Record of Experience and Diary

Completing your Summary of Experience

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

Director, APC Support Ltd

Completing your Summary of Experience

Your summary of experience will form the basis of the assessors’ questioning so it is really worth spending time to get it right. If you are following the Preliminary Review route, a poor summary of experience is also likely to receive a ‘Not suitable for you to proceed’ response and delay your interview.

So what do assessors expect to see in your summary of experience?

  • A demonstration that you have achieved the required levels
  • Statements relevant to your declared competencies
  • Precise and concise real project examples
  • A broad range of experience
  • Professional vocabulary and grammar

Writing your summary of experience correctly is a time consuming exercise. It is not unusual for candidates to spend over an hour on each competency – it is really not as easy as it seems! – and it is a smart idea to start working on it about 6 months before your interview.

Word limit

The word limit for the Mandatory Competencies is 1,500 words maximum. This represents approximately 100 words per ‘box’.

The word limit for Technical and Optional Competencies is between 3,000 to 4,000 words.

As different pathways have different numbers of competencies this adds up to approximately;

  • Circa 160 words per box for Building Surveyors and Quantity Surveyors
  • Circa 125 words per box for Project Managers
  • Circa 185 words per box for Built Infrastructure

 Assessors aim to focus on your levels 3 so the rule of thumb is to be succinct at level 1 and provide more details in level 3.

 

A demonstration that you have achieved the required levels

Level 1: learning

At level 1 you will be tested on the theoretical knowledge deemed required to carry out your job diligently.

You should (very briefly) explain how you achieved this level: university degree, self-study, employer’s structured training, CPD, etc. and mention the topics that you have studied. Assessors will use your statements as a starting point for their questioning but be aware that you are expected to be familiar with all the topics listed within your pathway guide. Assessors may also use your CPD records and case study to test your levels 1 and they may bounce back on your answers during your interview to assess some areas of knowledge in more details.

Level 2: doing

In level 2, you should describe how you have put the theoretical knowledge acquired in level 1 into practice. Depending on your professional experience, you may not have been exposed to all the activities listed in your pathway guide. This is why it is important that you provide the assessors with precise information for their questioning.

You should pick between 1 and 3 activities listed under the relevant competency in your pathway guide and explain in details the process you followed to carry out these activities in one or several of your projects. You do not have to name the project if you do not wish to, but you should let the assessors know what type of project it was: an office refurbishment, a new industrial warehouse, a university teaching unit, etc.

Level 3: advising

At this level, you need to demonstrate that you have provided reasoned advice to a client. If you work for a contractor, this may be an internal client such as a director or another department in your company and if you work for a sub-contractor, this may be the main contractor in the project. Explaining to a trainee how to carry out a task can count towards your CPD hours but it does not constitute reasoned advice as per the APC requirements.

To overcome this hurdle, think of your levels 3 like mini case studies:

First, on which topic did you have to provide advice? Present the assessors with some brief background if necessary.

Secondly, what factors did you have to consider to ensure that you would provide suitable advice? This may be some specific site conditions, some budget constraints, some technical issues, some programme considerations, etc.

Then, what course of action did you recommend and why? It is critical that you answer the question ‘why?’ to achieve level 3. The more you can demonstrate that you applied logical thinking, the better.

And finally, try to give sufficient details to demonstrate level 3 but leave some areas open for assessors’ questioning.

 

Statements relevant to your declared competencies

The APC requirements are very strict and you must be watchful that the statements and examples given in your Summary of Experience reflect your selected competencies. For example, you may have gained experience in planning and programming but if it is not one of your technical or optional competencies, there is really no benefit in expanding on the topic for your APC.

Your starting point should always be your pathway guide. You should constantly refer to the examples of activities listed under each competency as you write your Summary of Experience.

Precise and concise real project examples & A broad range of experience

The APC is evidence based. At levels 2 and 3, it is therefore essential that you enhance your statements with examples from specific projects.

Assessors do not need to know the full project details nor the exhaustive description of what other people have done. They are only interested in the process that YOU followed.

Some unsatisfactory examples would be:

Project Financial Control and Reporting, Level 2;

‘I am responsible for producing reports in most of my projects, which I do with professionalism and high standards of work.’

 Here, the candidate does not provide any evidence to support his generic statement.

Construction Technology, Level 3;

‘I always advise to use steel frame in all my projects because it is cheaper and faster.’

The advice provided should be tailored to the specificities of the project and client. While steel frame may be generally cheaper and faster, it is not the best technical solution for all projects and the candidate is not demonstrating any logical reasoning in this statement.

Suggested wording:

Procurement and Tendering, Level 3;

‘In the office refurbishment project in Manchester, I was asked to advise my client on the most appropriate procurement route. I organised a meeting with my client and several stakeholders to understand their key priorities. In this case, it was critical that the planned completion date was achieved and they were willing to transfer a large proportion of risks onto the contractor. I explained that the contractor would be charging a risk premium which my client acknowledged. Retaining control over the design was not critical in this simple refurbishment project. Basing my advice on my experience and the use of a procurement scoring matrix, I recommended a design and build procurement route. This route would enable my client to start the project on site earlier thus providing a greater float towards the end of the project. It would also provide my client with a single point of responsibility. My client accepted my advice and the project was completed within the required timescales.’

 As this example is based on a fictional project, it is still rather generic and you may add more or less details as relevant to your project.

 

Selection of project examples

I have only presented one project example in this blog as an illustration, but you may state 2 or 3 examples in each level 2 and each level 3 to demonstrate a broader range of experience if a single example is too narrow.

Obviously you will find yourself limited with the word count which is why being concise but precise is crucial. In the other extreme, do not try to squeeze in as many examples as possible as you would have to be so brief that the quality of your submission would suffer.

Be also mindful that some areas of your competencies will be more important than others. For example, under Contract Practice, you are expected to have provided advice on the most appropriate form of contract to achieve level 3, or at least be able to convince your assessors that you would know exactly how to proceed if you had to.

If you do not mention a key topic in your Summary of Experience, you should still expect to be questioned about it during your interview.

Some questions will probably still take you by surprise but if you can answer most of the assessors’ questions precisely and with confidence, you will be on the right track to becoming chartered.

 

Final tips

As you read once again your final draft before sending it to the RICS, it is worth focusing on a few last points;

  • Check your grammar and spelling – Get a couple of people to proofread your submission.
  • Use the first person – Assessors are only interested in what YOU did.
  • Use active phrases rather than passive.
  • Use the appropriate terminology in particular in contract practice and rules of conduct – If you are unsure, check in a textbook or google it!
  • Give some breathing space to your summary of experience by jumping to the line between topics.
  • And once again, make sure that your levels 3 demonstrate logical reasoning like mini-case studies.

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.

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.

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Understanding the APC Submission Documents

Posted on Updated on

20160507_065556[1].jpgFOREWORD: 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 much more user friendly if you use the Word Document template available to download from the RICS website to write your drafts and issue to the counsellor for feedback. There is indeed no option for printing your draft off ARC. If you have already used ARC, you will know exactly what I mean!

The APC Submission Template contains 8 sections which I will review one by one.

  1. Candidate Details
  2. Summary of Experience
  3. Case Study
  4. CPD Records
  5. Ethics Certificate
  6. Log Book (If applicable)
  7. Referral report (referred candidates only)
  8. Updated submission (referred candidates only)

 

 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.

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:

Part 1: Selecting your key issue

Part 2: Writing your case study to the requisite format

Part 3: Perfecting your draft.

 

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 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 more!
  • But 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 apc@rics.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 download the excel version from the RICS website under your pathway.

If you are an inflight candidate, please do not upload your diary on ARC! Assessors will not need to see it unless they suspect that you forged your log book and would then request evidence.

Please refer to our previous post for more details on the diary: Completing the APC Diary

 

7. Referral Report (referred candidates only)

If this is not your first attempt, please attach your referral report in this section. The assessors will question you on all your competencies again but they will try to focus on the areas highlighted in your referral report.

 

8. Updated submission (referred candidates only)

If you have been referred, the old rule was that you could not amend your original submission but you needed to complete this section to address the deficiencies identified in your referral report.

However, the referral template is no longer available on ARC and, while this has not yet been made official, it is now accepted that you may simply amend your documents.

Do not forget to update your CPD records and check that your Ethics certificate is still in date too! You will also need to gain new signatures on the front page.

 Further advice to referred candidates will be provided in a separate post.

 

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

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.

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.

Submission documents

You need to download a number of useful documents 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).

We will find a number of documents for download under each pathway;

  • APC Submission Template (Word document)

This is a word version of the online submission that you must complete on ARC. It is extremely useful to prepare your drafts as you cannot print from ARC.

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

  • Several guides (PDF)

They contain answers to most candidates’ questions so do take the time to read them!

  • APC Self assessment form

You can use this template to record your progress and training needs with your counsellor or supervisor, which the RICS recommends to discussed every 3 months. You do not have to submit this document so you may use your own template or keep it completely informal if it suits you better.

  • Log book

This is a document that you need to incorporate into your APC submission template if you are required to carry out a period of structured training. 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.

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.

Completing your APC diary

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

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.

1-

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.

2-

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.

3-

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.

 

Final Tips

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!

 

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.