THE USFCA CERTIFICATION PROCESS
Over the last few years the Certification and Accreditation Board (CAB) has set-up policies and procedures to help our members on the path to certification. Our written tests, for all levels from Assistant Moniteur to Master, are online and randomized covering training, conditioning, risk management, fencing theory and technique. We have standardized our practical tests so that when examiners grade the candidates, the criteria are the same anywhere they test in the U.S.
There is a specific order that the candidates are required to follow when becoming certified. First, read the information that is on the USFCA website under the Certification tab to learn the requirements for each specific level. Second, select a level, pay online for the written test, and take the test on a computer when ready. Third, after passing the test immediately print out the final score sheet before logging out. That way the candidate has proof of passing. The passing score is a prerequisite that must be shown for the fourth step, which is pay for the practical exam online and set up a test at a USFCA clinic that is in a convenient area.
The practical test is taken one weapon at a time for all levels. Candidates are able to become certified in one weapon (Master of Foil) or two or three weapons. For example: if attempting the Moniteur d’Armes (which means certified in foil, epee and sabre) each weapon is taken and paid for separately. The money paid for the exam is used to pay for the certified exam board member or members. All examiners go through a training class to learn the policies and procedures they must follow to give a fair and standardized exam. Only USFCA member coaches that have been trained are allowed to sit on exam boards as a Certified Examiner or a Head Examiner. The requirements are specified on the website.
Candidates may skip levels and start practical testing at any level as long as they have met certain requirements. For the Moniteur level: pass the written, for the Prévôt level: pass just the Prévôt written, for the Masters level: all candidates must pass the Prévôt written and have a completed thesis or Master project before the practical exam(s). Information on what is an acceptable thesis or Master project is on the website under the Master tab.
The USFCA website has comprehensive documentation about the entire certification process. Most documents are located under the Certification tab on the website. Under the Info on Certification Levels, “How To” documents explain each step the candidate needs to complete for all the certification levels. Score sheets for the practical exams are available so the candidate can see how the examiners grade the various practical lessons. More detailed information on training and giving lessons is found in the books on the required reading list.
Under References, Study Guides are available for members to help the candidate pass the written tests. A new video is available for purchase that shows what the exam board will expect in a Warm-up, Teaching and Training lesson for Prévôt and Master levels. Moniteurs can watch the Warm-up lesson and use it as a basis for giving an individual lesson for the Moniteur practical exam.
The lessons a candidate gives for a test are different than what is done in the club. The exam board wants to know that the candidate is able to teach a variety of things in a logical and physiologically safe progression. Many competent coaches fail the test because they are not prepared to cover the information required by the exam board. Most candidates will avoid this problem if they read the website and required materials, watch the video and practice the required lessons that are expected for the test.
I hope the above information helps candidates and organizers for USFCA coaches’ clinics better understand our current policies and procedures. All the members of the CAB are available to help clear up any other questions that may arise in the future. Their contact info can be found here.
Rob Handelman, D.C.
Chairman of the Certification and Accreditation Board
United States Fencing Coaches Association