How To Use The SMART Goals Goal-Setting Method Effectively

Written By Smart Guides For Learning | April 2023

One essential part of academic success is studying and this is why it is important to approach studying in a smart and efficient way. One way that can help you do study in a smart and efficient way is setting goals. Goal-setting before you study enables you to break down your study targets into smaller, manageable steps that are achievable and measurable. Now, this is where setting SMART goals can help you because you can make the most of your time and efforts. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. 

When you apply the SMART goal method to your study routine, you can improve your productivity, manage your time, and get better results from studying.

In this article, we will look at how SMART goals work and how SMART goals can help you in your study sessions.

Contents In This Article

How SMART Goals Work

S stands for Specific

Avoid vague statements like “study more” and get specific about the areas you want to improve. Identify the specifics, whether it be a particular subject, a specific topic that you are having trouble with, or a certain concept that you need to comprehend. Once you have identified your specific subject you want to study, specifically set the amount of time studying that subject each day or reviewing a certain number of chapters by the end of the week. By having specific goals in mind, you can more easily create a framework to follow as you go along to study.

M stands for Measurable

Next, make sure your goal is measurable. Track your progress and measure this progress over time. Keep track of the pages you have already read and the remaining pages as you go through a set number of chapters.

A stands for Achievable

Make achievable goals for yourself. Your goal should be challenging enough to motivate you to perform at your best, but at the same time a goal that is not so difficult that it would be impossible to do.

R stands for Relevant

Your goals should be relevant to your overall academic plan. Make sure your goals align with your study goals for the semester or academic year. Set goals that are relevant to achieving your study goals if your overall goal is to improve your grades in a particular subject.

T stands for Time-bound

Finally, make sure your goals are time-bound. You should set a deadline for achieving your goals. This can help you keep focused and motivated while also ensuring that you are making progress toward your goals. Set a timeline for finishing your objective, such as within the next week, if you want to review a specific number of chapters.

When you put these together, SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. You should follow the method of setting SMART goals to provide you a clear framework for when you study.

Here are examples on how you can use SMART goals.

Examples of SMART Goals


Goals should be clearly defined and specific.

For example, “I want to do better in my math class.” is a goal that is not specific.

“I want to improve my math grade from a B to an A.” or “I want to improve my score on my math exam from 85 to 95.” These goals are more specific.


Goals should be measurable, so you can track your progress.

If you hope to increase your math grade from a B to an A, you may track your progress throughout the semester. Every score you have on your assignments, projects, and exams should be noted so, you can look back and assess your weak areas to focus on when you study and review.


Goals should be achievable and attainable.

Setting a goal of raising your math grade from a C to an A+ in one semester may not be attainable, but improving from a C to a B is doable with hard work and dedication. 


Goals should be relevant to your academic goals.

Set goals that align with your academic goals. If you have getting an A+ as your main goal, list all the subgoals relevant to that main goal. You should avoid mixing other activities in your goal list that would make you distracted and unmotivated to study and learn.


Goals should have a set deadline.

Set a deadline to provide a sense of urgency and accountability to your goal.

“I want to improve my math grade from a B to an A by the end of the semester.”

This time-bound goal motivates you to study and do your best until the end of the semester.

Now that we understand the elements of SMART goals, here a list on how you can apply the SMART goals method for effective studying.

How to apply SMART Goals to your study sessions

Identify Your Goal

The first step in using SMART goals is to identify your academic goal. Whether it’s improving your grades, mastering a specific subject, or preparing for an exam, your goal should be specific and well-defined.

Break Down Your Goal into Smaller Objectives

Once you have identified your main goal, break it down into smaller, more manageable subgoals. Subgoals will help your life easier since you don’t have to motivate yourself over and over to finish a big, overwhelming task.

Measure Your Progress

Set specific targets for each goal. If you want to complete all homework assignments on time, track your progress every day. Monitor your progress by regularly checking that you are doing what you need to do to complete the tasks before the deadline.

Ensure Your Goals are Achievable

Set goals that are achievable within your capacity. Having other commitments such as a part-time job or extracurricular activities while reviewing for your major exams can still work if you can make it work. Identify what you can or cannot do while you are studying. Set realistic goals that allow you to balance your commitments.

Make Sure Your Goals are Relevant

Ensure that your goals align with your academic aspirations and study goals. Academic goals that are relevant to you could boost your motivation while inspiring you with a sense of purpose.

Set a Deadline

Setting a deadline for your goals makes your goals organized. Deadlines can also motivate you to finish your study tasks ahead of time so that you can achieve your study goals.

Article Summary

Goal-setting is as important as studying. The effectiveness of your goal setting strategy can make or break your studying during your study sessions. You need to set SMART objectives if you want to study more efficiently because having an organized approach that you can follow supports you to get the best results out of studying and learning.

Share This On

Scroll to Top