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Preparing for the advancement exam is the same as preparing for any other test. You must set up your study time and gather your advancement material. To prepare for your exam you should first download your bibliography for advancement in rate. The bibs are what reference what you need to study for the exam. Treat it as a long term investment that will also help you gain more knowledge working your rate.
Next you want to gather all your material and enroll in any NETPDTC NAVEDTRA courses. The rate specific courses are your bread and butter but do not take on too many courses at once - the goal is to be consistent and study properly. There are several sources you can use when gathering your advancement material that is referenced in your bibs. Remember though that classified material and other military pubs or manuals may not be available online or for download. Some of this material may be available right at your work place or parent command if you are TAD.
NavyAdvancement.com has available for you the bibs reference page, PMK (Professional Military Knowledge) page and rate specific page. Also available are other external links that will assist you in studying for the exam. If you know of any additional links please let me know.
As an enlisted Sailor, knowing what to study is important! The enlisted exam has 200 questions; some are based on Navy Occupational Standards (Occ) and others on Professional Military Knowledge (PMK). The occupational standard questions are the same for all rates within pay grades. That means that each pay grade, regardless of rate, will have the same military questions. Now that's some good gouge for study groups. The bibs are exam specific and continuously change so you should always download the latest bibs.
If you understand what the exam consist of you have passed the second hardest hurdle in taking the test. The hardest hurdle of course is to actually study; if you have studied the correct material using all available resources, taking the exam will perhaps be the easiest part of the whole process!
The Navy Advancement Center provides this very subtle note, which states: "The exams differentiate among fully qualified candidates on the basis of who has the most knowledge." To differentiate yourself you should seek these other sources of knowledge during your studies.
Your studies should also be a long term investment. If you are like most Sailors, you will not pass the exam on the first try so here is one strategy. Start studying for the exam continuously with only a pause after you have taken the exam. After the new Bibs come out start studying but start with the harder subjects first. How do you determine that? You can find your weak areas by looking at your last exam results. Studying your weak areas will most definitely benefit you at work too as you gain knowledge in certain areas of your rate.
Continue doing your studies until you make rate. If you encounter difficulties try talking to some of your peers or those in your shop or office. You will be happy as you gain that knowledge and even more so when you advance in rate!