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Goal Setting

Being able to set goals is an important part of planning where and what to study. Effective goals are SMART goals. SMART stands for

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-Based
  • Realistic
  • Time limited

Setting SMART goals is the key to becoming a smart student.  A smart student makes the best use of the time spent studying.  Working smarter as well as harder is the key to academic success.

Goals can be long-term or short-term: generally goals are short-term.  Use the following steps to set a goal.  Make sure you write it down!


A goal should be concrete and specific.  Example: “I will do x number of maths problems this week”, “I will read pages 1-4”.


Monitor and evaluate so you know whether you are achieving your goal or not.  If it is not going well, maybe you need to alter your goal or your action plan.  When you achieve the goal, reward yourself by doing something you enjoy and congratulate yourself on a job well done.


Try to be realistic when setting your goals. If you decide to read 3 articles in 2 hours but realistically it takes 2 hours to read one, then your goal will not be achievable.


Make sure your goal is relevant to what you want to achieve. For instance if you're studying for exams and have a tight timeframe, you might not read in the same way you would to get an overview of a topic when doing an assignment.


A large or long-term goal can be broken into smaller, more manageable steps. Then it becomes possible to give a timeframe for achieving the goal.  If it is a larger goal, list the benefits if you accomplish your goal and list any obstacles to overcome, for instance your own procrastination, getting time to go to the library, etc.  Come up with a specific action plan and timetable for each step in accomplishing your goal and for overcoming obstacles.  Short-term goals can be incorporated into your timetable.

Useful resources

For a great range resources on time-management, in a variety of formats, Click here to enrol the SLD Blackboard module.