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Hard to pass level 2

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

took level 2...3 day event...3 different evaluators....still not feeling like the evaluators are always consistent or calibrated....

post #2 of 20
"Hard to pass level 2..." -- Is that a question or a statement? smile.gif

If you're just getting started in the L2 training process feedback can seem (and can be) pretty inconsistent. Different clinicians may look at different elements of your skiing technique/style and provide feedback specific to the patterns they've observed in the unique terrain and conditions you were observed in.

There is also a likely inconsistency in feedback when you attempt one Task with "Insufficient Flexion/Extension" then later attempt another Task showing "Too Much Flexion/Extension".

Properly adapting movement patterns to the given Task at hand may also shift emphasis from one skill to another (say, Rotary to Edging) opening the door to hearing, "You're Edging too much, Flatten your skis and Steer your feet more" ... and then ten minutes later hearing, "You're Steering too much, you need to get your Edges engaged and holding earlier!"

Whenever people provide me with feedback I make sure I fully understand the specific context, desired inputs and expected outcomes - at least, those they have in mind. The books all say we should embrace the Learning Partnership idea. I read this as License to question everything people are telling me ...biggrin.gif


Can you provide more information on any specific contradictions you've perceived?

.ma
post #3 of 20
Were you? Consistent and calibrated that is.
post #4 of 20

What PSIA division? They are all different it seems in their testing.

post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 

It is a statement. Some of the examiners have been around too long. They forget what it was like to be in the position of being tested.  Would it hurt to get a little feedback during the exam process?  Day one got some good feedback. Examiner friendly took time to ride chair lift up with each person.  Day two examiner grilled participants in front of others. Day three examiner stuck to himself except for the candidate from his area.  I have been in exam 2 situation twice.  Both times the local candidate was the one that got the pin from the local examiners. cool.gif

 

post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 

cannot say what division...but a friend was tested at our division at least 4 times.  went to another division and passed.  said the ed staff was much more friendly and positive....welcoming  and not "I am better than you" attitude.

post #7 of 20
Hi Skiinglady--sorry to hear that you had what sounds like a frustrating experience at a certification exam. You are not the first. I can tell you that, for the most part--and with really very few exceptions--examiners work extremely hard and try to get it right, but it is still a human process where all errors and inconsistencies are impossible to eliminate.

Failing an exam is always frustrating, but please do not take it personally. Give yourself at least a few days to get perspective, and then review the examiners' comments and scores again to see if they might make sense. Go over your results with your local trainer(s) to see if they can help you make sense of them. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact the examiners directly. Most are more than willing to help out with additional feedback, insights, and suggestions for improvement. In fact, most examiners lament the fact that few candidates--pass or fail--come to them after the results seeking more input. They'll be grateful and honored and they will go out of their way to help you. All you have to do is ask. Examiners--again, with virtually no exceptions--do not like to see people fail, but they do take their responsibilities seriously.

You have to remember, too, that they probably have NOT forgotten "what it was like to be in the position of being tested," as you suggest. In most divisions, at least, examiners have gone through many, many exams themselves, and most have failed a test or two (or more) along the way. They really do appreciate and sympathize with what you go through--and they respect you deeply for putting it on the line and subjecting yourself to an evaluation. In most divisions, examiners themselves are subject to regular and continuing skills evaluations and re-verifications in order to maintain their status as examiners. They know what you go through.

Reasons for failing an exam are not always obvious to the candidate. It is not uncommon for candidates to second-guess examiners' decisions, regarding both their own performance and that of their fellow candidates. But you must respect that the examiners do have many years, if not decades, of experience at both teaching skiing and at training and evaluating instructors. They WILL see and perceive things you do not. Again, they'll be happy to share their insights if you ask them. But I cannot tell you how many times I've had a candidate come to me and proclaim that "I know I should have passed my pivot slips--I kept it in the corridor and showed complete upper-lower body separation" (or some such explanation), while the very way they are standing and moving their bodies tells me immediately why the examiners could not "pass" them in that maneuver.

I failed a Full Certification exam myself, some time ago--failed the teaching segment. At the time, I was absolutely convinced that they had gotten it wrong, and that my teaching had been brilliant. I was even proud of the teaching progression I'd come up with, and with how it seemed to have been received by my fellow candidates. I still think I did a lot of things right in that exam, but it was about 20 years after the fact that I suddenly, finally, realized why I had not passed. That's right--it took me twenty years to recognize a real, clear shortcoming in my presentation, and to realize that my examiners had been 100% right.

Of course, there are a few dinosaurs in the examiner ranks, who may not have kept up or who have failed to keep their perspective--perhaps more in some divisions than others. There may also be a few cocky types--typically newer examiners--who may feel a need to "demonstrate their superiority" in inappropriate ways, or who simply lack the experience to give appropriate, helpful, honest feedback. I hope that these types are very few and far between in your division. But if, after some time to reflect, you honestly feel that the exam was not properly conducted, or that an examiner behaved inappropriately, by all means write a constructive letter to your division's executive director, board of directors, or chief examiner (who may have a different title in some divisions). It is extremely unlikely that a result will be overturned, but the feedback is critical for driving the improvement we all want.

In any case, thank you for sharing your experience with us. Please do keep us posted with your continuing quest for better teaching, skiing, and certification. I look forward to hearing about your success. Warmest welcome to EpicSki!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiinglady View Post

 Would it hurt to get a little feedback during the exam process?  

 

...

 

Both times the local candidate was the one that got the pin from the local examiners. cool.gif

 

 

Feedback in an exam is a damned if you do and damned if you don't thing. Eastern division frowns on it. I forget which but Western or Rocky embraces it, even to the extent of coaching candidates to help them pass. In the East I've yet to come across an examiner who does not wish for all candidates to pass. They divulge all their "secrets" in prep clinics and are up front about the things they do to be impartial and adhere to the standards. When I took my level 3 the second time, the one examiner who failed me (and had also failed me on my previous attempt and is known as a "tough" examiner) told me how happy she was that I had passed while she explained to me why I did not pass her. That was a wow moment for me. BTW I agreed with her 100% ( I was crappy in front of her). Although my personal opinion is that feedback during the exam negatively impacts performance more often than it helps, as a member providing feedback to the organization I'm ok with or without it. My advice to the pros that I help prep for exams is that if you don't know whether you'll pass or not, then you need to train more. At least in the East, the quality of the prep clinics and the study guides, and the fairness and consistency of the examiners makes this true.

 

In the Eastern division, candidates may get examiners from their home mountain, but this is very rare. In a smaller division, this may be unavoidable. One thing I have noticed is that candidates that get local training from an examiner have an easier time passing exams. This may be the "old boys network" in some places, but it is simply higher quality training in others.
 

 

post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post

One thing I have noticed is that candidates that get local training from an examiner have an easier time passing exams. This may be the "old boys network" in some places, but it is simply higher quality training in others.
 

Actually, I think it's simpler and less Insider-ish than that.

If I take an Exam with Examiners who don't know me at all then I've got a lot to prove on the spot. If I take an Exam in front of Examiners who have skied with me many times before then they've a good idea how well I ski in 'normal' conditions (outside of the exam situation) and are more apt to accept me as a Level-X skier (assuming they've seen that level of skiing from me in the past). Of course, if they've seen me ski poorly in several clinics they may instead be predisposed to judging me harshly.

Same for the Teaching Module. A person may really know their stuff - but get tongue-tied on the spot during an Exam. An Examiner familiar with my teaching from other events might not have many questions for me during the Exam since they've already had many earlier discussions with me in the past.

To be most fair everyone needs to ski/teach up to muster during the actual Exam but there's little doubt prior exposure to candidates (perhaps in Prep Clinics) helps color their judgment either way.

.ma
post #10 of 20

Good points Michael.

 

I think examiners generally know whether or not a candidate will pass the skiing portion of the exam within the first minute of watching them ski, whether they've skied with them before or not. I've had some tell me that there are usually only one or two borderline candidates that they need to look at closely to make the decision. The rest of the exam is just marking up the details of what you did. In my experience it has helped to be familiar with an examiner's style/task preferences. This makes it more likely you will be familiar with a specific variation of a task, know why that variation was chosen (i.e. the underlying philosophy) and what the examiner is looking for (good and bad). I had not thought about that aspect of getting an exam from your home examiner.

 

For the teaching portion of an exam, I think the bigger benefit of prior exposure to an examiner is the improvement in efficiency of communication. With familiarity on both sides on the conversation there is less chance of misunderstanding due to semantics and greater chance of understanding what was meant vs what was actually said. There are some folks that I've skied with that I just don't get where they are coming from. They ask a simple question that to my mind is so open ended and convoluted that I can't even come close to answering correctly. After some experience with these folks I can at least avoid sounding like a total idiot.

post #11 of 20

Did you take a prep clinic prior to taking the exam? Since your exam was three days it sounds like maybe there wasn't one.  I'm in the Northern Rockies division and we can't take the exam unless we've taken the prep clinic either in the current or prior season.  In our division the prep clinic is three days and the exam is two days.  We take the written exam at the prep clinic and then have the current season and the following season to take the exam.  I took the prep clinic a few weeks ago and it was great.  I learned a lot, including that I need to wait until next year to take the exam because it would be close to a miracle if I passed it this year because my boots are too stiff so I can't flex them and my left calf is still significantly weaker than the right after 4 surgeries over the past 19 months to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.  The feedback from the examiner was excellent and has definitely helped my skiing.  In fact I feel lucky to be in this division because the examiners and clinicians I've had the opportunity to ski with, including our own Little Bear, have all been great people and have given very useful feedback.

post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post

I think examiners generally know whether or not a candidate will pass the skiing portion of the exam within the first minute of watching them ski, whether they've skied with them before or not.
I agree with that. If I can quickly spot those skiing well above the Standard (or well below it) then I've no doubt the Examiners can too. From what I've seen, heard and observed most Examiners spend little time with those well above the Bar and put their time in with those who may still make it with a little guidance. Doing this is a chancy thing for them to do during an Exam.

If the Examiner provides guidance then a candidate may think/claim it was that specific guidance that 'messed them up' and caused them to fail. And in truth any suggestion to change one's technique suggests they're not passing and might well take someone off their game by creating self-doubt. One method I've seen that works is for the Examiner to ask the group up front if they want general guidance (or not) during the Exam. Such guidance is only offered under the spoken agreement that accepting candidates will not hold any advice against the Examiner.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty 
For the teaching portion of an exam, I think the bigger benefit of prior exposure to an examiner is the improvement in efficiency of communication. With familiarity on both sides on the conversation there is less chance of misunderstanding due to semantics and greater chance of understanding what was meant vs what was actually said.
I think so too. And it's not just the interpretive subject-matter aspects that matter - it's also building the comfort level to speak easily with Examiners without getting tongue-tied from being self-conscious and intimidated.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty 
There are some folks that I've skied with that I just don't get where they are coming from. They ask a simple question that to my mind is so open ended and convoluted that I can't even come close to answering correctly.
Heh, I see that too. There's one Examiner around here who likes to ask, "What part of the body moves into the new turn first?" This is a truly loaded and unanswerable question without him providing considerable elaboration. (And I don't even agree with his expected answer!)

However, I know he asks this same question when leading Cert Prep clinics so anyone who has skied with him before an actual Exam likely has heard his thinking on this matter - getting right back to the value of prior communications being so useful.

.ma
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 

I did take the prep...and the guy told me to go for it!

Same thing when I took it a few years ago...took the prep then too.

I do believe locals get a better chance because the examiner has seen that person ski in normal (not test) conditions and they know the mountain.

The exam is not real not relaxed.

post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiinglady View Post

It is a statement. Some of the examiners have been around too long. They forget what it was like to be in the position of being tested.  Would it hurt to get a little feedback during the exam process?  Day one got some good feedback. Examiner friendly took time to ride chair lift up with each person.  Day two examiner grilled participants in front of others. Day three examiner stuck to himself except for the candidate from his area.  I have been in exam 2 situation twice.  Both times the local candidate was the one that got the pin from the local examiners. cool.gif

 


I've been to a few D-Team tryouts, and it is nice to see the Examiners sweating there. They haven't all forgotten what it's like.

 

post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 

icon14.gif

post #16 of 20

Certianly can't speak to all examiners or all divisions, but I agree both with the fact that it is possible to tell who will pass and who won't right away. I know when I took my L2, I could tell who would and who wouldn't by the end of the first task.

 

There is some element of good old boy in the system, but I've found that examiners generally have been fair and honest. In my opinion feedback during an exam isn't going to help those who aren't going to pass. They aren't failing because they can't do a particular task well, but because their skiing isn't strong enough and the task shows that up. Now when I coach people working on level 2 i work with them on their skiing, and show them how a particular task highlights certain aspects of their skiing. Fix the underlying skiing issue, and the task becomes easy.

post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by iWill View Post
 Fix the underlying skiing issue, and the task becomes easy.


I completely agree with this.  The task is merely a window into a skier's basic movement patterns.

post #18 of 20

From the other side, evaluating a skiers skiing against the standards is HARD!

No, I am not an Examiner and yes I have failed a L3 (the worst 3 days of my life!).

 

But as I have worked more and more with other Instructors I have developed a growing appreciation for just how difficult an Examiners job really is.

I had the same problem recruiting at colleges.

The clear above the standards are easy, as are the clear not meeting them.  The vast bulk of your time is spent on those on the cusp.

They have different abilities on different skills.  Some good and some not so good movements.  It then becomes a question of which ones are more important than the others, which mix says this one is over or under the bar.  Surprise, the Examiners are individuals just like the Candidates and they too have their own set of relative values.  Hence the three days so that this variability can be dealt with effectively - best two out of three.

 

An exam is may be the only place where you get negative feedback - "you didn't pass because......"

Normally you would hear - "this is what you can work on to improve your skiing."  Big difference!

The exam just says whether your skiing is above the bar or not - period.

Nobody wants to "fail" anyone.

And therein lies a problem.  In all your preparation for taking an exam, the hardest feedback to get (and give) is "you're not ready" or "don't take the exam".  It's like performance appraisals that sound really good but you never get promoted.  People want to give and get the sugar coated version.

This year, at a local L3 clinic, we had several people that had paid to take the exam.  Our clinition was an Examiner and the single biggest / bestest thing they did was pull one person aside and point blank tell them to not take the exam - they were not ready.  And no it wasn't me, I already know I'm not ready - or more appropriately, when I returned home I said to my wife "I'm free, I'll never make three!"  When I found out this occurred, I sought out the Examiner and told them how much I thought of them for doing that.  Tough to do folks.

 

When someone comes up to you and asks "Do you think I can pass my Level x?" you'll begin to appreciate how difficult it is to answer.  And if your answer is negative several things can occur - they never ask you again, you lose a friend, you cause them to lose confidence in themselves, or I hope "What can I be working on to eliminate the question?"

 

Is it hard to "pass"?  I hope so, if it were easy it would not mean as much.

Have you ever seen a certified instructor ski by and asked yourself the question "How did they ever pass?"  Do you want to be that instructor?

 

 

post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by iWill View Post
They aren't failing because they can't do a particular task well, but because their skiing isn't strong enough and the task shows that up. 


They fail because they are not making the movements that are required. The tasks are hard to do when the desired movements are not being done.

 

I saw a candidate in a level 3 exam fail who had exceptionally strong skiing. His strength was extreme flexibility (the term "rubber legs" should provide a decent visual). But he used that flexibility to adapt for not moving his core. He successfully performed the tasks he was asked to perform, but he did not successfully demonstrate the movements he was expected to perform.

 

 

BTW - level 2 is supposed to be hard. It would not mean as much if it wasn't.

post #20 of 20

At my (then associate) level II exam, on the third day my examiner was my ski school director. I was glad because I figured I had already passed or failed and there was not much I could do that day to change that. Coming from a school that had over a dozen examiners on staff it was hard not to get on in an exam situation. It was even harder not to KNOW what the standards were before getting the green light to to go to the exam.

 

I've taken and passed four 3 day exams (associate and full alpine in central division, LII and LIII tele in eastern) as well as attended the pinning announcements at a bunch more and one other thing you said troubles me.

 

" I have been in exam 2 situation twice. Both times the local candidate was the one who got the pin from the local examiners"

 

I have noticed that particularly at LII pass rates in groups that work together tend to be high. In groups that treat it as though there were only a few pins to hand out, tend to have low, or no, pass rates. Remember it is not a zero sum game. If you meet the standard you will pass, if you don't you wont. Anything you can do to get your group working together on figuring out tasks and answers make it easier for every one to meet the standard. Unfortunately we are all human and examiners have bad days, and prejudices, too. All you can do is be prepared, and work together to help everyone succeed in a very stressful situation. 

 

As to it being hard, It is hard. But I've always felt that at LII if you felt like you have a good chance go for it. At LIII however the attitude going in has to be "Give me the damn pin" 

 

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