History of the National Optical Sciences Examinations

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Over two decades, regulatory bodies from across Canada discussed “reciprocity of licensing”. From these discussions, the National Optical Sciences Examination was conceived.

Because examination initiatives were ongoing in Alberta and Manitoba, they provided a logical platform for developing a national project. In 1996, the work began.

Developing a plan

Early in 1996, representatives of some of the provincial education bodies had their first meeting as the National Examination Committee (NEC).

Working together with a representative from the University of Alberta Coordinating Council, they outlined a template for the development of professional examinations; It was a plan that successfully withstood scrutiny, and paved the way for what was come.

Gaining momentum

By March of 1996 there was finally enough momentum to call a meeting. Representatives from all the regulatory bodies, and some associations, formed an ad hoc examination committee. 

Nelson Kennedy, Dean of Health Sciences at NAIT, addressed the delegates about the need to develop national examinations. National Accreditation Committee of Opticians (NACO) representatives added to the discussion, and the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) was born.

Mutual recognition

The terms of the MRA made it clear that it was both necessary and practical to develop a common licensing examination for all 10 provinces.  Manitoba was already in the process of developing a skills-based examination template, so the committee determined that they should take the lead. Their template served as a foundation for the national exam.

Two exams

By June of 1996, the Optical Sciences 1 – Eyeglasses examination was finally ready to go before the regulatory boards.  At their June meeting, provincial representatives agreed to ask their boards for approval to move forward.

A few months later, in September, the examination committee began developing the Optical Sciences 2 Advanced Practice – Contact Lens examination.

NACOR and the NEC

The administration of the examinations is NACOR’s responsibility. However, the NEC a working sub-committee of NACOR, is responsible for developing examination content and policy.

In 1998 a group called “Assessment Strategies,” was contracted to assess the examinations and marking criteria of the NACOR. They outlined any improvements required, and helped make the NACOR a strong exam.


More Information

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Learn more about Opticianry in Canada, including the four national organizations essential to regulation, the teaching institutions that offer programs in Opticianry, and the Mutual Recognition Agreement in place to support the mobility of opticians across Canada.

All of the information on this page has come from the NACOR website, where  you can find more detail about the history and the current rules of the NACOR exam.