Before every academy class I taught, recruits asked me how they could get better grades. This is a very logical question. Most recruits want to position themselves well for their job; it always looks good to capture top academic honors. Some just want to stay out of the academy director's office and not have a call made to their department about poor academic performance. Some have been out of the academic drill for some time and just want a tip on better study habits. It matters not what the motive is; there are some realities and realizations to face in the academy.
One of the biggest worries of the prospective student is that the police academy is far different than any other traditional training experience. You have performance exams where you must exhibit proficiency in physical skills such as firearms, defensive tactics, and driving. There is the physical fitness component of which the body may be tested to its limits. Then the academic testing just burdens you down with additional demands. Most academies are built upon the building block process: what you learn in week one you'll apply to a greater extent in later weeks. It is imperative that you retain and understand every concept.
Now, if you are straight out of college, classroom learning and testing may not be an issue. What about the student who has been out of school for a year or more? Getting back to proper study habits can be a burdensome task for the adult learner. Now, here are some proven tips that will ensure your academic success:
Get organized and stay that way. Your classroom notes and handouts are the learning keys to your success.
Review your notes daily after class. While taking notes you may forget to complete a sentence or learning point. Nightly, tidy up your notes and review them.
Flash cards work; make them nightly. Go to the store and get a package of 3 X 5 index cards. They're cheap. Nightly, when you review your notes, make a flash card for each important point of the day. Write a question or cue on one side and the answer on the other side.
If you do this nightly it will not be so time consuming. Besides, rewriting a topic just reinforces the proper answer.
Study with your flash cards. The brilliant thing about them is that most anyone can help you study. Have someone ask you a question on a card and see if you know the answer. You don't have to hand someone a notebook and hope he or she asks the right questions.
Flashcards are portable; you can stick them in your pocket and you can study literally anywhere. Sitting around, grab the stack of cards, read and repeat the question to yourself. Answer; turn it over. If you are correct, put it in the "got it stack." Wrong answer? These cards go to the "need more study stack." By the end of the week, one stack is complete.
Proper study habits require time management. Sometimes you have to make time, and flash cards can help you to do this. Study while sitting in traffic, on the back pew Sunday, or while lying in bed before you turn in. The more you study, the bigger flash you will be.