Competency Gap Analysis (CGA)

The Competency Gap Analysis (CGA) is part of the PLAR process. PLAR stands for Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition and is a process that allows applicants who have an applicable background, but have not been educated in an accredited Canadian institution, the opportunity to become licensed opticians.

For more information about the entire PLAR process please visit the PLAR page of this website.

What is the CGA?

The Competency Gap Analysis is an online tool which will help determine any gaps in your knowledge that you need to improve on. It is important to note that the CGA is not a test; you do not pass or fail. The CGA is a way for us to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses according to the NACOR list of National Competencies for Canadian opticians. Because of this, the CGA is divided into three sections:

Core

Eyeglasses

Contact Lenses

Each section will provide you with a series of multiple choice questions. You will have 5 hours to complete the three sections, and an optional short break after each section.

How to Apply for the CGA

The regulatory body for opticians in the province where you apply to start the PLAR process will set up a time and location for you to complete the CGA.

CGA Example Questions

For examples of the types of questions you will be asked during the CGA, complete the PLAR Sample Quiz on this website.

Case Based Interview (CBI)

The Case Based Interview is also part of the PLAR process.

For more information about the entire PLAR process please visit the PLAR page of this website.

What is the CBI?

The CBI is a chance for you to share your practical knowledge. The interviewers will ask you about your own experience dispensing eyeglasses and fitting contact lenses (if applicable).

The interview will be divided into three categories based on the NACOR list of National Competencies for Canadian opticians:

Core

Eyeglasses

Contact Lenses

The approach is conversational. The interviewers will provide you with hypothetical scenarios and you will give proposed courses of action. The interview will be about 3 hours long with an optional short break after each section.

How to Apply for the CBI

The regulatory body for opticians in the province where you apply to start the PLAR process will set up a time and location for you to complete the CBI.

CBI Example Question

The interviewers may ask you something like, “For a specific patient, describe the steps you took to duplicate the patient’s eyeglasses.”

You will then be able to walk the interviewers through an experience you have had with this situation. You may have multiple answers, and are encouraged to share any answers you think are applicable.

Some answers that may apply to the above scenario include:

• Confirm whether patient has copy of Rx
• Neutralize existing eyeglasses: determine Rx, lens type, base curve, existing optical measurements (pupillary distance, segment, optical centre, vertex distance, frame wrap, pantoscopic tilt, etc.)
• Select similar-fitting frame – match vertex distance, pantoscopic tilt, and wrap if possible (be prepared to compensate if not)
• Take measurements with new frame
• Compare new measurements with previous and facilitate duplication – use previous pupillary distance (determine reason if different), set optical centre in same place before eye as previous
• Document process in patient file

National Optical Sciences Examinations

The National Optical Sciences Examinations are practical exams and are often referred to as the NACOR exams because they are administered by the National Association of Canadian Optician Regulators (NACOR).

These examinations are used by 9 provincial regulatory bodies to evaluate candidates for registration and membership as dispensing opticians in their province. Quebec has opted for different assessment modalities.

The examinations are called Optical Sciences 1 Eyeglasses and Optical Sciences 2 -Advanced Practice Contact Lens.

Part of each examination is theoretical and the rest requires the candidate to demonstrate a required level of skill as outlined in the National Competencies for Canadian Opticians document.

Who writes the National Optical Sciences Examinations?

All individuals wishing to become registered as dispensing opticians in Canada are required to write the National Optical Science Examinations. This includes those who have graduated from NACOR accredited educational programs as well as those who have been trained through non-accredited programs or international candidates who have completed the PLAR process.

National Optical Sciences Exam Venues

Sittings of the examination take place regionally in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and in British Columbia at various times throughout the year. Candidates are welcome to take the examinations at any of the venues.

The examination schedule is posted at the NACOR website and is updated annually.

How to Prepare for the National Optical Sciences Exam

Candidates are encouraged to review the Candidates Examination Handbook on the NACOR website before applying for the exam. The Candidates Handbook will provide you with detailed descriptions of the Optical Sciences 1 – Eyeglasses and Optical Sciences 2 Advanced Practice Contact Lens Examinations, and instructions on how you can apply for the upcoming examinations.

Applying for the National Optical Sciences Exam

1. Fill out the NACOR examination application form found on the NACOR website.

2. Sign the Personal Affidavit on the front of the application form.

3. Enclose a cheque payable to NACOR. If paying by Visa or Mastercard supply all necessary credit card information on your application form.

4. Candidates who are going to be applying for registration in Alberta must be registered as a Provisional Optician with the Alberta College and Association of Opticians.

5. Candidates who will be applying for registration in Ontario must be registered as an Intern Optician with the College of Opticians of Ontario.

6. Send your completed application form with payment to the NACOR office.

7. Applications must be received in the NACOR office by 11:59 pm central time on the application due date. Late applications will be automatically assessed a $50.00 late fee. Late applications will only be accepted if there is available space in the examination schedule.

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