a student setting academic goals at home

How to Set Realistic Academic Goals for 2023

As we wave 2022 goodbye, it’s time to welcome 2023 and get ready for another exciting academic year! As a student, you may be encouraged to make resolutions each year. At Cambridge Home School Online, we believe that “resolutions” have become a buzzword of sorts.

People set shiny new resolutions each year and end up completing a fraction of them, if at all. We believe that resolutions must be replaced with SMART goals (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound) goals instead. When you set realistic and achievable goals, you’ll be more inclined to achieve them.

In this blog, we’ll walk you through the right way to set realistic academic goals for 2023. If you want 2023 to be an academically strong year, keep reading! We’re breaking down the game plan.

1. Be as Specific as Possible

a mother helping her son specify his academic goals online

Your goals shouldn’t be generalised; they should be as specific as possible. For instance, you cannot strive to “be more studious” in 2021. How will you measure this goal? Instead, opt for a hyper-specific goal like “I’ll improve my grade from a B to an A in Maths.”

A simple, sensible, and logical goal will be easier to achieve. If your goal isn’t clear and specific, you won’t be able to focus your efforts on the task at hand. You’ll make loose efforts and end up feeling demotivated and disappointed.

Ask yourself the five Ws:

  • What do I want to accomplish? (Example: I want to increase my grade from a B to an A in Maths)
  • Why is this goal so important to me? (Example: I want to strengthen my Maths skills so I can get a better grade, study Maths in IGCSEs/A Levels, go to a great university, study my dream program, make my parents proud, make myself capable of having a quality academic and professional experience, and so on)
  • Who will help me achieve this goal? (Example: Myself, my teachers, my school counsellors, etc.)
  • Where will my efforts be concentrated? (Example: I’ll focus on XYZ subjects, topics, subtopics, themes, concepts, and so on)
  • Which resources will I utilise? (Example: My teachers, coursebooks, online resources provided at my school, past papers, study guides, etc.)

Specify everything you can!  

2. Make Sure Your Goals Are Attainable

a student reviewing her academic goals

Don’t set a goal that you cannot achieve. We strongly encourage students to stretch their abilities and imagination. However, your goals should still be within the realm of possibility.

Once you strive to do something, ask yourself how realistic it is. Moreover, how will you accomplish said goal? If you don’t have a robust and realistic game plan in mind, you’re using the wrong approach.

If you cannot answer simple questions about how you plan to check your goal off the list, restructure and rephrase it until you have a streamlined action plan laid out.

3. Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help

You should always consult your teachers and school advisors when setting academic goals. Your teachers will have unique insight into your academic performance. Based on your weaknesses, strengths, skills, and learning patterns, they’ll help you understand whether your goals are realistic or not.

They’ll also help you set the right goals and restructure them until they’re achievable. Consult your teachers during the planning stage. Their feedback will help you fine-tune your goals and increase your chances of accomplishing them!

4. Set Relevant Goals

a student setting relevant academic goals

Your academic goals should always be relevant. If you’re preparing for IGCSE Maths, Add Maths, Computer Science, English Language, and Physics, don’t set a goal that doesn’t pertain to these subjects.

Yes, you should explore your hobbies and interests. And yes, you should set personal goals that help you grow as an individual. However, these goals should be separate from your academic goals.

You cannot strive to “become fluent in French”. For starters, you’re not studying French. Secondly, even if you set this goal, it’s not realistic. You cannot “become fluent” in a language when you’re preparing for five gruelling IGCSE subjects at the same time.

Take a step back and always re-evaluate your academic goals to ensure you’re on the right track. Your academic goals should always relate to your subjects and skills.

For instance, you can strive to complete your exams ten minutes before the time limit ends. You’ll improve your time management skills as you work towards this goal. If you struggle to complete your exams on time, you’ll be able to pick up speed and spend the last ten minutes rechecking your exam.

Make sure your goals are directly related to your academic performance. These are academic goals, after all, not personal or social goals.  

5. Set a Time Limit!

SMART goals are always time-bound. If you don’t give yourself a time limit, you will not feel the pressure and urgency to achieve your goals on time. Make sure there’s a strict deadline.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • When will I start this task?
  • When will I complete this task?
  • How much progress should I make within X months of starting this task?
  • What’s my mitigation plan?
  • What’s my contingency plan?

These questions may sound a little difficult to answer, but we’re here to help. If you’re having trouble quantifying your goals, speak with your teachers. They’ll help you set clear, focused, time-bound goals that can be easily and realistically checked off the list.

Of course, perfection doesn’t exist. You will run into hiccups every now and then. However, SMART goals will help you make maximum progress. In contrast, loose resolutions are very easy to make but result in minimal progress.

A little extra effort during the preparatory and planning stage will help you get your academic performance back on track!

About the Author

The author is an esteemed education specialist at Cambridge Home School Online. As one of the most prestigious online private schools across the globe, CHS Online is trusted by thousands of parents in the UK, Europe, Central Asia, South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

The institution provides four homeschooling programs: Primary Prep/Key Stage 2 (ages 7 to 10), Lower School/Key Stage 3 (ages 11 to 13), Upper School/IGCSEs (ages 14 to 16), and Sixth Form/AS & A-Levels (ages 17 to 19).

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