By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rob Rupp, Naval Special Warfare Group 2 Public Affairs
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (December 10, 2015) – December and January mark the halfway point between the fall and spring advancement cycles. Before Sailors can prepare for their advancement exam they should understand how Navy advancement works and what Sailors can do to increase their chances of advancing.
“Advancements are vacancy driven,” said Senior Chief Navy Counselor Stephanie Wood, Naval Special Warfare Group TWO (NSWG-2) Command Career Counselor.
The number of available vacant billets determines the quotas for advancement. The Navy tries to fill these billets by advancing Sailors to the next pay grade.
The Navy uses multiple factors to select Sailors for advancement. However, the two largest things to affect final multiple score (FMS) are evaluations and the exam itself.
Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Matt Fowler said, a good question that always comes up while he is interacting with junior Sailors is how they can get a better evaluation.
“I tell my Sailors, to get promoted to the next pay grade, you have to work above and beyond your normal job,” said Fowler. “You the Sailor control what your performance traits are and what goes into block 43 on your eval. Taking college courses, volunteering, mentoring, and stepping up and owning a collateral duty will set you apart when it comes time for evals.”
A Sailor can use their evals to get an idea of how many point they are entering the exam with. Early Promote evals are worth more points than Must Promote evals. These points are recorded on the Sailor’s worksheet. The worksheet is a document used to determine the amount of points toward promotion a Sailor has before taking the exam.
The task of writing the exam goes to the senior leadership within each rating. These subject matter experts are tasked with compiling all of the questions used on the exam and the references used to create the questions.
The bibliography is a list containing all of the references used to create the test for the current examination cycle. The bibliography can be found on Navy Knowledge Online.
“All sources of information used by the exam writer are listed and should be considered an outline for studying by the Sailor taking the test. Study the bibs for at least 30 – 40 minutes a day to increase your exam score and study the material you don’t know first,” said Wood. “Prioritize what material you study, the bibs contain thousands of pages of information, pull from the areas that are tied to what you would need to know to do the job in the prospective paygrade.”
The exam is made up of 175 multiple choice questions, 150 of the questions are rating specific and designed to test Sailors on their knowledge of their specific jobs. The remaining 25 questions are professional military knowledge questions.
“Some things you can do to prepare for the exam are to get enough sleep the night before the exam and know what to expect the day of the exam,” said Chief Master-at-Arms Timothy Brady, NSWG-2 Command Master-at-Arms (CMAA). “Arrive early, avoid drinking alcohol the night before, and don’t cram the day before the test.”
On the day of the exam, Sailors elegible to take the exam muster at the designated testing area to await instructions from the exam proctor. The exam proctor is an E-7 – E-9 who administers the exam and keeps the time. Sailors have three hours to complete the exam.
After the exam protor reads all exam instructions, the Sailors are ready to begin the exam.
“Read the question before looking at the answers, then come up with the answer in your head before looking at the possible answers. Read all the choices before choosing your answer, then eliminate the answers you know are not right,” said Wood. “Take an educated guess and select an answer. If you are not sure, there is no penalty for guessing. Do not keep changing your answers because usually your first choice is the right one unless you misread the question.”
“Some things to look out for while taking the test are negative answers and similar alternatives,” said Chief Master-at-Arms Alfred McGuire, NSWG-2 CMAA. Negative answers will have a negative word in the question in either all caps or the word is italicized. Similar alternative questions are where one of the answers has the same value as another answer, only it is worded different.
Wood said, utilizing these tips and advice can greatly increase chances for advancement. Sailors selected for the next pay grade are the ones who have prepared themselves for the exam.
“Sailors must have the want and desire to advance,” said Wood. “They must also have the want and drive to compete with others for the limited number of available billets.”