FE Exam – Setting S.M.A.R.T STUDY GOALS

I bet most of you have heard of or seen the most famous acronym for goal setting – S.M.A.R.T

I know I learned about it during my undergraduate years in a leadership class but never really consciously applied it on paper or in a written format. For the most part, you probably unconsciously already apply this, really, ask yourself – how did I achieve my past goals? How did I achieve the goal of solving just ONE practice problem? You would probably conclude that your goal was achieved because you followed these five elements: 


Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Limited

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Let’s break down each element.

1) Specific

When setting up a study schedule for the week, many students fail to set up a specific study goal for the week. Some may say “study for the FE” or “watch videos” or “do practice problems”, etc, etc. That is not specific enough. Your weekly SMART study goal is actually a list of smaller goals that will turn into a schedule that will help you accomplish the ULTIMATE preparation goal before your exam day. For a specific study goal, you may note: “review previous practice problems for 20 minutes, start Single variable calculus section, and complete 5 practice problems and watch corresponding video solution”. This is a really specific goal, and even better if you plan out the time you will study, where you will study, etc. 

2) Measurable

Let’s say have a goal of filling an empty cup with CLEAN water using a faucet. How will you measure your progress in achieving this goal? NOT only by the AMOUNT (quantity) of water in the cup but also by the quality of water in the cup! 

Make sure to measure your study progress to keep up with your study goals. If your study goal for the week is to “cover the Single Variable Calculus section by doing the 15 practice problems covering derivatives and integrals”, this gives you a quantity that you can measure but always remember to do these 15 practice problems by measuring the quality of your work/understanding as well. 

3) Achievable

You will need to make sure your study goal for the week is achievable. This is a big one! Your circumstance and situation are unique to you so you must know yourself and the speed at which you can get things done. DON’T COMPARE OR USE A GENERIC STUDY SCHEDULE NOT SUITED FOR YOU. Start small because you will need to start somewhere. For example, if you are starting from scratch and just have too much on your plate – start by doing 5 good quality problems a day. If you can only do 4 at the beginning that is perfectly fine! You will eventually move forward and expand your weekly study goal as your sense of accomplishment grows. 

4) Realistic

Your study goal needs to be realistic. Reflect on and think about everything going on in your life and determine if you have the time to commit to studying in the coming days, weeks, or months. Be realistic with the amount of time you can spend each day for studying. Can you study right after work? Can you strike a balance between studying, working, and family time? Can you maintain your mental wellbeing while preparing for this exam? Don’t force yourself to do too much, in too little time. 

5) Time Limited

Lastly, your SMART study goal needs to be time limited. Having an exam date scheduled can certainly create this “deadline” we have prepare by before taking the FE exam. You may also decide to set a time limit for your weekly study goal for covering a certain FE exam section by the end of the week. These time limits help you maintain a sense of urgency and can motivate you to keep working towards achieving these smaller study goals before the big day. 

Download and print this S.M.A.R.T EXAM DATE and WEEKLY study goals template!


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