Effective April 15, Transport Canada has changed the rules for the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) exam. The final exam is now longer, increasing from 36 to 50 questions, and requires boaters to have a more comprehensive knowledge of boating safety and skills.
BOATsmart!, one of the organizations in Canada that offers the PCOC exam through a network of administers, has made arrangements to ensure a smooth transition to adopt the new rules.
“We had to discontinue our marine dealers from offering the 36 question exam as of 11:59 p.m. April 14,” explains BOATsmart! Canada President, Cameron Taylor. “To ensure no old version of the test could be administered, we posted an earlier deadline for them to return test materials to us for auditing. Also, to safeguard the new exam being administered prior to the deadline, we are shipping the new exams to dealers as of April 15. We made that decision prevent unexpected overlap.”
According to Taylor, while the rules for administering the PCOC exam have changed, existing cardholders and those who recently took their test before April 15 are not required to take the test again. As well, the PCOC still does not expire and remains physically unchanged.
The biggest change to the PCOC exam, besides its question number increase, is that it can now be taken online unsupervised – such as from a personal residence. If taking the exam online, boaters will now be required to first complete a three-hour Online Study Guide. The Online Study Guide is split into learning modules, each with its own set of questions that those taking the exam must answer before moving onto the next module. Once the modules are complete, the final exam can be taken. Those passing the test can print out a temporary PCOC slip that's valid until their permanent card arrives in two to four weeks.
Boaters can also complete the exam in-person. Although the number of exam questions has increased, the final test's online and onsite time limit remains at 45 minutes.
BOATsmart! has a network of approximately 500 Exam Centres across Canada now that it has formed a agreement with Canadian Tire to offer the test at many of its retail stores.