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Police and Law Enforcement Home    >    Promotional Exam Resource Center    >    Time and the Promotional Exam

Promotional Exam Resource Center

Police and
Law Enforcement News


Time and the
Promotional Exam
Police and Law Enforcement News
Wednesday, January 16, 2013 11:15 a.m.


If you could make a list of how many hours each officer from your agency will spend preparing and studying for the promotional exam, how close would that list be to the list that will eventually be released by the Civil Service Commission ranking all of the  candidates by score? 

My guess is that they would be almost identical.

Author Malcolm Gladwell examined in his book Outliers what factors contribute to those who become masters in their field.  His ultimate conclusion pointed to the "10,000 Hour Rule."

Simply, he concluded, if you put 10,000 hours of practice in toward a particular field, you will become a master in that field.

Some embraced this concept while others mocked it.

We bring it up in the context of the promotional exam to demonstrate a point: you have to put in the time.

Now, 10,000 hours equates to approximately five years of working a 40-hour-per-week job.  No promotional exam candidate is going to put it anything remotely close to this.

But, how many hours will you invest in this effort?

There are no shortcuts for this exam.  There is a mountain of information to be digested.  It will require a great commitment, and this means a great amount of time. 

The top tier candidates will invest several hours each day, every day.

This time will be rotated through reading, practice exams, preparing note cards, constructing legal breakdowns, etc.

The time commitment is absolutely inescapable.

Getting back to the 10,000 Hour Rule for a moment, most would agree that the quality of the time is as important as the amount of time.  When you are turning pages but not retaining anything, it is dead time.  It doesn't count.

Everyone will have hours and even days like that, but you have to work through it.  Again, there is a mountain of information to be consumed. 

We always recommend that, prior to commencing the study effort, candidates prepare, prepare, prepare.  And part of that preparation includes setting up a schedule for what is going to be studied and when. 

You cannot wing it with this amount of information.  You have to have an organized plan.  Plus, you have to leave time to go back and review, re-read, and test yourself on what you have already studied.

The best outcome would be to create a plan and manage to stay a few days ahead of schedule.  This will give you extra time to go back and hit the areas where you may need more work.

Time management is an extremely important component of the study effort.  The study schedule you make for yourself should be reviewed every day.

Keeping studying!  Click here for the Promotional Exam Resource Center main page.







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