I loved doing my ML training (all those years ago). It was a week away in the mountains gaining a formal understanding of what I already loved doing and it was a pathway opening up new possibilities for my future.
Assessment on the other hand felt a very different ball game: and I did it twice (passed it twice too) – once with the army and then years later as a civvy. On each occasion it felt stressful because I knew I would be on the spot. So here are some top tips to give you that edge and to help you perform at your best.
Make sure your log book is full, varied and well itemised
By this I mean, get as much breadth of experience as possible. It’s taken for granted that you will log days in a variety of mountain areas from across the UK and you will have gone out on solo overnight expeditions as well as having led groups of friends on days out. But have you worked with students as well as adults? Have you depth of experience on grade 1 scrambles with people? These sorts of experiences you will find invaluable when faced with scenarios on your ML assessment.
And make sure that breadth of experience shines through when you’re being assessed. So when you are asked to deal with a situation on steep ground be sure to ask questions about the context of this theoretical situation. In my time working as a mountain leader I have had to deal with a range of situations on steep ground where I have had make a decision to rope up or not. The client in concern may be afraid of heights, or maybe they are hypoglycaemic and in danger of stumbling over, or maybe they have an ankle injury and you’re walking them off the hill or maybe you’re leading a student expedition overseas and you’re escorting a hypoxic casualty down from altitude… There are many reasons why you might need to closely supervise a client on steep ground as a summer ML but it is rare that the deployment of a rope will be needed and you need to demonstrate appropriate judgement.
With experience you will learn that the gradient of the ground is only one factor in the decision making process. The nature of the client, the weather and the time of day all play into the process. So when your assessor asks you to escort a “client” down or up a stretch of ground be sure to ask them what the context is. By doing so you will (a) be able to make the best decision on which is the best course of action, (b) show how you have learned from your experience and (c) be helping the assessor spell out exactly what objective they’re trying to assess.
Get 100% on the pre-assessment paper
Ok – maybe nobody has ever scored 100% but there is no reason not to aspire to do so. In this day and age with a bit of application and the internet at our fingertips there is no reason not to score highly on this paper. But that is the whole point – it’s not just set to assess your ability but it is also there to prompt you to think about wider issues, demonstrate your willingness to do a bit of research and to get your head into gear. Doing well in this paper means you will have done your homework, it will give your confidence a boost and it will reflect well on you as a first impression for the assessor marking your paper. Don’t stint on this.