Studying at home: Setting goals | Oxford Open Learning

Home study (2): how do I study from home?

In the first of this series of three articles on how to study from home we looked at ways to manage your time to ensure that you plan ahead and establish a regular study pattern, and at finding a good place (or places) to study.  Having established a time and a place, we will now turn our attention to what happens during that study time.

Setting Goals

To have the motivation successfully to complete your course of study, it is important that you set your own goals.  Goals must be something you want to achieve for yourself.  Goals can be short-term: finishing a lesson, say, or sending in your assignment on time; or long-term, such as passing your exam at the end of the course so that you can gain the qualification you need for something else.  Most people find it helps to have a series of short-term goals to help them achieve their long-term goal.

So when you sign up to your course, be clear about your long-term goal – it might help to have a visual reminder of what this is – stick up a message to yourself on the door of the fridge, above your work place, as a screensaver, or on your phone, to remind you of what you are working towards.

When you do your Sunday review (see first article), set some short-term goals.  These might include finishing your assignment, doing the preparation/planning/research for a piece of work, reading through a new lesson, doing lesson activities, reading around a topic, improving on your mark for an assignment.  When you achieve that short-term goal, give yourself a small reward before moving on to the next goal.

When you set goals, they should be

  • clear: they should include WHAT you want, WHEN you want to achieve them by, and most importantly your WILL to achieve them
  • achievable: set goals that are within your skills and abilities.  Setting goals that are beyond your reach will not help you forward
  • realistic: make sure your goals can be achieved within the time available
  • flexible: sometimes things don’t go to plan.  Allow for times when you may need to re-schedule or re-do, and don’t let small interruptions throw you off course
  • measurable: short-term goals should allow you to measure your progress along a course.  Sometimes the goal may be set by a tutor, or the course materials.  Your tutor and the course writer know where you need to be at the end of the course, and will set goals along the way to help you.  Your own goals should take account of their advice, as they are there to help you.
  • under your control: it’s up to you to achieve your long-term goal.  Your success depends on your input.  So set short-term goals that give you direction and help you to make progress.

In the last of this series of three articles on how to study at home we will look at how to make the most of your study time by establishing good study habits.

If your goal is to obtain a qualification that will help you further your career, be accepted on a course, or improve your knowledge or skills, find our more about our courses at Oxford Open Learning, or contact us for advice.  Our GCSE, IGCSE, A Level, AAT, CEA and Business Management courses have helped thousands of students to achieve their goals!

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