If you want to improve your study skills and grade it’s important to set study goals. When you know where you want to go you have more chance of actually getting there.
For example, let’s say you set a goal to achieve an average of 60% in all your modules to graduate with the degree you want. If you get to the end of your second year and your average is 55% then you’ll know you need to course-correct and do something different to increase your grades.
Also, setting study goals boosts your motivation and reduces procrastination because having that clear objective helps focus your mind and encourage you to get back on track if you slip up.
Types of study goals
There are two types of study goals I want you to set.
GRADE-BASED STUDY GOALS > these are centred around the achievement of higher exam or essay grades.
- achieve a 2:1 degree/or a 4.0 GPA
- achieve 80% in an essay by the end of the year
- achieve an A in my end-of-module exam
HABIT-BASED STUDY GOALS > these are centred around breaking an old, bad study habit or forming a new, good study habit.
- stop looking at my phone while I study
- start each essay 2 weeks before it’s due
- study for 30 minutes every evening.
Spend some time reflecting on your study experience in the past year or few months and think of ways you can improve this to achieve higher grades and generally be a happier student.
Think of some study goals (one grade-based and one habit-based) that you can set to focus your energy in the coming months.
Strategies for sticking to and achieving your study goals
1. Make ‘em specific
It’s no use setting a goal that you’ll study more, or that you’ll achieve the highest grades you can. Study goals must be specific otherwise you won’t know when you’ve achieved them!
Every week you need to be able to look at your goal and immediately be able to see whether you’ve made progress or achieved it. Add specific details, numbers, times and dates to your goals.
2. Get motivated
You won’t put the time and energy into achieving study goals you’re not motivated by so take some paper and answer the following questions:
How is your studying and life being held back by not achieving this goal?
How will your studying and life be improved if you achieve this goal?
Identify your reasons and remind yourself of them often to keep you motivated.
3. Identify your actions and strategies
Now you need to work out HOW you’re going to achieve your study goals. Take each of your goals and think of the possible strategies you could use.
To improve your essay grades you could: start your essays 2 weeks before the deadline; learn how to reference accurately; plan your essays before you start; use your tutor feedback to strengthen your weaker areas.
Also, think about how you can clear resistance to help you achieve your goals. If you want to reduce your screen time then make a rule that your phone won’t be in the same room as you when you’re studying.
4. Plan for obstacles
It’s a given that you’ll face challenges as you work towards your study goals so, rather than letting them disrupt your progress, plan for them.
Look at your study goals and identify any possible obstacles. Maybe you want to study for 30 minutes a day but you’re always tired when you get home from work. You could try and move your study session to before work or during your lunch break to combat this or find ways of renewing your energy in the evening.
If you have a study goal to submit every essay at least 1 day early, check your calendar to see if anything is going to get in the way of that. If you’ve got holidays or work trips coming up then see if you can get ahead sooner so you can still achieve your goal, even with the break.
5. Don’t be afraid to pivot
There’s a saying I try and remember, be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods. If you’re not making the progress you want, reflect on whether your methods are working. The outcome of your goal is the important part, not the way you achieve it.
Let’s think about a non-study example. If I want to lose weight then I may start swimming twice a week. If after a month or so I’ve not noticed any progress then I might start doubting my ability to achieve the goal at all and I’ll probably give up. Instead, I should pivot and change my methods. I could add in some lunchtime walks or start counting my calories to help boost my progress.
Think about how you can tweak your methods to bring your closer to your study goals
6. Choose a reward
To boost your motivation even more, pick a treat for once you’ve achieved your goal. The treat should be in relation to the size and difficulty of the goal because you’re unlikely to be motivated to work your butt off for a year to improve your essay grades if the reward is just a bar of chocolate.
When I got my first Distinction in an essay, I treated myself with wine and a takeaway. For my first Distinction in a module I went out with friends for cocktails. When I realised I’d achieved First Class Honours in my business degree after four longggggggg years of studying hard I booked a city break to Budapest with my boyfriend.
Follow this process for setting and achieving your study goals and your grades will thank you for it 🙂