How to Set Study Goals
You go to class, you take notes, you pay attention in class. But that doesn’t mean you will do well on the next test. A few minutes a day studying, reviewing and learning new material can mean many points added to your grade.
Whether you are studying for a Nursing Entrance Exam, Teacher Certification Exam or a High School Entrance tests, setting academic goals is a critical skill. See our post on Getting Organized.
Set aside a definite time block. You can’t study an hour a day for each class, every day. It’s just too much, on top of homework and extracurricular activities. Maybe you can set aside an hour total for studying, or two hours, each day. Break up your time block according to how much information you need to learn or review. If you’ve got a 90 minute block and 4 classes to review, give each class 20 to 25 minutes.
Measure your progress, and review daily. If you need to learn 50 vocabulary words in a week, learn 10 per day, and each day review the ones from the previous days to make sure you’ve retained the knowledge. Don’t try to learn 50 vocabulary words today for English class and tomorrow memorize five formulas for chemistry. Learn one formula and 10 words each day. See our post on Preparing a Study Schedule.
Make it as fun as possible. Come up with acronyms or mnemonics (memory aids) to help you remember lists (like ROY G BIV for the color spectrum of red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet, HOMES for the Great Lakes’ names–Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior). Your teacher might be willing to give you extra credit for coming up with a clever memory aid!
Be flexible. Some days, practice runs over, or something else intrudes, and you can’t do your full time block that day. You might have to spend less time doing non-school activities, like talking on the phone or playing video games, to make it up. And if you have a hard assignment or test that comes up unexpectedly, you might need to schedule a larger block for a few days.
Give yourself time off. Allow yourself one study-free evening a week. It gives you something to look forward to, and also gives you a time cushion if you end up struggling over a particular subject.
Reward yourself for a job well done. Figure out a way to give yourself a treat when you score an A on a test you’ve really studied for. Maybe you can get your parents to put a dollar in a jar for every hour you spend studying; when your grades reach a certain level you can buy yourself a book, or pizza, or something else you’ve been craving.
These six simple steps can make a huge difference in your test scores and your final grade, and learning how to manage your time like this is a skill you’ll use your whole life. See our Ultimate Guide to Test Preparation