It is our distinct pleasure to have been asked to review the new App for iOS and Android from Thomas E. “Tec” Clark.
Who Is Tec Clark?
In departure from our regular reviews of Apps, we want to share some of the background of our friend Tec, who is known throughout the diving industry as the Scuba Guru.
Merriam Webster defines Guru as:
a: a teacher and especially intellectual guide in matters of fundamental concern b: one who is an acknowledged leader or chief proponent c: a person with knowledge or expertise
When we were just tadpoles and first learning to dive, we all found ourselves on a boat, beach or at a quarry and having some grizzled, hard-bitten guy pointed out as the “diving guru”. This observation is usually accompanied by the statement that “so and so has forgotten more about diving than you’ll ever know” or words to that effect. We all nodded our heads as we surreptitiously watched the expert doing whatever magic it was he was doing.
Tec Clark is certainly not a grizzled, hard-bitten guy, but he is indeed a diving Guru. While he has undoubtedly never forgotten any of the information about diving he has accumulated in his storied career, Tec hasn’t sat on his laurels, but instead, is always seeking new ways to pass on his wealth of information.
A competitive swimmer from a very early age, Tec developed a love of the water through his parents and an appreciation of the sea through his grandfather, an avid fisherman. Diving since he was 12 years old, Tec soon became certified and in 1988 began his academic career at the University of Florida, where he soon enrolled in a “for credit” diving course. Soon, Tec was a Scuba instructor for the University of Florida’s Academic Diving Program. The program at the U of F was the nation’s largest, giving Tec a great deal of experience in teaching diving to large groups of people.
Tec went on to work in numerous capacities in the diving world while completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Recreational Sciences. He served as a Public Safety Diver, a Dive Master and as an Instructor, adding to his reservoir of knowledge and experience. By 1990, he had returned to the University of Florida as the Director of the Academic Diving Program and designing and teaching Instructor Development programs.
In 1996, Tec had completed an internship with the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) Scuba Program. He continued working for the YMCA as a special projects, and culminated his tenure as the National Director of the YMCA’s SCUBA program.
Since his time with the YMCA, Tec Clark has held very elite positions in the dive industry including returning to his “roots” as the Managing Director of the University of Florida’s Academic Diving Program and the National Director of the YMCA Scuba Program. In addition to the numerous honors for his instructional abilities, Tec has also co-edited several diving texts.
Tec has appeared as a diving expert on an assortment of popular television networks, including A&E, The Learning Channel, and Outdoor Life Network. Not satisfied with just being the Guru on all things SCUBA, Tec has also served as the Captain of the US Freediving Team and is the founder of both Reef Ministries and ScubaGuru.com. Tec is currently the Associate Director for Aquatics and Scuba Diving at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.
The Scuba Exam App
Scuba Exam was originally introduced in 2010. Imagine having your Open Water Student Guide available on your phone or Tablet (it is compatible with iPhone, iPad or Android devices – we reviewed the iOS version). The comprehensive App covers everything from Gas Laws to Boat Diving and every topic in between. In order to keep up with new changes in theory and practice, and to expand the database to include a more comprehensive list of certifying agencies, the App has recently undergone a full “make-over.” DeeperBlue.com introduced the new and improved App in an article earlier this year: Scuba Exam Apps for iPhone Given Major Update.
As mentioned in the previous article, “Scuba Exam contains more than 200 scuba theory questions and 50 dive table questions for PADI, NAUI and SSI dive tables. Each question features an in-depth explanation of the question and its answer.”
In this expanded review, we tested the App for 30 days, comparing the information to the hard copy versions of the current NAUI, PADI and SSI Open Water SCUBA Divers Manuals and sought to “stump the Guru”, testing against our own memory.
Diving right into the App, which opens with a title page and four menu choices, we find we can choose from Quiz, Previous Quizzes, Statistics, and Theory Guide. The “Settings” wheel in the top, left corner gives access your personal preferences…and you can choose which Agency you want to study: NAUI, PADI or SSI and whether you want the info in meters or feet.
Jumping right in with a Giant Stride, we chose our personal preferences and took the “Basic Quiz“, a 50 question multiple-choice quiz on SCUBA diving information. Selecting the “Timed” option, we took the multiple-choice exam, confidently relying on our decades of experience. So, we scored a 46/50 the first time around…and three of the four questions missed were concerning “hand signals”. After reviewing the questions, we realized that the pictures that accompanied the questions were expandable to see both hands, a feature that was clearly shown on the question, but which we didn’t pay attention to. It was like being back in that first Open Water class, taking the end of module exams.
There’s a wealth of detail in this App…we would encourage the user to open every tab, play with the App and it’s many functions and try all the options. The quiz is a very handy tool and here’s one of the coolest features; when completed, you have the option to review your score and the questions you got wrong…and the app has three choices that allow you to “Flag” the question for later study, “Report” the question, which generates an e-mail to Tec himself, and to “Explain” the question and answer…which takes you to a full-page explanation.
We were impressed with the depth and detail of the questions and explanations. The photos with each of the questions were clear and detailed. Having taken the quiz, and feeling we had it dialed in, we then exercised the option to take the quiz again…and there were new questions! It appears there are at least 150 unique questions in the quiz, given in random order, which mirrors the different versions of the tests you would take in a Scuba class.
By allowing the diver to review their answers, research more information, re-take the quiz as many times as they want and, through the handy drop-down menu in the top, left of the Quiz screen, see an overview of every question, this function alone immediately shows the value of this App.
The next tab you can select is “Previous Quizzes”, which gives you a benchmark and record of your progress. Good feature to have and use as a reference. Instructors can use this tab to review areas that need remedial work with their students.
The third Tab on the Welcome screen is “Statistics” and provides a graphical representation of your progress, past quizzes and development.
The fourth tab is the “Theory Guide” and mirrors the information presented by the agency you selected in your “Settings”. This information is up to date and accurate…after reviewing all three agencies’ Open Water or Beginning SCUBA textbooks, and comparing them page by page with the information in Scuba Exam, we could find no discrepancies in theory, terminology or presentation.
This section is divided into 18 Chapters, starting with the Introduction and concluding with Boat Diving. There are comprehensive Dive Tables in feet and meters included as well. The addition of the Dive Tables alone makes the full version a worthy investment. The diver can have a handy reference available when they left their tables at home and allow for continuous refresher on this critical skill.
These 18 Chapters are richly detailed and extensive in their coverage, with multiple pages (depending on the size of your portable device) of informative and well-written information. Embedded in the text are hyperlinks to “Key Concepts” and additional data…for example, tapping on “Hand Signals” takes you directly to the pertinent section, without having to scroll through the entire guide.
In conclusion, we recommend this App to every diver. There are many, many tools available to the new diver (and crusty, old hand) but there is perhaps no single tool as useful and accessible as Scuba Exam. The bottom line is that Tec Clark continues to provide timely, accurate and useful information to as many divers as he can reach…making us all smarter, better informed and safer.
So, let’s see what we found:
Price: The app is available in two versions: The “Scuba Exam Lite” version, which is free, contains while the more detailed version Scuba Exam can be downloaded for only US$4.99.
Functionality: This is an exceptionally detailed, clean and well laid-out App. The depth of detail and wealth of information is easily accessed through clearly delineated chapters and easily accessed pages through a tab system.
Relevance/Usefulness: The portability of important information to a diver is always a good thing. The sheer amount of information available is fantastic…this is a tremendous tool for any diver, novice or seasoned veteran.
Graphics/Appearance: Scuba Exam is a good looking App. The information is laid out in a clear, logical format. It is like having a Scuba manual at your fingertips. Pictures and graphics are clear, appropriate to the material, and very professional. The tabs and radial buttons are clear and easy to use, and the layered information, which allows the diver to “drill down” for more detail or explanation is excellent.
Cons: If there was a nit to pick, it would be that support through the App developer, Boboshi Applikationer & Import Handelsbolag, is not in English, but apparently in Danish. If you are Danish, this is not a problem.
Compatibility: iOS version requires iOS 7.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Android version requires 2.1 and up.