Set SMART Goals
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Set SMART goals

For many students, gaining their required grade in the IELTS test isn't easy and it can be really hard to stay motivated and positive every day. A couple of months ago, I posted a blog on creating a goals board in order to help you stay focussed on what you want to achieve and break down your big goal(s) into smaller goals to create a study routine.  Today, I’d like to look at how you can make sure you reach these smaller goals successfully every day, so that you make quick progress towards your IELTS goal.    In the business world, we often talk about setting SMART goals and we can apply this very easily to your IELTS studies. No, that is not smart in the British sense of the word meaning stylish or elegant. It is also not really in the American sense that the goal has to be clever. Having said that, setting SMART goals for your IELTS studies is probably a really clever idea. So, what does SMART stand for?  S: Specific Instead of saying ‘study vocabulary’, set a goal like this: Study vocabulary to do with the workplace. Or, even better: Study p. 90-93 in Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS. If your goal isn’t specific, it’s really easy to get demotivated and lost in the sheer amount of work you still have to do. If you have a specific goal, however small, there’ll be a moment when you’ve achieved it and when you can celebrate completing this step of your journey.  M: Measurable This means that you need to have a clear marker that tells you when you have achieved your goal. (e.g. ‘when I can remember 80% of the words from the exercise’, or, ‘when I can spell 100% of the words from the exercise correctly.’) Sadly, completing a test or exercise in a book isn’t a measurement of having learnt anything, so think about what you want to be able to do at the end.  A: Attainable Attainable means that something is possible to achieve. So, ‘A’ could also stand for ‘Achievable’. Remember that your goals need to be small enough so they’re realistic. If you got an IELTS 5.5 in your most recent Writing test, it’s not a good idea to set an IELTS 7 as your goal. Of course, given enough time and practice, achieving a 7 is possible, but the goal is really too distant to be SMART. Instead, think like this: ‘In my most recent practice writing, I made 8 mistakes with active passive. In my next writing, I want to make no more than 2 mistakes with active/passive. In order to do so, I will study Unit 22 in Grammar for IELTS and then make sure I proofread carefully for active/passive mistakes in my next practice test.’ This way you have a much better chance of achieving your goal, which should help you stay motivated for your next goal. R: Relevant Make sure that the goal you set is really focused on what you need to study to achieve your goal. For example, studying informal English can be fun and help you stay motivated, but if you have booked your exam and you have not worked on you spelling for expressions used in the first part of the Writing test, the latter would be a much better goal to set.   T: Time-bound This one is especially important when you study independently: Set yourself a deadline. Write down when you want to complete a particular goal by and remember to be realistic. Some goals need a later deadline because they involve more work, others benefit from having a tight deadline to motivate you to just get it done.  You are now ready to make a list of SMART goals, but do make sure it is not too long. Whenever you complete one item on your list, you can add another. When deciding which goals to start with, decide which ones are most relevant to your overall goal at the moment and don’t forget to celebrate each success by doing something you enjoy and by telling yourself: Well done.  Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

7 May, 2020

Set SMART goals

Set SMART Goals

For many students, gaining their required grade in the IELTS test isn't easy and it can be really hard to stay motivated and positive every day. A couple of months ago, I posted a blog on creating a goals board in order to help you stay focussed on what you want to achieve and break down your big goal(s) into smaller goals to create a study routine. 
Today, I’d like to look at how you can make sure you reach these smaller goals successfully every day, so that you make quick progress towards your IELTS goal. 

 

In the business world, we often talk about setting SMART goals and we can apply this very easily to your IELTS studies. No, that is not smart in the British sense of the word meaning stylish or elegant. It is also not really in the American sense that the goal has to be clever. Having said that, setting SMART goals for your IELTS studies is probably a really clever idea.

So, what does SMART stand for? 

S: Specific

Instead of saying ‘study vocabulary’, set a goal like this: Study vocabulary to do with the workplace. Or, even better: Study p. 90-93 in Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS. If your goal isn’t specific, it’s really easy to get demotivated and lost in the sheer amount of work you still have to do. If you have a specific goal, however small, there’ll be a moment when you’ve achieved it and when you can celebrate completing this step of your journey. 

M: Measurable

This means that you need to have a clear marker that tells you when you have achieved your goal. (e.g. ‘when I can remember 80% of the words from the exercise’, or, ‘when I can spell 100% of the words from the exercise correctly.’) Sadly, completing a test or exercise in a book isn’t a measurement of having learnt anything, so think about what you want to be able to do at the end. 

A: Attainable

Attainable means that something is possible to achieve. So, ‘A’ could also stand for ‘Achievable’. Remember that your goals need to be small enough so they’re realistic. If you got an IELTS 5.5 in your most recent Writing test, it’s not a good idea to set an IELTS 7 as your goal. Of course, given enough time and practice, achieving a 7 is possible, but the goal is really too distant to be SMART. Instead, think like this: ‘In my most recent practice writing, I made 8 mistakes with active passive. In my next writing, I want to make no more than 2 mistakes with active/passive. In order to do so, I will study Unit 22 in Grammar for IELTS and then make sure I proofread carefully for active/passive mistakes in my next practice test.’ This way you have a much better chance of achieving your goal, which should help you stay motivated for your next goal.

R: Relevant

Make sure that the goal you set is really focused on what you need to study to achieve your goal. For example, studying informal English can be fun and help you stay motivated, but if you have booked your exam and you have not worked on you spelling for expressions used in the first part of the Writing test, the latter would be a much better goal to set.  


T: Time-bound

This one is especially important when you study independently: Set yourself a deadline. Write down when you want to complete a particular goal by and remember to be realistic. Some goals need a later deadline because they involve more work, others benefit from having a tight deadline to motivate you to just get it done. 

You are now ready to make a list of SMART goals, but do make sure it is not too long. Whenever you complete one item on your list, you can add another. When deciding which goals to start with, decide which ones are most relevant to your overall goal at the moment and don’t forget to celebrate each success by doing something you enjoy and by telling yourself: Well done. 

Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

Sophie has been supporting students on their IELTS journey since 2003 and feels privileged to have watched them succeed. While most people probably do not like taking tests, Sophie believes that preparing for the IELTS exam can be both interesting and fun. She loves language and structure and enjoys exploring both with her students to help them achieve their aims.

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