We spoke to a Uniformed Sergeant who recently completed their first year in a front line supervisory role. We wanted to know what advice he would give to people thinking of moving from Constable to Sergeant.
Why did you want to be promoted to Sergeant?
I had been on intervention for over five years and whilst I really enjoyed the role I felt it was the right time to move up. I found more and more that other officers were coming to me for advice and was kind of filling the role between PC and Skipper. It was at that point I thought I would go for promotion.
How did you feel when you put in for the exam?
Nervous. I hadn’t taken an exam for a number of years, in fact it was almost ten years since I last sat a proper test. I remember using google to work out how to create a revision timetable. The issue was by the time I had finished work, put the kids to bed and had dinner, it was already gone 9pm. I tried to read the books after that but it wasn’t going in.
What studying methods worked for you?
Watching presentations and practice questions were key. This gave me a really good understanding and then I could go back to the relevant sections of the book and make notes of the parts I felt may be examined on. I also found that I retained far more information in the mornings, therefore I would study before late turns and weekends. In the evening I could relax and watch a few presentations, not quite as thrilling as Game of Thrones but it got me through.
How long did you study for?
I started studying six months before the exam, in truth I am annoyed I didn’t start earlier as once I got into revising I really started enjoying it. Although I scored well on the exam, I feel that those extra months could have really allowed me to score a top mark, it gets surprisingly competitive!
How many hours a week did you study for?
At the start I was doing around ten hours a week, fitting in study sessions where I could without much structure. In the months running up to the exam I was regularly completing fifteen to twenty hours, if not more. There is so much to fit in.
Did you find your revision aided your day to day work?
Definitely, it’s kind of like going down to the gym, the more you study the more your knowledge grows. I felt a real sense of pride when I was able to answer another officer’s question in briefing. It also meant that I could use my knowledge when out on jobs, this allowed me to practically test my learning.
How were you on the morning of the exam?
I was pretty calm, it’s a good feeling when you know you have put in the work and I went in fairly confident. I had driven to the examination hall the week before so I knew roughly how long I needed. I also got all of my stuff ready the night before, meaning that I didn’t have to scramble around trying to find things. The hardest part was waiting for the exam to start as I wanted to put my knowledge to the test.
What advice would you give Sergeants taking or preparing for the exam?
I would say, if you feel ready, go for it. It can actually be enjoyable and finishing the exam is a real achievement in itself. The most important bit of advice is I think is to work on your time management. So many people left the examination without finishing it. I worked really hard knowing how many questions I needed to have completed at various points, this allowed me to use the time to my advantage and finish with two minutes to spare.
What’s the best thing about being a Sergeant?
For me it is the pride I take in leading my team. We are really close and work fantastically together, they appreciate the work I have put in to get where I am and now I am helping a couple of them prepare for the next exam. Hopefully they can be successful like I was.