By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Daniel Schumacher

Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) took part in the Navy-wide March advancement exam cycle while deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

The advancement exams, administered on the first, second, and third Thursday of March, are 175 question multiple choice tests that cover basic military and in-rate knowledge that Sailors are expected to know at their next pay grade.

Sailors prepared for their exams by studying and going to the Education Services Office (ESO) in January to verify their award points and evaluations with their service records. The records are the primary source of information used in confirming the candidate’s eligibility and points toward advancement.

Culinary Specialist Seaman Norman Brittlebank, from Linden, Guyana, started preparing for the exam in November by compiling a 235-question study guide from material he found in bibliographies online. Using his own study guide and study material, Brittlebank routinely met with fellow culinary specialists to study.

“We knew almost all of the questions on the test because of all of studying we did together,” said Brittlebank.

Without weekends or days off to study, Sailors like Brittlebank choose to sacrifice their off time to study, staying up late and still mustering for work at 0700 the next morning.

“It was challenging but I feel that it definitely paid off,” said Brittlebank.

Several E-7 and above Sailors volunteered to be a proctor for the exam, providing Sailors with proper testing materials, addressing any concerns the candidates had, and ensuring the candidates filled out all of the necessary paperwork.

“As we’ve seen in the last few advancement cycles, promotion has been solid,” said Chief Aviation Ordnanceman John Clark, from Grapevine, Texas, “and I personally want to do whatever I can to motivate and help Sailors wanting to advance.”

Once the exams are completed, ESO personnel review the paperwork and answer sheets for discrepancies and completeness before sending the tests to the Naval Advancement Center (NAC) in Pensacola, Fla.

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG), consisting of Stennis, Carrier Air Wing 9, Destroyer Squadron 21 and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) is forward deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom.

For more information on the JCSCSG, visit or


Operations Specialist 2nd Class Victoria Shearer takes her first class petty officer exam on the mess decks aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate/Released)