What to Bring to Your Instructor Exam

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Thanks to Maryse Dare for the inspiration on this blog post. It’s one of those things that gets discussed a lot on an IDC so I thought it would be useful to put it all together in one place. So here is a definitive list of everything you should and shouldn’t bring on an IE.

First of all, you are regularly told throughout your IDC not to fear the IE, to relax and enjoy it, that everyone is on your side etc etc but very few things with the word exam in their title are relaxing and enjoyable (the words general, common, entrance and also rectal spring to mind) and it’s unlikely you will be leaping out of bed fist pumping the air with joy on the morning of your IE. However, there are things you can do that will lessen the stress of the whole experience.

Most important is to be prepared and ensure that you have every thing you need.

  1. Paperwork: Your Course Director should give you a giant wodge of paper to take to the IE. Whilst it’s important to ensure that this is all filled out correctly, what is absolutely, vitally important is that you bring a copy of an in date medical form signed by a doctor. If you don’t have one of them, you will not pass Go.
  1. The correct attitude: There are minimum passing scores for an IE. This doesn’t mean that this is the benchmark standard for a diving instructor. What it really allows is some leeway for otherwise completely competent people to have a ‘moment’ during exam conditions. I haven’t seen many centres advertising for mediocre instructors so strive to be as good as you can and then go, you’ll find the whole experience much more rewarding.
  1. The right exposure protection: IEs are a little like adult film sets, there can be a lot of waiting around for your turn to perform (apparently). That waiting around can also take place under the water so it’s crucial that you are wearing enough gear to stay warm. Don’t decide to wear your thinnest undersuit so you can be ‘flexible’ or ditch the gloves to aid in knot tying if it means that 30mins into the dive you’re borderline hypothermic and your hands have become inoperable numb claws. It’s also important for the pool too. First off remember a wetsuit, I nearly forgot mine on my IE which meant I could have ended up doing it in my pants, something no PADI examiner should have to witness. Swimming pools aren’t always that warm either so consider a full suit (they’re better for horizontal hovering too).
  1. Your basic kit: Take all your usual kit including spares, now is not the time to stress about mask straps, buckles, o rings etc. The IE is also not the time to test your new drysuit or BCD. Making an arse first ascent to the surface entangled in a liftbag is not considered to best way to run the skill.
  1. Specialised Kit: You’ll need to ensure that you have all the other toys too. You will definitely need to have the following: Ropes (decent thick pieces of rope, not your shoe lace), liftbag, SMB and compass.
  1. A streamlined approach: You need to be streamlined in two ways on an IE. First of all your kit should be tidy and simple. Whenever I see an instructor candidate walking towards me in a giant flapping monstrosity of a BCD already partially incapacitated by neon yellow curly lanyards and retractors a small piece of my soul drifts away, lost forever in some corner of Wraysbury. You don’t need all the slates, just the slates you need. Also remember one of the great advantages of diving in a drysuit is that they have pockets. Put all your stuff in there, including your snorkel if you like, and be streamlined. Secondly you should have a streamlined approach to your presentations. In a real world scenario of course you might choose to spend more time elaborating on various key points but remember on an IE that it is unlikely that the examiners or other candidates have any doubts about how to clear a mask so keep your briefings and debriefings short and sweet.
  1. Tanks and weights: You won’t be supplied with any kit for the IE. ANY KIT.
  1. Your Game Face: This is an American expression. The English translation would be to conduct yourself with quiet, dignified stoicism. Running about flapping breathlessly with your drysuit round your ankles is not a good look during the IE.
  1. A calculator and an eRDP for the exam: You are not allowed to use your phone as it can be potentially used to cheat. You can use a calculator on a tablet and also download the eRDP app from PADI to use on your tablet as well though.

What not to bring to the IE:

  • A giant crate full of junk to use as non diving related training aid. We live in a digital age. Use your smart phone or tablet to access t’intenet and creatively illustrate your point.
  • Ankle weights: Take them off, you don’t need them.
  • Split fins: If you booked a swimming lesson and your instructor turned up wearing armbands, would it inspire confidence?
  • A hangover.

So there we have it, make sure you do all the above and you’ll be fine. In fact, you will definitely pass!*

*Please note, you will not definitely pass.