Another PADI IDC draws to a close here in Costa Rica and fun was had all round. No really! With a combination of pool, ocean and classroom sessions mixed in with some monkeys, and turtles topped of with a tropical jungle setting, what more do you need? So the next step is the PADI instructor Exam. This is conducted by an independent examiner assigned by PADI head office. The program lasts 2 – 3 days and is, going into it, one of the most nerve wracking experiences you think of. This what you have been building up for, this is the moment you have been thinking about for the past 2 weeks (or even longer!) But the funny thing is, once you get there, about half way through (and believe me if you choose to or not, you do actually start to enjoy it. The examiners are always nice and it is true, they want you to do well. They aren’t there to help, because certainly at this stage you should know what you are doing, but they are willing you on to your ever close goal of Open Water Scuba Instructor.
So on arrival, nerves flying around the room, the first thing is an orientation, and one of the first slides that comes up is the word “Relax”. Even just with that opening, smiles emerge just a little and shoulders start to un tense. Throughout the course orientation you are given a layout of the schedule, rules throughout program and what to expect and Oh My Goodness!!! Its the same as the PADI IDC that you just went through! Nothing different! During the orientation you are assigned your skills and presentations. What skills will you be presenting during confined, classroom and open water as well as the skill circuit. One of the more popular options is to get the first part, the exams, out of the way first. Through the many IDCs and IEs that I have attended, the majority of stress for candidates arises from the dive theory portion. By completing your five theory exams to start with, followed with your Standards, systems and procedures exam or vice versa it removes a lot of stress allowing you to sit back and relax just a tiny bit!
The theory exams cover the 5 theory portions, physics, physiology, equipment, RDP and dive skills. The standard exam is open book using both your instructor manual and your guide to teaching. If you fail one of the theory you can resit it, if you fail 2 or the standards you will have to retake the whole theory section during another IE. To get here you will have had to already pass the exams during the PADI IDC and they are the SAME STANDARD so don’t panic!
Okay, so now onto the confined. The confined water section always consists of a skill that you present and then a make-up skill if for some reason you fail. It is one skill to present and teach and can be from the open water course or the rescue diver course. On completion of that there will be 5 skills that you have to demonstrate. Demonstration standards are the same as the PADI Divemaster course and the IDC, in which to acheive a 5 you have to make the skill appear exaggerated and “easy”. Confined presentations, the key is to spot the problems quickly and be able to signal clearly to both students and assistants.
Classroom presentations. This is your prescriptive teaching presentation. One question to present, very importantly using your PADI Lesson guides. And that doesn’t mean just sticking it on the wall and ignoring it, that means referring to it and using the “additional information” section. Use of training aids is essential here and get creative! However, make sure the training aids are relevant to the topic. Frequent interaction with your students is also a bonus and don’t “waffle” too much, try to stay on track and hit your points. If you get nervous (I have seen it happen!) and stray of topic or mess up in another way, the don’t worry, there is the chance to redo another presentation.
So into the home straight now, the Open water presentation. There is no resit chance with this portion, it is pass/fail. You have 2 skills, same as in the IDC which you integrate together as much as possible. It could be 2 open water skills, or and open water with advanced, or a rescue and an advanced skill. Very important points, make sure you know your knot and have worked with a lift bag (search and recovery). As an open water scuba instructor you should be familiar with these skills as you may be asked to teach them. Control is key here as with the ever-changing ocean you may need to move your position around, communicate with your assistant and rethink underwater. Just make sure that every student completes their performance requirements! If it says 5 point descent then 5 points, then DESCEND!!
Then back on your boat and back to shore. You have finished your PADI Instructor exam, not so bad ?
You get through that then congrats!!!!!! You are now an official PADI Open Water scuba instructor, time to pop the champagne……
You’ve worked hard, give yourself a pat on the back and go out and live the dream.