1. Home
  2. /
  3. The PTGA Assessment Process

The PTGA Assessment Process


The PTGA uses Competency-Based Assessment (CBA) as our assessment methodology. This contemporary style of assessment suits our desired outcomes, the criterion-referenced syllabi we have built, and the need for our process to work across international borders. CBA simply measures the candidate against the syllabus, hence the validity of the process whether it is delivered in the Antarctic or Arctic and it makes training courses and practice particularly relevant as candidates know exactly what is coming up in the assessment.

Candidates may be assessed using Workplace Based Assessment which uses the same CBA methodology but overlays it on the work environment so a candidate is assessed while at work and doing their job. It is our preferred method of assessment and the strongest test of competence in the workplace.


Each Polar Qualification is defined by Elements (the overall skill set to be tested), and each element has a Range of specific skills that are examined.

The  Assessment process acknowledges that skills and the acquisition of knowledge are a continuum, and not a fixed point. There is no such thing as ‘failure’ – if a candidate does not pass they simply need to acquire further skills and knowledge and then demonstrate these to the assessor at a future time. Similarly, if a candidate passes, this demonstrates that they have passed the minimum competence required; it does not mean that they should not continue their personal development by acquiring further knowledge and skills.

The PTGA encourages all guides, irrespective of experience or seniority, to continue developing their skills and knowledge, and evidence for this is requested when revalidating their Polar Qualifications (every 4 years).


In addition to assessing individual hard skills, PTGA assessors also test and provide feedback on the qualitative aspects of guiding, such as judgement, addressing sustainability, situational management of changing situations, decision making, resolving conflict, and demonstrating flexibility.

One of the greatest strengths of the system is that candidates leave with a clear idea and tools to support personal development, critique and improvement.


Assessors aim to create an environment that is non-threatening and where communication is open. Candidates should feel that the Assessor is trying to observe them doing things right rather than creating opportunities to catch them doing things wrong.

An assessment ascertains, with validity and reliability, if a candidate has the competencies that are detailed in each qualification syllabus.


The PTGA wants assessments to be positive learning experiences, and for candidates to come away with a pathway for further development. Grading is decided through continual constructive dialogue between the candidate and the assessor:

  • Pass: the candidates has demonstrated that their knowledge and ability are at or above the benchmark described in the syllabus.
  • Deferred Pass: If candidates is deemed below the minimum standard in approximately 25% of the syllabus, without being unsafe their pass is deferred until further testing or personal skill development or logged time is achieved to satisfy the assessor.
  • Resit: Candidates who are deemed not-yet-competent below the benchmark in more than 25% of the syllabus, or who critically compromise their own or anyone else’s safety, must be fully re-assessed. This is a very rare situation and is normally the result of a complete misunderstanding about what the PQ is.


All assessment candidates have the right to appeal an assessment outcome or decision. Appeals must be addressed to the PTGA Technical Sub-Committee. Further details can be found in the PTGA Assessment Appeal Policy.