Is the ski instructor exam actually hard?
One misconception that exists in the ski industry is that only top-level skiers and snowboarders can become ski and snowboard instructors.
We're here to debunk that myth and tell you it's not true. For your level 1 instructor qualification, the way you interact with people and deliver fun and valuable lessons are just as important as your ability.
Download our free instructor starter kit, the first step to becoming a qualified ski or snowboard instructor.
If you put time and effort into training, the level 1 ski instructor exam is not hard to pass. There are two components you will be assessed on; your skiing ability and your ability to teach the fundamentals of skiing.
If you choose to sign up for an instructor course, you'll have a few weeks of full time training up your sleeve to help you prepare for the exam. You'll also receive ongoing feedback and evaluation from your trainers, so by the time your exam comes around, you’ll be ready. If you listen to feedback, participate in training, and put some time into studying - you'll be fine!
Here's what to expect when preparing for your ski instructor exam.
Training for your level 1 exam will vary between resorts, but in general, it will consist of both theory and on-snow training sessions.
In your theory sessions, you'll discuss different teaching styles, and learn how to plan lessons and assess skiers. Theory sessions are likely to include video analysis (watching videos of skiers and assessing their skiing ability) and discussing what skills and drills you could use to improve a client’s skiing.
Most of your training will be spent on the snow where you'll work with trainers to improve your own skiing ability and learn how to become an instructor. Regardless of whether you're an ex-pro or intermediate skier, training will take you right back to basics and get rid of any bad habits you might have picked up during your time on the slopes. You'll learn proper techniques and core skiing skills such as mobility, terrain choice, turn shape, stance and balance, separation, angulation, and turning with your lower body.
To get you to the ability level up to instructor standard, you'll find yourself training on varied terrain and learning how to ski bumps and black runs. It's likely you'll also get to try your hand at freestyle, carving and switch skiing, which will help get your confidence up.
It's important to mention here, while you don't need to be an advanced skier to join an instructor training course, you will need to be confident on the slopes. As a benchmark, at EA we look for intermediate skiers with at least three weeks on snow experience. For more info on how good you need to be, you can check out our ability guide.
A level 1 qualification means you’re an accredited ski instructor who able to teach beginner through to low-level intermediate ski lessons. The level 1 exam is broken down into two components – a ski section and a teach section.
The ski section
The ski section is demonstrating to the examiners you can ski to the required level with the right technique. If you can perform technically sound parallel turns with control on intermediate level terrain, you'll likely pass the ski portion of the exam. In the ski section of the exam, it’s likely you’ll be assessed on your ability to snow plough (pizza or wedge turn), create a consistent turn shape, demonstrate skiing on varied terrain, and have appropriate speed and stance, as well as other technical drills. This might sound hard now, but after a few weeks of training, this will feel like second nature.
Be prepared for critical feedback during both training and your exam. This isn't to make you feel bad about yourself, but help you be the best ski instructor possible.
The teach section
The second component of your level 1 ski instructor exam is the teach section where you will be assessed on your ability to teach the fundamentals of skiing. You will be given a pretend scenario which you have to prepare a ski lesson for. This is when your theory lessons and drills can be put to good use.
You'll be assessed on your ability to communicate clearly and design a lesson personalised to the ability level of your students. If you spend time studying the core skills, drills and pathways covered in the theory section of your training course, this won't be too difficult to ace.
For your level 1 exam, it's likely you'll be given a scenario teaching a beginner progression so make sure you include drills and techniques to help your students' progress. Don’t be afraid to get creative in the teaching portion of the exam. We've heard of students giving away chocolate, having a pop quiz at the end and even teaching ski ballet.
Handy tips for passing your ski instructor exam
- Safety is paramount and you will be assessed on your ability to keep a group safe. In other words, don't ever stop under a chairlift or in a place where you can’t be seen with your group during your teaching! The examiner won’t like that very much.
- Lift your goggles when speaking to your group to maintain eye contact.
- Pace your lesson, not too fast, not to slow. Don't feel like you must show the examiner everything you know by regurgitating every piece of information about skiing that comes to mind. This will get you bad marks.
- Remember the training before the exam is intense training designed to get you ready for all aspects of the exam.