Instructor examinations

Tackling the BSAC Instructor Exams

A disclaimer:

These pages are intended as a helpful guide, not a way for people to jump through hoops just to pass the examination, the principles should be applied to all teaching sessions, not just the exam.

Let's try and demystify this event for you. 
1. That word: Examination
First of all, it is called an examination because 
a. a team of examiners assesses a range of subjects across a significant period of time, 

b. it requires preparation; and 
c. there is a standard against which each candidate is measured. 
Those of us not used to examination tend to remember school exams, often seen as opportunities for failure. Later on in the education system, they are (and are seen as) neutral dispassionate assessments against a standard.
As Assistant Instructors, we constantly prepare diving trainees for assessment. We assess, correct and re-assess whenever we teach, in pool or classroom. Some of us (hush, whisper who dares) might even do this in water more than 4 m deep, or without a flat bottom, or subject to wave action. That doesn't suddenly transform us into Open Water Instructors any more than we are dramatically changed by the experience of the TIE/PIE exam. 
Since candidates are at least Dive Leaders, we have been assessed several times already for our theory knowledge and practical skill. So, what's the problem, then? Let's disregard the word "examination" if it bothers us. All that happens is that we are put through our paces, just like going on a club trip for the first time with the DO and the instructors who taught us. The difference is that we don't know anyone, and that can be a blessing.
2. Beforehand:
You will be given an idea on your IFC how soon the Instructor Trainers feel you will be ready for the exam. You will also be given explanatory notes setting out entry qualifications and syllabus for the exam, together with notes regarding recommended study and equipment to be provided on the day. When you apply is up to you, but remember the event can be booked up months ahead. It can be pleasant to make joint application to a local event and keep company with a club colleague. It might be comfortable to travel further, where there's no fear of anyone recognising you! It is worth considering an overnight stay the night before TIE/PIE if this would save a very early start and a long drive. A couple of weeks before the event, you will be informed of the subject area for your 10 minutes classroom lesson. Start right away selecting and preparing your material.
3. On the day:
The notes you were given at your IFC (you did keep them, didn't you?) tell you there's:-
A practical lesson of about 20 minutes normally given to 3 or 4 fellow candidates, 
A classroom lesson of 10 minutes to 12 fellow candidates and 
A one-hour multiple choice theory test up to Dive Leader level. 
The Chief Examiner's briefing will make it clear that you are assessed throughout the day, whilst instructing and whilst playing the role of trainee, whilst relocating between venues and whilst "at rest". This is only fair, as once the qualification is awarded, there is no going back. Fellow members of the club seem actually to believe that whatever a NQI may do in front of them is sanctioned, recommended or even demanded by BSAC. In fairness, weren't we all once in awe of our Instructor? 
The Chief Examiner will announce the beginning and end of "examination conditions".
4. Afterwards:
You will have the opportunity of discussing feedback from the examiner assigned to your group (without disclosure of the result, which is still to be moderated).


Mike Halligan

6th May 2001

Some information written by Alex Poole to prospective instructors within his branch

Click on these links to go to a specific part of the examination:

Yes, those of you in the know will have spotted that there is no BSAC examination of pool skills any more, however, the information is still valid for teaching in open water, with reference to planning and preparation, it's still worth knowing, so I am leaving it all in the web site.

Pool Lecture Theory