For most people, myself included, assessments are a daunting experience. Using my own experiences here are a few tips to help get the best possible result. In preparing this article, I have taken information from the many coaches and instructors. All have been instrumental in my own development in their unique way. To those involved, thank you for making me the outdoor professional that I am today.
STAGE ONE – PREPARING FOR YOUR ASSESSMENT
Tip One – Choose Your Provider
Most providers want you to pass so it’s worthwhile doing a bit of research and choosing one that has a good reputation is respected in the industry, such as CHMAS. Ask your friends and colleagues who they have used and what they thought about their experience.
Tip Two – Prior Preparation
Make sure you have read and understand the syllabus and any guidance notes. This will ensure you know what you will need to demonstrate during the assessment. If there are any stipulations to the number of days/hours/experience required, consider this as the minimum amount. The more time you spend practicing will increase your fluency at assessment. A good friend once told me ‘If You Fail To Prepare Then You Prepare To Fail’. Unfortunately, I have seen this on a number of occasions. Thinking back to my own assessments, I can see now that in some cases, I just hadn’t done enough preparation! A good rule of thumb is to do 50% more than the minimum amount or better still double it.
Tip Three – Enjoy It
We all love what we do, that’s why we do it and want to introduce others to the sport. Relax and forget about your assessor and let your knowledge and enthusiasm for the sport shine through.
STAGE TWO – DURING THE ASSESSMENT
Tip Four – Do What You Do
You have done the preparation so just do what you normally. This will be slicker / more natural than trying to second guess what you think the assessor wants to see. If the assessor really wants to see you use a particular technique they will normally ask.
Tip Five – Keep an Open Mind
There is more than one way to do most things so don’t compare your solution with another candidates. Both methods can be equally valid so just do what you normally do. Take note of what others do because you can pick up some great ideas for your own personal development. However, don’t try something new on assessment because the chances are that something won’t go quite as you expect.
Tip Six – If in Doubt / It’s OK Not to Know All the Answers
If you are unsure of what’s been asked for then ask questions to clarify. Assessors want you to pass and will be quite happy to clarify things for you. If you don’t know the answer be honest. This can sometime happen and honesty is often the best approach and shows a human side.
Tip Seven – We all Make Mistakes
Sometimes, things don’t always go to plan. If things go a little awry then don’t beat yourself up about it, we all make mistakes. Your ability to recover the situation is far more important! This shows the assessor that you are on top of the game. I like to call these moments learning points.
Tip Eight – Let the Assessor Know What You’re Thinking
Believe it or not, assessors are not mind readers and may ask questions to understand your thought process. Verbalise what you are doing so the assessor knows why you have chosen a particular way to solve the problem. This is also helpful if you realise you could have dealt with a situation more effectively. It shows the assessor that you use reflection in your approach, rather than sticking to a set formula.
Pointing out something you’ve seen to your assessor can often spark quite an interesting debate in the group. This can often be as simple as a wild flower or the complex issue of sustainability in the natural environment.
Tip 9 – Enhance the Experience
Assessing for leadership awards can be tricky. Therefore, I ask myself this question, ‘Would I trust this person to provide an interesting, safe and informative activity session?’. Take a balanced view when assessing risk and adventure. Overdoing safety can really remove the fun from the activity. Whereas, not assessing risks properly, for your clients, leads to misadventure.
Tip 10 – Remember It’s Just Another Day Out
We are observed every time we take part in an activity. Relax and forget about your assessor and do what you normally do. This time though expect to get some quality feedback and constructive comments on what you have done. Remember the assessor can only comment on what they have or haven’t seen on the day.
I hope you find this article useful and I wish you every success in your assessment. If you would like a PDF version of these tips for your reference then please click the link below.