Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition (PLAR) Frequently Asked Questions
Prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR) is a type of course delivery that includes assessment without instruction. It is way to earn credit for Sask Polytech courses from informal learning, training, or education that is not eligible for transfer credit.
PLAR involves proving that you know the content of a course, no matter how you learned it, which may include:
- work experience
- on-the-job training
- certified training
- seminars and workshops
- courses from unrecognized schools
- independent study
- online podcasts, MOOCs, etc.
- volunteer training and experience
- hobby or recreational activities
Just like admission requirements, PLAR eligibility varies by program.
- Some programs require admission to the program before applying for PLAR. Proof of English language proficiency may be required for some applicants.
- Some programs require a minimum period of recent, related work experience.
- Some programs do not require admission and have no additional eligibility criteria.
- Some courses cannot be challenged until pre-requisite course(s) are completed.
Check specific PLAR eligibility criteria for each program by…
- reviewing the PLAR Candidate Guide on the program’s web page or
- if there is no Candidate Guide on the program’s web page, call the Sask Polytechnic Contact Centre and ask to be transferred to the program head for that program.
The actual assessment process will not begin until you have submitted a PLAR application form (pdf) signed by the appropriate program head.
- People who have informal training, self-directed learning, or work-based learning and experience that is related to a Saskatchewan Polytechnic program.
- People with prior formal education or training related to a Saskatchewan Polytechnic program that does not qualify for transfer credit.
- International students should first consult with email@example.com to ask whether PLAR credits will affect a study permit or eligibility for an immigration program.
- Newcomers to Saskatchewan or Canada should first check whether the occupation they want to pursue is a regulated occupation in Saskatchewan. If so, a regulatory bodies determines eligibility to work in that occupation. Before seeking credits at any education institution, first clarify requirements with the appropriate regulatory body.
- People with prior training or experience in a designated trade (e.g., cook, electrician, glazier, hair stylist, etc.) should first seek assessment by the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission. Your skills may be beyond the level of a Saskatchewan Polytechnic program.
- Students who will be attending the program on campus should check whether PLAR affects sponsorship or student loan, if any. Also, consult with your program head about the benefits of in-class learning for particular courses.
- People with prior formal education should first check for possible transfer credit, since it is less cost and work compared to a PLAR challenge.
PLAR fees per course vary from approximately $100 and up, depending on the estimated instructor time and expenses involved to assess each course or block of courses.
- Search by course or program in the online PLAR Inventory Database to find fees.
- If a course is not listed in the Database, email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask whether the course is available for PLAR and, if so, what the fee is.
- There may be additional travel costs for you or the instructor if needed to complete assessment.
- Guidelines for PLAR fees are in Policy 1214G, Tuition and Fees, Appendix E (pdf).
PLAR assessments are conducted by a program head or instructor who is a content expert for the course(s) you are challenging. If challenging multiple courses, you may work with different assessors.
PLAR assessment methods vary to fit the skill or knowledge being assessed. PLAR Candidate Guides may describe methods for each PLARable course. Assessment details will be clarified at a consultation meeting and may include one or more of the following methods:
- skill demonstrations
- written exams
- assignments or projects
- work samples
- evidence file or portfolio
- structured interviews
- oral examination
PLAR and transfer credit are both pathways to receive credit for prior learning that matches one or more of our courses. You can apply for transfer credit after you are admitted but before you start a program. You can apply for PLAR any time before starting or during a program. Either request may be denied if submitted after a course for which you want credit has started.
- Transfer credit applies only to formal learning from recognized education institutions and approved government or industry training. PLAR applies to learning you can prove, regardless of where you learned it.
- Transfer credit must be verified with a transcript or other official documentation. For PLAR, verification of employment and/or training is usually required.
- Transfer credit is free. There is a fee for each PLAR challenge.
- Compared to PLAR, transfer credit is typically less work, time and cost for you.
- PLAR is an alternative to transfer credit for formal post-secondary education if…
- Previous courses taken do not closely (80%) match specific courses we offer.
- The source institution is not recognized by Saskatchewan Polytechnic,
- An acceptable transcript is not available, or
- A transfer credit request is denied.
There are several potential benefits to PLAR:
- Save time. If you already know what is taught in a course, you can skip instruction and go straight to assessment, no re-learning required.
- Lighten your load. For incoming or new students, you can lighten the course load by successfully challenging one or more courses before they start.
- Improve employability. Recognized credit for particular courses may improve your employment prospects, even if you have not yet completed a program.
- Save money. The vast majority of PLAR assessments cost less than full tuition for the same course(s), some considerably less.
- Test your career/program choice. A PLAR challenge may be a way to test-drive your suitability and expectations for a particular career and/or training program.
Jeopardizing funding or other eligibility criteria:
- Some sponsors, student loans, funding agencies, or immigration programs require full-time in-person attendance in school to maintain eligibility.
- If you are an international student, contact our International Office at email@example.com to ask how PLAR might impact your study permit or immigration eligibility.
- It is your responsibility to ensure that PLAR will not jeopardize important eligibility criteria for you.
Being unsuccessful in a PLAR assessment:
- If unsuccessful, there is no refund of fees and you cannot repeat the PLAR challenge. You can, however, re-register to complete the course with instruction.
- An unsuccessful PLAR challenge will not appear on your Sask Polytech transcript.
Whether you complete courses through instruction or PLAR challenge, your skills and knowledge will be assessed at the same level of academic standards.
- Your transcript will show “CR” (credit granted) rather than a percentage grade for courses successfully completed through PLAR.
- A graduate’s credential (certificate, diploma, or degree) does not identify how courses are completed.
- Use self-audit checklists in a program’s PLAR Candidate Guide to assess your level of competence for learning outcomes of each course. Try the sample self-audit checklist at the end of this section to assess your general knowledge of PLAR.
- Consult fully with a program’s program head or PLAR consultant before you apply and pay for PLAR. Be thorough and honest about your experience and expertise, and pay close attention to their recommendations.
- Know what to expect for assessment. Request printed instructions or directions, and ask questions as needed to clarify.
- Review recommended resources to refresh your knowledge before assessment.
- If you have a verified disability, request accessibility accommodations during assessments—such as a quiet room, extra time, assistive technology, and so on.
- Only successful PLAR challenges will appear on your transcript. If you are unsuccessful, you will receive a letter from Registration Services.
- There is no fee refund and you cannot repeat the PLAR challenge.
- You can ask the program head or assessor to explain why you were unsuccessful.
- You can appeal your assessment by following our Grade Appeal process.
- Your next option to complete the course(s) is to register for in-class and/or distance instruction for the course.
Saskatchewan Polytechnic provides reasonable accommodations for limitations related to a disability that may affect assessment results. Examples include extra time for tests, a quiet test room, assistive technology, an exam reader or scribe, and so on.
- Advise the program head/PLAR consultant at first contact that you have a disability, and ask for a referral to Accessibility Services. You do not need to disclose the nature of your disability to the program head/consultant but may do so if you wish.
- Be prepared to provide documentation of your disability to an Accessibility Services counsellor and to negotiate reasonable accommodations for fair assessment.
If approved by the program head, you can challenge as many courses as are available for PLAR in that program.
- Most programs offer one or more courses available for PLAR.
- Some programs offer block PLAR assessment for a group of courses in one process.
- A few programs offer PLAR for the entire program by single courses or blocks.
- To PLAR a course block, practicum or clinical placement, most programs require that you first meet program admission requirements.
- You may be able to combine PLAR, transfer credit, distance learning, and/or in-class instruction. Consult with the program head to plan your best pathway to graduation.
Time to complete: Depending on the assessment method, it may take from a few days to several weeks to complete assessment. Consult with the Program Head and allow enough time to complete PLAR assessment before the same course(s) are scheduled to start.
Deadline: When you register for PLAR, ask Enrolment Services about the registration expiry date. That will be your deadline to complete the PLAR assessment. The expiry date is usually the end of the current semester or academic year, but there may be exceptions.
- For programs that do not have a Candidate Guide, contact the Learner Pathways Office at 306-765-1652 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a program head/PLAR consultant’s contact information
- After you have reviewed all online information, contact the program head/PLAR consultant for a particular program to ask questions and/or arrange a consultation.
- If you need to clarify your career goals or explore other pathways to occupational credentials, consult with a Sask Polytech Counsellor.
For part-time or full-time Canada/Saskatchewan student loans, courses completed with PLAR are included in calculations of course load and tuition costs.
Other funding sources (e.g., banks or credit unions loans, First Nations, Worker’s Compensation Board, etc.) may not recognize PLAR fees as tuition or PLAR registration as attendance. Consult directly with your funding agency and get written approval before registering for PLAR.
Assessment is usually done on campus, which is convenient if you are attending other courses on campus. When consulting for PLAR approval, indicate how far you would need to travel for assessment. If possible, the assessment plan may be designed to keep travel to a minimum.