What is the PADI Instructor Examination (IE)?

What is the PADI Instructor Examination (IE)?

So, you’re thinking about doing your PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) and feeling a bit nervous about the PADI Instructor Examination (IE)? Don’t worry! Let’s take a closer look at what the PADI IE entails and what you can expect.

The goal of the PADI Instructor Examination (IE) is to assess your readiness, knowledge, and skills to earn your PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor certification.
Many people say that IE stands for "It’s Easy." With solid training, proper guidance, and coaching during your PADI IDC, you’ll be confident and ready to tackle your PADI IE without any issues. You might even have fun during the process!


Who is running the PADI Instructor Examination (IE)?

The IE uses the same evaluation criteria as the IDC and is conducted by a PADI examiner from the PADI head office to keep things fair and unbiased. This means the only difference during the IE is the person evaluating you, not the material being tested. So, if you’ve nailed your PADI Instructor training, you're already well on your way to passing the IE.

What to expect at the PADI instructor exam (IE)?

The IE spans 2 days and breaks down into 4 parts:

1. Written Exams
2. Confined water teaching
3. Classroom presentation
4. Open water teaching


Day 1


The written exams are split into two sections:

  • Dive Theory
  • PADI Standards and Procedures

For Dive Theory, you'll get 12 questions on those familiar topics:
• Physics
• Physiology
• Skills and the Environment
• Equipment
• RDP /eRDPml

You've got a total of 90 minutes for the closed-book exams altogether. Aim for at least 75% on each topic (that's 9 or more correct answers per section). Don't worry if you stumble on one or two topics—you'll have a chance to make it up, usually the following morning.

If you miss the mark on more topics, you'll have to retake the written exams. Stay positive, stay calm, and do your best on the other parts. Remember, the PADI Instructor Exam isn't finished until it's finished!

For the PADI Standars and Procedures exam, you'll refer back to your PADI Instructor Manual and Guide to Teaching. The good news is, it's open book! That means you can use your phone, tablet, or laptop (in airplane mode) to quickly find what you need.
You've got 90 minutes to tackle 50 questions. To pass this section, aim for at least 75%.
Since it's open book and everything's right at your fingertips, there's no chance for a do-over. If you don't hit that passing mark, you'll have to give the written exam another shot at a later IE session. But hey, keep your focus up, nail the other parts of the IE! Again, the PADI Instructor Exam isn't finished until it's finished !

2. Confined water teaching

The confined water section of the exam involves two things:

  1. Confined Water Skill Circuit
  2. Confined Water Teaching Presentation 

1. Show off quality skills.
You will be asked to demonstrate 5 basic scuba skills, which will be randomly chosen from a set of 20. To pass this section, you must accumulate at least 17 total points across all skills, with each individual skill scoring 3.4 or higher.

  • If there was only one skill from the circuit that you scored less than 3.4, 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 or you're unsuccessful on the makeup, you'll be asked to come back to another IE and repeat the confined water section...

Again, keep your focus up! Remember, the PADI IE isn't finished until it's finished !


PADI IE Confined water teaching


2. Teaching one skill from a PADI course.
Could be from Open Water Diver or Rescue Diver. First, you'll brief and demonstrate the skill. Then, you'll supervise 'students' (other IE candidates) performing the skill, with deliberate errors assigned by the examiner. Your job is to identify and correct these errors during the session and provide a debrief afterward.
To pass this presentation, aim for a score of 3.4 or higher. It should be a breeze, especially since you've likely been acing similar tasks during your IDC! If you happen to mess up, don't worry! Get prepared because you'll be doing it before the day ends. If the makeup doesn't go as planned, then you'll need to return for another IE session to complete this section. But hey, you still have tomorrow to look forward to!


Day 2

3. Classroom presentation

PADI IE Classroom presentation

During the classroom presentation, you'll showcase your skills using PADI educational materials to help students grasp concepts from various PADI courses. You'll explain answers to questions from courses like Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue Diver, Divemaster, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Project AWARE, or AWARE Coral Reef Conservation specialties.
Your presentation should run about 5-8 minutes, depending on the complexity of the question you have been assigned. You'll utilize PADI educational materials in a classroom setup, with other IE candidates acting as your "students." The focus is not just on using PADI materials effectively but also on engaging students with insightful questions and real-life examples to enhance their understanding.
In the IDC, you're trained in a structured approach to excel in this section. To pass, aim for a score of 3.4 or higher. If you don't pass on your first try, you can make a second attempt with a different question. Listen to feedback and improve in your next presentation—believe in yourself, you've got this!

4. Open water teaching

... and the fun begins!

The open water section of the exam involves two sections:

  1. Teaching two skills from a PADI course. .
  2. A rescue demonstration

• Teaching two skills from a PADI course—these could be from the Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver or Rescue Diver. You'll start by briefing the skills and then oversee 'students' (other IE candidates) as they perform them. The examiner will assign deliberate errors for you to identify and correct during the session. Afterward, you'll conduct a debriefing to discuss the performance and provide feedback.
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 you need to score an average of 3.4 or higher across the two skills if a demo is required or 3.5 if no demo. 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. But don't stress—it's not the end of the world. You've got this and will surely excel in your next PADI Instructor exam!

• You'll demonstrate rescue exercise number 7, the "one-one thousand, two-one thousand" or "Mississippi" drills! You'll be assigned either the mouth-to-mouth method or the mouth-to-pocket mask method, so be prepared!
This is easy to pass, deliver a smooth, steady demonstration.

Emphasize 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

If you make a mistake, you'll be told where you went wrong and asked to repeat the exercise. On the off chance that you mess up during the makeup, you'll have to return for another IE session and redo the open water section.

PADI IE Open water teaching

And that wraps it up—job done!

Your examiner extends a handshake, handing you the certificate you've tirelessly pursued. Now, it's time to celebrate your hard-earned achievement! All the dedication and preparation have led to this moment, marking the start of an awesome journey as a certified PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor!

!! Keep it Real !!

During the exam, you're being watched both as an instructor and when you're playing the student role. The examiner's eyes are on your diving skills and how pro you keep it throughout.
When you're playing the student, stick to the problems they assign you for the instructor to handle during their skill demo. Don't go off script and make things up—it could make your PADI examiner wonder if you can do the skill at all!
I think it goes without saying that any inappropriate, disruptive or unethical behaviour can get you kicked out. Cheating? Forget about it. Keep it real and ensure you handle the assigned problems realistically and avoid making them easier to detect for your teammates' sake.


So, ready to become a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor? Get in touch!

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