Set study goals

Setting study goals will help you plan, focus and use your time for study effectively. If you set goals and stick to them you will be more likely to stay motivated and achieve success in your studies.

Set SMART goals

If you’re planning a study session, starting an assessment or getting ready to study for an exam, setting SMART goals will help you focus your time and avoid distraction. SMART stands for:

SMART Goals diagram - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant


This means deciding exactly what you will do and what you want to achieve. For example, 'Complete Modules 1 and 2' is more specific than 'Read the first part of the learning material'.


How will you track your progress or know you have achieved your goal? For example, if your goal is to ‘Complete Module 1 by Friday’ you can measure if you have achieved it.


Make sure that what you have planned is realistic and achievable in the time you have.


Make sure the goal aligns with your overall goals and objectives. For example, will it help you complete your assessment or stay on track with your overall study plan?


This means giving your goal a realistic deadline.

Tip – Display your goals somewhere prominent to remind you of them. This will help reinforce your goals and you can reward yourself as you tick them off.


Watch the video to learn more about goal setting and motivation.


Some SMART examples

Example 1

Goal - I will follow the course study guide for how far through the course materials I need to be each week.

  • Specific: Every Monday I’ll check the course study guide to see what I need to cover and plan how to complete the work.
  • Measurable: I will know how many modules I will need to work through each week.
  • Achievable: I can tick off each module as I do them.
  • Relevant: The work I’m planning will be based on what is recommended for my course.
  • Time bound: Every Monday.

Example 2

Goal – I will finish the first draft of my essay by Friday so I can review it on Monday.

  • Specific: I will follow my plan and finish my first draft of the essay.
  • Measurable: I have three sections to finish.
  • Achievable: I have time to complete the last three sections.
  • Relevant: I need to submit this essay as part of the course requirements.
  • Time-bound: I’ll do it by Friday.


Remember to reward yourself

Studying can be tough, especially if you are fitting it in around work, whānau and other commitments. So, when you achieve a goal make sure you reward yourself for your hard work.

Whether it’s finishing a module of your course, starting your assessment or submitting it for marking, passing an exam, or achieving your study goals for the week, make sure you celebrate your achievements.

Big or small, they all get you one step closer to your overall goal!

… always celebrate the small wins as these lead to bigger successes. Whether it’s reading a textbook chapter, submitting an assignment or finishing an exam, these are all part of the journey and should be savoured as evidence of progress

Jeff Goss - Open Polytechnic graduate


Need help to set study goals?

If you want to talk to someone about getting started with your learning and setting study goals, our Student Mentor team are here to support you with your study journey. Get in touch to book a session:

  • 0508 650 200

If you prefer you can ask to talk to a Māori or Pasifika mentor.