Your time will hopefully come when you will be asked to appear before either a promotion board or a soldier of the month board. This is not a bad thing, and you shouldn’t try to avoid it. Everyone is nervous at first, and it can be scary. You must understand that the worst that can happen is that you get a no-go and must try again later. If your unit is anything like mine, then you will receive barely any notice of the board and will have to cram as much information as possible. There are many techniques to help you study for the board, but when there is limited time, I found one strategy that can drastically improve your results.
My Sergeant used to have us all get together for a study group at the end of the day and go over questions from the Army Study Guide. This sounded like a good idea, but it can be a massive waste of time. We all sat around, and one person read a question, then someone would answer the question. The person who responded obviously knew the answer, and the rest just didn’t have a chance to think about it, and we moved on to the next question. After an hour passed, I still did not learn anything new. I suppose after hearing the answer to the same question over and over for many days in a row, I may eventually remember it, but I did not have that much time.
I decided to go a different route, and the results were amazing. I know it sounds boring, but I used flashcards. Now hear me out before you dismiss this strategy. I had the question written on one side with the answer on the other side. I then would divide the flashcards up by categories such as one stack of all land navigation questions and another stack of first aid. Then I drew up a calendar of the current month. I then worked backward from the date of the board and planned out which categories I would study each day so that I would hit up all of them by the time of the board. I also left a few days, in the end, to go back through all of them one more time.
Once I had my schedule in place, it was time to get studying. I carried the stack of cards for that day everywhere I went. Now here is where the magic begins. Take the first 3 cards from the stack and read each question. If you know the answer, then go on to the next card. If you do not know the answer, then turn the card over, read the answer, then turn back to the question side and repeat the whole answer without looking. Go on to the next card. You will do this for all three cards and continuously rotate through them until you can answer all the questions without looking at the back at least 3 times through.
Finally, after you finish this with the first three cards, you can then add one, two, or three cards to the original three. This way, you will continue to review the original that you just learned but continue this process for new cards. After you get about 15 cards learned to start all over with just 3 from the stack you have not yet looked at.
It sounds a little confusing at first, but trust me, this works. It forces you to not only learn the answer but to also remember the answer by only focusing on three cards at a time. You will also maintain that knowledge by continuously revisiting those cards once you have memorized them. A few days before the board quickly run through each stack and pull out any cards, you don’t feel confident with and create a new stack to study.