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You sailed through your PADI Instructor Development Course, now you just have to pass the Instructor Exam.

The IE is nothing to worry about, you're literally just going to show the examiners from PADI what you've been working on during your IDC. No surprises, nothing new. Just prove you know how to use the PADI System like you've been doing in the last 16 days. 

Let me walk you through what happens at the PADI Instructor Exam...


Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you'll stroll into the conference room where you'll be based for the morning. Don't be nervous, you've got this! It might not feel like it right now, but you're going to have an amazing couple of days. This exam isn't hard work, it's good fun! When you get that handshake from the examiner at the end, you'll wonder why you were ever worried.

This will probably be the first time you meet your fellow PADI Instructor candidates. Say hello, don't be shy! Teamwork makes the dream work on this IE, so get to know everyone. During your teaching presentations, you're going to role-play as students and DMs for each other. You're all in this together so help your diving brothers and sisters - if they're feeling nervous, breaking the ice is going to put their minds at ease for sure.

It's also going to be the first time you meet your examiners who are all lovely by the way! There is absolutely no reason to be scared of them! They want to see you succeed as much as the rest of your team. They're all really friendly and super approachable. In fact, the minute the IE gets underway, me and the rest of your IDC team need to let go of your hand. We're here for moral support, but our job is done. Time for you to shine! If you've got any questions to ask about the task in hand, other than your teammates, your examiner is your first and only port of call!

The examiner will kick things off with an Orientation. They're kinda going to tell you everything in this blog post... what happens in the PADI Instructor Exam (but with a sprinkling of logistics for that particular weekend). They'll allocate the groups you're working in and sort out a load of paperwork. You'll also get your assignment sheet that lists out all the skills and teaching presentations you need to prepare. See? No surprises.


You have spent a lot of time revising and preparing for these written exams. During your IDC, you did practise ones that were waaay longer than the ones you'll take in the IE.


For Dive Theory, you'll get 12 questions on those familiar topics:

  • Physics
  • Physiology
  • Skills and the Environment
  • Equipment
  • Decompression Theory and the RDP

These are closed book, and you'll be allowed a calculator (or phone/tablet in aeroplane mode), RDP table, eRDPML and scratch paper (provided by the examiner).

You've got 1.5 hours to complete all 5 topics.


To pass this section, you need to score at least 75% on each topic (that's 9 or more questions correct in each)


Don't worry! If you make a mess of one of the topics, you're allowed one makeup. You'll probably try again sometime that morning or if there's no time, the next day before you get in the water.

If you don't hit the marks on two or more topics, unfortunately, that's going to be a resit for the written exam section. BUT, it's only THIS section. Keep your chin up, relax and go smash the hell out of all the others, the exam isn't over for you yet - remember, what happens at the PADI Instructor exam, stays at the PADI Instructor Exam!


You'll be getting your head back in your PADI Instructor Manual and Guide To Teaching again for this exam because the good news is that this one is open book! I say open book, but it could also be open phone, open tablet, even open laptop (on aeroplane mode though...) You can totally take advantage of the search feature if you're going digital. It makes things a lot quicker than thumbing through your paper version!

For this one, there are 50 questions to answer in 1.5 hours.


To pass this section, you need to score at least 75%.


As this one is open book and the answers are in front of you, there's no makeup allowed. If you don't hit the passing mark, you'll be asked to come back to another IE to repeat the written exam section. But again, this is not the end of your exam this time around! Regroup your thoughts and smash the other parts of the IE out the park! Again... what happens at the PADI Instructor exam, stays at the PADI Instructor Exam!!



Time to turn the exam room into a classroom! As soon as you've finished the written exams, you'll break out and start preparing your Knowledge Development Presentation. Guess what - you did a million of these in your IDC, you can do these with your eyes closed!

By now, you'll have spotted that you've got two topics set out on your assignment sheet. Concentrate on the first one for now - that other one is in case you need to do a makeup. No point thinking about it now, cross that bridge when you come to it!

Get your lesson planning sheet out, find your resources and jot down your notes. When all your teammates are finished in the written exam and you're ready, you can go and deliver your teaching presentation to the examiner. Sit in on the other presentations if you can, it's so much easier to deliver these when you're in front of your smiling teammates who are ready to interact with you!


To pass this section, you need to score a 3.5 or higher. You'll have been hitting way higher marks than these in your IDC. Remember, I'm a pretty tough marker. I do it on purpose to help you up your game so when you get to your IE it's an absolute doddle!


Don't panic! If you make a mess of your first try, you've got that makeup topic. Listen to your feedback and go fix it on your next presentation. You've got this! If there's time, you'll do your makeup as soon as it's ready, if not then you can save it for the next morning.

If the makeup doesn't go your way, you'll have to come back to another IE to try again. BUT, carry on with the rest of the weekend and put this blip behind you! What happens at the PADI Instructor exam, stays at the PADI Instructor Exam!


To the swimming pool! Finally, on the afternoon of day 1, it's time to get wet. The first thing you're going to do in confined water is the skill circuit. One of your team mates will pick this at random during the orientation and you'll make a note of the skills you'll be demonstrating.

Did I tell you the examiners are omnipresent?! They'll line you all up and you and your teammates will go through your demos at the same time. Yes, the examiners are that good they can watch you all at once! They're using the same evaluation criteria that's been used since your DM training, so nothing new there.


You need to score at least 17 total points from the circuit, and each individual skill has to be at least a 3 or above.


Did the nerves get to you? Don't worry... if there was only one skill from the circuit that you scored less than 3, but you still got over 17 points total, you'll do a makeup on that one skill.

If you scored less than 17 across the board, you'll do a makeup for the whole skill circuit. The examiner will point out where you went wrong, and you can try again.

If you get a score of 1 or 2 on two or more skills (wow that's a mouthful) OR you're unsuccessful on the makeup, you'll be asked to come back to another IE and repeat the confined water section. what happens at the PADI Instructor exam, stays at the PADI Instructor Exam!

Still, this is only one little bit so go ahead and crack on with the rest!


Your next task in the pool is to deliver a confined water teaching presentation. Again, you'll notice on your assignment sheet you're given two skills. Only prep the first one! The other one is for your makeup which you'll probably not even need!

Get scribbling on your slates over your lunch break and run it through in your head. Gather your resources and anything special you might need to make sure the student meets the performance requirements.


For this presentation, you need to score a 3.4 or higher. Easy peasy considering you'll have been scoring much higher than that during your IDC!


Not to worry, that's what the makeup is for! Get it prepared quickly as you'll be doing it before the day ends.

If the makeup doesn't go the way you want it to, that's a trip back to the next IE to complete this section. What happens at the PADI Instructor exam, stays at the PADI Instructor Exam! BUT, you've still got tomorrow to look forward to!


Yay! Day 2 and the really fun stuff starts! We're in open water today! The first thing you'll do is a demo of Rescue Exercise 7 - you know this, it's your "one-one thousand, two-one thousand"! I bet you can do this in your sleep you've practised it so many times.

During your orientation, your examiner will tell you whether this demo is to be performed using mouth to mouth or pocketmask, so make sure you're prepared.

More than likely, a Course Director will be assessing this part of the exam. It might even be me - you know what I'm like, any excuse to get in the water!


This is easy to pass, just do a nice, steady demo. We'll be looking for you to emphasise these points:

  • Establishing positive buoyancy
  • Calling for assistance
  • Initiating the sequence properly
  • Managing the airway
  • Using the correct technique (whether its mouth to mouth or pocket mask)
  • Removing the equipment and giving a little tow


We'll tell you where you went wrong and ask you to repeat the exercise.

If on the slim chance you mess up the makeup, you'll need to come back to another IE and repeat the open water section. What happens at the PADI Instructor exam, stays at the PADI Instructor Exam!


The last thing you need to crack. On your assignment sheet, you'll see two skills. This time you're going to combine both of them into one teaching presentation.

Just like with the confined water teaching presentation, get it all laid out on your slate and make sure you've got all the resources you need.


To pass this section you need to score an average of 3.4 or higher across the two skills.


As you've got two skills to try and get the best average score you can, there are no makeups allowed on this section. If it doesn't go to plan, you'll be asked to repeat it at a future IE. Not to worry though, it's not the end of the world what happens at the PADI Instructor exam, stays at the PADI Instructor Exam!


You know you're being evaluated when you're up there playing the part of the Instructor. But the examiner is still paying attention to you when you're role-playing for your teammates and your general demeanour during the whole exam.

They'll be checking you out, making sure that you're competent with all your diving skills and that you conduct yourself professionally throughout.

When you're playing a student, you'll be assigned problems to give to the instructor when you're doing their skill. Make sure you're only giving the assigned problem. If you start going cray cray and making up your own problems, there's a fair chance that your examiner will be wondering if you can do the skill at all!

I think it goes without saying that any inappropriate, disruptive or unethical behaviour can result in dismissal. There's zero tolerance on cheating. Don't put your teammates in a difficult position by trying to help make the problems easy to catch. Do everything realistically.

And that's it!

Your examiner shakes your hand, you get that certificate you've been working so hard for. I give you a massive hug and it's time to go celebrate!

If you have any questions, drop me an email. I'll be in touch!

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