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You might be surprised to learn that, for many recruits, the most challenging part of their time at Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Academy isn’t the physical demands of training – it’s the academics.

We asked three members of Recruit Class 193 what they wish they’d known before starting their journey to the badge. See the tips they had to share with future recruits below:

How do the Academy’s academic requirements compare to high school or college?

Recruit Ella Klippert: The academic requirements in the Academy have a lot more pressure than what I experienced in high school and college. I went to a private, academically challenging high school and still I find that the academics here are more thorough and in-depth.

There is a lot more academic stress, so you must be proactive with the information to keep the load under control. However, if you keep yourself organized and utilize the calendar and plan to utilize your time outside of the Academy well, I find that it becomes progressively easier.

Especially if you have a spouse, or children at home, or both, it can be a huge workload adjustment. Not just for you, but also for your family at home. I spend a lot of late nights working on flashcards or working techniques or coming back to the Academy on the weekends just to get more time in a quiet place where I can do what I need to do to succeed.

Recruit Stedman Graham: The academic requirements of the Academy and college or high school are two different atmospheres. I realize the difference in studying for a college test has far more of a wide variety of things to cover; whereas the tests in the Academy are focused on what you will need to know on a day-to-day basis. The information you learn in the Academy will follow you for the rest of your life, whether you are an officer or not.

What’s your favorite study technique or habit as a recruit?

Recruit Kellen Kuhn: What has worked well for me is to highlight key topics in the online booklet / PDF as we discuss them in class. I then review the highlighted material in preparation for the test.

Recruit Stedman Graham: My favorite study technique is looking over my notes, reading them out loud and writing down the information during class. I like to repeat things over and over again out loud to put things into my brain so I remember the information as best as possible.

Recruit Ella Klippert: My favorite study technique as a recruit has been handwriting flashcards. A lot of people use Quizlet to study, however I find that writing things on actual paper helps me a lot. The flashcards are great because I can carry them around and study them as well as quiz my classmates, which in turn helps me to remember their mistakes and be able to reflect on our study sessions.

What do you wish you knew about Academy academics before you entered training?

Recruit Ella Klippert: I wish I would have known how much information is really being crammed into these short six months. When you start, it seems as if six months is a lot of time, but when you’re in it, time is flying and suddenly you’re talking about the state exam and graduation.

Especially in the first few weeks, it is test after test after test. There isn’t a lot of time in the day and, depending how proactive you are about keeping up with studying the information you’re learning, the harder or easier it will be.

In my first five weeks, I would make my flashcards, study them, and then toss them in my study set box and move on to the next set. After the exams, I would basically unregister all that information that I crammed into my brain to make room for the next exam.

Now, getting into the thick of the Academy, it is slowing down a bit, but then you must start studying for the state exam, which incorporates all the prior exams as well as the exams that you haven’t taken yet. So, I’m going back and forth between the new information that I’m still learning and the information I already learned.

It can feel stressful in the moment, but as you move on and start applying what you learned in class to scenarios and other classes, it becomes more relevant and you start being able to apply yourself.

Don’t let the fact that there’s a ton of exams get in your way of feeling as if you can’t get through the Academy. If this career is something you want, you will do whatever you can to make it happen.

Recruit Kellen Kuhn: I believe I came to the Academy prepared, so nothing has really surprised me yet. As far as academics, I would suggest that you be prepared for the frequency of testing. On average, a recruit will take two tests a week, sometimes three. If you’re not used to testing in that capacity, it may be a good idea to get yourself comfortable with multiple choice tests and understanding what study techniques work best for you.

Do you take advantage of study support, and if so, what works best for you?

Recruit Ella Klippert: My study support mostly comes from my spouse and a few peers at the Academy. When I must study for an exam after my flashcards are done, I do what’s called “teach backs” to my spouse. If I’m able to teach my partner the terms and definitions, general statutes and laws, then I feel confident in my ability to work through my exams.

With peers, usually we quiz each other and find creative ways to remember the confusing topics.

The instructors are extremely knowledgeable and want you to succeed. If you have questions, ASK THEM. It is so important to not fall behind because you’re afraid to speak or ask for clarification.

Recruit Kellen Kuhn: It has been about 10 years since I have been in an academic setting. In the past, I was used to using flashcards and taking part in group study sessions. Some of the recruits who came here following college have introduced me to Quizlet, which has worked well. The instructors also use Kahoot! to review. This is an online tool that makes reviews fun and competitive. It really engages the whole class and provides a very thorough review of the topics discussed.

What advice about the Academy academics do you have for new recruits?

Recruit Stedman Graham: My advice would be to find a study habit that works best for you. Repeat the material until you get it right and remember it without having to look at it. I recommend  talking to your classmates and comparing your notes to make sure you have all the information you need.

Recruit Ella Klippert: Keep organized, keep your paperwork neat, make sure your notes are clear. If you don’t have the best handwriting, utilize your computer to take your notes. Highlight your text and look back on what you highlight to help study for the exams. If you can’t highlight and write or type notes, then pick one or the other.

Most instructors provide detailed reviews. Take notes on them, but don’t depend on them fully. Something that’s vital to remember throughout is that your instructors do the best to inform you about the information you need, but ultimately YOU are responsible for everything in the text. Read the text, highlight, take notes and read it again.

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