/ Passing on my tips for passing ML Assessment

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b28b - on 19 Dec 2016
Hi all

Not long ago I passed my ML Summer first time. Being a Londoner with no outdoorsy friends or family, I found my biggest struggle to be working out what to expect - I couldn't find anyone to ask!

With that in mind, I decided to put together an account of my experience and some tips that I picked up following the process in the hope that it might help others in the same situation. You can find it here:

I hope it helps and, if you I missed anything out, let me know!

All the best
Steve Woollard on 19 Dec 2016
In reply to b28b:

Good effort, but I have to say that there are other providers who are as good as PYB

There are several MT groups on FB worth joining

Good luck for the future
richprideaux - on 19 Dec 2016
In reply to b28b:

Nice write-up.


There are plenty of others who would disagree with you at Plas Y Brenin being the best option. I've had much better experiences with independent providers than I did with Plastic Breadbin, and I am far from alone in that assessment. They're a good provider, but so are many others.
SenzuBean - on 19 Dec 2016
In reply to b28b:

Good article, but perhaps a bit too many points (makes it hard to choose which are salient)

My other advice:

- Become a leader in your own mind before the assessment (i.e. lead lots of groups and friends, arrange trips to the hills as often as possible, make the days interesting). If you are already a confident, safe and fun leader in your own mind on assessment, then you have nothing to worry about as long as you remember that. If you don't "feel" like a leader, it will be a lot harder.
- Instruct and demonstrate whenever possible. Teach your friends to navigate (or try rather, you'll probably find that your grasp on the subject isn't as good as you thought when you realize you're making a hash of teaching it). Get together friends who want to practice ropework, navigation, etc. Do your 5 minute spiels whenever you can.
- Go to as many interesting and new areas as possible. I highly recommend either hewitt or munro bagging as a great way to do this. Without something like that it's very tempting to visit easy/popular areas and then only find that out on assessment when you're taken to some strange area that is nothing like the well-trodden paths up popular mountains.
Purple - on 19 Dec 2016
In reply to b28b:

Had a read, lots of good stuff in there in my opinion. Good show.

Also in my opinion (as someone with more than 15 years experience as an ML Trainer / Assessor / Course Director)

Don't necessarily go to PYB or indeed the same provider who trained you. A more discerning approach would be to talk to other candidates and understand their experiences - let that help inform your choice. Some of the strongest candidates I've met have deliberately chosen a different provider for assessment, in a different area in order to experience new people, different ideas and new hills.

There are fabulous courses available outwith PYB and the other national centres.

And regarding

'Be sure of your decisions: when you tell the assessor where you think you are, say so confidently.'

Only be sure if what you write at the end of the paragraph is true. i.e.

'Be sure of your answer and your reasons for coming to that conclusion.'

If you're not sure, don't bullshit. Being unsure is what happens some times. Being supremely confident you're at 'x 'when you're actually at 'y' makes you look like a tool. Say that you'd like to look around and think a bit more - just don't take for ever.


Ron Rees Davies - on 20 Dec 2016
In reply to b28b:

Very nice write up (and I'd encourage people to read more of the stuff on Bex's blog(s) too).

As one of the other 3 people in the same assessment group as Bex (and yes, I can guess which comments applied to me....) I have little to add.

I'm sure there are plenty of other providers just as good as PyB (and I think our assessors were subcontracted, not full time PyB staff) but for me both my training and assessment (...and SPA courses, kayak courses, First aid etc) at PyB were perfect - and I learnt an awful lot on the ML Assessment both from all the other candidates and from both of our assessors.

My bullet points for people going for assessment would be :

- View it as a CPD course, not a "Pass/Fail Test". You need to demonstrate core confidence and competences but you don't need to know everything; Don't bullshit, show a willingness to learn where there are gaps in your knowledge/experience.

- Don't panic about a mistake, even a big one. In fact the assessors like to see you get something wrong so they can see how you recover and learn from it - my first night nav was a complete and utter failure, my second was the most focussed and accurate navigation I have ever done (but my map was covered in written bearing/pacing calculations)

and finally, to copy directly from Bex:
- Enjoy yourself! The assessors are looking for people who actually enjoy being in the mountains and who will inspire others. Although you should take the assessment seriously, when it is appropriate, it is fine to joke get to know your team and to take a moment to actually enjoy hiking with like minded people.

(although by the end of day 4 the jokes were getting pretty desperate)
galpinos on 20 Dec 2016
In reply to b28b:

Nice post.

Only a little thing but 7+1+6 does not equal 12 people.

jezb1 - on 20 Dec 2016
In reply to b28b:

Well done on passing!

As others have said, whilst PyB provide some great ML courses, so do plenty of other providers.
poppydog on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to b28b:

Congrats' and well done. I did mine at PYB but that was thirty years ago so I imagine things are a bit different now.
Toerag - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to b28b:

Interesting that the person that failed had 140 QMDs - why did they fail? Were they an absolute liability?

My top tip for leading a group in wild terrain (or even 'tame' terrain) - tell the group what to expect to see on the next leg eg. "We're going to follow the path uphill for 15 minutes to a wall, then contour round the righthand side of the hill below a crag until we reach a col." That way everyone is involved in the nav in so much that they might tell you when something's not right, and they also know where you've been when they come to navigate.

Disclaimer - I'm not ML, I can't justify spending all my holidays and weekends travelling to the mainland for 2 years to do QMDs when I can go to the alps instead.
jezb1 - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Toerag:

I'd take that a step further and ask your group to tell you what to expect.

b28b - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to b28b:
Thanks so much for all the comments and feedback. There's some really great extra tips people have added...all of which I agree with.

I can understand peoples point about PYB. The idea of my blog was to help people who are not surrounded by outdoorsy types. The problem with going independent is that you simply can't get the same quality guaranteed as you can with an organisation like PYB. I have no doubt that there are amazing independent providers out there, but, without a good recommendation PYB is a good safe bet. (plus their cakes are are awesome.....)

The guy with loads of experience who didn't pass just wasn't prepared. You can do endless walks in the mountains but if you don't practice micro navigation, group management and familiarise yourself with the syllabus, then you have no chance. Some people put way too much emphasis on experience where as actually fine tuning your skills and being prepared for the task at hand is the way forward IMO.

Post edited at 13:21

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