How smart do you have to be?
How smart do you have to be to get top marks?
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Have you set yourself a goal? Do you need to get into a certain university course, and need a particular score to get there? Does this goal scare you?
Like a mountain climber staring up at the summit, it is easy to get demotivated by the enormity of the task ahead. The best climbers, and the best students, instead set short term goals so that they can focus on the task at hand, and stay motivated for the entire journey. Using a short term planner can help. Here's how it's done:
Let's say, for example, that your goal is to get an ATAR score of 97. If this is the case, this can be a pretty intimidating goal for just about anyone. The first step, is to break it into smaller pieces. Any large goal and be broken down into a series of smaller goals. Those smaller goals can then be broken down into specific tasks, which are always achievable. By following this process, you will make your journey much more manageable. Below is an example of breaking down an ATAR goal of 97, and how this would look in the context of an upcoming English assessment.
As you can see, the ATAR was broken down into specific subject scores. Then each subject is broken into its key assessments. Then each assessment is broken down into the relevant assessment criteria (ask you teacher about this). Then, in order to achieve each piece of assessment criteria, we need to undertake a series of tasks. Here, a student will need to understand how authors have used certain techniques and needs to express this in an essay. Therefore, 2 of the tasks that they will complete will be writing a techniques glossary and writing up 2 practice essays.
The key to setting good short term goals is to focus on the assessments - the stuff that leads up to your final mark. So you may have 4 assessments across a year - set yourself a goal for each one. This might be getting an A, or if you're currently getting C+, you could aim for a B or B+ on your next assessment. You then determine what tasks need to be completed in order to get that B or B+, and write them into you planner. For example:
Once you've filled out your short-term planner, all you need to do is focus on the taks in the 'To do' column. Get through them, and move on. By shifting your focus to specific tasks, you allow yourself to see tangibly -practically - what you need to do to get top marks.
Finally, you can track your progress in the 'mark' column. This allows you to see whether you are adequately preparing for your assessments and whether you are hitting the intended targets. By tracking your progress throughout the year, across small assessments, you can get a motivational boost to keep going. On the other hand, if you're not doing as well as you intended, the short term planner gives you a perfect thing to take to your teacher and ask, "I did all of the things in this list and didn't get the mark I wanted. What can I do to improve?"