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
Understanding the APC Submission Documents
If you intend to sit your APC in the next 12 months, it is a good idea to start familiarising yourself with the APC Submission Documents.
All candidates enrolled since 1st January 2017 must complete their documents using the RICS online platform (ARC). Candidates enrolled prior to this date (inflight candidates) have the choice between using ARC or uploading a Pdf of the old word template.
In any case, you may find it easier to use a Word Document to write your drafts and issue to your counsellor for feedback. There is indeed no option for printing your draft off ARC and this can be quite a source of frustration!
APC Support Ltd sells a Word Template for the Summary of Experience which includes the detailed list of topics that you should cover under each competency and pre-drafted sections to ensure that you structure your levels 2 and 3 correctly. You only need to fill the gaps and re-write it in your own words. The template is available at this link.
The APC Submission Template contains 6 sections which I will review one by one.
- Candidate Details
- Summary of Experience
- Case Study
- CPD Records
- Ethics Certificate
- Log Book (If applicable)
1. Candidate Details
Candidate and Counsellor / Supervisor Details
You only need to provide your name, pathway and some basic information about yourself and your supervisor / counsellor in this section. You also need to attach a professional picture (as opposed to one from social media!).
Do not forget to sign it and to get your counsellor and supervisor (if any) to sign it. If cannot obtain electronic signatures, please scan and upload the relevant page(s) on ACR.
Having a supervisor is optional but I would suggest that you take up the extra support if it is offered to you.
Qualifications and Employment History
Complete this section as you would for a brief CV to give the assessors an idea of experience to date. It is always useful to briefly describe your key projects in this section to save yourself some of the wordcount in your summary of experience.
Please keep it short!
2. Summary of Experience
This section is the most important part of your APC submission and I have dedicated a separate post to it – Follow the link: Completing your Summary of Experience
3. Case Study
This is also a topic in itself and I have written several posts about the case study:
4. CPD Records
As an APC candidate, you need to complete 48 hours of CPD every 12 months, which can be pro-rata to 24 hours in your final 6 months. At least 50% must be formal CPD.
Activity type: Was it a seminar, a training class, a university project, an on-line CPD, in-house briefing, personal reading, internet search, mentoring, etc?
Purpose / learning outcome: You should not attend CPD events just for the sake of it; you need to attend them with the aim of learning something in relation to your job.
You need to identify where the gaps in your knowledge are and research how you can address them. APC Support Ltd offer on-demand revision webinars covering all the technical and mandatory competencies which enable you to gain over 30 hours of formal CPD hours.
Description: Briefly explain what the event was; it will usually be the description given by the CPD provider. Please also specify who delivered this CPD, or in which journal or website you read an article for example.
TIP: Be careful, this section is an excellent source of questions for assessors! If you state that you attended a 3-hour CPD on the difference between JCT and NEC contract, the assessors will expect you to be reasonably clued up on the topic.
Formal or informal: Please refer to the RICS guidance to select. It is not the end of the world if you get the odd one wrong but do apply some common sense!
The RICS guidance is available to download here: Formal and Informal CPD Examples
If you studied on a day release or completed a master, you can record part of your final year studies as CPD.
As a chartered surveyor, you will have to complete 20 hours of CPD every year. You need to demonstrate that you have already embraced this requirement. The assessors will not be impressed if all your CPD hours come from your company’s graduate development programme or your university degree! Put yourself in the assessors’ shoes for a moment: How will you achieve your CPD hours once you have left the graduate programme?
A few final points on CPD:
- This is a small industry; the chances that one of your assessors delivered a seminar that you pretended to attend are greater than you think – Do not make things up!
- Networking events, even organised by the RICS, are not CPD.
- Attend CPD’s on a variety of topics relevant to your job.
- Use a variety of sources: personal reading, seminars, on-line training, etc.
- 48 hours is a minimum; feel free to record (a little) more.
- Remember that everything that you record as CPD can be a source of questioning.
5. Ethics Certificate
All candidates are required to complete the online ethics training and test and upload their certificate onto ARC (if you are lucky, it will be done automatically!).
The test consists of scenario-type questions and is not as easy as it may seem. ‘I decline politely’ is certainly not always the correct answer! You will have to wait 24 hours before retaking it if you fail. As it is valid for 12 months, there is no excuse for leaving it to the last minute!
The RICS will e-mail you your personal login details to take the test as soon as you are eligible to sit your APC. If you have not received your details, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire.
6. Log Book
The log book records the amount of experience in days that you have gained in each competency each year. This is only applicable to candidates required to undertake a period of structured training.
Candidates with a RICS accredited degree and less than 5 year experience need to follow a minimum 24 months structured training after enrolment onto the APC, and those with between 5 and 10 year experience, 12 months. Candidates with a non-accredited degree will have to undertake the preliminary review instead, and those with an accredited degree and more than 10 year experience will need neither of them.
Please read our post My APC: Getting started if you have no idea what I am talking about!
If you enrolled after 1st January 2017, you need to complete your diary on ARC which will automatically populate your log book (There is no way of getting away with not keeping your diary up-to-date!). If you enrolled prior to this date, you need to use the excel version which is unfortunately no longer available on the RICS pathway.
If you have lost your file, you can download a copy here: Log Book – Commercial Property Practice
Obviously, you will need to amend the competencies to suit your pathway.
If you are an inflight candidate, please do not upload your diary on ARC! Assessors do not get to see it, it is only for your personal records.
Please refer to our previous post for more details on the diary: Completing the APC Diary
Please be aware that you do not have to attach your referral report. The RICS will not tell the assessors whether it is your first, second or more attempt in order to avoid any possible unconscious bias.
However, you must update your CPD records, your log book (if applicable) and amend your summary of experience to address any areas of weaknesses identified at your previous interview.
Please do also check that your case study is still within the time limits or you will need to write a new one. You are also encouraged to write a new one if your original case study did not serve you well at your previous attempt. All your documents should allow you to showcase your best skills!
Finally, do not forget to check that your Ethics certificate is still in date and you will need to gain new signatures on the front page.
Further advice to referred candidates is provided in a separate post.
If you require further help with your APC preparation, we offer a number of support services for APC candidates in most pathways both in the UK and outside the UK. Please visit our website for more information: http://www.apcsupport-ltd.co.uk/pre-submission-support
Alternatively, we offer face-to-face training for corporate clients in the North-West of England. Please e-mail us at Sonia@APCsupport-ltd.co.uk to discuss your requirements.
Please feel free to send me an invite on LinkedIn if you would like to be notified of our latest events.