FOREWORD: Please be aware that this post is not an official RICS guidance.
All the advice given in this blog is based on my personal interpretation of the APC Candidate’s Guide which I have enhanced through many discussions with fellow APC Mentors and APC Assessors.
Sonia Desloges MRICS
Director, APC Support Ltd
Who needs to record a diary?
Not all candidates are required to keep an APC Diary. Only candidates with an RICS accredited degree and less than 10 years relevant experience need to follow a period of structured training which they must record in their Diary.
Candidates with less than 5 years experience must record a MINIMUM of 24 months AND 400 days before being eligible for the Final Assessment interview.
Candidates between 5 and 10 years experience must record a MINIMUM of 12 months AND 200 days before being eligible for the Final Assessment interview.
It may happen that your structured training was put on hold for a few months (unemployment, maternity leave, sabbatical, etc.). In such case, I would suggest that you leave the relevant months blank (e-mail the RICS when you submit your documents explaining why so they can pass on the information to your assessors) and resume recording your experience until you have achieved the required 200 days or 400 days.
The 12 and 24 month periods are a minimum requirement and it is rare that candidates have gained sufficient relevant professional experience to sit their Final Assessment within the minimum period. You must therefore keep recording your Diary and Summary of Experience until you submit your final documentation for your interview, and beyond if you are unfortunately referred.
What is the purpose of the diary?
You must record your diary online via ARC on a regular basis. It will automatically populate a summary of the days of experience gained under each competency in a number of tables collectively called the log book.
The assessors will not have access to your diary, they will only receive the log book.
However, if they feel that your log book is very dubious, they may ask for your diary to be audited. It is therefore worth giving it a bit of care and attention.
What should I record?
You should only record your technical competencies (core and optional), not your mandatory competencies.
You can only record full days or half days, not hours. If several competencies are covered within the same activity, select the dominant one or alternate over several days if the activity lasted more than half a day.
Ideally you should try to have a balanced experience at the end of your structured training but ultimately quality is more important than quantity. You should also aim to achieve circa 25 days in each optional competency, but once again it will depend on your personal circumstances.
Unfortunately recording 100 days in Quantification will not suffice to attain Level 3 if all the experience gained is limited to measuring items on CAD measure; you will need to gain varied and in-depth experience in each competency in order to be ready to sit our Final Assessment. But if you think carefully about it, have you not actually gained some experience in Construction Technology or Sustainability while measuring some items?
A solid understanding of the competencies and constant reference to your Pathway Guide will be key in completing your Diary efficiently.
Recording your experience before graduation
At least 12 months of your structured training must take place AFTER graduation with a RICS accredited degree, but you may qualify for recording some of the experience that you have gained before graduation.
If you are completing your degree part-time (either a BSc at University or a distance-learning post-graduate degree) and are employed in a relevant role, you can record your experience during your final year of study BUT you must have enrolled onto the APC (and paid the fee). You can only backdate your records by one month.
When you enrol, please promptly check that you can record your diary on ARC from your start date. You should notify the RICS immediately if you encounter any technical difficulties or your diary does not appear at all.
If you have more than 5 year experience and are completing a post-graduate RICS accredited degree, you may be able to complete your degree and your 12-month structured training concurrently. Please contact the RICS to check whether you qualify.
If you are doing a sandwich year / placement as part of your accredited degree, you can record your experience providing that you are registered as a RICS student member and that a RICS member or fellow (MRICS or FRICS) acts as your Counsellor and provides you with a letter confirming the dates of your placement. Your Counsellor must also sign off the competency levels that you have achieved during your placement.
After graduation, you must enrol onto the APC (and pay the fee) as soon as employed and record at least 12 months post-graduation experience with a minimum of 400 days in total.
I found that my Diary was an invaluable source of examples for my record of experience, during my interview and to discuss my progress and training needs with my Supervisor and Counsellor.
When you will start writing your Summary of Experience, ARC will give you the possibility to recall all your diary entries under a specific competency and level which will be an easy way to identify suitable examples to demonstrate your levels 2 and 3.
For this reason, you should try to include as much information as possible for each entry: name of project, stage of works, brief description of the task undertaken, key figures, etc. You would be surprised how quickly you can forget all about a project!
Whereas I am an awful example as I was constantly a few months behind my Diary, I can only strongly advise all candidates to keep your Diary up-to-date. I have spent days going through my Outlook calendar and files trying to remember what on earth I had been working on for the last couple of months! Trust me, this is not a smart way to be spending your time when you are trying to issue your Final Submission documents by the deadline while keeping up with the day job.
Best of luck!
If you are still unsure about the best way forward, please feel free to get in touch with us at Sonia@APCsupport-ltd.co.uk.
If you need support with your APC, we offer a complete programme of APC mentoring at all stages of the APC preparation including documentation review, on-demand revision modules, APC Questions packs, mock interviews and one-to-one mentoring. Please visit our website to discover the full range of our services: APC Support Limited.