I took the liberty of borrowing this from the Nuke Mom's group. It was originally posted by BunkerQB back in 2011. Great information!
I posted the following originally in January 2011 and reposted by elizabeth77(USS SAN FRANCISCO) on September 21, 2011 with her notes in italic:
My son is a nuke officer on a sub. He went through officer's equivalent of Nuke School and Prototype. It was not difficult for him because his degree was in electrical engineering. Several years ago, I asked him for advice because one of my friend's son was having a hard time. Here is what my son told me off the top of his head over dinner - after a glass or two of wine.
1. Don't try too hard. You don't have to pass with flying colors. You just have to pass. Do not mistake this with slacking off, just try to relax a little and do well at the same time. Perfect isn't a requirement. (my son finds that if he puts in his required study hours, it pretty much keeps him at a level he is happy with for his grades and doesn't get him too stressed out most of the time.)
2. Keep a regular schedule. Try to get a good night sleep every night. If you stay up all night studying - it may not be optimal - a case of diminishing returns - next day you may sleep through the new concepts being presented in class - thereby getting yourself in a deeper hole.
3. Eat healthy - stay with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats (brain food), plenty of fluids. Good nutrition is more important than you think. Junk foods are easy and tempting, but put effort into eating right (this is a little difficult when I hear the fruits and veggies are either over cooked, under ripe, or over ripe. I tried to convince my son to go to the store and keep some fresh fruit in his room, but don't think he ever has done it). Wash hands often - avoid getting a cold. Stay warm. Stay away from people who are sick.
4. Do not compare your score with the scores of others - that creates anxiety. Don't stress over ranking stuff. (just a note here, there is no way to really avoid this. My son said they post everyone's scores, with their name, so they always know how everyone is doing and what their class ranking is.)
5. Don't be embarrassed or shy about asking for help. Sometimes, it's just one little thing that stands in the way of understanding the concepts.
6. How well you do in Nuke school is not be correlated with how well you do on the fleet.
7. Have some fun (on weekends) but avoid excesses (drinking, eating, playing computer games) because it takes time for the body and mind to recover from those sessions. Be sure to get out of your room. Socialize.
8. Think positively. Have some faith in the Navy's judgment in putting you in the program in the first place. If you didn't belong, you wouldn't be there. Remember the little victories.
9. Eliminate psychological distractions - particularly family/girl friend issues.
10. Avoid people who are negative - a percentage falls out of the program every years - just the way things are - hang out with others who are have the same positive outlook. And really try to be positive about things. No sense in dragging yourself down.
11. The material itself is not that difficult (in my son's opinion - for any of the guys who are selected for the program) but the sheer volume of information to absolve in a short period of time makes it difficult.
12. Divide and conquer. One step at a time. Don't get overwhelmed with the whole scope. Take it one section at a time.
13. Not making it in the Nuke program may be a blessing in disguise - there are plenty of jobs that someone with a "nuke" brain can do. It's not failure in life - just not as able as others to cramp a huge amount of material into the little old brain. NOT A BIG DEAL - just go on to something else.
THINGS CHANGE. FEEDBACK IS IMPORTANT. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ADD/REVISE AS YOU WISH. BunkerQB January 16, 2013.
As a former Power School Instructor, I will say that this is pretty much on the money. Points 5 and 6 especially.
Addressing point #5: It is the instructors job to help you pass. That does not mean that they will hold your hand and spoon feed you answers, but if you are willing to put forth an honest effort they will spend as much time as it takes to help you understand the material. I spent many a Saturday morning in my office with struggling students going over concepts until they got it. As an instructor, one of the most gratifying things is that moment when you see "the light bulb" come on and the student realizes that they grasp a concept. Instructors are required to be available during the academic day to answer questions from students. For those parents of Sailors in the pipeline, encourage your Sailors to use their instructors. They are not limited to just their class instructor either. They can get help from any instructor in the office. Some instructors are better at teaching certain concepts than others and most will freely admit that and actually refer students to other instructors for help with certain concepts. Make the instructors earn their pay. I can't emphasize this enough. If your sailor feels comfortable with the material, they should spend an hour or so in an instructor office getting "run time." Run time is essentially a quiz session where the instructor will ask the student questions and they will answer them using a whiteboard. This actually accomplishes two things. First it re-enforces the concepts that are being taught and, most likely, will uncover a gap or 2 in knowledge that the student didn't know they had. It also prepares the student for the prototype and the fleet because run time is conducted similar to the oral boards they will face at prototype and in the Fleet when they reach certain points in their qualification process. They will be standing in front of a whiteboard armed with their knowledge and will be subjected to questions from one or more instructors. Run time gets them used to answering questions in that venue. I have seen students drastically improve their exam scores just by spending an hour or 2 a week in an instructor office getting run time.
Addressing point #6: One thing that I noticed during my 20 year career as a Navy Nuke was that some of the best and most proficient operators out there were the ones that scraped the bottom of the barrel through the pipeline. They were the ones who were on mandatory 30+ hours of study a week and were still scraping by with a GPA barely above 2.5 and usually one exam failure away from being academically dropped. So definitely, tell your Sailors to NOT get discouraged if they are struggling to pass Nuke School. Keep their heads down and grind it out because Nuke School GPA does not matter in the Fleet. I will throw the caveat in there, though, that if they have any inkling of going back to Power School as an instructor they need to be ranked in the upper half of their class GPA wise. Other than that, no one cares what your GPA was in Power School once you're on a boat. What matters then is that you are qualified to stand a watch and that you are a productive member of the watch team.