Some important terms are not actually defined in the STCW code, so for clarity here are the definitions used at MMA.

Knowledge, understanding, and proficiency

The capacity to do something.
A particular ability which improves with practice.
Facts or information acquired by a person through experience or education.
Ability to use knowledge to perceive significance, draw conclusions, or make decisions.
An ability requiring a combination of knowledge, understanding and skill to perform.

Some abilities are not proficiencies because they require little or no skill. They can be performed by an intelligent and able-bodied person without practice. Non-proficiencies do not normally need to be assessed, however if there is doubt that the candidate can actually perform the task, then they should be.

  • Proficiencies: welding a pipe, using a sextant, making good decisions, troubleshooting.
  • Non-proficiencies: puting on gloves, pressing a button, climbing a ladder, answering the phone.
Competence (or competency)
Competence has two meanings
1) Fitness or ability to perform a certain task. Example: She is a competent to draw blood from a patient.
2) A work task or job function. Example: The ability to draw blood is a competence all doctors must have.

A candidate is deemed competent if he has demonstrated sufficient knowledge, understanding, and proficiency to perform the competences given in column 1 of the relevant STCW tables.

A knowledge, understanding, or proficiency identified and numbered by the USCG, which is satisfied at MMA by either:
1) completing a course which contains the knowledge or understanding, or
2) completing a MMA practical assessment to demonstrate the proficiency, or
3) completing all elements of a relevant STCW table (e.g. firefighting, first aid).

Assessment of competence

Assessment means the evaluation of evidence of a candidate’s knowledge and abilities. Assessment should be objective. Evidence of Knowledge and Understanding may be provided by examination, while evidence of Proficiency is provided by practical demontration, job performance, or work products.
An assessment whereby knowledge and understanding are verified by asking the candidate questions, including multiple-choice questions, either in writing or orally. Questions which begin with define, list, describe, identify and the like are sufficient to assess knowledge, while questions which begin with why, explain, or what would you do if, etc. can be used to assess understanding. A student is considered to have demonstrated sufficient knowledge and understanding by achieving a 70 or higher final grade in the course where the knowledge and understanding are assessed.
Practical Demonstration
Practical demonstrations of skill are used to assess proficiency. Proficiency assessments must include a Condition, Behavior, and Standard. At MMA, proficiency is assessed individually or in small teams when appropriate and is graded as pass/fail. Cadets may repeat failed assessments with the permission of the assessor after remediation or additonal practice.
The condition describes the environment in which the assessment takes place; the relevant equipment, tools, procedures, materials, etc. available when the assessment is conducted.
The behavior specifies the proficiency which the candidate must demonstrate.
The standard specifies the criteria for determining acceptable proficiency.


On a basketball court with a standard ball and net.
Shoot free throws for one minute.
Make at least five baskets.