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What is the best way to prepare for an upcoming advancement exam?

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Preparing for your advancement exam can seem overwhelming.  Although there are many resources available, there is no quick way to prepare for your exam.  Most importantly, you should not wait until the last minute to gather your materials and begin studying.  The following information is geared toward helping you develop a study plan that will make the most of your time and effort.

After you are sure you meet eligibility requirements to take your advancement exam, you need to obtain your current bibliography (BIB) for your rating and pay grade.  To do this, log in to Navy Knowledge Online (NKO) and select the Navy Advancement Center (NAC).  BIBs are also available through Navy COOL .

Select Bibliography for Advancement and choose your bib.  Since your bib is exam-specific and is posted six months prior to exam administration, you can use it to develop your study plan early in the preparation process.  While we are on the topic of bibs, let's briefly discuss how bibs are created.  Exam questions are developed by Fleet SMEs in your rating community during an Advancement Examination Development Conference (AEDC).  For each question, Fleet SMEs reference the content to a published source from your rating's Advancement Exam Reference List or your PMK Advancement Exam Reference List.  The item is verified to ensure the answer is correct, the content exists in print, and the information is generally available to all Sailors.  Questions are then selected for an exam by Fleet SMEs in your rating community.  Each reference used for a specific exam is compiled and the entire list of reference-linked questions becomes your exam bibliography.  Therefore, your bib is a road map for developing your study plan.

Periodically revisit the bib link to ensure that your bib has not changed.  While every effort is made to verify the accuracy of your bib at the time of posting, there are circumstances that may occur during those six months that require a bib change.  For example, a reference update or deletion for a reference posted on the bib may cause the bib to change.  If your bib has changed, you will notice a revision date in red at the top of your bib.  If this occurs, compare your original bib with the revised one and adjust your study plan as needed.  Check with your Command Career Counselor or Educational Services Officer if you have trouble locating any of your references.

Now that you have determined which references were used to create your exam questions, you can begin reviewing your references.  Depending on the content of the reference and the amount of time you have to study before exam administration, plan how much time you will need daily/weekly to cover each reference.  You will also need to determine whether you prefer to study alone or with a study group.  The most important thing to remember is that your study plan must work for you.

Rather than studying for hours in one session, break up your study time to reduce fatigue.  This also allows you to break information into manageable chunks to study.  Do not try to read a reference from cover to cover.  Instead highlight or underline pertinent material.  Flashcards are a great way to review vocabulary and specific facts.  You can stick them in your pocket and study them on your own or with a shipmate when you have a few minutes of free time.  Follow these tips when you are creating flashcards:

  • Create one card for each fact or definition you need to learn.
  • Put the question or vocabulary word on one side and the answer on the back.
  • Study the cards in order.
  • Quiz yourself by reading and answering each card.
  • Flip the card to check your answer.
  • Put the cards you answered correctly in a stack.
  • Put the cards you answered incorrectly in another stack.
  • Review the 'don't know' stack and test yourself again.
  • Continue this process until you know all the answers.

In addition to these tips, take advantage of command-sponsored training classes such as warfare qualifications, damage control and rating-specific Personnel Qualification Standards (PQS).  Ask your LPO or LCPO for help when you encounter difficulties.  Remember, you are in control of your study plan!

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