Friday, 15 August 2014


PSB first began accepting applications to enter our process in September 2012.  To date, we have over 320 Candidate members in our system.

The March 2014 sitting of the Professional Examination is the first time we had anyone who had completed the other steps in our process register for the Examination.  Three of those Candidates passed the Examination, and we are very pleased to offer our heartfelt congratulations to the following newly-minted certified members of CIP and their PTIAs:
  • Kourosh Rad (API)
  • Eric Withers (OPPI)
  • Laura Sidi (PIBC)
On behalf of the Board, volunteers and staff of PSB, we wish them the best of luck in the future and thank them for participating in our process!

Monday, 11 August 2014

PSB News Update

It's been a lot longer than the promised two weeks since the last post - in fact, it's been two months - but it has been a busy time here at PSB.  Here are some of the highlights:

PSB Inaugural Annual General Meeting

 We held our first Annual General Meeting (AGM) on June 19, open to our members.  PSB's members are CIP and the Provincial and Territorial Institutes and Associations (PTIAs - the former Affiliates), and the majority of them participated in our AGM, along with the entire Board of Directors.  The discussion was lively and useful, and will result in a number of modifications in the way we work with the PTIAs, their Candidate Members, the university community and our stakeholders, to improve our service.

PSB at People Matter 2014

The Board and staff attended the CIP/API People Matter 2014 Conference in Fredericton July 9 to 11, and provided an information booth outside the main exhibit area.  Our thanks to the Conference organizers for making the space available to us, and to those who dropped by to see us.  During the Conference, we also held a Board meeting and met with the PTIA Presidents, the PTIA Joint Administrators Group, and the Association of Canadian University Planning Programs (ACUPP).

Congratulations to Hazel Christy, who has been our Vice-Chair and Chair of the Professional Education and Examination Committee (PEEC), on her election as CIP Vice-President.  Because of conflict of interest rules, Hazel has had to leave the PSB Board and PEEC.  We greatly appreciate her contributions to PSB over the past two-and-a-half years, and wish her well in her new role.

Hazel was the CIP representative on our Board, and CIP Council has nominated a new person to replace her:  Andr√© Daigle, who will join us as a Director - welcome Andr√©!

Upcoming Events

We will be attending the Canadian Association of Planning Students (CAPS) Conference in February 2015 and the CIP/SPPI Conference, Thrive 2015, in July 2015 - if you will be at either event, we look forward to seeing you there!  For those of you in Ontario, we will be participating at OPPI's 2014 Symposium, Healthy Communities & Planning in a Digital Age in Niagara Falls.

We've Moved!

Effective Monday, July 14, we've relocated to new offices.  Our staff and contact information (e-mails, telephone, fax and website) remain the same, but our new address is:

Professional Standards Board
2800 - 14th Avenue, Suite 210
Markham, ON L3R 0E4

Please update your records!

September 2014 Professional Examination Sitting

We are very happy to announce that, starting with the September 2014 sitting of the Professional Examination, Candidates will be able to use their laptop computers to write the Examination.  This has been something we have been working towards since the first sitting, in March 2013, and we have finally made arrangements to obtain a secure platform - SecurExam.  As Candidates register for the Examination, we will be sending information on how to download, install and use the software.  It runs on both Windows-based PCs and Macs, but not on Chromebooks, other Android devices, the Blackberry OS or any flavour of Linux.  Please note that this does not mean that the Examination will be "on-demand", and there are no plans for that.  Candidates will still have to attend one of our Examination centres or arrange for a remote invigilator.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

If You Are Waiting for Professional Examination Results...

This post is specifically for those who attended the March 2014 sitting of the Professional Examination and are still waiting for results.  On behalf of all of us at PSB, I apologize for the delays.

We received an e-mail today (June 4) from someone who called us on the fact we haven't communicated about the status of our marking process for this sitting.  We are obviously running behind schedule, and should have communicated this earlier.

Our Process

As you know, the Examination is currently written long-hand.  This is, as several people have noted in their survey responses, a hardship for those sitting the Examination.  It also makes marking more difficult for Examiners.  Finally, it adds time to our process - we have to courier the papers to the Examiners and they have to courier them back to us.  This may not sound like it should make a difference, but it can add six to twelve days to our total turnaround time.  We did scan papers in for the September 2013 sitting, but Examiners commented that the scans were more difficult to read and work with than the hard copies so, for March 2014, we were back to couriering hard copies.

Each paper is marked at least twice and, in the event the first two Examiners disagree, it goes out for a third, determinative, marking.  Our volunteer Examiners want to ensure they mark fairly, so they are careful in reviewing each paper.  This takes time, but is a better process than rushing to complete marking and giving grades that do not accurately reflect the quality of the papers.

We turn the papers around as quickly as possible after we receive them from the Examiners.  As noted, however, each paper receives at least two markings, and some receive three.

How We Are Addressing the Delays

Marking Process

Changes to this process, unfortunately, will not benefit those who sat the Examination this past March.  We can't change the number of markings each paper requires - this is in the standard and is, in any case, a good quality control mechanism.

We expect that, starting with September 2014, Candidates and Candidate/Provisional members will be able to write the Examination on their laptops.  We have identified software that locks out all other computer functions and permits you to upload your completed papers directly to a secure server.  We will then download them and e-mail them to the Examiners - this makes it easier for those writing the Examination and for our Examiners, and also eliminates courier delays.

We will be conducting our regular Examiners' debrief once all the marks from this sitting have been released, and will focus on ways we can make the marking process easier and faster.

We have traditionally waited until all papers were received from a particular "round" of marking.  This makes it easier for us to monitor the process.  However, for this sitting, for papers needing a third marking, we sent them out as soon as we received them instead of holding them.  Starting in September, we will apply this to all rounds.


Starting now, we will keep you advised on a regular basis of the status of the marking process through this blog.  Until we can predict, with confidence, the duration of the marking process, we will be revising the website ( appropriately to indicate that our target is fifty days, but, because it is difficult to guarantee a specific turnaround, Candidates and Candidate/Provisional members should check this blog for progress updates .

On behalf of all of us at PSB, we appreciate your patience with this process.  We are always looking for ways of improving it and welcome your comments on how we can continue to do so - please e-mail me at

Monday, 12 May 2014

Professional Examination Preparation Hint - Useful Readings

For some time now, we have listed "Suggested Readings" as part of Candidates' preparation for the Professional Examination.  We are working on a better way of making those readings available to you and have temporarily removed the list from the website.  Taking the list down, however, doesn't mean it's irrelevant - the ideas and experiences of those who think about issues of ethics, professionalism and public interest remain relevant - at least in some degree - to today's professional planners.

The "Members Only" section of CIP's website contains a wealth of material you may find helpful.  You can find articles from previous issues of Plan Canada, and the site has a search function so you aren't just browsing, hoping to locate something useful - you can target articles on particular topics (such as "public interest"), to assist you in your preparation.  These articles, aside from their value in Examination preparation, may furnish discussion topics for you and your Mentor.

You may not want to restrict your search to CIP's website, either.  Consider searching the wider internet on topics of interest.  A search on "public interest planning" will bring up some material that is directly relevant, and a more general search on "public interest" will identify some articles or blog posts that may shed light on how other professions deal with this issue.  Note, however, that public interest in the planning context is fairly unique, so a search on "public good" might identify more relevant items.

Don't neglect the list of functional and, particularly, enabling competencies, either (you can find this information as part of the PLAR self-assessment grid (MS Word document), available on our website here).  As you review the competencies, consider what you have learned about them in the course of your education and career, and what your experience has been.  Think about what you did, and about what you could or would do differently next time.

Another extremely important reading is the CIP Code of Professional Conduct (available on CIP's website here).  The Code has two components - the minimum standard itself, and one or two examples of how it may apply in your day-to-day work.  As you go through the Code, it's useful to think of other examples, either hypothetical or from your own experience, where it is relevant.  If the example is something you've already encountered, consider what you did and what you might do differently if the situation arose again.

As always, best of luck with your Examination!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Survey Thank You and Update

Following the September 2013 and March 2014 Professional Examination sittings, we distributed a survey to those who sat the Examinations.  The September 2013 survey went to everyone who wrote in 2013, and the March 2014 one went to those who wrote during that sitting only.

The comments we received were very helpful, and on behalf of everyone involved - the Board, the members of the Professional Education and Examination Committee (PEEC), the Examiners and the staff, I would like to extend our sincere thanks.  A number of comments have resulted in changes to the way the Examination is conducted, and we have also modified the relevant sections of the website.

As a number of you noted, this is still a work in progress, and as you raise concerns, we will be addressing them.  Our guiding documents, the Planning for the Future (PFF) reports, provided a great deal of information which we've used in structuring the Examination process.  However, the authors of those reports couldn't anticipate everything, and experience is a great teacher, so we have been making improvements and adding resources as we go.

If you have participated in a sitting of the Examination and have some comments you'd like to pass along to us, please e-mail me at - we take all your input seriously, and are working to make this a useful experience for you.  We appreciate your insights into the process.

Please note there are some things we can't change, as they are mandated in the PFF documents.  The Examination is required to be a sit-down one, and it is very unlikely that we would be allowed to revert to an oral exam.  The Examination will likely always be offered twice annually, rather than being on-line and on demand.  It will always be your last step prior to PSB submitting your information to your Affiliate for certification.  Apart from that, however, we will look seriously at your suggestions.

Thank you once again for your help and thoughtful feedback!

September 2014 Professional Examination - Get Ready!

Are you thinking about sitting the Professional Examination this September?  Now is the time to begin your preparation!  If you haven't already downloaded the Examination preparation package, you should do so not - it has information on the types of questions and subjects you can expect to see, some preparation hints, a sample question and model answer, and more.  You can get it here.

Our experience with the Examination so far shows that the better prepared you are, the better you will likely do.  Candidates who begin their preparation a month or so ahead of the Examination date aren't allowing themselves enough time.

As a reminder, the Professional Examination deals with three areas:
  • Public interest
  • Professional responsibility
  • Ethics

How can you prepare?  Here are two tips from other Candidates:

  • Review your work experience and mentorship logs:  as you've progressed through your career, you've encountered situations that offered learning opportunities in the areas you'll be examined on.  A review of your work and mentorship logs allows you to think about those opportunities, what you learned at the time, and what you can add to that learning based on further experience.  Your work logs can be especially helpful regarding the public interest, but there may also be material on professional responsibility and ethical behaviour.  It might be helpful to grab a copy of the CIP Code of Professional Conduct and cross-reference it with your logs.
  • Talk with your Mentor and/or Sponsor:  this is a natural follow-up to a log review.  Were there situations you encountered that were especially challenging from a professional or ethical perspective?  Discuss them with your Mentor or Sponsor.  Ask your Mentor/Sponsor what s/he would have done.  Did your Mentor/Sponsor ever encounter a similar situation?  How did s/he handle it?  What situations taught him/her the most about professional or ethical behaviour, or about public interest?
I'm writing this in April 2014; unless you're reading it sometime after about 2017, there's not much point asking your Mentor or Sponsor about his/her experience writing the Professional Examination.  Why?  Chances are s/he qualified under the old system and didn't write this Examination, and his/her experience with the oral exam won't be very helpful.

As always, best of luck with your Examination!