38 Examples of SMART Goals for Students

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What is a “SMART” goal?

S: Specific
Start at the beginning with what you hope to achieve. Giving yourself a goal to “be better” or something equally vague won’t cut it – you need to have a specific destination in mind if you ever hope to know when you’ve gotten there.

M: Measurable
A measurable goal lets you track your progress over time instead of simply hoping for the best. If you don’t put a hard number to your goal, it can be easy to tell yourself that you’ve “made it” without putting in the work it really takes to achieve it.

A: Attainable/Achievable
As you set goals for yourself, make sure they are not too far out of your reach. This is a delicate balancing act: your goals should stretch your abilities and make you feel the effort you’re putting into them, but they shouldn’t be so outlandish that there’s no chance of seeing them come true.

R: Relevant/Realistic
This element of goal-setting focuses on making sure that each individual goal will help your overall plans. Having your goals pull you in too many different directions may mean that you won’t develop forward momentum toward your larger work or life goals. It’s also important to be realistic; dreaming big is one thing, but it can sometimes be taken too far.

T: Timely/Trackable
The final piece of a SMART goal lets you effectively track your progress rather than just hoping you arrive with no clear indicators. Give yourself a set timeframe – this can always be changed as your goals evolve, but deadlines are an important motivator.

SMART Goals Examples for Students

1. Get an A in my next Essay

SpecificThe specific class I will target for a higher grade is my Psychology class. The specific essay is the current one that has been assigned.
MeasurableThe measurement for success is an A- or above.
AttainableI got a B- in my past essay so I believe I can increase one grade with enough effort and by using my feedback.
RelevantThe goal of getting an A in my essay is relevant to my longer-term goal of graduating from my Psychology degree.
Time-BasedMy essay is due in 7 weeks.

2. Improve my Research Skills

“I will improve my research skills by using library resources and taking notes from the recommended readings for my course. I will do this every Friday afternoon for 3 weeks. I will aim for a subjective statement on my end-of-semester feedback about my research skills.”

SpecificMy focus is on research skills for my education research course.
MeasurableI will measure my success by reading feedback from my teacher who I have asked to provide a subjective comment about the research conducted in preparation for my end-of-semester paper.
AttainableThere is the library that I haven’t used much but I think with that resource I will be able to research much more skillfully.
RelevantImproving my research skills will help me get better grades across all my classes into the future.
Time-BasedI have set the end-of-semester feedback as the end goal.

3. Type at 60 Words per Minute

SpecificThe goal is specific to typing on my laptop computer.
MeasurableI can measure this using any one of the many free online typing speed tests available.
AttainableI currently type at 50 words per minute so I believe I could meet this goal.
RelevantTyping faster will increase my overall productivity as a student.
Time-BasedI will be typing at 55 words per minute within one month and 60 words per minute within two months.

4. Study 5 Days a Week for 5 Weeks

SpecificThe goal is specifically about studying for a math class.
MeasurableI will keep a diary measuring my progress.
AttainableI have an hour free each afternoon to complete this project.
RelevantThese 25 hours of study should help me get a better grade in my math class.
Time-BasedThe goal will be completed within 5 weeks.

5. Improve my Productivity

SpecificUse a Pomodoro timer every time I study.
MeasurableI will keep a diary measuring my progress.
AttainableI study regularly and this is an add-on to an existing study program to improve productivity during my existing study time.
RelevantBetter study productivity can help me learn faster and get better grades.
Time-BasedThe goal is to persist with the habit for 2 months.

6. Improve my Focus

SpecificMy goal is to have better focus specifically during class time.
MeasurableI will have a checklist that I will fill-out every day before class to ensure my phone is in my bag, I’m sitting on my own, I have my water bottle, and I’ve slept for 8 hours the previous night.
AttainableThese are simple tasks that are within my power.
RelevantThe goal will help me to learn in class so it’s relevant to my education.
Time-BasedI have set myself the goal to maintain this checklist for the entire current term.

7. Memorize 100 flashcards within 3 weeks

SpecificThe goal will be to learn the things that are specifically listed on the flashcards.
MeasurableI will be able to have a friend test me at the end of the 3 weeks to see my grade out of 100.
AttainableIt is reasonable to be able to memorize 100 new words in 3 weeks, or about 5 words per day.
RelevantLearning these words will make it easier for me to create sentences in Spanish class.
Time-BasedI will meet this goal within 3 weeks.

Final Thoughts

Younger learners who are at the beginning of their life’s journey are at an opportune time to build their skills in setting goals. These SMART goal-setting skills will benefit them for the rest of their lives and developing them now will help students design their futures in whatever unique way is personally meaningful to them.

And, for students of all ages, writing a carefully considered goal is only the first half of the battle. Intentional actions need to follow in the footsteps of these powerful statements in order for any goal to be met.

Consider your strengths and weaknesses when drafting your SMART goals and think about strategies that have worked in the past for reaching your goals. For example, some people find it’s most effective to identify the end goal and then work backwards to the beginning to create a schedule of objectives. You just need to find what works best for you–and in the meantime, if you start working toward a goal and realize your strategy isn’t productive, don’t shy away from changing it.

Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.