38 Examples of SMART Goals for Students

SMART Goals examples for students

The SMART Goals framework, also written as S.M.A.R.T Goals or SMART Objectives, is a template for setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based goals.

While originally used in leadership and corporate management, the framework is now extensively used in education to help students to set personal and academic goals for themselves.

The following examples of SMART goals for students show how students can set achievable goals by following the five elements of the framework.

SMART Goals Example

For the SMART framework, a student should set one goal that meets five clear criteria. The goal should be:

  • SpecificBe clear about exactly what the goal is and what will be done to achieve it. Consider giving details about what, when, where, why, and how.
  • Measurable Make sure you have a way to assess whether you have achieved your goal.
  • Attainable – State how you believe reaching the goal is within your power.
  • Relevant – State how the goal will help you to meet your overall goals as a student.
  • Time-Based – You need to set a time by which you will complete your goal to keep yourself accountable.

SMART Goals Template for Students

The student should write down their goal in a quote above the table then enter an explanation of how their goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

smart goals template

Get the Google Docs Template Here

Goal: Write your goal above the table. Carefully think about your goal and fill out the sentence with details that will ensure that it is S.M.A.R.T.

SpecificDescribe your goal in detail so that it is clear and tangible. Consider details like what, when, where, how, and why.
MeasurableState how you will assess whether you have met your goal. Consider a tangible measurement such as a grade in an exam.
AttainableJustify why you think it’s possible for you to achieve your goal given your current skill level and the resources available to you.
RelevantEnsure your goal is relevant to your current class, lesson, or degree. A relevant goal for a student should be related to your education.
Time-BasedState when you want to meet your goal. Ensure this is a realistic timeframe.

SMART Goals for Students

1. Get an A in my next Essay

“I will get an A in my current essay in my Psychology class.”

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

“I will learn to type at 60 words per minute within two months.”

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

“I will study for my math class for one hour each afternoon Monday to Friday 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

“I will improve my productivity by using a Pomodoro timer when studying and closing all other tabs on my computer. I will do this every time I study for 2 months.”

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

“I will improve my focus during class this term by leaving my phone in my bag, sitting alone instead of with friends, and ensuring I turn up well-hydrated and rested.”

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

“I will create a deck of 100 flashcards related to my Spanish course and memorize all 100 flashcards within 3 weeks by spending 20 minutes per day on the task.”

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.

8. Complete my Assigned Book for Class

“I will finish reading the book that has been assigned by my teacher within 5 weeks.”

SpecificI have a specific book that I need to complete.
MeasurableI can measure progress by looking at how many pages I’ve read per day and week.
AttainableBreaking it down, it only comes to about 10 pages per day.
RelevantThe book needs to be completed so we can analyze it in class.
Time-BasedThe task will be completed 5 weeks from now.

9. Obtain the Confidence to Give a Public Speech

“I will obtain the confidence to give a public speech by practicing speaking from note cards in front of a mirror and friends for the next 3 weeks.”

SpecificI will focus on developing speaking confidence for an upcoming speech in class.
MeasurableThe measurement for success is that I will give the speech clearly and without stumbling in front of my class in 3 weeks.
AttainableI believe anyone can do this as it’s just a psychological challenge not a cognitive one.
RelevantThe confidence to speak in class is necessary because I need to give this speech to pass my course.
Time-BasedThe speech that I need to give will be given in 3 weeks from now.

10. Re-Submit my Essay for a Higher Grade

“I will use the feedback provided on my essay to re-submit for a higher grade within the 2-week timeframe I have been given by my teacher.”

SpecificRe-submit my assignment while aiming for a higher grade.
MeasurableThe measurement for success is that the resubmission will get a higher grade than the first submission.
AttainableThe feedback provided will give me direct instruction on how to improve.
RelevantBy getting a better grade in this essay I will be able to complete my degree with a higher GPA.
Time-BasedI have been given 14 days to re-submit.

11. Follow a Study Calendar for the Next 5 Weeks

“I will use a study calendar that states when and what I should study. I will do this for 5 days a week for 5 weeks.”

SpecificUse a study calendar to increase the time spent studying for all my classes.
MeasurableI can tick off each study session on the calendar.
AttainableI’ve cleared my calendar to ensure I will be available for every session.
RelevantAll study sessions will be relevant to upcoming exams.
Time-BasedI will sustain this push of studying harder for 5 weeks in a row.

12. Borrow One Book per Month from the Library

“I will borrow one book per month from the library for six months and read it fully in order to deepen my knowledge of sociology for my sociology class.”

SpecificThe specific goal is to borrow books monthly from the library, but it could be more specific if I could list the names of the books I want to borrow and read.
MeasurableThe books must be fully read by the end of each month.
AttainableI believe I have sufficient free time to read one book per month as I read very quickly.
RelevantThe books will help me have better foundational knowledge of sociology for my sociology course.
Time-BasedThe task will be completed in 6 months after which I will have hopefully developed a good reading habit.

13. Complete my Assignments 2 Weeks Before Due Date

“I will complete all assignments 2 weeks before the due dates so I have 2 weeks of free time to edit the work without stress.”

SpecificThe task is specifically about assignments that are provided by my teachers this term.
MeasurableThe measurement of success is that the full draft of all written works will be completed 2 weeks before the due date. If I can tick that off, I have succeeded.
AttainableThis task is attainable, but to achieve it, I will need to dedicate regular study time.
RelevantCompleting my assignments on time is relevant to the successful completion of my course.
Time-BasedThe timeline will be 2 weeks before each submission date.

14. Maintain a Study Journal for 15 Weeks

“I will keep a daily study journal Monday to Friday for 15 weeks that will record what I studied, notes on key things I need to revise, and how long I studied. This will help me reflect on my improvement over time.”

SpecificI believe this objective is specific because it states exactly what I will write down in my study journal each day.
MeasurableI will be able to go back through the journal to see which days I succeeded and which ones I failed. The goal will be to take notes every day Monday to Friday.
AttainableI have 2 hours after school to study every week day.
RelevantStudying is necessary to pass my course.
Time-BasedThe objective is to sustain momentum for exactly 15 weeks.

15. Minimize Study Stress

“I will minimize the amount of stress I’m experiencing by exercising an hour a day, only studying for a maximum of one hour per day, and meditating for 15 minutes after each study session. I will do this for 5 weeks.”

SpecificWhile minimizing stress is hard to measure, the specificity comes in the fact I can measure how long I exercise, meditate, and study.
MeasurableI will keep a study diary to measure my progress.
AttainableI have set aside the time to complete the task and I have all the resources to do it, including a gym membership and meditation app.
RelevantMinimizing stress can help me sustainably study for the rest of my time at school.
Time-Based5 full weeks.

SMART Goals Examples for High School Students

16. Apply for Five Colleges

“I will apply for five colleges within 3 months.”

SpecificName all 5 colleges that you want to apply for.
MeasurableEvery time I submit my application I can tick off 1/5 of the task.
AttainableI will be applying to a range of colleges including my ‘stretch college’ which is less attainable all the way down to my backup college that I’m confident I can get into.
RelevantAll colleges I will apply for offer majors in the programs I want to specialize in.
Time-BasedThis will all be completed exactly 3 months from now.

17. Go to Four University Open Days

“I will go to four university open days within the next 2 months to learn more about the universities and see which one I would prefer.”

SpecificName the four universities that you are going to visit.
MeasurableSimply attending the open days is the measure of success.
AttainableI will be visiting a range of colleges including my ‘stretch college’ which is less attainable all the way down to my backup college that I’m confident I can get into.
RelevantAll colleges I will visit offer majors in the programs I want to specialize in.
Time-BasedName the dates of each open day. Check the university websites.

18. Study for an Hour Before Class Daily

“I will study for one hour between 8 am and 9 am daily before class Monday to Friday. I will study for the class that I will be sitting that day and keep a journal of progress.”

SpecificI have set specific times for my studying and specific subjects to study for each day.
MeasurableThe journal will be used to track success. Any days missed will have to be made up for in the following days.
AttainableI am always free from 8 am to 9 am.
RelevantAll subjects studied will be relevant to the classes I’m taking.
Time-BasedThis will be sustained until the end of the term.

19. Maintain a Regular Sleep Routine

“I will sleep for 9 hours a day by making sure I get into bed by 10 pm every night and set an alarm for 7 am each morning. This will keep me fresh for classes.”

SpecificSleeping for 9 hours per day is very specific.
MeasurableAlarm reminders that have been pre-set will help me measure and track my use of time.
AttainableI know I can do this, I just need motivation and reminders on my phone to tell me that it’s time to go to sleep.
RelevantIf I have a better sleep routine I will be fresh for classes.
Time-BasedThis will be sustained until the end of the term.

20. Research Five Potential Career Options

“I will spend 3 hours every Thursday night researching a potential career option for 5 weeks straight. At the end of the 5th week, I will rank all the career options based on my research.”

SpecificThe amount of time spent per night and day of the week is specific. I could be more specific by listing the 5 career options that I will research.
MeasurableThe most measurable outcome will be the rankings of career options that I will make at the end. Notes that I take each week may also be a tangible measure of the work I put in.
AttainableI have chosen Thursday nights because I am free those nights.
RelevantThe 5 career options are all options relevant and related to the courses I’m studying at school right now.
Time-BasedThis objective will end in 5 weeks at which point I will rank the career options.

21. Have Three Meetings with my Careers Advisor 

“I will book in three meetings with my careers advisor over the next six months to check in and re-evaluate my thoughts about what I want to do after I finish high school.”

SpecificThree meetings with Mr. Jones, my career advisor, separated by 2 months each.
MeasurableMr. Jones will be able to measure if I was successful in attending the meetings.
AttainableI am allowed to take time out of classes to attend these meetings so I know they can happen.
RelevantMr. Jones will be able to help me choose a college course or trade.
Time-BasedI can book these 3 meetings in with Mr. Jones now so we know exactly when each meeting happens.

SMART Goals Examples for University Students

22. Decide upon a Major for my Degree

“I will lock in a major with my advisor by the end of the month and select the appropriate courses for next semester.”

SpecificTo lock in a major.
MeasurableThe measurement of success will be selecting the courses for next semester using the online template.
AttainableThere is no barrier to me selecting a major except my indecision!
RelevantI need to make this decision before next year in order to continue at university.
Time-BasedI am meeting with Mrs. Singh on the 30th of this month to finalize it.

23. Meet Each Instructor in Open Office Hours Once per Semester

“I will meet each of my instructors during their open office hours on Week 8 of the semester to go over my essay drafts.”

SpecificMeeting with instructors for 15 minutes during open office hours.
MeasurableThis will be a yes/no measure when I ask myself at the end of Week 8: “did I attend?”
AttainableThe only barrier is time constraints so I’ll try to book in times that suit myself and my instructor.
RelevantThe meetings will be specifically about working on my weaknesses so I can get good grades in each class.
Time-BasedI will be able to assess whether I succeeded or failed by the end of Week 8.

24. Meet with my Advisor for Feedback on my Progress 3 Times per Year

“I will meet with my advisor to check in on my progress in my degree 3 times this year. I will meet her in March, July, and September.”

SpecificIncrease the frequency of discussions about progress and goals to 3 times per year.
MeasurableThis can be measured at the end of March, July, and September as a yes/no grade.
AttainableI need to make sure I have the time to do this and will need to coordinate with my advisor on times to meet.
RelevantMeeting with my advisor can help me to make sure I’m staying on track and making any necessary changes as I progress through my studies.
Time-BasedThis goal will be finalized by the end of September.

25. Attend One Library Skills Seminar per Month

“I will attend one library skills seminar per month until I have attended all the training sessions they have on offer. This should take 6 months and help me incrementally develop my academic skills.”

SpecificAttending library skills seminars.
MeasurableAt the end of each month I can check yes/no on whether I attended a seminar.
AttainableThe seminars are offered several times per month and I should have free time to attend at least one each month.
RelevantThe purpose is to incrementally develop my academic skills to get better grades at university.
Time-BasedThe target is to have this goal completed within 6 months.

26. Meet with my Study Group Weekly All Semester

“I will meet with my study group at 2.30 pm every Tuesday in the library for one hour to compare notes about our studies. We will also meet to check each other’s drafts during this period when necessary.”

SpecificWe have said exactly when we will meet and where. We could be more specific about which subjects to study – e.g. we will study math for half an hour then legal studies for half an hour.
MeasurableWe will take names and minutes to track who attended.
AttainableEveryone has free time on Tuesday at 2.30 pm.
RelevantOur study notes will be directly related to the subjects we are taking in class.
Time-BasedWe will continue this until the last week of this semester.

27. Complete All Homework Tasks by Wednesday each Week

“I will complete my homework tasks by Wednesday each week this semester. To do this, I will remain at the university library on Tuesdays from 12 noon onwards.”

SpecificMy teachers will assign my weekly homework on Mondays which will be the specific weekly task required.
MeasurableThe measure of success is having had all my homework done by class on Wednesday.
AttainableI have freed up Tuesday afternoons to make this task achievable.
RelevantThe homework must be completed to ensure I pass my courses.
Time-BasedThe weekly time goal is Wednesday morning. The objective will be maintained until the last week of this semester.

28. Turn up to Class on Time

“I will turn up to class five minutes before class begins for the entire semester in order to change my habit of being late. To make this happen, I will take the 8.05 am bus each morning.”

SpecificI have stated the time I will get on the bus to be as specific as possible.
MeasurableI can measure this in two ways: the time I get on the bus and the time I make it into class.
AttainableThis is an easy task. I just need to go to bed early and wake up on time.
RelevantTurning up to class on time is relevant because it will help me to get better grades.
Time-BasedThis objective will last until the final day of the semester.

29. Apply for Five Summer Internships

“I will apply for five summer internships by the end of next week.”

SpecificI have stated how many internships I’ll apply for but I haven’t stated which ones they are. To be more specific, I’d like to be able to name all five of the internships I want to apply for.
MeasurableThe measurement of success is that I will have the 5 applications submitted by 5 pm Friday.
AttainableI am qualified for the internships and have a resume put together already so I should be able to do this. Furthermore, I set “apply for” rather than “obtain” an internship because I can control applications whereas I’m not directly able to control whether I’ll get accepted.
RelevantGetting an internship can help me get a job in my desired career after graduating.
Time-BasedThe objective will be completed by 5 pm Friday.

See more SMART internship goals here.

30. Apply for Five Part-Time Jobs in my Career Field

“I will apply for five part-time jobs in my career field by the end of next week.”

SpecificI have stated how many part-time jobs I’ll apply for but I haven’t stated which ones they are. To be more specific, I’d like to be able to name all five of the jobs I want to apply for.
MeasurableThe measurement of success is that I will have the 5 applications submitted by 5 pm Friday.
AttainableI know I can apply for the jobs so that’s what I have set as my goal. I don’t have control over whether I get the jobs but I will do my best.
RelevantIf I can get a part-time job in my preferred career it could help me get a career job once I graduate.
Time-BasedI have set Friday at 5 pm next week as my cut-off.

31. Write 400 Words per Day for my Essay

“I will write 400 words per day for 5 days to get my first draft of my essay complete.”

SpecificI have specifically noted how many words I will write each day.
MeasurableI can measure this by using the word counter in Google Docs.
Attainable400 words is definitely attainable as it’s only about 2 paragraphs.
RelevantWriting these 400 words each can help me get my essay done.
Time-BasedThe essay is 2000 words long so the timeline is to have the draft completed within five days.

SMART Goals Examples for Online Students

32. Post Five Forum Responses per Week

“I will log into my online course between 4 pm and 5 pm each weekday to read a forum task and post a 100-word response on the discussion board. I will continue this for the rest of the semester.”

SpecificThe specific goal is to write a 100-word response under my assigned daily forum tasks.
MeasurableThe measurement for success is to have written five 100-word responses by Friday at 5 pm each week.
AttainableI have set aside the time (4 pm to 5 pm daily) to get this done.
RelevantPosting comments on my online discussion board helps me to learn and meets the study requirements set out by my teacher.
Time-BasedThe objective will last until the final day of the semester.

33. Re-watch my Online Lectures and Take Notes for my Essay

“I will re-watch the eight one-hour online lectures for my course. I will watch one per day between 9 am and 10 am and take notes daily on anything relevant to the essay I’m writing.”

SpecificThe specific focus is the eight lectures posted on my online forum by my teacher.
MeasurableThe measurement for success will be whether I have eight sets of notes at the end of the eight days that I can use to write my essay.
AttainableI have set aside 9 am to 10 am each day to complete the task.
RelevantRe-watching the lectures and taking notes will help me complete my essay.
Time-BasedThe goal will be completed eight days from now.

34. Reply to Three other People’s Forum Comments per Week

“I will reply to three forum comments on my online discussion board per week for the next three weeks in order to engage with other students in my class.”

SpecificThe specific goal is to reply to three comments on my Weeks 7, 8, and 9 discussion boards.
MeasurableSuccess will be measured by both the number of comments (nine total). Furthermore, I would think it’s successful if I engage a peer in a good conversation.
AttainableI am able to log in and post comments on my phone so it should be doable.
RelevantEngaging in conversation with my peers can help me develop connections that can help me as I go through my degree.
Time-BasedThe task will end at 5pm on Friday in three weeks’ time.

SMART Goals Examples for International and Exchange Students

35. Speak Only in Spanish for a Whole Day

“I will speak only in Spanish for the whole day during my exchange at Barcelona University.”

SpecificIn all communications with teachers, bus drivers, shop assistants, friends, etc., I will only speak Spanish.
MeasurableThe measurement for this will need to be qualitative, e.g. yes/no to “Did you manage to communicate all day?”
AttainableI think I’m ready to do this and I’ve only been speaking English during the day out of nerves that I’ll make a mistake.
RelevantSpeaking only in Spanish can help me improve my Spanish language skills.
Time-BasedThe task will be completed by the end of the day.

See a Full List of Communication Goals Here

36. Apply for an Exchange Scholarship by May 1st

“I will apply for an exchange scholarship to get funding to go to Barcelona for a semester. This application will be a 1000 word essay and completed by May 1st.”

SpecificThe specific essay that I need to write for the application is titled “The social, cultural, institutional, and individual benefits of university exchange semesters.”
MeasurableThe measurement for success is the submission of the 1000 word essay by 5pm May 1st.
AttainableI set my goal as submitting an application rather than winning the scholarship to ensure my goal is something that’s within my power.
RelevantIf I get a scholarship for the exchange semester I’ll be able to travel and do a cultural exchange that will be great for my resume and communication skills.
Time-BasedThe end goal is 5 pm on May 1st.

37. Join a Cultural Club at my new Unviersity

“I will join one cultural club at my university by the end of the social club sign-up day tomorrow.”

SpecificThe cultural club I want to join is the language exchange club.
MeasurableMeasurement for success will be to get the email from the club confirming my membership.
AttainableThere are no barriers to entry to clubs.
RelevantJoining a cultural club will help me to make social contacts at my university which can help me get through my degree more easily.
Time-BasedThe sign-up day ends at 4 pm tomorrow.

38. Apply for a Work Visa for after I Graduate so I can Stay Here

“My goal is to apply for a work visa by 5 pm on the 30th of December so I can stay in the country after I have completed my degree.”

SpecificI will put through my application to upgrade my student visa to a work visa through the government website.
MeasurableThe measure of success will be to have submitted the application by the end of December.
AttainableI have set my goal as an application rather than obtaining the visa because it’s more within my power to apply than to obtain.
RelevantIf I get the work visa then I can use my degree qualifications in the country and make more money here than at home.
Time-BasedThe deadline is December 30.


The SMART framework is valuable when setting educational goals because it helps you to articulate exactly what your goal is. The five criteria within the framework will force students to set goals that can be clearly explained and are achievable. By setting SMART goals, students can see greater levels of success whether it’s short-term goals or long-term goals and have a clearer idea about what they need to do to meet their goals.

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

5 thoughts on “38 Examples of SMART Goals for Students”

  1. I have tried it before but soon forgot about it, which means I have made my calendar or schedule with a goal on top and worked toward it, and then I forgot to do it again for my next semester’s class. but it does not hurt trying again one more time.

  2. One of the best online learning articles I have come across. Rarely give comments at over 69yrs and a lot working in education. But you are clear, and straight to the point. Good job! Recommended.

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