How to prepare for the FGASA Practical Exam

Do you want to become a Field Guide? Are you maybe unsure of what the FGASA Apprentice Field Guide Practical exam entails? Here EcoTraining gives you a few tips and tricks when it comes to your Practical Exam.

Well done for passing the theory exam. Now it’s time to jump in the hot seat!

In today’s blog, we will share some insider tips with you that will give your game drive assessment some additional flare. It is expected that you are knowledgeable in the history, geology, plants and animals in this area, so these tips are what will give you a professional edge.

Your assessment will be a guided nature experience with a FGASA endorsed assessor in the guiding area of your choice. It is recommended that you gather a handful of people to join you on your drive as guests. However, this is not mandatory.

FGASA Practical Exam
EcoTraining Student Tip One:

Prepare the vehicle that you will be using for the FGASA practical exam so that you are comfortable. Anything can happen out in the bush and you will want to be prepared.

  • If you have shorter legs, use a cushion to prop yourself up.
  • If you are taking an evening drive, ensure you have a working spotlight.
  • Ensure the vehicle has enough fuel.
  • Check that there is a spare wheel, a jack and a wheel spanner.
  • If you will be using a radio, ensure that you are comfortable with the channels and radio etiquette (the radio is your friend and a helpful tool to assist you in sightings)

Of course, you cannot prepare for everything that may happen out in the bush but you can have a few interesting pre-planned stops to exhibit your knowledge.

EcoTraining Student Tip Two:

Use all your senses.

  • Why not stop and pick a handful of a common herb for your guests to smell? Explain the most interesting medicinal uses.
  • Turn the engine off and allow the guests to listen for any familiar bird calls.
  • After dark use the spotlight to point out the Southern Cross
  • Make use of your bird book as a tool if guests didn’t get a great view of an interesting bird

Your assessment should tell the guests an exciting story. And you are the storyteller. The best narratives are interwoven with facts, emotions and even a bit of humour.

EcoTraining Student Tip Three:

Of course, factual knowledge is very important on your FGASA practical assessment. But recalling facts with no storyline or relevance to what you are witnessing out there will make for a bland experience.

  • Ask other guides what animals have been seen in the area in the last 12 hours. This might assist you with where to begin your drive.
  • Describe what you see. There is no point talking about the feeding habits of a warthog if it is currently having a mud wallow (unless the guest asks of course). Rather talk about what you are witnessing and why the warthog would be doing this.
  • Make logical links between interesting things that you have pointed out to the guests. For example: If you have just witnessed a herd of elephants feeding and then come across a Marula tree that has been ring-barked by elephants, link the 2 sightings together. This technique keeps your story flowing.
  • Share your enthusiasm and excitement about what you find. Your positive energy is contagious!

And lastly, ensure that your guests and the assessor are comfortable too.

EcoTraining Student Tip Four:
  • Engage with your guests and know them by name
  • If the weather is very hot, pack some cold water
  • If the weather is cold, have blankets available for the guests
  • If you find something interesting, make sure ALL guests have a good view
  • Do any of the guests have a camera? Find out what they would like to capture
  • Be aware of any medical requirements
  • Don’t be afraid to have FUN!

Good luck! You have the opportunity to make memories of a lifetime and once you are a qualified guide, you will part of a proud group of guardians of nature!

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FGASA Practical Exam