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cadet blogs

What To Do About Boards?

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link   All Posts
 Jessica Nelson Boards. Those six simple letters mean the world to a 4/c. They mean time taken away at night and on weekends. They mean repetition, stress, and worst of all, memorization. Boards is the 4/c indoctrination test, that my entire class must pass before we are able to move toward privileges. The months and weeks leading up to it are crunch time and can be extremely stressful.

First off, what is Boards? It is a test of nautical knowledge. From ranks and rates to the draft of an Island Class Cutter, any part of the 52-page packet was fair game on this ten question oral exam. The passing score was 8 out of 10.

I had good intentions to start studying early, and I took my Boards packet home with me over winter break but when the battle between sleeping and studying for Boards arose, sleep won every time. The first time I even glanced at the packet was on the flight home from break, a mere six weeks before the testing day.

I started off slow, memorizing the easy facts, and eventually ramped up the intensity to studying for one or more hours each night, spending even my snow days pouring over these 52 pages. Did I mention that the thing was 52-pages long?

In the weeks leading up to the fateful Boards testing day, I went through two mock Boards, so that I would know what was coming. These mock trials proved to be very helpful in getting prepared, but in each one I got a score of 6.5/10, a whole 1.5 points away from a passing grade. Yikes! I needed to work harder if I wanted to pass this thing the first time, so I studied harder.

Then the day came. My shoes were polished within a centimeter of perfection, and I probably lint-rolled my uniform five times right before. As I waited for my 0800 time slot to come, I watched one by one as my classmates walked in the testing room, yelled the mission and got tested. Then watched one by one as my classmates passed. With each pass, I was both relieved but incredibly nervous at the same time. Looking back, I was ridiculously nervous pacing back and forth, lint rolling, and repeating to myself the Academy’s mission.

After several “belay my lasts” and exaggerated pauses, I passed with a 9.5/10! More than the grade, however, it was nice to be done and to know that I could move past the endless hours of studying. I am certain that at least half of my class felt ten times lighter that day with it being over! It only took a few more weeks until my entire class passed, and now we are all enjoying our first set of privileges. We are now allowed to write on our white boards and listen to music out loud! While it seems small, you have no idea how revolutionary those concepts are! I mean, it’s almost like we are normal people again. Almost.

More about Jessica.