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Following advancement exam construction changes announced in Naval Administrative Message (NAVADMIN) 197/11, a Test Plan Development Panel (TPDP) of force and command master chiefs redefined Professional Military Knowledge (PMK) the week of Oct. 19 at the Navy Advancement Center.

The restructured advancement exams decrease the total number of questions from 200 to 175 and increase the emphasis on rating-specific technical questions.

The September 2012 exams for active duty E4-E6, the upcoming January chief petty officer exam, and the Selected Reserve (SELRES) exams in February will be the first opportunities for candidates to take the new 175-question exams, which contain only 25 PMK questions.

"The previous exams were much more PMK heavy, ranging from 50 questions for the E4 exam to 100 PMK questions for candidates eligible for the chief's exam," said Tom Updike, Navy advancement execution division head for the Naval Education and Training Professional Development Technology Center (NETPDTC). "The reduced PMK section on the advancement exams presented the PMK-TPDP members with the tough task of prioritizing the massive PMK content area into a manageable and meaningful 25 questions on each exam. That process was focused on the critical information a Sailor needs to know beyond the core occupational and job-specific knowledge requirements."

Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Jeffrey Kirby from Patrol Squadron 16 was a PMK-TPDP member who traveled to NETPDTC from Jacksonville, Fla.

"The new PMK test plan and content information will give future advancement exam review teams an excellent framework and structure to draw from as they develop test questions," said Kirby. "We took fleet input as well as discussion with the PMK test panel to ensure our definition and topic areas were valid."

The PMK sections of enlisted exams assess a Sailor's knowledge of Navy general military training, professional development and the leadership continuum at the appropriate paygrade, regardless of rating.

"The primary reason for the exam structure change is to improve exam validity," added Updike. "More job-specific technical questions improve the Navy's ability to rank-order Sailors by rating. Advancement candidates who know the technical aspects of their rating better than their peers should like the change in exam structure."

For Command Master Chief (AW/SS) James Barnes of the Navy Information Operations Command in San Antonio, participation in the PMK test plan panel was his first exposure to advancement exam construction.

"It's extremely enlightening to see how much effort and seriousness goes into advancement exam development," said Barnes. "Our PMK team included members from the surface, subsurface, and aviation communities to ensure that the fleet was well-represented and gave an accurate and current definition of the required military knowledge."

To develop the PMK questions and rating-specific advancement exams, NETPDTC brings fleet subject matter experts (FSMEs) for their respective ratings to review question banks and develop E4 - E7 exams. The advancement exam readiness reviews (AERRs) are one to two weeks in length, depending on exam bank work requirements and are held throughout the year. The reviews are held at NETPDTC at Saufley Field in Pensacola, Fla. Participants receive temporary additional duty (TAD) orders from their parent command, paid for by NETPDTC.

"We use SMEs from fleet and shore commands throughout the Navy including schoolhouses and learning centers to ensure exam-bank questions reflect the latest technology and procedures," said Master Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) (SW) Eddy Mejias, NETPDTC command master chief. "The chiefs who participate know they're helping to develop 21st-century leaders and have given us feedback that their participation has been an invaluable experience."

NETC Force Master Chief (AW/SW) April Beldo was part of the PMK test plan development panel and will be coordinating approval of the new PMK definition through the Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education chain of command.

"This has been a rewarding process for myself and the command master chiefs from the fleet and has reinforced the necessity for commands to send their best and brightest chiefs and senior chiefs to the AERRs," said Beldo. "Chiefs who are close to the deck plates really know what their Sailors do on a daily basis and are crucial to the exam construction process."

For the current schedule of Advancement Exam Readiness Reviews, see the AERR NAVADMIN 254/12: www.public.navy.m il/bupers-npc/reference/messages/Documents/NAVADMINS/NAV2012/NAV12254.txt.

For more information about the Naval Education and Training Command, visit https://www.netc.navy.mil.