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Go back to Pathways: Transfers, degree options, and graduate certificates

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

We see the value in your skills and experience

At Cambrian we recognize the value of skills developed outside the traditional classroom.  We use a student-centered approach to look at where you’ve been in life.

If you are very self-directed and motivated to complete a College Certificate or Diploma we will evaluate any formal education you have, informal learning you’ve experienced as well as your real-world experience.

Achieving credits through Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) can be completed either through challenge exams or by portfolio development, depending on the program and courses involved.

You will have the support of the Pathways Officer as well as the Program Coordinator from your program of choice.

  • Most people know more than they realize.
  • Most people can achieve goals they thought were out of reach.
  • Turn your real world experience into college credits!
PLAR Student Guide

Search for and review the Course Outlines for your program here.

Attention Current Students – Important


Registration (including fee payment) for PLAR must be completed by Day 10 of the semester


If you are applying for PLAR assessment for a course that you are currently enrolled in, you will be withdrawn from that course


Full time students who are unsuccessful in a PLAR attempt will be required to complete the course via regular delivery


Receiving course credits through the PLAR process may adversely affect course load and eligibility for OSAP and other sponsorships

More about Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

You must be 19 years of age or older or have an OSSD or its equivalent. If English is your second language, you will have to meet language requirements at the level required for admission to the College. This may require a language competency test. Other eligibility requirements will depend on the course(s) for which you are seeking PLAR.

Prior learning can be demonstrated through a challenge or portfolio process. The process is determined through consultation with Cambrian College’s Pathways Officer, and the appropriate Program Coordinator, Dean, and/or faculty. Using course-based learning outcomes, you can compare them to your learning achievements through a formal process.

The CHALLENGE PROCESS has been developed to measure your prior learning achievements against the specific learning outcomes of an individual course. This process measures demonstrated learning through a variety of evaluation methods or challenge activities designed by subject-expert faculty and include, for example:

  • Tests, both written and oral.
  • Performance activities observed and evaluated by the assessor, including presentations, demonstrations, on-site observations, etc.
  • Product development specifically assigned by the assessor, including case studies, reports, programs, etc.

In most cases, challenge activities are used in situations where a portfolio would not be appropriate or even possible. For example, challenge activities are commonly used for courses that are predominantly theory-based. Also, challenge activities may be the only method of assessment and evaluation in those situations where you do not have the required supportive documentation for a complete learning portfolio.

The PORTFOLIO PROCESS has been developed to assist you in the assembly of a learning portfolio that is used as part of the assessment and recognition of your “non-classroom” learning experiences. A learning portfolio is an organized collection of materials developed by you that records prior learning achievements and relates them to the learning outcomes of college courses. It describes relevant experience, identifies and analyzes learning achievements, and provides validation or proof through a collection of documents. What you include in your portfolio depends on the particular requirements of the subject area as outlined by the faculty involved.

The Pathways Officer and appropriate Program Coordinator will assist you in obtaining current course outlines, book lists and other information so that you can prepare for a challenge test or create your portfolio.

You will be charged a fee for each PLAR course assessment. The fee is subjected to change, as directed by the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities. Please contact the Pathways Office to confirm the current fee.

There are no guarantees that you will obtain credit through PLAR, just as there are no guarantees that you will obtain credit through taking a college course. However, the Pathways Officer and appropriate Program Coordinator will assist you in pre-determining your chances of success. It is important that you weigh the benefits against the risks. There are many personal benefits to be achieved through the PLAR process. Tangible benefits could range from the acquisition of one college credit to the acquisition of 75% of credits required for a credential. Less tangible benefits such as increased academic knowledge and skills, promotion of self-esteem and self-discovery, consolidation of career pathways and other personal achievements often result from the PLAR process.

It is possible to achieve a maximum of 75% of a College program through the PLAR process. The number of credits you earn depends upon the nature and the extent of your learning and the type of program.

The Registrar’s Office records the PLAR candidate’s final grades. Successful PLAR credits are transcribed with a grade in the same manner that course grades are transcribed. Unsuccessful PLAR attempts are not recorded on the student’s transcript.

Yes, students with a documented disability can receive accommodations once the documentation has been verified and accommodations determined by a Disability Advisor in the Glenn Crombie Centre for Student Support. You should make an appointment to see an Advisor well in advance of your application for PLAR should you require an accommodation. Please contact the Glenn Crombie Centre at (705) 566-8101, ext. 7420.