Commentary

December 6, 2013

Develop a study plan that works well for you

Chief Master Sgt. Patrick Edem
51st Maintenance Group superintendent

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The weighted airman promotion season is back; chief master sergeant promotion testing period has just ended while senior master sergeant, master sergeant, technical sergeant, and staff sergeant cycles are fast approaching.

My message, if you don’t read any further, is to study for promotion – I mean really study for your promotion.

For our enlisted force, this is one thing that always amazes me; many people just don’t study for their Promotion Fitness Exam and Specialty Knowledge Test. If you observe the average scores for these tests over the years, the majority hover somewhere around a 55 to 65 percent.

The one thing I have always had in my favor with regards to promotion is that my peers did not always study, so I thought to myself, why not use this to my advantage? The strange part about it is that when asking those not selected for promotion if they studied, most will say they did. However, when you really peel it back, what they actually did is just read the Professional Development Guide, or PDG, or glance over their Career Development Course, or CDC, a few times.

In most cases, this method of “study” in preparation for any assessment or examination will not be very successful. Being fully prepared and ready requires more time than just a glance over; you must digest and absorb the PDG, CDC material and any other career field requirements to do well.

For me it is best to know the material and know how it applies. After 26 years I still reference those books to remain well-versed in my job and as an Air Force professional. Find the method that works for you and stick to it.

A first step in the right direction may be to set a goal and develop a plan to tackle it in a way that helps you retain the most information and understanding. Things like making flash cards, notes, using audio aids, setting study time/duration and/or changing venue (home, library, community center) may assist you in staying focused and on course.

Just reading through the books provided will not get it done. Most of all, you have to commit yourself; this can even be a family commitment for some.

Personally, every time I prepared for an exam, my wife and children didn’t see much of me, especially at night or on weekends. My family understood that in order to put a study plan into action and effectively achieve a goal, I needed to isolate myself in a separate room, or go to the base library.

To be entirely prepared you must be prompt and reliable with honesty to yourself in planning, scheduling and execution. Additionally, total commitment to the mission and your job while simultaneously taking advantage of this systematic developmental opportunity will go a long way towards ensuring success.

So think about it, do you want to get promoted, expand your level of leadership and accept more responsibility? If so, it starts with a real study plan, one that works for you … and staying devoted to it.




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