“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
— Alvin Toffler
BNCOC are open book tests. Too often education is reduced to memorization and that isn’t the point. You want to understand the subject, not regurgitate facts and figures. Testing in this fashion is designed to encourage students to learn how to utilize reference materials such as Field Manuals and Regulations to find answers. There is simply too much to learn for anyone person to memorize it all and information is updated and changed to adapt to new conditions. Memorizing what the FM said five years ago may be out of date. Learn how to look it up. Don’t take any answer as gospel until you have a published reference to back it up.
For those of you about to attend BNCOC/ALC my advice is to treat the exams like preparing a legal briefing. It isn’t enough to merely know the answer to test questions, you want to find the location of a specific, identically worded statement that matches the question and your answer. Again, treat the exams as a research exercise and you’ll learn how to dig through Army publications and regulations to find the answers and references you need.
Lessons continued after completing the testing. Army writing style was analyzed. Key points are writing in an active voice, with a clear, succinct message that can be understood in a single, quick reading and that is generally free of grammatical error. Your correspondence doesn’t have to be polished prose. Pick a style guide you like and go with it. I like the Strunk and White guidelines and use the AP styleguide at work, but Chicago or any other is just as viable. Much more important is format. While your prose needs to be generally error free, memorandum and other official formats need to be exact. AR 25-50 and DA Pam 600-67 are your guides.
Evaluation Reporting System was covered next. NCOERs are important to your career and the career of your subordinates and becoming more heavily factored in promotions. Forms 2166-8 and 2166-8-1 must be done correctly. Demand counseling to have specific, written guidelines defining your job. Help your leadership by keeping notes of your specific accomplishments regarding that counseling and write it up for them. Especially in a Reserve environment, your leadership may not see or be aware of everything you do for your unit. As a leader, do likewise for your subordinates.