Quick tips on SMART studying for exams

Nadine Markiz

Student Relations Coordinator


We all know how important it is to have your goals set and to be on track with the study schedule you have brainstormed, but how do you go about setting your own study schedule? Applying the SMART goal-setting method will make it much easier for you to set up your study schedule. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.


  1. Specific

You will need to specify what your goals are and what it is that you are trying to achieve. For example, don’t just say “I want to do well in my final exam.” Instead, clarify what doing well means to you; if you like, be specific about the exact score that you are aiming for. It may help to consider these questions: What are the precise areas in which you need to improve?  Why is it important to you to achieve that specific score? What does success look like to you?


  1. Measurable

You will need to measure your progress towards meeting your goals. This means evaluating how well you are doing and whether you need to adjust some factors within your study schedule. To make a goal measurable, you need to find out if you have reached your goal. For example, let us assume that you had set a goal to learn 400 new terminologies in a month. That would mean it would require study time of 100 words per week. In the second week of progress you can then do a quick self-quiz. Say you find out that you had actually only learned 30 new terms. In this case, you will need to increase your commitment to studying for those remaining weeks to be able to meet your original goal. You need to provide yourself with benchmarks and deadlines that will help you in measuring your progress.


  1. Achievable

Your goal must be achievable. To keep you challenged, your goal needs to be  a stretch, but also well defined so that it is achievable. The important questions here are: Do I have the resources and capabilities to achieve this goal? If not, then what am I lacking?”. Be clear and precise in your analysis of what you need to achieve your goal – this will help keep you on track and not lose focus.


  1. Realistic

Your set goals should certainly motivate you to study, but if these goals are unrealistic then they will have a negative impact on your  approach. You have to be realistic as it can help you avoid missing deadlines and falling behind, as well as giving you a more accurate overview of how much time you will need to invest in other tasks throughout the week. Here are a few questions that you could ask yourself: Will I be able to reach this goal within the given resources and time that I’ve got? Will I be able to stay committed to it? Staying focused and setting explicit outcomes are key factors in reaching those goals.


  1. Timely

Setting a timeframe for your goals will encourage you to act on them effectively! Establish a deadline for each goal; for tasks that are far more complex, break them down into different steps or stages. You can set yourself deadlines for each major step of the process.  Here are a few questions that can help you progress smoothly: Do I have a clear deadline established and by when will I complete it? If you don’t give yourself time parameters for your studies, then you’ll probably find it difficult to get started. On the other hand, if you know that you have, for example, two months to accomplish your goal, you will then not let days or weeks go by without actually putting in some study time.


Study SMART, not hard!

The British University in Dubai

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