Preparing for your ML Assessment

You’ve completed your ML training week, you’ve had a great time, learned lots, made some new friends. Was it challenging, easy, or just what you expected?

A training week is exactly what it says on the tin. Yes, you need to have 20 QMD’s logged and you need to know which way round to hold your compass, how to tie your bootlaces and it’s worth being open minded to learning new skills or new ways of doing things, whilst reflecting on your current knowledge… but fundamentally you are there to learn, to ask questions and to get a better idea of what the ML award is all about.

If it’s a good, well-structured and supportive training week you’ll certainly be left raring to go, you’ll understand and know what you need to do next but you’ll also secretly be wondering how you go about the next part of the journey – the consolidation period. There’s more to the preparation than bagging QMD after QMD in record time. Go and get as many interesting and varied days and weekends out as possible, go to as many mountain areas as you can, do some multi-day walks, plan some ‘off grid mountain weekends’

The consolidation period is time for you to practice, network, shadow, read and reflect, to gain confidence and to develop the skills that you learnt on your training.

Next Steps

  • Find and join your local MTA Group and get actively involved in everything and anything that is happening locally throughout the year – you will always get a warm, supportive welcome and may find fellow trainees to buddy up with for practice. Many qualified ML’s in the MTA will also offer help and advice.
  • Attend any flora, fauna, geology or other interesting workshops and courses that are available, be like a sponge, like the sphagnum moss – you’ll be sick of the stuff by the time you qualify!
  • Go along to some of the excellent ML refresher courses that are available and don’t just hang out with the same ML Course Director or ML team that you trained with – watch, learn and spend time with as many other professionals as you can, you will learn something new every time.
  • Go and walk on your own, in all conditions – you need to learn how to look after yourself before you can properly look after a group.
  • Learn to navigate well with a variety of maps and scales, learn how to handle a map well in bad weather. Spend time getting lost and relocating. Practice navigating to points using your map memory – take your head out of the map and enjoy your walking.
  • Set yourself a realistic deadline and then book your assessment, it’s useful to have a goal – it will keep you focused.
  • Don’t become too obsessed with QMD’s. Yes, they are important and necessary but your day on the hill needs to be quality – it’s not a race up and down just to tick another box
  • Enjoy your walking, spend time learning about the environment around you – walking is fun & should also be interesting. Follow up and read about the things that you may see, read about, notice or discover.
  • Wild Camp – practice with your kit, go out camping in bad weather, decide what works, what doesn’t, go out on our own, be slick with your gear and don’t change anything before your assessment. ML assessors want to know that you can manage a bad weather situation, stay professional and cope with a smile on your face.
  • Be interested in people – looking after a group isn’t all about leading from the front, marching people up the mountain to reach a summit. It’s about engagement with your group, sharing your passion and enthusiasm for walking and the natural environment.
  • In the lead up to your assessment give yourself a week or two off, relax, get back to some normality, spend time with family and friends. It can be very easy to burn out leading up to assessment. Relax, be ready and be confident that you ARE ready.
  • Lastly, enjoy your assessment – because when you are really enjoying something it will definitely show!