SMART objectives

Well, you have read on different methods from study. Diverse techniques that seem attractive, as the comparative tables, the review cards, the Cornell method of notes€¦

Cansado/a to always study with oppression, always in the last day, the last minute, you have decided that you are going to improve your present methods with the inestimable help of this blog. And you say yourself:

€œI am going to begin to study to the day, doing review cards, and everything what it remains slow of Monday through Friday I will put it in sequence Sunday€.

Sunday arrives, and you are with a pile of shaken notes of the week in the folder, 5 or 6 cards of review that you completed afternoon of Monday of a single subject, and have been to eat outside€¦ It is not going to give time to you. Again.

WHY? Because you considered an imprecise goal, too vague, perhaps unrealizable. The same goal that you take dreaming year after year when it spends the last season of examinations.

morning callTo study a race consists of unfolding abilities of organization, planning, formulation of objectives and acting, mainly to act. In the form of study and memorization, but you need the correct action at the correct moments.

At school and the institute we move by near terms that to us the professor imposes from outside: Monday examination of Sciences, Wednesday Language, Friday, exercises of English. In the university, there is no external guide. Outside the works written that some universities demand in Spain from the implantation of Bologna, the greater proportion of your notes will depend on your results in the four-month examinations, examinations that at the home of the fourth month period are-obvious-very distant.


We put for example that your goal this fourth month period is €œto before begin to prepare the examinations€ or €œto take the subjects to the day€.

The SMART method talks about to the qualities that they must have your objectives so that you are able to take them to end.

Specific €“ Specific
Measurable €“ Measurable
Attainable €“ Attainable
Realistic €“ Realistic
Trick out of €“ Limited in the Time

€œTo begin to prepare the examinations before€€¦ What means this? When you feel habitually to prepare them? A month before? How much it means €œbefore€, then? A day before, one week before€¦ Perhaps you say yourself €œto take it to the day€, that is equivalent to begin to prepare the examinations before. But this is not a SMART objective either€¦


SPECIFIC. It defines what means to take them to the day in your case.

  • Student A. You do not know very clearly what every week in the diverse subjects is explained, because lack to the first classes in the morning. To take it to the day can mean €œto be clear every which has been explained in class, and where is that matter in the notes, the manual or the book of consultation€. Do it without lack nothing else to arrive at house, because it is not going to take to you more than 1 hour.
  • Student B. You attend all the classes, but once the professor by the door leaves no longer you remember very well of how much matter has been spoken. For you to take it to the day can consist of adopting the Cornell method, and as soon as the professor by the door leaves, before between the following one, to review what you have written down, writing in the margins some keyword of each section of notes. He would not have to take to you more than 5 minutes. If it does not give time you to do this in class, do it at home, as soon as you feel to work.

MEASURABLE. How to know that you are obtaining it.

  • Student A. the USA the educational guide or the agenda where each subject of each subject is enumerated, and marks with a victorious circle each subject that you have located. It hangs that agenda near your table of study and gives a joy jump when you see little by little that the victorious brands are advancing and filling up the document. If someday you have not been able to review the agenda, it recovers the lost time on the following day.
  • Student B. Every Sunday in the evening, removes your folder from notes, or your notebook, and reviews the margins of your leaves of notes of all the week. You have written down key words? You have made a small summary? Each €œworked€ margin represents a success. If you some class has escaped, solve it then.

3º and 4º ATTAINABLE and REALISTIC. You can secure it with your capacities and circumstances?

  • Perhaps you must work to help to pay the race you, as baby sitter, waiter, which is. Perhaps your work part-time absorbs 4 hours every day to you, 5 days to the week. In that case, I still propose the plan of student A. the days to you that you have worked more, still with the fatigue and your mind to average gas, you will be able to review the calendar of classes and your notes of reference, and to make simple annotations.
  • If you do not need to work, and you have more time every day, you can allow the plan you of student B.
  • Other actions that you can decide to start up: to make 2 cards of review by each class of the day; to make 1 scheme of each subject to the week; to begin to use Anki to review; etc, etc.

LIMITED IN the TIME. This can mean several things. The SMART method was begun to use in the world of the company and the direction of projects, so that the raised goals (p.ej to sell a 10%) had to be placed in a concrete term (P. ex. 1 trimester or 1 year).

In our case, as students, it means that you consider action in concrete time intervals, and that you grant a margin of sufficient rescue in case of unforeseen expenses. As which already we have commented: to review all the notes of the day in the same behind schedule, with the technique of Cornell, and to review all the Sundays and to write down the notes that time has not given to review before.


€¦ and that auditor you can be you yourself /a. Or a confidence friend. If you set out to improve, he communicates your plan to a friend, and pon a date in the calendar to sit down with your €œauditor/a€ to review the march of your plan. 1 month after to have begun to use a new practice is a reasonable term to audit your results.

You do not lie yourself; it does not serve don't mention it.

  1. It verifies how many days you have fulfilled your initial plan.
  2. It reflects why you have not been able to fulfill the plan in some days. It is a little realistic objective for your circumstances? You have calculated the time badly? You thought that you could devise 1 card of review every 15 minutes and is that you need 1 hour to make a good card?
  3. It reframes your next actions better adapted to the actual results.


Almudena Trinidad

I am otorrinolaring³loga doctor in a hospital of Madrid and Professor Asociada de Medicina in the UAM. I help Medicine students to develop more effective techniques of study to obtain better notes, to remember during more time and to feel like more happy insurances and with its studies.

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