Firstly, its nice to back from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. It was without question one of the most humbling and great experiences of my career. I count myself as very blessed to have met and been in the presence of so many amazing people and the lessons we learned.
Now onto the business on hand. The 2011 promotion exam to sergeant lieutenant and captain is fast approaching and with less than 6 months remaining until the test many people believe that they have plenty of time. In the past I always suggest that test takers begin at a minimum of 6 months in advance of the exam, but need to be careful not to burn themselves out.
Generally there are several types of plans depending on how much time you have. Considering there is less than 6 months left, we will assume that you have already started so that’s the plan we will go over.
That being said we recommend the following plan for the upcoming exam:
Buy the books. Yes, they’re expensive, but there is no substitute for the source material. Begin by reading them through for the first month or so just to get a feel for the books and their philosophy. Supervision of Police Personnel and Community Policing are easier reads, and you can get through them quicker. With Police Administration and Criminal Investigations the time becomes more of an issue due to their size.
Once you get through the original source material then begin studying the outlines. Don’t just read through them, begin putting together a plan on memorizing the key points in each chapter. Each section should be broken down into flash cards. Apply the rules of 3 and 4 (we have tried to do this for you in our written and audio outlines).
By the 3 month mark you should be working on memorizing key points in your outlines or flashcards. I have a couple key points I try to emphasize:
Point #1: Don’t overwhelm yourself with materials. More is not necessarily better. You can only study what you have time to get through. Often times I hear “well I’m going to stick with studying The criminal procedure and law materials and criminal investigations because I will use that stuff even if I fail”. The logic is good, if you plan to fail. Of the crim pro and law based questions most people who spend any time self educating themselves will likely get 75% of them right without studying. As for criminal investigations, it is the least tested of the texts. The answer is to do the opposite. Focus on the things you don’t know.
Point #2: Don’t worry about everyone else and what they are doing. Are they studying? Yes, they are but worrying about it just cuts into your preparation time so stop. Do what you can, where you can, with carefully selected tools. Taylor your studying to your enviornment. I get into this more at another point, but the point is don’t let your competition get into your head. This is directed to the guy who worries when he sees the guy with the brand new book walking down the hallway, or spends too much time wondering what the other guys/girls are studying, reading, or classes they are taking. Relax, get yourself some materials and slowly methodically start working through them. This leads to point 3.
Point #3: Find a study plan that works for you. People learn differently, and knowing what works best for you and using that method, whether its listening or reading flash cards is key to getting the most out of your limited study time.
Attorney Ronald A. Sellon