I just got off the phone with one of my former Soldiers, who is upset about his recent NCOER. He is upset because he was given a 2 for performance and a 2 for potential. He feels that he should have been given a 1 in each of these categories. We will never know because he was not counseled by his rater at any time during his rated period. The other part that he does not understand is that his rated period is only 6 months, and during this time there was not a lot going on besides reconstitution. Boards understand this and are smart enough to look at the number of rated months and read what the unit was doing during this time. If you read AR 623-205 and DA PAM 623-205 (and AR 623-3 ..replacing 623-205 and includes electronic reports) you will see that a 2 and a 2 makes the rated NCO fully eligible for promotion. I am living proof of this. I have NCOERs with 1/1, 1/2, 2/1, 2/2. People are under the impression that you must have a 1/1 to get promoted. Although promotion to SGM and selection to CSM is so competitive that generally you will have to have a 1/1, there are exceptions. Counseling is mandatory for all Noncommissioned Officers on a quarterly basis. When I was a 1SG I required MONTHLY counseling for all NCOs. At first there was some resistance to my policy, but after a while folks began to see the method to my madness. With monthly counseling, the rater can easily monitor trends and properly mentor the rated NCO. It also makes writing the NCOER extremely easy. The first thing you MUST do to make sure you have a fair shot at promotion is to DEMAND THAT YOU ARE COUNSELED. As part of making sure you are being counseled, you need to ensure you are being counseled properly. Hold your rater accountable. Make sure that he (or she) is covering all the bases and not just writing a bunch of fluff. I used to tell every young NCO that walked out of a promotion board as a SGT (P) that from this moment out, nobody cared about his career anymore. Think about it. For every promotion until you make SSG, SOMEBODY had to recommend you, prepare you and generally take some interest in ensuring your success. Once you are a SSG it is all on you. YOU update your records. YOU take your DA photo. The second think you have to do as far as counseling is concerned is to make sure YOU know how to write well. Your rater has two lines per bullet, and if they are a poor writer they will not be able to convey the message that is their head. The board members can not read minds or try to determine intent. They can however see when somebody is writing a bunch of B.S. Thirdly, make sure that an excellence is in fact an excellence. Another myth is that you have to have all excellences to get promoted. Not true. Read 623-205 and you will find that excellence should be reserved to a very small percentage of NCOs. Excellence comments should be measurable and quantifiable. Led his squad to accomplish every mission on time and with minimal resources This is not an excellence this is what NCOs are supposed to do. This is an example of a very strong success. Performed duties as a jumpmaster on nine occasions, and as a Pathfinder on four; exiting over 850 paratroopers with no injury or damage to Army or USAF equipment This is an excellence because it is measurable. Board members can see through the fluff and a badly written excellence is worse off for you than the same bullet marked as a success. Fourth is assignments. Go where the Army sends you, but get back to troops as soon as possible. If you are in a MOS that has positions for Team Leader, Squad Leader, Platoon Sergeant and First Sergeant, seek out those leadership positions and do your best. I am fully convinced that I was promoted to MSG because I was a 1SG for 11 months as a SFC. Fifth is education. There was a time when civilian education was not all that important for most NCOs. This is not true any longer and education is going to be even more important. The Sergeants Major Academy is transforming into a Masters Degree producing educational institution. That would mean you are going to have to have a Bachelors degree to get promoted to SGM. This change is not going to happen overnight, but it is coming. My guess is that in the next 6 years the plan will be fully implemented. NCOES is being brought into line with the Command and General Staff College. There are tons of educational opportunities for all of us, if we just take advantage of them. Distance learning is not a joke anymore. Colleges and universities like Cornell and Penn State are offering distance learning. Other great colleges are Touro University, Webster University, St. Leo, Central Texas College, University of Maryland etc .. You will EARN your degree and come out the other end a better leader. Sixth is Special Duty Assignments. This is an area where you have to be careful. Go to the Promotions section at the HRC website and look at the board results. You may be surprised. Some MOSs place little or no weight to Drill Sergeant or Recruiter duty. Some place heavy emphasis on it. Read the instructions to the board members to see what the board (that year) was looking at. Seventh. Go to every school you can. Field sanitation, Load Planning, Armorer, NBC whatever. Do it so that you set yourself apart from your peers and have the skills to pass on to those you are leading. I mentioned updating your records. Do it NOW. Do not wait until the board is about to convene and everybody else is going to the photo lab and the PSB. DO IT NOW so that if there are mistakes, you have time to get them fixed. I could put a whole bunch of things here, but this should get you started if you are interested. If you have questions just ask .