Study Goals: Planning for Exam Success


study goals

“Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.”

― Theodore Roosevelt


When preparing for exams most of you will know roughly, if not exactly, when your exams will be. Whether you’re preparing for a mid-term test or an end of year exam you should always know what it is you are studying for. However, it is not simply when exams and tests are that is important. Before you even begin contemplating studying you should consider what you want to achieve and set study goals.


Goal Setting Activities


Do you want straight A’s? Who doesn’t right? But are you setting yourself up to be disappointed? Set yourself realistic study goals; if you got a C last year in English, aim for a B this year. Realistically assess your strengths and weaknesses when setting study goals and objectives. You may have a natural aptitude and interest in one or more subjects but dread others and it is important that your study goals take this into consideration.

So, before you start studying properly write out a simple plan of the grades you want to achieve by the end of the year and any other motivating study goals you want to achieve. These motivating factors and study goals could be your dream job or something you want to achieve like getting into university.

Ask yourself: what do you need to do to achieve this? Write it down! These are your study goals. Can they be achieved? If so, what do you need to do? This may include various goal setting activities in order to achieve your study objectives. If not, why not? What is stopping you? How can this be overcome? By breaking your study goals down into manageable study tasks by setting performance goals, you will be better able to assess where you should apply your energies most.

Setting Study Goals


When planning and setting study goals, the most important thing to do is be honest and realistic with yourself. Applying realistic thought to your study planning on a subject by subject basis, will aid you greatly but having a thorough understanding of your ‘big’ or ‘broader’ study goals—the goals that traverse your subjects- from the outset will help you contextualise every action taken thereafter. It will give you a barometer to measure your study actions against and you will know if what you’re doing is in line with your study goals or not.  Following this approach will give you the study roadmap that will guide you on your exam journey and will be an important tool in keeping you motivated.

Now that you have your overall study plan mapped out, you need to prepare yourself for the journey ahead! Having all the necessary study tools to hand will save you a lot of time and make your study more efficient. It’s also important to have a proper filing system in place! Knowing where everything is can save you countless hours over the year. Most importantly, having all the study content you need at your fingertips reduces frustration, makes you more productive and, of course, keeps you motivated to achieve your study goals!


Study Planning


Another crucial aspect of your journey to achieving your study goals is planning. Planning ahead and sticking to it is the No. 1 tip for successful exam results. When setting your study goals and outlining your study tasks, make sure you include time for relaxation and your social life away from time spent studying. You should also keep it somewhat flexible to ensure that if, for example, you miss a day because you’re sick you can make up for it at a later date.


Benefits of Setting Study Goals


The benefits of students setting study goals and study tasks are numerous. Your study immediately becomes more productive as you know exactly what you should be doing, when you should be doing it and how long it will take you. You will get a better return on investment than if you simply opened a book and started to study a topic. You become more productive and your study is of a higher quality- it’s a win-win.

Students who set study goals and objectives are guaranteed to perform better and get better results as they can focus on the study goals they have set for themselves and actions to achieve those study goals.

There are also numerous psychological benefits of study planning. You don’t panic, waking up in the middle of the night with the dreaded exam fear, because you feel that you have a handle on your study. You know what you’ve done and what you need to do and, importantly, you know when you need to have it done by and you will be focused on goal setting study. So long as you stick to your study plan you can sleep easy. This ease of mind means you become more confident in how you approach your study. You won’t feel guilty about spending time with friends or watching TV as you know that you have covered what needed to be covered and we all need time off from study at some stage!

Getting organised is the first step you will need to achieve exam success, so make sure you invest the time at the beginning in outlining what you need to do, and importantly, why you want to achieve it by setting study goals which are achievable and manageable!


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