledge the item you have just checked off your list. Allow yourself to indulge in a treat or go see a movie but remember to keep your eye on the prize and don’t let your hard work slip.
4. Motivation Booster
Studying can be hard work. Let’s face it, you would rather be playing video games, watching TV and hanging out with your friends than getting ready for your exams. Believe it or not, student life actually involves studying and working hard.
Motivation is the reason why you study and your goals are the driving force behind this action. The key points in this blog post will all kick-start your motivation in different ways. There will be times when reviewing the goals you have outlined and the power of small wins just won’t work so maybe these words of wisdom will encourage you to understand why you are learning in the first place.
5. Create a Study Plan
Ask any teacher the key to exam success and the majority will say a good study plan. Many students fail to outline the process to achieving their study goals in this way or find it difficult to stick to their plan. Creating a personal timetable uses your SMART study goals to build a realistic and motivational plan outlining how to achieve those goals.
ExamTime’s free calendar tool helps you to easily make your study plan in minutes by entering your tasks and the time spent on each subject or topic. When your timetable is complete, you can review the time you have assigned to each area to fine tune your learning needs.
Now that you know the traps many students fall into, you can alter your study regime to incorporate this advice. The earlier you start outlining your goals and planning how you will accomplish these objectives, the easier the road to exam success. What are your goals for this school year? Leave a comment below.
Student Guide: Tips & Tricks to Study Better
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