Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR)

Are you an adult learner who is returning to school?

You may be eligible for college credits through Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR). PLAR is based on the premise that many adults acquire higher learning skills and knowledge through:

  • work experience, community, home and volunteer experience
  • non-college and independent study
  • travel and leisure activities

This "prior learning" may lead to you obtaining college credit.

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR)

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) is a systematic credit granting process that recognizes and accredits previous or prior learning. The process involves the identification, documentation, assessment, verification, and recognition of relevant knowledge and skills acquired through your formal and informal study, work, and life experiences. The relevant learning is assessed and evaluated relative to the learning outcomes of a particular course or program. PLAR is to be distinguished from the transfer of academic credit process, in that PLAR focuses on the evaluation of experiential learning.

PLAR is different from receiving transfer credits. Transfer credits may be granted to a learner who has taken a similar or equivalent course at another formal educational institution. A transfer credit is granted on the strength of a transcript from the institution, which verifies that the learning has been formally acquired and evaluated.

Benefits of PLAR

  • You will be on a "fast track" towards your diploma
  • You won't have to repeat your learning
  • You may save time and money
  • You will clarify your educational plans and goals
  • You will grow and develop as a life-long learner

Learning from Life and Work Experiences
Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition
College Credit

Are You Eligible for PLAR?

In accordance with the College admission policy, applicants must be at least 19 years of age or have earned an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent. You do not have to be enrolled in a program to access PLAR, but if you receive credit for courses through PLAR you must go through the regular admission process in order to gain entrance into a College program. PLAR is normally sought by adults returning to college studies, rather than by secondary school graduates continuing their studies.

How do I demonstrate my prior learning so I can get college credit?

You can demonstrate your learning in a variety of ways including interviews, demonstrations, simulations, product assessment, challenge exams, and portfolio-assisted assessments. You are responsible for providing documentation that demonstrates the validity of your learning, or to participate in an assessment methodology deemed appropriate to the course, the content, and the learning being measured. The assessment method may vary depending upon the nature of the course or program and takes into consideration that different methods of assessment are available. Your faculty assessor will assist you regarding which method is best for the subject you are trying to obtain credit for through PLAR.

Two of the most popular methods of demonstrating learning are the challenge test or exam and the portfolio-assisted challenge.

The tests or exams are developed by college faculty and used to measure your knowledge and skills in a particular subject area. These tests may include case studies and there is often an interview component. The learning outcomes in the course outline are used as the basis for the assessment process.

The portfolio is a collection of information, which you create, that helps organize and document your life experiences as well as your learning, skills and abilities. Most portfolios include an autobiography, your educational goals, a resume, your learning experiences, a description of knowledge obtained from all sources, documents of support, along with the specific courses for which college credit is requested. It can be used as a tool for career planning, as well as a tool for assessment. The portfolio may be particularly useful for adults who feel that they meet the requirements of several courses within a Fleming program.

How do I access PLAR?

The Registrar's Office is your first point of contact for enquiries regarding the PLAR process. Staff in the Registrar's Office will:

  • explain the PLAR procedures to you
  • provide guidance regarding application procedure(s) and fees
  • refer the student to the appropriate academic school (subject or program coordinator) to arrange specific assessment processes
  • refer students seeking to develop prior learning portfolios for assistance from a PLAR Facilitator in the Centre for Learning and Teaching.
If I decide to register for PLAR, what are the next steps?

We recommend that you attempt a PLAR prior to formal course or program registration. This gives you the time you need to gather information, find out requirements, and discuss the process with college contacts.

If you are already registered in a course and want to PLAR it, you must register by the tenth day of classes. Once your PLAR registration form is complete and the PLAR fee is paid, the information will be forwarded to the faculty assessor who will contact you usually by phone or by e-mail to arrange to meet with you and begin the assessment. The PLAR fee (approximately $125) must be paid prior to forwarding the assessment form on your behalf. This fee is non-refundable. Once you have completed the assessment, the faculty will sign the form, insert your grade (this may be either Pass/Fail designation or a percentage grade) and forward it to the Registrar's Office.

If you were successful in your assessment, the outcome will be inserted in your Grade record and mailed to the address on file. Unsuccessful attempts (failures) will not be inserted on your record. You must wait one calendar year to reattempt an unsuccessful PLAR.

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition Flowchart

  1. Inquire about the PLAR process at the Registrar's Office. The office may direct you to the subject coordinator, the program coordinator, or the PLAR facilitator for further assistance and information.
  2. If you wish to proceed, review the course outline carefully and speak to the course professor to discuss possible PLAR options. You may PLAR more than one course.
  3. If you wish to proceed, pay the PLAR fee of approximately $125 in the Registrar's Office. The office will notify the faculty assessor (usually the course professor) that fees have been paid and the assessment process begins.
  4. Once your PLAR registration is complete the information will be forwarded to the faculty assessor who will contact you to set up the assessment with you.
  5. Upon receipt of application, fees and completed assessment, the Registrar's Office will notify you, in writing, of the PLAR results and credits granted, normally within 15 working days
  6. An appeal process is available in the event you wish to challenge the assessment. Appeals are managed according to the College's current academic regulations for appeals.

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Fleming College
599 Brealey Drive K9J 7B1 Peterborough, Ontario,
(705) 749-5530