With Fall Cycle 224 advancement exams starting in just a month, and for those hoping to earn a crow or put on your next petty officer chevron, it’s time to hit the books.
Success starts with doing the right prep. For me, I hated the idea of wasting my time studying the wrong information, so I would just put it off. But if you know how to study, the task becomes less overwhelming, and the goal more achievable.
1. Make a study plan
Earlier in my career, studying for the exam was frustrating because I didn’t have a study routine. It seemed I was always rushing to cram for what I thought was going to be on the exam.
If you take the time to “Break it down” (see next step) and plan it out, things seem much more manageable. Once you have a grip on what must be done you can create a habit or routine for studying on most days leading up to the exam. Repetition in studying is key, which is why locking into a good study routine is critical early on – it not only helps you, but helps your family and friends support this time because they become a part of that routine.
4. Break it down
Everything you need to study for the exam is listed in the bibliography – but how to tackle that list of references takes some focus. Review your reference guide for your bibliography and locate your Topics and Subtopics list which breaks down your study insights even further to the topics your questions will be about.
Some manuals are thicker than the phone book of a major city, so knowing how to read one can be an art. First, it’s important to read the table of contents to see how topics are broken up. Then, using your bibliography, go to the chapters that you are prompted to and then go to the topics outlined in your NKO subtopics. Once you’re done, review the table of contents again for any subjects that are related, and review as secondary reading.
2. Identify your best study style and stick to it.
For some, distractions are the enemy when it comes to studying. If so, eliminate them. For others, a quiet place to study would drive them mad and insane (that’s me). For them, a coffee shop and music may be best. What ever your flavor plenty studys have shown you should focus on one thing and only one thing for best results. Set aside an hour or so to dive deep in to your bibliography. Get rid of anything that might take your focus away from the task at hand.
3. Strengthen your weak points
Spend just a bit of time brushing up on the more familiar topics before and after the bulk of your study session. Look for the areas where you scored lowest, or just average, on previous tests and focus your energies there. Do not neglect areas in which you know for a fact your knowledge is weak.
5. Start with a review
Begin every study session with a review of what you covered last time to reinforce it. Repetition is a very powerful tool because the more you review subjects, the more it becomes natural knowledge. It also builds confidence when you start answering your questions correctly, faster, and encourages you to want to go on to the next areas where you need more study.
6. Flashcards: Make ’em
Flashcards are one of the easiest ways to implant facts into your working memory and will help you recall any information you dig up and think may be on the test. This is an easy process with sites like NavyStudyGroup.com. The process of quizzing yourself will help you enlarge your brain’s answer bank. The drill of typing facts into your flash cards improves your chances of remembering them later. Some sailors keep small packs in their work center, their rack, at their apartment or in their backpack. Now you can just study online or on your smartphone!
7. Study with a group
Study groups work! Prepping with others helps you sharpen your answers and exposes you to other facts you hadn’t considered. The competitive factor alone was enough to push me harder than I would have if I was on my own.
PMK studying is a great time to pull different rates together to study to get a greater input on the common subjects. All ranks are studying the same PMK bib so you have plenty of group members to choose from.