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
Case Study – Part 3: Perfecting your draft.
As explained in my first post on the Case Study, writing your Case Study should advance in three stages:
- Select your key issue(s)
- Write your Case Study to the requisite format
- Perfect your drafts applying concise and logical reasoning, using accurate vocabulary and demonstrating level 3 competencies.
So here it is, the third and final post in which we are going to examine the third stage.
Let’s remind ourselves of the purpose of the Case Study:
You want to persuade the assessors that your key issues have enabled you to attain or apply several level 3 competencies and that you have demonstrated excellent ethical and professional standards, ultimately proving to them that you are worthy of the MRICS status!
How do you achieve this?
The Case Study is not a story telling exercise. You must explain and evidence how you have effectively overcome your key issue(s).
Explaining requires three elements;
- Facts (‘What’)
- Background (‘How’)
- Reasons (‘Why’)
Therefore, start by reviewing your draft case study and make sure that each fact is backed up by a ‘how’ and a ‘why’.
As the word count is very tight, I would recommend that you omit everything that does not contribute to explaining how you resolved your key issue(s). You may add some specific facts or figures to reinforce a couple of key points but you may also leave some areas of detailing open for the assessors’ questioning.
Using the appropriate vocabulary
The assessors are only interested in what YOU did. Write the whole of your Case Study using the first person and active verbs.
Level 3 is all about advising the client so do not hesitate to use some strong vocabulary such as I recommended, I advised, I explained, I made it clear, I made my client aware that, I warned against, etc.
Remember that ‘I did’ is level 2 only!
The second review of your draft Case Study should focus on these two points as they can make a significant impact on the quality of your submission: use the first person and active verbs!
Be careful that your approach should strictly follow industry best practice and the RICS standards. As a chartered surveyor, you will be expected to act as an ambassador of the RICS. Your Case Study is also supposed to be based on your best piece of work so demonstrating plain ignorance of the RICS standards is not going to be a smart option for your APC!
However, having worked with many candidates, I know that things do not always go exactly to plan in real life and that you may have been under pressure to deviate from best practice.
There are three ways to address this issue in your case study;
- If it is a minor point, play it safe and do not mention it. If really needed, be vague or make a slight ‘adjustment’ but be mindful that assessors may question you on this aspect of your Case Study. Be prepared!
- Take responsibility. Explain that you advised your client against it. Demonstrate that you took the required steps to protect both your employer’s and your client’s interests. Ask as many people as possible to review your Case Study to make sure that you are not inadvertently shooting yourself in the foot.
- If it is a serious deviation, it is likely that your project is not suitable for your Case Study. Learn your lessons and select a different project or defer your final assessment.
In any case, do not make things up!!!
Most candidates are very generic in their lessons learnt. They restrict themselves to some classic ones such as the importance of good communication within a team, the importance of understanding the client’s requirements, the importance of setting up processes to identify issues early.
If you want to stand out, you need to be more specific than this. Look at the competencies that you have developed during your key issues. Look at your pathway guide and the examples of activities that you are expected to carry out to demonstrate level 3 in those competencies.
What did you learn about these tasks during your key issues? Have you discovered better ways of completing them? Did you follow best practice and understood why it has to be done that way?
Obviously you should avoid to simply state that you have learnt how to carry out your day job through your key issue! Use more subtle vocabulary such as:
I have enhanced, I have built up on my previous knowledge, I have gained a deeper understanding, I now have the confidence to advise my clients on such matter.
And because many candidates have asked me for examples, here is one relating to Procurement and Tendering, Development / Project Brief and Communication;
‘Key issue 1 has demonstrated the importance of understanding and establishing the client’s requirements and drivers. This experience has shown me that certain client requirements can have a significant impact on procurement options and limit the routes available for the client to use. The initial difficulties encountered in this project have also evidenced the need for a clear definition and effective communication of the client’s requirements within the project team.’
Here is another relating to Procurement and Tendering, Construction Technology and Design Economics;
‘A valuable lesson I have taken away from this project is to carefully consider the implications of utilising a technical solution that may restrict future commercial and procurement decision making. If the incumbent infrastructure can be improved and maintained by a larger number of competent contractors, greater CAPEX and OPEX savings could be achieved.’
Note: As the RICS use a plagiarism software to ensure that your submission is of your own work, please do not cut and paste these examples onto your own Case Study!!
If you would like to prepare the detailed plan of your Case Study with our APC trainers and discuss with them your key issues and options, we offer one-to-one mentoring sessions either face-to-face (Manchester or London only) or via Skype.
We also offer a documentation review service once you have completed your draft. Please check our pre-submission services here.
Alternatively, we offer face-to-face training for corporate clients across the UK. Please e-mail us at Sonia@APCsupport-ltd.co.uk to discuss your requirements.