Last March, 315 Sailors made rank aboard Stennis. This advancement cycle more than 1,400 candidates hope to do the same.
Though E-4, E-5 and E-6 examinations are weeks away there is still time for Sailors to hit the books to be prepared for their first chance at advancement in 2012.
Exams are re-written each cycle, but generally consist of a mixture of questions related to a Sailor’s particular rating as well as questions on basic military regulations. There are many resources available to study from, many of which can be found on the Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS) website, http://www.nko.navy.mil.
On BUPERS Sailors can navigate bibliographies for their rating, which reference all the documents used to write the exam. It denotes the exact chapters in a reference that Sailors will see on the test. Sailors can also find what sections to study in their basic military requirements book.
“I’ve always found everything I needed to study on BUPERS,” said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Jessica Hensel. “It tells you exactly what to study.”
Though knowing what to study is important, finding the motivation to study is equally important for doing well on the test, said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Juan Castilloadame, who advanced last cycle.
“You can’t just let books sit in your locker for months on end,” said Castilloadame. “You have got to motivate yourself to find the time and really make an honest effort to learn the material. Studying once and forgetting about it won’t help; you have to make a commitment to studying.”
Sailors discouraged by a personnel evaluation that they think will hinder their chance at advancing can boost their final multiple by doing well on the exam, but it begins with studying.
“If you are not happy with your evaluation then doing well on the test is even more important,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Justin McQuillin, who works in the education services office and routinely handles paperwork on advancement. “It can give you the extra points that could be the difference between advancing and staying right where you are. You should try and make a difference in the areas that you can control.”
Aside from studying, Sailors can also ensure all the information in their service record is up to date and accurate, which can have a significant impact on advancement.. Things like an undocumented college degrees, award points or having a security clearance can significantly affect a Sailor’s opportunity for promotion.
Last cycle more than 70 people missed the opportunity to advance by two points or less.
“Every point counts,” said McQuillin. “It’s unfortunate when a Sailor comes so close to advancing, but doesn’t because they didn’t check to make sure all of their information on their worksheet was correct.”
Advancing in pay grade not only benefits the Sailor who advances but also those behind him or her who are trying to move forward.
“Once you move up in rank you open it up for people below you to move up,” said McQuillin. “Even people that belong to rates that are closed should study now so that they are ready to move up at the next available chance and make room for others.”
Sailors also set a good example for other shipmates when they study for exams.
“I know a lot of people who don’t study and we shouldn’t want people thinking that advancement is just something that will happen to them eventually,” said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Vince Wilson, who is taking the E-6 exam this cycle. “You want junior Sailors to see their peers studying so they realize it’s an important part of moving up.”
Though deployment is nearing the end, Wilson believes Sailors should keep their mind focused on the upcoming exam.
“A lot of Sailors are more concerned about going home and seeing their families instead of studying,” said Wilson. “You have to look past that, stay determined and be hungry to make rank.”
Chief exams are scheduled to begin in January while E-4, E-5, and E-6 exams will take place on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Thursday in March.