So here it is, my BHS Preliminary Teaching Test exam experience – the hints and tips blog. If you’re looking for a guide to the BHS Stage 2 exam it’s right here!
I had been doing a great deal of training at the centre I took the exam at, so was very familiar with the venue, staff and some of the other candidates. This did nothing to ease my pre-exam jitters but thankfully it was a beautiful sunny morning which always helps. By this point I (and I’m guessing you guys) was used to the BHS exam structure, so sat down with my friends (the first time I knew some of the people I would be sitting the exam with). We took turns to pick a slip of paper at random which told us our number, which group lesson we would be taking and the lecture we would give. I was thrilled to pick a flatwork lesson, as I was dreading taking a jumping one, although I had done a fair amount of training, it not something I am particularly passionate about. The flatwork lesson involved no stirrups work and I was second to go. I knew this would be the best shot I had at passing this unit.
We had to complete a risk assessment before the lessons were would going to take, and knowing the venue beforehand was a great help. I had made some notes beforehand, which I could transfer onto the blank risk assessment forms we were given. One of the outdoor arena (group) and one for the indoor (individual).
Had another read through my lesson plan and before I knew it I was standing outside the arena, and being given a metaphorical shove through the gate. That was the worst bit! The examiner was really nice, the 3 riders I had were wonderful, I was very grateful. I was slightly concerned for the poor lady which told me she had run the London Marathon the previous weekend, and I, knowing I had to give a stirrup-less lesson, apologised in advance and promised to go easy on her. As I feared, I couldn’t remember anyone’s names. They didn’t exactly have easy names to remember, I was hoping for a Jane, Tom and Sue or something like that! Knowing my lack of name remembering ability I had brought a tiny notepad and a pen, which did help if I had to call anyone by name, otherwise I managed with ‘lead file’ or ‘rear file’.
Anyway, before I knew it the time was up, I was happy with my timekeeping, the content of the lesson, and the riders seemed get rather a lot out of it. Had a quick chat with the examiner afterwards and wrote down was I liked and would change about the lesson and the examiner asked for feedback from the riders.
I was really pleased and thought I couldn’t have done any better, which was a nice feeling. Unfortunately it was now time for some of the theory. Firstly we sat down in our groups of 4, and filled out the sheet for jumping distances. Trying to recall the table of distances for trot or canter approaches and for ponies and horses is nothing a strong point, and I wasn’t too sure how I’d done. Afterwards we went through some of the standard theory questioning which I won’t go into in any detail here as it’s all in the books. Nothing awful happened, and happily for me any questions for which I wasn’t too sure of the answers were directed at other candidates whilst I sat there quietly hoping to not attract the examiners attention!
We then had lunch, which was a welcome break, and after this was the lunging. In case you’re not aware, if you take a flatwork lesson you have to do a lunge lesson, and if you take the jump lesson you get to do a lead rein lesson. Lunging is not exactly my favourite thing in the world! Unfortunately after lunch I was 3rd to go, so had another 45 minute wait. By this point my nerves were frayed. I had spent so much time training for the group lessons I had neglected my lunging. I had one of the riders I’d had in the morning, and given that the lunge lesson involves no stirrups too, I had a strange feeling of deja vu. Maybe I should have treated the lesson like it was a completely new person, but it made me feel self conscious and didn’t help my nerves. Anyway, it didn’t go well, I must have stiffened up and I couldn’t get the horse to go forward at all.
Straight after this I went back to my group of 4 to do the lecture. Getting a bit tired by this point! I’d picked the ‘drug awareness’ lecture, one of my least favourite ones. Thankfully I have a reasonable public speaking ability so went ahead and did the lecture. It was ok, the examiner asked a couple of questions on the subject which I didn’t know the answers to, so I couldn’t tell what the result would be. We then did the rest of the theory questioning, during which nothing awful happened. Finally (and I was nearly dead by this point!) we went outside to stride out our jump distances. Turns out one of my friends and I had got some of the answers wrong on the question paper (we weren’t told this in so many words, but found out with the results). The examiner was trying to establish if we knew our distances and had just miscalculated on the paper. This went on for some time, and again, couldn’t tell how it went.
At last we went back inside for the nail biting wait for our individual review with the examiners. I was thrilled to be told I had passed the group lesson, I already deduced I’d failed the lunge, which I had but was so happy about the group lesson I didn’t mind too much. And that was that! A week or so later I found that I’d passed the whole lot apart from the lunge lesson. Really pleased but now need to get motivated to retake that unit.
I hope this helps any potential PTT candidates, if you have any questions about the exam just leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help you.