Are you doing well in your studies? Do you feel that you are working harder than your classmates but getting worse results than them? What can you do about it? Here, we offer some tips on how to excel in your studies. 1. Set Your Goals First, you have to set your goals. A goal is something that you hope to achieve in the future. So, before you start your next school semester, ask yourself what you want to achieve. For example, if you got an overall score of 70% in your recent examinations, you may set a goal of scoring 80% in your next semester’s examinations. With some goals in mind, you will have something to work towards in your next school semester. Bear in mind that your goals should be realistic. That is, it should be possible for you to achieve them. If you got a score of 50% for your recent English paper, then a goal of scoring 100% for your next English paper may not be realistic. Unrealistic goals can never be achieved and can only upset you when you don’t achieve them. So why set unrealistic goals for yourself? You should preferably have a number of goals, and not just one. This is because you may perform differently for your different subjects. For example, let’s say that you scored 60% for your English paper, 70% for your Mathematics paper, 80% for your Second Language paper and 90% for your Science paper in your recent examinations. Your goals could be to score 70% for your English paper, 80% for your Mathematics paper, 90% for your Second Language paper and 100% for your Science paper in your next semester’s examinations. A common goal of scoring 100% for all your four papers above would be unrealistic. 2. Work Towards Your Goals Now that you have set your goals, work towards them! A goal cannot be reached unless you do something about it. So, if one of your goals is to improve your English grade by another 10%, you will have to discover ways and means to do so. For example, you can try to speak proper English with your friends more often, start writing a diary, listen to more useful English programs, and read more English books and magazines. Setting a timetable for yourself is also one way of working towards your goals. First, find out how much spare time you have after your school hours. Then plan how well you could spend your spare time each day. For example, if you have six spare hours each day after school, you may spend three hours on your homework and revision, one hour to read your favourite magazines, one hour to watch television and one hour playing your favourite game or sport. When setting your timetable, it is important that you do not devote all your spare time to your studies. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. You should spend some of your spare time on other activities so as to take your mind off studies. In this way, you will not cause unnecessary pressure on yourself. Engaging in other relaxing activities can also greatly improve your ability to concentrate while you are studying too. 3. Monitor Your Performance With your goals and timetable, you should be working well towards achieving the results you want. However, it is important that you should also monitor your performance every now and then. This will ensure that you are on the right track. For example, let’s say that your goal is to improve your English grade by another 10% and you have set up a timetable with this goal in mind. If you find that you are not faring better in your English after several weeks, then you must know that something is not working right. To find out why that is so, first check whether you have set a realistic goal for yourself. Since your goal is to improve your English grade by another 10%, this may be realistic. On the contrary, if your goal were to improve your English grade by another 50%, that could be unrealistic. Next, check whether you have put aside enough time to improve your English every day. If you have put aside one hour each day to read and write English, try increasing that to two hours instead. If you have put aside only one hour each week to improve your English, you should know that that is unrealistic and you have to change your timetable accordingly. If your goals and timetable are realistic, then maybe the methods that you use are inadequate or incorrect. For example, if you hope to improve your English by watching a television program that uses bad English (Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd is a notorious example*), then you are obviously heading in a wrong direction. You will have to change the methods you use soon or you will never reach your goals. If you need help on this, try consulting your school teachers, home tutors, friends or parents. You may be pleasantly surprised at what great ideas and suggestions they can come up for you! * Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd is a popular sitcom in Singapore that touts Singlish (a.k.a. broken English) instead of standard English. 4. Adjust Your Goals As time goes by, certain conditions will change. Nothing in this world is permanent. If this happens to you and you find that your performance is not measuring up to your goals, then you may have to adjust your goals. For example, you may suddenly have to spend a lot of time on a new school project that will take weeks to complete. As a result, you have less spare time to work hard on your English and your performance suddenly lowers. In such an event, you may have to modify your goals. Thus, instead of hoping to improve your English grade by another 10%, you may have to live with improving your English grade by only another 5%. On the other hand, if you suddenly have more spare time because your favourite television series has ended, then you may be able to devote more time to working hard on your English. Should you choose to do that, you may be able to improve your English grade by another 15% instead of just 10%. This is a worthy goal and you should grab it! 5. Compare Your Results Against Your Goals All this time, you have worked very hard working towards your goals. The day will come when you will sit for your tests and examinations. No matter what results you get, always compare them against your goals only. Never compare your results with your classmates’ because you have different goals and aptitudes! If your results match your goals, congratulations! If not, ask yourself why. Again, begin with your goals. Did you set realistic goals for yourself? If yes, did you plan your timetable properly. If yes, did you use the right strategies to work towards achieving your goals? If yes, did you monitor your performance constantly? If yes, did you adjust your goals where necessary? If you have answered yes to all these questions, then the reason why your results do not match your goals is simply because the standards of the tests or examinations are too high! You will know this when your other classmates also do not perform as well as they normally do for the same tests or examinations. 6. Set Your New Goals Now that your tests and examinations are over, this is not the end! Unless you are graduating from a university soon and getting your first job, you will have more tests and examinations before you. So, set your new goals for the new semester and repeat everything from steps 1 to 5 above. Incidentally, you will find that even if you have completed your education and begun working, this process of goal-setting is still applicable. The only difference is that, instead of aiming for better grades, you may be aiming for a higher salary or more job satisfaction So learn the above goal-setting process and remember it well. It will always come in handy!
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