Study Goals: How To Obtain and Achieve Better Results!

Study Goals: How To Obtain and Achieve Better Results!

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When preparing for exam season, study goals are paramount towards success. Learn how to obtain and achieve better results in this article.

Study goals highlight the challenges and achievements that you should prepare for when beginning your revision. Whether aiming to ace exams within months or balancing studies with the high demands of life, establishing the right study goals is crucial. In this article, we’ll delve into effective tips for setting goals that not only improve academic performance but also fit seamlessly into your daily routine, ensuring a structured path to success in your educational journey.

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What Are SMART Study Goals

As you gear up for the exam period or begin your study revision, the significance of defining precise study goals cannot be overstated. SMART goals streamline your focus, minimising distractions and optimising productivity. Here’s how to set SMART study goals:

  • Specific: Clarity is key. Detail what you aim to accomplish, such as completing specific modules, rather than a vague objective like “study more.” For instance, stating ‘Finish reading Chapter 3’ is more direct than ‘Do some reading.’
  • Measurable: Establish criteria for tracking progress. If your study goal is ‘Complete 50 practice questions by Wednesday,’ you have a tangible measure to verify achievement.
  • Achievable: Ensure your goals are feasible within your available time and resources. Setting an attainable target, like reviewing one topic per day, keeps you grounded and realistic.
  • Relevant: Align your goals with broader academic objectives to maintain focus and relevance in your study endeavours. For example, concentrate on areas that will directly impact your upcoming exams.
  • Time-bound: Assign deadlines to your goals to foster a sense of urgency and commitment. Deciding to complete a project two days before the due date provides a clear timeframe.

SMART Goal Examples

To help you understand further how SMART goals work, here are a couple of examples:

Example 1: Aim to adhere to your course’s study guide weekly

  • Specific: Check your study guide every Tuesday to outline the week’s tasks.
  • Measurable: Track the chapters or modules you need to review each week.
  • Achievable: Ensure the weekly targets are manageable with your schedule.
  • Relevant: Tailor your study plan to the syllabus’s requirements.
  • Time-bound: Set a weekly checkpoint every Tuesday to assess progress.

Example 2: Set a goal to complete an essay draft before the weekend

  • Specific: Outline and commence the essay early in the week.
  • Measurable: Divide the essay into sections and aim to finish a part daily.
  • Achievable: Allocate specific times each day for essay writing.
  • Relevant: Direct your efforts towards fulfilling course assignments.
  • Time-bound: Finish the draft by Friday for a weekend review.

Types of Study Goals

study goals types

There are mainly two forms of study goals that you should be aware of:

Grade-Based Study Goals

Focus on elevating your academic achievements with grade-based study goals. These objectives are directly tied to the results you aspire to achieve, such as improving your GPA or scoring higher on exams. Setting these goals can dramatically enhance your academic portfolio and open doors to future opportunities.

Examples to consider include:

  • Attaining a specific GPA, like a 4.0, to bolster your academic standing.
  • Aiming for a minimum of 80% in coursework or essays to ensure high-quality submissions.
  • Targeting an A grade in end-of-term exams to reflect mastery of the subject.

Habit-Based Study Goals

Transition to effective study habits by identifying and modifying your current practices. These goals are about forming consistent, productive behaviours that lead to long-term success and satisfaction in your educational journey.

Consider adopting goals like:

  • Eliminating distractions, such as phone usage, during study sessions to improve focus.
  • Beginning essay preparations two weeks in advance to manage time effectively.
  • Committing to daily study periods, like 30 minutes each evening, to build a steady study rhythm.
  • Reflect on past experiences to pinpoint areas for improvement, setting a mix of grade-based and habit-based goals to align with your broader educational aspirations.

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Strategies for Achieving Study Goals

strategies for achieving study goals

Here are some useful strategies and tips that will enable you to realistically achieve your study goals when preparing for your exams.

Reflective Preparation

Begin your goal-setting process by reflecting on past achievements and setbacks. Analyse what worked, what didn’t, and how you can adapt these learnings to set more effective study goals. Understanding the ‘why’ behind your goals can provide a clear direction and purpose, motivating you to persevere through the challenges ahead.

Personalised Goals

Vague goals lead to uncertain outcomes. Sharpen your focus by detailing what you want to achieve, how you’ll measure success, and when you plan to accomplish it. This specificity makes your study goals tangible and trackable, paving the way for clear progress and achievements.

Motivational Tactics

Identify what drives you to reach these academic milestones. Whether it’s the desire for personal growth, academic recognition, or career advancement, pinpointing the reasons behind your study goals can sustain your motivation throughout your educational journey.

Develop An Action Plan

Outline the steps necessary to reach your study goals. For example, to improve your essay writing, you might schedule regular writing sessions, seek feedback from educators, and refine your research skills. Anticipate potential barriers and plan how to navigate them, ensuring a smoother path toward your goals.

Adapt and Adjust 

Be prepared to adjust your strategies if they aren’t yielding the desired results that you are expecting. Flexibility in your approach can make the difference between failure and success. Evaluate your progress regularly and be open to changing your revision tactics to stay aligned with your objectives.

Anticipate Obstacles

Achieving your study goals isn’t without its hurdles. Identifying potential obstacles beforehand allows you to create strategies to overcome them without derailing your progress. If your aim is to dedicate 30 minutes daily to studying, but post-work fatigue is a barrier, consider rescheduling your study time to mornings or lunch hours. This proactive approach keeps your study goal attainable and within reach.

For instance, if you plan to submit assignments a day early but upcoming vacations or work trips may interfere, strategise to complete tasks ahead of schedule. This foresight ensures you stay on track with your study goals, even amidst life’s unpredictabilities.

Your study environment can impact your learning: here is how to stay organised whilst studying.

Be More Flexible

There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to your study goals; in fact, they will often be non-linear. Being rigid in your methods can lead to frustration. Remember, the end goal is what matters, not necessarily the path you take to get there. If certain strategies aren’t showing results, don’t hesitate to pivot and explore new tactics that align better with your objectives.

Consider a scenario outside of academics: if your goal is weight loss and initial methods aren’t effective, it’s wise to adjust your approach, perhaps by integrating different exercises or dietary changes. Similarly, in your studies, if traditional revision techniques aren’t working, switch to alternative learning methods or adjust your study schedule.

Reward Your Achievements

Motivation plays a crucial role in achieving study goals. Setting rewards for meeting your goals can significantly advance your drive. Choose rewards that resonate with the effort and commitment required to reach your goals. For example, after attaining a high mark on an assignment, treat yourself to something meaningful, like a special outing or a desired item.

Further Reflection

Continuous reflection on your progress is essential. If certain aspects of your study plan aren’t working, take the time to reassess and modify your approach. Regularly ask yourself how you are progressing and what adjustments are needed to stay on course. This process not only helps in achieving your current study goals but also in setting and reaching future objectives more effectively.

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Final Quick Tips

Whilst you should sometimes be strict and lenient towards how you revise in order to meet your study goals, there are still some alternative approaches to follow so that you can get more fulfilment from them.

Discover Your Passion

To transform your study sessions from mundane to engaging, align your study material with personal interests. Delve into topics that spark curiosity, making the learning process more enjoyable and less of a chore. Share your newfound knowledge with friends or family to deepen your understanding and ignite excitement in others about the subject matter.

Effective Note-Taking

Align your notes with the key learning outcomes for each unit to create a thorough resource that aids in exam preparation and assignment writing (e.g., mind maps, post-it notes). 

Work As A Team

Sometimes, working together as a group is better than a one-man team. Collaborative learning allows you to share insights, clarify doubts, and consolidate understanding. Engaging with peers in a study group can create a supportive network, making the educational experience more enriching.

Expand Your Knowledge

When researching for assignments, don’t confine yourself to a single source or viewpoint. Explore the bibliographies and references of your primary sources to uncover a wealth of knowledge. This expanded research approach can broaden your horizons through academic perspective and critical thinking skills.

Follow Our Guidance To Meet Your Study Goals

In conclusion, achieving your study goals requires a blend of strategic planning, dedication, and adaptability. By setting SMART goals, embracing both grade-based and habit-based objectives, and planning for potential obstacles, you can navigate your academic journey with confidence. Remember to find joy in learning, utilise your support network, and continually broaden your research horizons. With these tips and a committed approach, you can excel in your studies and realise your educational aspirations.

With so many topics to focus on, here is how to prioritise what to study during your academics.


How do you achieve daily study goals?

Achieving daily study goals can be done by setting specific, manageable objectives, creating a structured schedule, and minimising distractions to maintain focus and productivity.

How do you achieve your learning goals?

Achieving learning goals requires identifying clear objectives, engaging in consistent, focused study sessions, utilising effective study techniques, and seeking feedback to guide improvements and understanding.

How do you achieve your academic goals?

To achieve academic goals, it’s important to set clear, realistic targets, prioritise tasks, develop a study plan, stay organised, seek help when needed, and stay motivated through regular review and self-assessment. 


The Effortful Educator (2020) Prioritising What to Study. [online] Available at: [accessed 05/04/24]

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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