### FAQ: Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

- What is a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)?
- How do PLAs work for math courses?
- Is a PLA the same as a "course challenge" or "challenge exam"?
- Am I eligible for a PLA?
- I got a D in an math course in my technology program. Can I write a PLA?
- Can Engineering Bridge students do PLAs?
- How do I sign up for a PLA?
- Where can I get the PLA form?
- How do I register for a PLA?
- When will the exam take place?
- Is the PLA exam just a rewrite of my previous final exam?
- What is the 3-month wait for?
- If I am unsuccessful in the PLA, can I sign up for another PLA for that same course?
- How will the PLA show up on my transcript?

### Answers

- What is a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)?
- The Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) process allows students to demonstrate that they have mastered the content of a course through other means than by taking a full course through Camosun. PLAs are described in full in this Camosun College policy.

- How do PLAs work for math courses?
- In the Math Department, for courses without a lab component, a PLA is in the form of a 3-hour comprehensive final exam.
- At Interurban, all of the math courses in the technology programs can be PLA'd by writing a 3-hour comprehensive final exam.

- Is a PLA the same as a "course challenge" or "challenge exam"?
- Yes. In the Math department, we use these terms interchangeably.

- Can Engineering Bridge students do PLAs?
- Yes, but there are two wrinkles:
- a PLA counts as the second of the two attempts at the course. So if you have received a D or an F in a Bridge course, then attempting a PLA for that course will be your final try, and given that you must get a C+ or higher on the second attempt, the stakes are pretty high. In general, given the risk, the Interurban math department strongly discourages Bridge students from pursuing this option to fix a D or an F received in the Bridge.
- normally, a student only needs the permission of a math instructor to PLA a course, but as outlined in the Engineering Bridge Information Booklet (there is a link to the latest version on this page), Engineering Bridge students must have the approval of the Engineering Bridge Coordinator, the chair of the Math Department, and the math instructor administering the PLA. Please see the Information Booklet for further details.

- Yes, but there are two wrinkles:
- Am I eligible for a PLA?
- You must have the prerequisite for the course that you are PLA’ing and you must have permission from the department to do a PLA. A course can only be PLA’d once. In the math department at Interurban, you will have to demonstrate to a math faculty member that you do in fact have some "prior learning" and have a reasonable shot at passing the PLA exam. The PLA process may also be used by Camosun students who have previously received a D or an F in a particular math course.

- I got a D in an math course in my technology program. Can I write a PLA?
- Yes, if you get permission from the math department.
In order to do so, you will have to demonstrate to a math faculty member that you do in fact
have some "prior learning" and have a reasonable shot at passing the PLA exam.
**In general, the math department recommends that students retake that course when it is next offered**, since studying on your own for a course in which you were previously unsuccessful is very difficult.**Many students who attempt PLAs to replace a D are unsuccessful and end up taking the course again anyway.**

- Yes, if you get permission from the math department.
In order to do so, you will have to demonstrate to a math faculty member that you do in fact
have some "prior learning" and have a reasonable shot at passing the PLA exam.
- How do I sign up for a PLA?
- You will need the permission of an instructor in the math department who teaches the course you wish to PLA. If you have previously failed that course, generally you should contact that particular instructor. If that instructor is not available, contact the math chair who will refer you to another instructor instead. (The contact information for the current chair of math can be found on the Math&Stats faculty list.) You will need to bring a copy of the PLA form with you when you meet the instructor.
- If I (Patricia Wrean) am the instructor you need to contact, then to obtain my permission, you’ll
need to contact me well in advance of writing the exam. You will initially need to prepare
a plan for how you will be reviewing the course materials for that course to ensure better success
this time around,
*including a timeline with estimates of study hours per week*to ensure that your plan is workable. Then, a few weeks before you write the exam, I’ll want to see evidence that you carried out the majority of your plan. Only then will I sign the form allowing you to register for a PLA.

- How do I register for a PLA?
- Once you have received permission from an instructor to do a PLA, you will need the instructor to sign the PLA form for you. Once the form has been filled out, take the form down to registration. They will then create a section for you and you will need to pay the associated fee, which is currently half of the regular tuition for the course.

- Where can I get the PLA form?
- You can get this form from the Registration Desk or print out this online copy.

- When will the exam take place?
- In general, PLAs must have start and end dates that are mutually agreed upon by instructor and student. For Interurban math courses, PLA exams will take place during one of the regular exam weeks (except under extraordinary circumstances). You and your PLA instructor will pick a mutually convenient time that will allow you to write your PLA exam at the same time and place as another section of students writing their final exam.

- Is the PLA exam just a rewrite of my previous final exam?
- No. You should prepare for a generic exam covering the course materials written by one
or more of the instructors who teach that course. You should certainly
**not**expect to write the very same exam that you wrote during your previous attempt at the course.

- No. You should prepare for a generic exam covering the course materials written by one
or more of the instructors who teach that course. You should certainly
- What is the 3-month wait for?
- The PLA process should not just be considered an opportunity to "rewrite" a final exam. As the "Prior Learning" title implies, students who have just failed a course will need some time to rebuild their understanding of the course materials. Therefore, for courses on the quarter system, the college has mandated a three-month waiting period to ensure that students have enough time for this rebuilding process.

- If I am unsuccessful in the PLA, can I sign up for another PLA for that same course?
- No. You will have to take that course in the usual format if your PLA attempt is not successful. Again, this is college policy.

- How will the PLA show up on my transcript?
- Your exam will be marked according to the usual Camosun grading scheme and the resulting letter grade will show up on your transcript as if you had taken a regular course – there is no additional notation to show that that particular section was a PLA. Please note, however, that the PLA mark does not replace your original mark on your transcript: it shows up in a different term and the original D or F remains, as well as the original term GPA. However, your cumulative GPA will be based only on the higher of the two grades for the same course.