The IAM allows people to qualify within their local group as an Observer once 12 months has passed since taking their test. This doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing for it, though, before then.
Becoming an Observer requires a commitment in terms of both effort and time. We invest in preparing our Observers and expect a return on that. If you calculate you have 4 Sat/Suns in two weekends, Observers typically spend at least one of those 4 days observing. Most Observers take a minimum of one Associate then, when that Associate is test ready, they take another one. Some take more. This continues throughout the year, rain or shine, summer or winter etc.
Your own theory knowledge of the Highway Code, Roadcraft and IAM RoadSmart Advanced Rider Course which has to be current and comprehensive.
There are two routes to making sure your own riding is up to Observer standard: You can take the SAM Adv+ and get a “Class 1” 86% and above; or you can take an extended check-ride over 90 minutes with a member of the Observer Development Team who will judge whether your riding is there or not. Why do you have to be better than the IAM test standard? Because there is so much going on when you are Observing – your own ride, the Associate’s ride, the lesson plan, the need to be flexible with the training route.
However, more than all of the above, Observers need excellent coaching and communicating skills. Have you got any previous experience of mentoring, coaching or training in any context – work or hobbies, not necessarily motorcycling? Consider what your Observer did to get the best out of you, could you replicate that?
The IAM recommend that for qualifying as a Local Observer you should spend 3-4 sessions being supervised by a Natioinal Observer while you train, using a real Associate. Once you are ready you will be signed-off, subject to external verification through the IMI, by a National Observer who is also a Local Observer Assessor.
If there are two or three people interested, we also like to get them together to train for 4 half-day sessions in advance of going out with their National Observers for the 3-4 sessions. This gets everyone off on a similar level. However, it’s not always possible. Where this is not done, the National Observer obviously has a lot more work to do!
Meanwhile, as a way of consolidating your own level of riding, have you thought about participation in or Leading Group Ride or Back Marking for SAM?
If you want to chat about any of the above, give our Chief Observer, Alec Gore, a call to talk it over …