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August 03, 2006

PADI Open Water Final Test - Never too old to be nervous

On Tuesday night we had the final classroom test for the PADI Open Water Course. That was in addition to the five self-study Knowledge Reviews and the four 20-question class-room tests.

PADI's teaching approach may be geared towards a general audience, but you can't say it's superficial. Unless you hit the books pretty hard (yes, reading and comprehending it all takes many hours), you're going to miss quite a few questions. Even though many are of the multiple-choice variety where it's pretty obvious which choice does not fit. The role of the instructor in all this is that of discussing and emphasizing the really important stuff. And that's what ours did. He spent a lot of time on what matters, and even more on some of the technical stuff, like understanding dive table calculations. He didn't cut any corners there, none.

I am by far the oldest in our class and I've certainly done my share of tests and exams in my life, and I was definitely well prepared for the final 50-question test. So why was I nervous anyway? Nervous as in "what if I totally lose it and blow a bunch of questions?" I knew no one would actually fail unless they really didn't study at all and showed no interest to learn or participate. Even then, the instuctor would probably try to work with them and tutor until they got it. Yet, as instructor Chuck once more recapped all the salient points of each chapter in the book, and then went through two more dive table examples, I got ever more nervous, feeling pretty foolish over it. After all, I do hold a doctoral degree from an engineering university.

So then Chuck hands out the test and off we go. I slowly and methodically answer the first five questions, then hit a rythm and it all falls into place. The dreaded dive table questions aren't so tough (a few hours prior I had still struggled with some of the logistical concepts) and I do them all in my head, not using the dive table templates the instructor had handed out. So when Chuck comes back in to inform me that the URL of our scubadiverinfo.com site, this site, didn't seem to work, I follow him into the office as I am done. They have a glacially slow dial-up connection and the site does indeed not come up. Drat. I had proudly written the URL on the whiteboard so my fellow students could check it out.

Some time later Chuck reviews our tests. I ace it. All answers correct. That makes me feel extraordinarily proud, almost giddy. I have a big smirk on my face for the rest of the evening. I've definitely passed far more difficult tests and exams, but for some reason acing this one makes me proud and happy.

We're all too pooped from the test to go into the pool and discuss scuba gear instead, looking at this and that, trying on BCs, checking out regulators. My on-and-off diving buddy, Amanda, volunteers that she'd given up smoking last year and gained a bit of weight, which seems to bug her a great deal. Unnecessarily so, in my opinion, as she looks great, and I tell her that. Then again, I am biased. She decides to get a BC small enough so she can't get any bigger. Women. :-)

Chuck explains the pros and cons of various BCs, regulators and computers with me. He remains as high on Oceanic as my NAUI instructor advisor and partner is on ScubaPro, so I'll have to do some more research. Then Chuck goes through all we'll be doing in preparation for our open water checkout dives at Folsom Lake. We'll be selecting and packing gear on Thursday, today. Then hit the confined water pool for some extended diving one last time.

Posted by conradb212 at August 3, 2006 10:47 PM

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