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Other Applicants – Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

Introduction to Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

If you would like to become an RMT in BC and you are not:

you may be able to apply for CMTBC’s registration examination after completing a prior learning assessment (PLA). The PLA determines if your knowledge, skills, and abilities are substantially equivalent to those of an applicant in one of the two categories listed above.

Seven steps of the PLA pathway

Step 1: Create an application on the CMTBC Applicant Portal 

Applicants can apply for the PLA pathway on the Applicant Portal.

You’ll be prompted in the portal to pay for the PLA application and the Online Self-Assessment Test. The two fees total $150. Pay the invoice on the Applicant Portal with a credit card and then you’ll be asked to upload an ID and education credential documents.

Step 2: Take the Online Self-Assessment Test

The Online Self-Assessment Test (OSAT) will give you feedback on whether or not your foundational knowledge is adequate to support RMT practice in BC. The OSAT is a multiple-choice online exam that will take up to four hours to complete and must be completed in one sitting. You may only take the OSAT one time. We recommend that you use the OSAT to assess your current foundational knowledge. Dedicate the four hours it takes when you know you’ll be able to focus without interruption. Take it seriously; it’s an important step.

At the end of the OSAT, you will immediately receive your results. It is at this time that we ask you to pause and meaningfully reflect on your results. Did you do as well as you expected? On the questions you answered correctly, ask yourself, did I guess, or did I truly know those answers? There is no passing grade here. The OSAT is a true self-assessment, which means whether you proceed to the next step is entirely up to you.

If you feel confident in your results, please proceed. If not, or if you’re unsure, stop here and re-assess your goal of becoming an RMT in BC. If you are committed to the goal and your foundational knowledge is not adequate to proceed, look into one of the accredited and recognized massage therapy education programs for instruction.

Step 3: Submit documents for review

Upload a passport photo, relevant education credentials, and any other supporting documents relevant to your application.

Step 4: Pay and complete the Clinical Competence Assessment (CCA) – Theory

The Clinical Competence Assessment (CCA) is a two-step assessment process that consists of a theory component and a practical component.

The CCA theory component costs $550. Pay the invoice on the Applicant Portal with a credit card and then schedule your assessment.

The theory component is a three-hour multiple-choice exam, including 150 questions about foundational health sciences and massage therapy practice. The written component is based on CMTBC’s entry-level requirements outlined in two documents:

You must pass the theory component to be eligible to attempt the practical component of the CCA.

Step 5: Pay and complete the Clinical Competence Assessment – Practical

The CCA practical component costs $1,050. Pay the invoice on the Applicant Portal with a credit card and then schedule your assessment.

The practical component is hands-on and in-person. It takes place in a clinical setting, much like what an RMT would use in clinical practice. You’ll be required to palpate muscle anatomy and perform manual muscle testing, and you will palpate anatomical structures on the human body. You will conduct clinical interviews and assessments based on case interviews, and you will perform an appropriate massage treatment for one of the case scenarios selected based on your findings during the clinical interview and physical assessment. Your assessors will be RMTs skilled at determining entry-level competence. Study thoroughly to prepare for the CCA by reviewing your prior learning and CMTBC’s recommended resources for entry-level requirements.

Step 6: Receive notification of examination results

You will receive official notification of results approximately three weeks after the assessment. There are two possible results:

  • Not substantially equivalent. Your PLA application on the Applicant Portal is closed. Please enroll at an accredited and recognized massage therapy education program if you wish to pursue your goal of becoming an RMT in BC.
  • Substantially equivalent/Passed. The PLA is complete and you’re now eligible to apply for the CMTBC registration examination.

Step 7: Apply for the CMTBC registration examination

CMTBC’s registration examination is generally held twice a year: once in late winter/spring and once in late summer/fall. For more information, see the Registration Examination page.

PLA frequently asked questions

Click on the bold text in each accordion box below to read answers to PLA frequently asked questions.

As soon as your OSAT has been submitted and graded, you can review a version of your completed assessment. It will include your answer selections and the correct answers for those questions you answered incorrectly. This will be available to you for 60 minutes after your OSAT has been submitted. This is the only time that you are able to review your answers. After that, your total score will be visible in CMTBC’s Learning Centre and your record on the Applicant Portal, but not the full OSAT results.

Each PLA Applicant may take the OSAT one time.

Your OSAT results are for your personal use only. There is no passing grade. The OSAT’s purpose is to assist you when determining if you want to proceed to the next step in the PLA process. CMTBC does not use your OSAT results in determining the outcome of your Clinical Competence Assessment (CCA).

The practice test serves as a guide to the type of questions and exam format you will see in the Clinical Knowledge and Theory Exam. The practice test provides applicants with an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the format of the theory exam. This practice test is optional and is to be used to prepare for the CCA theory exam. It is important to note that performance on the practice test is not a predictor of whether applicants will pass or fail the Clinical Knowledge and Theory Exam.

The CCA is a two-step assessment process whereas the CMTBC registration examination consists of three exam components. The CCA’s two steps include:

  • CCA Theory assessment: The theory component of the CCA includes representative content from two exam components of CMTBC’s three-component entry-to-practice examination: Clinical Knowledge and Theory, and the Law, Ethics & Professionalism.

    You must be successful at the theory component to be eligible to take the practical component of the CCA.

  • CCA Practical component: The practical component of the CCA follows a format similar to the Performance-Based Assessment (PBA), which is the practical component of CMTBC’s three-component entry-to-practice examination.

    In the practical component you will conduct three clinical interviews, perform assessment techniques for two conditions, and provide treatment and home care for one condition. This is different from the PBA, which is described on the Exam Components page.

Written feedback is provided to you after each CCA component; this is not the case with CMTBC’s entry-to-practice registration examination. The CCA is an assessment that provides you with information to help you make decisions about your career.

The CCA fee is split into two:

  • Theory exam: $550
  • Practical exam: $1,050

Applicants are required to pay for the practical exam component only if they successfully complete the theory exam component.

The cost of the CCA is based on ensuring the assessment is a full cost-recovery project. CMTBC derives all of its income from registration fees paid by registrants. These fees pay CMTBC’s operational expenses for regulating the profession and fulfilling its statutory mandate. The PLA process provides information to applicants who do not meet the traditional requirements for access to the registration examination. The costs of this assessment are borne by the applicants to provide information that is unique to them.

The assessment fee pays for scheduling, administering, and grading both theory and practical components of the CCA, for the software licenses that maintain the Applicant Portal and the learning management system that houses the Online Self-Assessment Test (OSAT), and for subject matter expertise and time taken to provide detailed feedback to applicants regarding their performance.

Unfortunately, many PLA applicants are unsuccessful in their goal to become RMTs. For this reason, the PLA is financed solely by fee-for-service to recover the cost of this service.

Applicants receive their theory results approximately one week after completion. Results for the final result of their CCA will be available approximately two weeks after the practical component.

The CCA has two components: theory and practical. A determination of substantial equivalency is based upon all the material collected during the CCA process and represents the outcome of both components.

Although neither a percentage mark nor a pass/fail indication is provided for either of the two components, it is unlikely an applicant will be deemed to be substantially equivalent if they score less than 60% on the theory component.

To be clear: success at the PLA takes the form of being granted an assessment of substantial equivalency to the knowledge and skills of a graduate of a recognized education program in massage therapy. It is not a “pass” – it is a decision that you have (or have not) met the requirement of substantial equivalency.

Remember: if you receive an assessment of substantially equivalent, you now qualify for application to CMTBC’s registration examination. Your knowledge gaps have been identified by the CCA. It is wise to study both in the identified gap-areas, as well as in the areas where you succeeded.

PLA results do not expire. If you have been deemed substantially equivalent, it will be up to you to decide when to apply to take the registration examination.

The theory and practical components are each three hours long.

The final component of your CCA must be completed by mid-June if the registration examination is scheduled for August or September. This ensures there is adequate time for you to receive your results and meet the application deadline for the late summer/fall registration examination.

The final component of your CCA must be completed by mid-November. This will ensure there is enough time to receive your results and meet the application deadline for the spring registration examination.

Dates of the registration examination fluctuate, as they are dependent on availability of venues required to administer the examination. The registration examination has a deadline for applications that generally falls three months prior to the start of the exam components. Your CCA must be completed at least four weeks in advance of that deadline, to ensure that you receive results from the CCA in time to apply for the registration examination prior to the deadline for applications.

For more information

If you have any questions regarding the above, please email [email protected] or call 604.736.3404 ext. 102 (toll free in North America at 1.877.321.3404 ext. 102).

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