How to Find Out What’s on Your Navy-Wide Advancement Exam

A sailor takes the Navy-Wide Advancement Exam.
A sailor takes the Navy Wide Advancement Exam at the Vice Admiral Martin Fitness Center onboard Naval Air Station North Island. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joshua Sapien/U.S. Navy)

So what exactly is going to be on your Navy-Wide Advancement Exam (NWAE), and what do you need to study? The answer can be complicated, but understanding what you need to find out isn’t.

Prior to a NWAE exam, the Navy releases the Advancement Exam Bibliographies. These are a rating exam-specific list of both the books (and sometimes specific chapters, sections or pages) and a list of topics and subtopics. These bibliographies, also known as bibs, can be found on the Navy COOL website. To find them on that site, select “Rating” at the top, find your rating, click “Select” and then click on “Advancement Exam Bibliographies.”

After selecting which exam you are studying for (E4, E5, E6 or E7), make sure that you choose the right bibs; you will select either Active Duty (which encompasses the Regular, Substitute and Training & Admin of Reserves, also known as TAR) or Reserve component.

Rating Topics and Subtopics

Clicking on the “Rating Topics and Subtopics” link will bring you to the list of specific topics and subtopics used in your rating exam. Think of these as broad categories of information that will be on your exam, along with some subcategories.

For example, for the September 2022 Active Duty HM2 exam, one topic, Clinical Support Services, has three subtopics: Laboratory Services, Pharmacy Services and Radiology Services. This tells the exam-taker that there will be some questions about Clinical Support Services, which include lab, pharmacy and radiology. While this does not tell you how many questions will be on each, you can get a good idea of what will be on the exam based off of your profile sheet from your last test, which will list the number of questions per topic (not by subtopic). Scrolling to the bottom of the page, you will also see the Topics/Subtopics for the Substitute exam.

Navy-Wide Advancement Exam Bibliographies

Clicking on this link will bring you to the bibs, which consist of a list of references used to create your exam. Ratings list these differently based on how the exam writers classified the questions when they were created. Some rates will break down a book or other reference into specific chapters to study, while other rates will just list the book name. Many rates have a combination of the two, with some “Whole Books” and some “Specific Chapters” to study.

It’s very important to “fact-check” your bibs, since in many instances, the bibs will list the incorrect book version (see below). Scrolling to the bottom of the page, you will see the bibs for the Substitute exam.

It is also important to note that the Navy does not provide a cross-referenced connection between the Rating Topics/Subtopics and the Bibliographies. So while your exam may show the “Radiology Services” subtopic and list the Hospital Corpsman Manual (NAVEDTRA 14295B), you do not know whether the questions specifically on the HM exam about radiology come from the HM manual.

Navy-Wide Advancement Exam Bibliography Discrepancies

Take the time and effort to fact-check your list of references against the actual publications. The Navy Advancement Center has released bibliographies in the past that include updated book titles but are referencing older-version chapter structures.

For example, on the Master-at-Arms PO1 exam for September 2022, it shows: NTRP 3-07.2.2 (2021), SMALL ARMS AND CREW-SERVED WEAPONS HANDLING EDITION APRIL 2021; CHAPTER 15, 18, 2, 4, 7

However, this book only contains 17 chapters. The older version of the book (dated January 2015), however, did contain a Chapter 18 that covered non-lethal weapons. In this instance, it appears the book version title was updated from 2015 to 2021, but the chapter indicates the older version, meaning that you should add material from the NTTP 3-07.3.2, Employment of NLW, to also study.

When in doubt, verify it with your own eyes, paying particular attention to version numbers and chapter titles. If you find discrepancies, send an email to the Navy Advancement Center (its email is at the top of the bibs page) and ask its representatives to confirm the change to the bibs.

Updates to the Navy-Wide Advancement Exam Bibs

Once you’ve collected and verified your study materials, check back on Navy COOL often, as the Advancement Center updates its material occasionally throughout the study season. Whenever the center has done this, it has historically added a modification date in red near the top of your Occupational References.

Learn More About the Navy-Wide Advancement Exam

Need more help with the Navy-Wide Advancement Exam? Check out Bluejacketeer, which gathers and prepares material for your rating with a convenient mobile app and offline study mode so you can learn anywhere.

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