General

Is it worth sitting my APC?

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by Sonia Desloges, APC Support Limited

With all the lively debate over the last few days regarding the value of our RICS membership, a few APC candidates have started questioning whether there was any benefit in them sitting their APC.

You should not doubt about it. Passing your APC will be the proudest moment of your career and it will make you the best surveyor you can ever be.

First, let’s clarify that this debate is re-ignited every couple of years and always by senior surveyors. Everybody will reach a point in their career when they will have achieved such high personal reputation that their employers and clients will trust them whether they still hold their MRICS letters or not. I can understand why these people are questioning the value in maintaining their membership at this level of their careers.

But how do you think that these senior surveyors have achieved success in their careers?

It is simple. They worked really, really hard to prepare for their APC and continued working hard to deliver high standards to their clients and promote trust in the profession. I do not believe that they would be where they are today if they had not gained their MRICS charterships in the early years of their career AND continuously abided (consciously or not) by the RICS Rules of Conduct.

You need to understand that the debate is completely different if you are trying to achieve recognition in the profession.

The fact is that clients and employers do value your MRICS status.

Everybody knows that no surveyor can pass their APC without months of intensive and dedicated work. Passing your APC is really tough and this is what gives it its value.

And I know that you will never be a better surveyor than the day you pass your APC.

I have supported hundreds of candidates through their APC journey and one of the comments I receive the most is;

‘How did my boss ever trust me before? I actually knew nothing and I now realise how many times I have messed up without even being aware of it.’ (or something in these lines!)

In order to meet the level 3 requirements, you must be able to advise your clients without supervision. This requires you to question why you made such or such recommendation to a client and identify all the other options that you have failed to consider. Soon, you become able to think outside the box and suggest innovative solutions to your clients that will add value to their projects and lead to repeat business for your company.

The APC is an eye and mind opener. It forces you to be curious about your profession and continuously seek better ways to serve your clients.

And once chartered, you can still find value in your membership.

When I support small consultancies, the first thing I teach them is the RICS best practice, and I develop templates and procedures that allow them to implement this best practice. Within a few weeks, their staff are able to work more effectively and their client’s satisfaction improves beyond all their expectations. More importantly, they learn how to take pride in their work again.

The RICS have developed and published countless global standards and guidance notes which are powerful tools for firms and that is why I still value my MRICS letters to this day and I would encourage all surveyors not to give up on the RICS and their APC.

Ignore the noise and follow your path!


About the author:

Sonia Desloges is the director of APC Support Ltd, a specialist APC training and mentoring consultancy. She has assessed and trained hundreds of APC candidates and witnessed how their APC success has driven their career progression. If you need support with your APC preparation, you are most welcome to drop her a line at sonia@APCsupport-ltd.co.uk for an initial chat.


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Changes to the APC submission process from Spring 2020

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by Sonia Desloges, APC Support Limited

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.

The Application Form and the 3 signatures

Your counsellor will approve your submission documents on ARC but you also need three proposers to sponsor your application in order for your submission to be accepted.

These three proposers do not need to read your submission documents (although some may request it). Their role is simply to vest your good character in a similar way to a passport application.

There are a few rules to follow when selecting your proposers;

  • All proposers must chartered surveyors but it could be from any pathway. (Your counsellor will traditionally be your first proposer)
  • All three proposers must be MRICS but there is no longer a requirement for a fellow (FRICS) to sponsor you.
  • One of the three proposers must not work in the same organisation than you. (It could be a former colleague, a client or a former university friend.)

This is nothing particularly new but what has changed is how they sponsor you.

Back in the old days, they had to sign a hard copy of a form which was available to download from the RICS website. Then the form was moved onto ARC where it was only available during the 2-week submission window twice a year.

From Spring 2020, this has changed again. There is no longer a Word Document form, instead they must complete some brief online information through ARC. It only takes a few minutes but…

Plan ahead

The online ‘form’ will only be accessible to your proposers once you have completed all the other sections and your counsellor has approved everything. In other words, all the ‘boxes’ must be green.

Please be aware that it can take a couple of hours for your counsellor to approve everything as the system is quite painstaking, so do not leave it to the last minute.

Please do also bear in mind that if you change a single comma or word in your submission, the box will turn red and your counsellor will need to re-approve it. I would recommend you to send a Word Document draft to your counsellor and ensure that he/she agrees with everything and only then, copy and paste the final version onto ARC. This will save your counsellor a lot of time and frustration.

Once all the boxes are green and you have provided the contact details of your proposers, ARC will send an automated email to your three proposers, requesting them to ‘tick’ an approval box. You will have guessed that you will need to know your proposers’ names, RICS membership numbers and email addresses.

Proposers are heavily solicited and you should not expect anyone to be sitting by his/her laptop a few minutes before midnight on deadline day, waiting for ten candidates to be ready to submit!

No, nobody will be willing to do so. You will really need to plan ahead!

Please show some consideration for the people supporting you through the APC process. Make sure that your whole submission is approved within the first few days of the submission window to give your other signatories enough time to sponsor your application.

You should receive an automated email confirming that your documents have been successfully submitted and all your proposers have sponsored you. If you do not receive this email, be proactive. Call the RICS immediately to identify the reason and resolve any technical issue.

Best of luck!


About the author:

Sonia Desloges is the director of APC Support Ltd, a specialist APC training and mentoring consultancy. She and her team have assessed and trained hundreds of APC candidates in almost every pathway. If you need support with your APC preparation, you are most welcome to drop her a line at sonia@APCsupport-ltd.co.uk for an initial chat.


Routes to MRICS chartership

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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.

 

Routes to MRICS Chartership

There is no standard profile for APC candidates so the routes to chartership are varied and ever evolving. I thought it would be worth dedicating a post to the options available.

 

Option 1: You have an accredited degree (list available through the RICS wizard)

  • You have less than 5 years experience after graduation. (Your final year if you completed your degree on a day release and your sandwich year if applicable count as relevant experience)

Once enrolled, you need to complete a minimum of 24 months or 400 days of structured training before being eligible for the interview.

  • You have between 5 and 10 year experience after graduation.

Once enrolled, you need to complete a minimum of 12 months or 200 days of structured training before being eligible for the interview.

  • You have over 10 year experience after graduation.

You are eligible to sit your APC as the next session after enrolment and do not need to complete any structured training.

Structured training is a period of work experience during which your counsellor will support you to develop the competence and experience expected of a chartered surveyor. You will need to keep a daily diary of your work activities (through ARC) which will automatically generate a summary called the log book.

Many candidates elect to defer their interview in order to make sure that they have gained sufficient relevant experience, so do not feel under pressure to rush into it!

 

Option 2: You have a non-accredited degree

This must be a university degree but it may have been obtained from abroad, be from a non-accredited university or be from another disciple.

  • You have less than 5 year relevant experience (It must be in the role under which you want to sit your APC and may be before or after graduation)

Sorry, you are not yet eligible for the APC. You need to wait until you have acquired at least 5 year experience.

  • You have more than 5 year relevant experience

You are eligible for the APC under the Preliminary Route.

You must prepare your APC submission documents in full and send them for preliminary review via ARC during one of the prescribed windows.

Two experienced assessors will review your documents and decide whether they are of sufficient quality to proceed to the interview. As you do not have an accredited degree, they just want to check that you have understood the various competencies before sending you to the dreading interview!

If your documents do not meet the required standards, you will need to submit a revised version at the next window, usually 6 months later.

If you are successful, this is your opportunity to fine-tune your documents based on the reviewers’ feedback. You will need to upload the final version on ARC a couple of months before your interview.

 

Option 3: You are a senior professional or an expert

Regardless of your qualifications, if you are a senior professional (= a director, a business unit leader or manage a large team with some business management involvement) or an expert (= you have published books and articles), you could apply under the Senior Professional Route (SPA).

Under this route, 75% of the assessment will be focused on your management skills. While this may sound easy, the referral rate is actually extremely high so choose wisely!

 

Option 4: You are already a member of another professional institution

If you have been a full member of Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES) for over 5 years (with a degree) or 10 years (no qualifications), then you can become a full member of the RICS without even sitting the APC.

If you are a member of other professional bodies such as RIBA, ICE or CIOB, you can apply for your APC. If you do not have a degree or it is non-accredited, you will still need to apply through the preliminary review route. You will usually have to have been a member for at least one year by the time of your final assessment so if you have to submit your documents from preliminary review, you can do it within 6 months of becoming a member of another professional body.

The timescales may vary slightly depending on your membership. You need to call the RICS to discuss your personal situation.

Please refer to the RICS wizard for the full list in the UK and abroad.

 

Option 5: You do not have a university degree

At the moment, you do not fit in any boxes! Becoming MRICS will be a long process but it is possible. Here are your options;

  • If you are a director or a manager with substantial responsibilities, you may apply through the SPA route within a few months.
  • Contact the professional bodies (relevant to your role) listed on the online wizard and check which ones would allow you to become a member without qualifications. You can then wait for the prescribed number of years (usually 12 months by the date of your APC interview) and apply for your APC through the preliminary review. Some are easier to achieve than others. I would recommend MAssocE if you are a QS as it only takes a couple of weeks! You can send your documents for preliminary review up to 6 months before you have met the minimum membership duration.
  • Become AssocRICS. This is a lower level of RICS membership and you do not need a degree. To convert to MRICS, you will then need to complete 900 study hours (conversion course – distance learning from one of the RICS approved suppliers), complete 4 years of further work experience and then pass the APC.
  • Complete a university degree. If you have sufficient UCAS points, you may complete a degree on a day release. Some universities offer an accelerated programme over 3 years. You can then apply for your APC under the preliminary review or the structured training route (you may want to discuss this with the RICS before selecting your course).
  • New APC entry route. The RICS is currently piloting a new entry route whereby candidates can complete an online qualification (conversion course) with the RICS to become eligible for the APC. This is very much work in progress so watch this space. This route will still require a substantial amount of studying but will be a faster option than the conversion from AssocRICS to MRICS.

Further help

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.

And as always, we are on Twitter @APCsupport_Ltd and you can send me an invite on LinkedIn if you would like to be notified of our latest events.

My APC: Getting started

Posted on Updated on

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

Enrolment

You came across this so I guess that you would like to become MRICS as soon as possible… but how do you get started?

To pass your APC and become MRICS, you must prepare a written submission (approximately 10,000 words), complete at least 48 hour CPD for every 12-month period, pass an online ethical test and sit a one-hour interview. It is a substantial commitment but trust me, the knowledge and pride that you will gain from it is worth every effort!

But first thing first! If you have not already done it, you need to enrol onto the APC (Assessment of Professional Competence) using the on-line wizard on the RICS website. (Link to the wizard here) Make sure that you have at hand an electronic copy of your qualifications, a chartered surveyor who has accepted to act as your counsellor (including his / her membership number) and a way to pay for the appropriate fee.

In larger organisations, your line manager may act as your day-to-day mentor. He / she would be referred to as your supervisor which is an optional role and they do not have to be chartered. A more senior person will act as your counsellor which is a mandatory role. Your counsellor (and your supervisor if you have one) will need to sign off your submission so you will need to review your progress with them regularly.

If no one is chartered in your organisation, you will need to find someone in your professional network who accepts to take on this responsibility. The level of support that you will receive can be very limited and investing in private mentoring services such as APC Support Limited will almost certainly be required to boost your chances of success.

Following your enrolment, the RICS will contact you to confirm the earliest date when you will be eligible to sit your interview and send you your login details for ARC, which is the online platform to write and issue your submission. If you do not receive the e-mail, give them a call and they will be happy to assist.

Routes to Chartership

Before enrolling through the online wizard, you may find it useful to understand the various entry requirements.

Please check your options in this post: Routes to MRICS Chartership.

 

Submission windows / deadlines

For construction pathways, the deadlines are:

For Spring interviews (Session 1):

Preliminary review:

  • By 31st October (UK)
  • 01 – 15 September (GCC countries)

Submit documentation between:

  • 15 – 31 March (UK)
  • 01 – 15 March (GCC countries)   

Interviews:

  • Mid-June (UK)
  • May (GCC countries)

For Autumn interviews (Session 2):

Preliminary review:

  • By 30th April (UK)
  • 01 – 15 March (GCC countries)

Submit documentation between:

  • 15 – 30 September (UK)
  • 01 – 15 September (GCC countries)   

Interviews:

  • Late November (UK)
  • October (GCC countries)

For land and property pathways, the deadlines and interviews are a month earlier.

If you are sitting your APC outside the UK, you can obtain your local guidance on the RICS website in the ‘APC Final Assessment’ section by selecting the appropriate country on top of the RICS website.

Guidance and Templates

  • APC Submission Template (Word document)

Your closed study companion during your APC preparation will be your pathway guide. This guide will explain you how to meet the APC requirements under each competency. You can download a copy from the RICS website at this link http://www.rics.org/uk/apc/pathway-guides.

Click on your pathway and check that you are looking at the correct section whether you are aiming for Assoc membership or full chartered membership (MRICS).

  • APC Submission Template (Word document)

The RICS used to have a word version of the online submission that you must complete on ARC. It was extremely useful to prepare your drafts as you cannot print from ARC.

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.

I deal with the submission documents in a separate post: ‘Understanding the APC Submission Documents’.

  • Candidate guide (PDF)

This guide briefly explains the APC process and is available from the RICS website at this link.

  • APC Progress records

This is no longer available from the RICS but I strongly recommend you that record your progress and training needs on an excel spreadsheet. You should present it to your counsellor or supervisor – the RICS recommends every 3 months – and discuss with them how they may assist you to achieve the relevant skills and experience.

Having written records of your progress and counsellor meetings will greatly help your counsellor to plan your training and demonstrate that you are taking responsibility for your APC.

  • Log book

This is a document that inflight candidates need to incorporate into their APC submission template if they are required to carry out a period of structured training.

If you are an inflight candidate and cannot locate a copy, you can download one here: Log Book – Commercial Property Practice. Obviously, you will need to change the competencies to suit your pathway!

You do not need to use it if you enrolled after 1st January 2017 as it will be automatically populated on ARC.

  • APC candidate diary template

This is no longer in use as candidates must now record their diary on ARC.

For more information on the diary and the log book, please read my previous post ‘Completing your APC diary’.

I have published a number of other posts, which you may find useful as you progress in your APC preparation:

Case study part 1: Selecting your key issue

Case study part 2: Writing to the requisite format

Case Study – Part 3: Perfecting your draft.

The interview: the assessor’s perspective

How do you convert your 3000 word case study into a 10-minute presentation?

Visual aids for your presentation

 

Further help

If you require a detailed review of your APC submission documents, we offer this service 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

If you need to enhance your understanding of the competencies, APC Support Ltd offer on-demand revision webinars covering all the technical and mandatory competencies in Quantity Surveying, Built Infrastructure, Building Surveying, Building Control, Project Management and Facilities Management.

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.

All the modules are recorded and will provide you with over 30 hours of formal CPD. You can attend them on a pay-as-you-go basis or subscribe to our unlimited revision package.

Feel free to send me an invite on LinkedIn if you would like to be notified of our latest events.