Navy Dads

My sailor is in phase 2 of nuke school (Prototype is next). He has done well with his grades up until recently. Usually a 3.2 average. The last few weeks he has been struggling with the tests and has been around 2.51-2.8 grades. He doesn't spend time playing and is totally dedicated to succeed. He volunteers many hours to studying above his required hours. But he just cant get the answers "Exactly" the way the tests are graded using some kind of "Key". From what he's telling me answers need to be per verbatim from whats on this grading key. He knows the material but misses a word or two and it's graded as wrong. So he's really beating himself up on this as he feels he cant memorize it all. He's a older mature sailor and has graduated college for mechanical engineering before enlisting. His test today was a 2.51 and he is mad as hell with himself. Doesn't want to talk about it or discuss it. Said he needs to figure out how to study this material cause everything he's tried has failed. I've mentioned study groups and talking to a instructor for advice about his issue. I believe he has psyched himself out it's hurting him.

So any advice from you all would be appreciated. Can anyone tell me how they grade tests and what they expect as answers. Any tips to help his studying technique?

Thanks to all who reply.

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Replies to This Discussion

As a former NPS instructor, I can tell you that the students do not have to have answers verbatim. All exam questions are graded for understanding of the material. They do look for certain words or phrases within a students answer when grading as those words or phrases are key to the concept being tested. I will say that answers need to be worded carefully though. All the instructors have to go on to assess the students understanding of the concepts are the words written on the page. I used to tell my students "words mean things." One word can change the whole meaning of and answer (that's the English language for you) so you have to be careful what you write. I can't think of a specific example right now as it has been a couple of years since I taught at NPS, but I had many situations where students would not get credit for a certain part of an answer and they would tell me during the exam review after hearing the answer to the question "that's what I meant." That may be the case, but that's not what you WROTE. Words mean things. 

My advice to him would be to spend AT LEAST an hour a week in each of his instructors offices getting run time. Run time is basically a question and answer session with an instructor where the instructor will ask the student question and the student will put their answers on the whiteboard for the instructor to evaluate. This will lead to uncovering gaps in knowledge which the instructor can then address. They will also help the student in formulating answers so that they are able to more accurately convey their understanding on a written exam.

If he is just sitting at his desk staring at his notes trying to memorize the curriculum, he is doing himself a disservice. That is almost a sure track to failure. There is just too much material in too short a time to memorize it all. You need to understand it. To quote ADM Rickover, "If you can't write it down, you don't understand it." He will accomplish much more in an hour with an instructor than he will sitting at his desk staring at his notes all night, trust me.  The instructors are there to help him succeed. Make them earn their pay.

I have a post on the discussion board with some tips and tricks for navigating nuke school. Take a look at that as well.

Also, as hard as it is, try not to get too down about the grades. Anything greater than 2.5 is extra credit. When you get to the Fleet, no one cares what your GPA in Power School was. All they care about is that you get qualified and support the watchbill.

Hope this helps. Feel free to contact me with any other questions you may have about the Pipeline or being a Nuke in general.

I'm going to hazard a guess here and say that he just started his classes in the second half of NPS (Chemistry/Materials/Radiological Fundamentals, Reactor Principles, and his in-rate course). The second half classes are a world apart from the math, physics, and cross-rate courses of the first half. This is really where the shift from theoretical to operational takes place. If he can get in the mindset that the courses are being taught more from an operational perspective than a theoretical one, that should help him out a great deal. A good instructor will try to relate every lesson to something that the students will see as operators in the Fleet, which helps with gaining a better understanding of the material.

Randall,

I would just continue to encourage him as I believe my son had the same experience (also an older sailor) and just had to work through it. I know the instructors will help those who show the desire to succeed. I passed your comments to my son for his feedback and will let you know what he has to contribute.

Rocco

Hi Randall

First of all, thank you and your son for his commitment and service.

As a father of a son who completed A School recently and had a similar situation, I can relate.

He made it through the process and believes that Prototype school is well worth overcoming the struggles.

I suggest you continue to encourage him as you have done. The fact is he only needs to maintain a 2.5 to pass the exams, everything else is icing on the cake. If he has an issue with comps he may be offered oral exams as a way to progress to Prototype school.

I do not wish to belittle those who score higher. The Navy is investing a lot into your son and do not want him to fail; continue to encourage him to seek assistance.

Hope this helps.

Praying for you both.

Thank you Rocco. I have been forwarding him the responses I have received and I think it's getting through. Thanks for the advice.

Randy

Rocco A Cavallo said:

Randall,

I would just continue to encourage him as I believe my son had the same experience (also an older sailor) and just had to work through it. I know the instructors will help those who show the desire to succeed. I passed your comments to my son for his feedback and will let you know what he has to contribute.

Rocco

Thank you Scott. My sailor always puts his heart and soul to excel in everything he does. He's always wanted to be in the Navy since he was little. He's a little hard headed sometimes as I've basically repeated some of what you have replied. I have forwarded your response as well as some of the others I received and I heard today he's going to talk to his instructors. Finally! He has mentioned he would like to come back as a Instructor sometime and he tells me he has to finish with a higher grade point average or be above 50% of his class??? This would help his advancement in his Navy career. Can you shed some light on that? Thanks for the advice. I'll probably be back with other questions down the road. Thank you for your service. God Bless.

Randy

Scott Henry said:

As a former NPS instructor, I can tell you that the students do not have to have answers verbatim. All exam questions are graded for understanding of the material. They do look for certain words or phrases within a students answer when grading as those words or phrases are key to the concept being tested. I will say that answers need to be worded carefully though. All the instructors have to go on to assess the students understanding of the concepts are the words written on the page. I used to tell my students "words mean things." One word can change the whole meaning of and answer (that's the English language for you) so you have to be careful what you write. I can't think of a specific example right now as it has been a couple of years since I taught at NPS, but I had many situations where students would not get credit for a certain part of an answer and they would tell me during the exam review after hearing the answer to the question "that's what I meant." That may be the case, but that's not what you WROTE. Words mean things. 

My advice to him would be to spend AT LEAST an hour a week in each of his instructors offices getting run time. Run time is basically a question and answer session with an instructor where the instructor will ask the student question and the student will put their answers on the whiteboard for the instructor to evaluate. This will lead to uncovering gaps in knowledge which the instructor can then address. They will also help the student in formulating answers so that they are able to more accurately convey their understanding on a written exam.

If he is just sitting at his desk staring at his notes trying to memorize the curriculum, he is doing himself a disservice. That is almost a sure track to failure. There is just too much material in too short a time to memorize it all. You need to understand it. To quote ADM Rickover, "If you can't write it down, you don't understand it." He will accomplish much more in an hour with an instructor than he will sitting at his desk staring at his notes all night, trust me.  The instructors are there to help him succeed. Make them earn their pay.

I have a post on the discussion board with some tips and tricks for navigating nuke school. Take a look at that as well.

Also, as hard as it is, try not to get too down about the grades. Anything greater than 2.5 is extra credit. When you get to the Fleet, no one cares what your GPA in Power School was. All they care about is that you get qualified and support the watchbill.

Hope this helps. Feel free to contact me with any other questions you may have about the Pipeline or being a Nuke in general.

Thank you TJ. I will pass this on to my sailor. I think I have gotten through to him this week with all the responses I have forwarded him. He's beginning to see the points you made here. I appreciate the advice.
Randy


TJ creech said:

Hi Randall

First of all, thank you and your son for his commitment and service.

As a father of a son who completed A School recently and had a similar situation, I can relate.

He made it through the process and believes that Prototype school is well worth overcoming the struggles.

I suggest you continue to encourage him as you have done. The fact is he only needs to maintain a 2.5 to pass the exams, everything else is icing on the cake. If he has an issue with comps he may be offered oral exams as a way to progress to Prototype school.

I do not wish to belittle those who score higher. The Navy is investing a lot into your son and do not want him to fail; continue to encourage him to seek assistance.

Hope this helps.

Praying for you both.

You called it Scott. Its a rough time right now. I've forwarded him the responses I've received and finally he is going to talk to his instructors. He's got us parents support, but I have to do a bit of Tough Love to get through to him. Moms good cop, I'm Bad cop. Thanks for the advice, I really appreciate it. It's good to hear from other folks who have had the same experiences. God Bless

Randy

Scott Henry said:

I'm going to hazard a guess here and say that he just started his classes in the second half of NPS (Chemistry/Materials/Radiological Fundamentals, Reactor Principles, and his in-rate course). The second half classes are a world apart from the math, physics, and cross-rate courses of the first half. This is really where the shift from theoretical to operational takes place. If he can get in the mindset that the courses are being taught more from an operational perspective than a theoretical one, that should help him out a great deal. A good instructor will try to relate every lesson to something that the students will see as operators in the Fleet, which helps with gaining a better understanding of the material.



Randall W. Adams said:

Thank you Rocco. I have been forwarding him the responses I have received and I think it's getting through. Thanks for the advice. And I would love to hear from your son.

Randy

Rocco A Cavallo said:

Randall,

I would just continue to encourage him as I believe my son had the same experience (also an older sailor) and just had to work through it. I know the instructors will help those who show the desire to succeed. I passed your comments to my son for his feedback and will let you know what he has to contribute.

Rocco

It is true that you must be ranked in the upper half of your class in both Power School and Prototype to return to NNPTC as an instructor. You can get orders to Prototype without the class standing if your performance evaluations are good.

Any change in the situation over the last couple of weeks?

I believe so. I passed on your advice and he went a did some "Run Time". His last test was good and he feels good about the ones coming up. He's to graduate the 21st of July. Then Prototype. He really looking forward to that. Thanks for all the good advice.

RSS

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