APC

Changes to the APC submission process from Spring 2020

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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.

 

The Application Form and the 3 signatures

Your counsellor and your supervisor, if you have one, will sign off your submission documents but you also need to submit a separate application form to be allowed to present yourself at the APC assessment interview.

Three people must sign this application form and there are some strict rules to follow;

  • All proposers must chartered surveyors but it could be from any pathway. (Your counsellor will traditionally be your first proposer)
  • One of the three proposers must be a fellow (FRICS)
  • 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 new, it has been in place for decades. What has changed is the way you access this application form.

This form used to be available to download from the RICS website but it was then 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 you must complete the information online through ARC.

Plan ahead

The online form will only be accessible once you have completed all the other sections and your counsellors 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 completed the online application form, ARC will send an email to your three proposers, requesting them to ‘tick’ an approval box. You will need to have obtained in advance your proposers’ names, RICS membership numbers and email addresses.

If you thought that finding a fellow was challenging, imagine trying to find a fellow who will 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.

In-flight candidates 

If you are an in-flight candidate, you will not be able to access the online form. You will need to contact the RICS and request a copy of the old Word Document.

But because we are really nice, you can also download a copy here: Proposer_seconder_template_RICS_jf

Best of luck!

Sonia Desloges

Director, APC Support Limited

 

 

 

 

 

Dealing with referral

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Note: This guidance is in line with the new rules that came in force on 1st August 2018. These rules apply to all candidates regardless of when they enrolled.

If you are reading this post, you have probably received the dreaded news that you were unsuccessful at your APC. This is probably quite a low time in your career but remember that all successful people have suffered failure at some point in their lives. Think about the spectacular failures of Virgin America and Virgin Cola! Richard Branson is not doing too badly nowadays, is he?

We have helped dozens of referred candidates pass their APC at their next attempt and here are a few words of wisdom that we have learnt from them.

Be upset but take it on the chin

First, you should take the time to be upset about it. You put a lot of efforts into your APC preparation and it is normal to be disappointed, disheartened or even angry. Do not hold back talking about it. 35% to 45% of candidates get referred every session so there will people in your network who will have shared the same experience and will be happy to compare notes with you.

Once you have passed this initial stage of upset, you need to take it on the chin and move on. Let’s show these assessors what you are truly made of!

I know of many brilliant surveyors who got referred at their first attempt. Being referred does not mean that you are not good at your job, it just means that there was something that you could not demonstrate at the interview.

The panel has only met you for one hour, so it is true that they do not have much time to get to know you, however the APC is quite a robust and impartial process. While you may feel that you have been unfairly referred, you have to accept it, identify your weaknesses and work on them.

Should I appeal?

The RICS allow you to appeal if you feel that the interview was not managed correctly. There is a £100 appeal fee and if successful, you will be invited to another interview free of charge, but you will not automatically become chartered.

If you were referred in a number of competencies, there is little hope of your appeal being successful. However if you were solely referred on your case study and it was obvious that you were being questioned on another candidate’s case study, this would be a valid ground (although quite an unlikely scenario!).

Remember that writing a referral report takes hours and assessors do not get paid for it, so believe me when I say that they want nothing more than to pass you! If they referred you, they had strong grounds even if you may not grasp them yet.

Personally, I would not bother and focus my energy on working on my next attempt.

Identify your weaknesses

You should receive your referral report within 21 days. Some panels will provide more details than others and you may not agree with all its contents, but regardless of this, your starting point for your next attempt must be your referral report.

There are several reasons why you may have been referred and each will require a different response.

1- Lack of level 1 knowledge

Most graduate candidates will be still in study mode after university and will have read all the books and memorised their contents. If you have not, well, it is a good time to re-open your books! If there was something that you did not know last time, make sure that you have studied it this time!

The more mature candidates may have found the revision stage more challenging. You may be good at what you are doing but the assessors expect you to understand why your company asks you to do things in a certain way. There will always be a guidance or a regulation that justifies the way you approach a task. Exploring the ‘Knowledge’ tab in the RICS website would be a good starting point.

Keep your rules of conduct and ethics up-to-date too. The ‘News’ tab on the RICS website will provide you with all the industry’s current topics and latest RICS publications.

We also offer an on-demand online library of revision webinars if you need a more structured approach to your revisions.

2- Did not follow industry best practice

Cutting corners or doing things your own way and ignoring the RICS professional guidance is not acceptable from an aspiring chartered surveyor. If it is the way you work, you will need to change your approach if you want to become chartered.

If your employer puts you under pressure to cut corners, you must be an ambassador to the RICS and promote best practice. You cannot passively follow bad orders. It does not matter too much if they ignored your advice as long as you used your best endeavour to correct procedures.

If you are not even aware that you are cutting corners, I would recommend you to read all the RICS professional guidance available on the RICS website and start applying it.

Many candidates think that they deserve to be chartered because they have 9 or 10 year experience but if you have been doing everything wrong all this time and you are not addressing this now, you will get referred again.

3- Did not demonstrate level 3

This is probably the biggest cause of referral. There are two possible reasons.

First, have you truly provided reasoned advice to a client on the topics listed in your pathway guide at level 3 or were just doing as you were told?

Sitting in a meeting room listening to your manager giving advice to a client is not the same than leading discussions yourself while your manager is only attending the meeting to support you if you get into difficulties.

If you are not getting enough client’s exposure to gain the level 3 experience, you must have an honest conversation with your employer. Why are they not trusting you with their clients?

Sometimes they may have simply not realised that they are not giving you the opportunity to grow in your role and this conversation can help open new doors for you.

But sometimes, you may not be ready and you need to carefully listen to your manager’s feedback and agree a plan of action for you to progress.

In some very rare situations, your employer will not be interested in your professional development and looking for opportunities elsewhere may be your only option. But do be critical of yourself before blaming others!

The second potential reason is that you may have not expressed yourself correctly at the interview. Did you answer many questions with ‘we advised’ rather than ‘I advised’? When challenged on the advice that you gave, were you unable to stand by your choices and justify them? Were you rushing to your solution without taking the assessors through your logical thought process?

If this is your case, this can be easily addressed. You need to read your submission documents in details (or ask an assessor to help you if you know one) and challenge yourself on all the advice that you gave at level 3. Why was it the best solution against the project’s objectives? Was there any risks in this option that you should have mitigated? Was there other potential solutions that you did not think of at the time? Which advice did you give to the client on other related topics? How does this fit in the bigger picture?

If you amend your submission documents accordingly and practise answering this kind of questions, your next attempt will be a much better interview.

We offer mini-mocks with one assessor which can be a way to practise answering level 3 questions if you cannot find a colleague who could help. We can also assist you with your revised documents if you wish.

4- Does not have the relevant experience

If the assessors repeatedly asked you to give examples that were not in your summary of experience or asked you to provide advice on a fictional scenario, it is likely that they felt that you had not covered some key aspects of your pathway in your documents. If you could not give them an example at the interview or you desperately waffled some vaguely related answer, this will confirm that you have not yet achieved all the relevant levels. Your counsellor should have probably not signed you off but this is a different matter…

You need to pick up your pathway guide and list off all the activities that you have not achieved to establish a competency gap that you can take to your line manager. Assisting your colleague to do something once does not count as meeting a competency requirement! Discuss with your employer a plan of action to close these competency gaps and monitor your progress every couple of months. If your employer is unable to give you the relevant experience, you could accept to delay your APC or apply for a job elsewhere. Please be aware that you are unlikely to be advising clients for months if you change employer as they will want to test your abilities first, so think carefully!

The re-submission process

There used to be a referral section where candidates had to explain how they had addressed the deficiencies identified in their referral report but since 01st August 2018, this section has been omitted.

As a result, you can simply re-write part or all of your submission documents as you feel fit. As a minimum, make sure that you address all the deficiencies identified in your referral report as (most) assessors will have spent a lot of time writing it to put you in the right direction.

If your referral report recommends that you should write a new case study or if it is now out-of-date, do not just ignore it: write a new case study. It will take you more time but starting afresh can help boosting your confidence. Do trust the assessors; Going back to the interview with a weak case study is not going to help you.

Please be aware that since 01st August 2018, assessors will no longer be informed whether a candidate was previously referred or not. Therefore, you no longer need to upload your referral report on ARC and you will be assessed in exactly the same conditions than your first attempt. The idea is to remove any conscious or unconscious bias from the assessors.

As the number of assessors is limited, your new panel may include one – and no more than one – of your previous assessors but the chances are that he or she will not remember much about your first interview so do not be put off if you recognise a face.

Need further help?

Hopefully, this post will have put you in the right direction but if you need further help preparing for your next attempt, we offer a number of support services for referred candidates as well as a complete preparation programme.

Best of luck!

 

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.

RICS APC – Business Planning

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Introduction.

Business Planning is a mandatory competency that APC candidates from all pathways need to achieve at Level 1.

Candidates from the Art & Antiques pathway may elect to take this competency to Level 2 or 3 as part of their optional selection.

Business Planning is a Core Competency at Level 3 for the Management Consultancy pathway.

Please note that the requirements at Level 1 when taken as a Technical Competency within the aforementioned pathways are slightly different from the requirements as a Mandatory Competency. You should refer to your specific Pathway Guide for more details.

What is it about?

The official RICS definition is:

Level 1 = ‘Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how business planning activities contribute to the achievement of corporate objectives’.

It includes several topics:

  • Legislation and principles of law – See Pg. 33 of the RICS Practice Management Guidelines
  • Types and essential elements of Business Plans
  • Short term / long term strategies
  • Market analysis (SWOT / PEST)
  • Organisational structures / Staffing levels – recruitment / turnover
  • Business support services – administration, secretarial, HR, IT etc.

Most APC candidates will have come across the key concepts of Business Planning – knowingly or not – at some point during their graduate studies. Some of the largest employers may also offer on-line management training modules. Alternatively nothing stops you from picking up a basic book on business management to brush on your knowledge in strategy, organisational structures, market analysis, etc

I also strongly recommend you to read the RICS Practice Management Guidelines  to understand how business planning is relevant to surveyors. It has now been withdrawn but we have saved a copy for you!

Those working in the largest companies may recognise some of the tools used by their employers and gain an understanding of why those are in place. Those working in small practices or as self-employed may find very useful advice to grow their business acumen.

Potential APC Questions

Due to time constraints, assessors will only have time to ask you a few questions on Business Planning. As a minimum they will expect you to know what a business plan is, be familiar with your company’s business plan and business model, and understand how you can contribute to the achievement of your company’s corporate objectives.

If you are applying under the Senior Professional Route (SPA), assessors will expect you to have a detailed understanding of the development and implementation of your company’ s business plan.

Some very classic questions would be;

  • What is a business plan? What do you find in a business plan?
  • Can you tell us about your company’s current business plan?
  • What is your company’s management structure / business model?
  • What are your company’s values?
  • What tools does your company use to manage its business?
  • How do you ensure that you contribute to the achievement of your company’s objectives / business plan?
  • What is contained within an appointment document? What are your company’s terms of business?
  • What is the relevance of a SWOT or PEST analysis to business planning?

Some points that you will have stated in your Summary of Experience may trigger some questions more specific to your experience and personal knowledge.

For example you may state in your Summary of Experience that you have studied Porter’s Five Forces Model, SWOT analysis and PEST analysis as part of a business module at University. This may lead the APC assessors to ask you to explain what they are and to give an example specific to your company.

Final Tips

Business Planning is a crucial competency for those considering setting up their own practice or progressing to a management role after attainment of the MRICS status. I therefore recommend that you do not neglect it, both for your APC and future career development.

Familiarise yourself with your company’s business plan and its management structure and tools. Consider how you personally contribute to achieving its objectives (‘achievement of corporate objectives’ is contained within the definition of this competency). This may be by completing your timesheets and expenses in a timely manner or assessing your own competences and planning your CPD’s to acquire the relevant skills.

Make sure that you understand how to prepare a business plan and what it should look like.


All our past APC candidates will give you the same advice: do not underestimate the time required to revise (learn?) for your APC! It will easily take you 3 months of solid studying every evening.

To make this task a little easier, 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.

Best of luck!

RICS APC – Accounting Principles and Procedures

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Introduction.

Accounting Principles and Procedures is a mandatory competency that APC candidates from all pathways need to achieve at Level 1.

Candidates from some pathways (Art & Antiques, Commercial Property Practice, Property Finance and Investment, Rural Surveying, Valuation) may elect to take this competency to Level 2 or 3 as part of their optional selection.

Accounting Principles and Procedures is a Core Competency at Level 3 for the Taxation Allowance pathway.

Please note that the requirements at Level 1 when taken as a Technical Competency within the aforementioned pathways are different from the requirements as a Mandatory Competency. You should refer to your specific Pathway Guide for more details.

The examples provided in this post are more focused on the Construction pathways but you should be able to relate our tips and advices to other Property and Land pathways.

What is it about?!

The official RICS definition is:

Level 1 = ‘Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of accounting concepts and the format and preparation of management and company accounts, including profit and loss statements, cash flow statements and balance sheets.’

This gives you the first clues to your study list;

  • Company Accounts & the Companies Act 2006
  • Management accounts vs. Financial accounts
  • Profit and loss statement vs. Balance sheet
  • Cash flow statements

Less obvious topics depending on your experience and CPD records may include;

  • Taxation
  • Capital allowances
  • Ratio analysis
  • Profitability / Insolvency
  • Auditing

All candidates may potentially set up their own practice or join their company’s management team in the future, therefore a basic knowledge of Accounting Principles is required;

  • For monitoring your own business accounts.
  • For assessing your competition.

Candidates may use Accounting Principles for different purposes depending on their pathway and experience;

  • For assessing the financial strength of contractors (for example in PQQ’s in a tender process or to assess initial signs of insolvency).
  • For assessing the financial strength of potential landlords and tenants.
  • For profits-method valuation

Potential APC Questions

Due to time constraints during the interview you are unlikely to be asked more than one or two questions on Accounting Principles but which questions is anyone’s guess!

Some very classic textbook questions would be to describe or compare and contrast some of the accounting documents;

  • What is the difference between a profit and loss statement and a balance sheet?
  • What do companies need to provide every year in accordance with the Companies Act 2006?
  • What is the purpose of a cash flow statement?

Some points that you may have stated in your Summary of Experience, your Case Study or previous answers may trigger some questions more specific to your experience.

For example, as a Quantity Surveyor, you may state in your Summary of Experience that you have reviewed the contractors’ financial information as part of a PQQ. Or that you have carried out a credit check before recommending the appointment of a contractor in your tender report. This may lead the APC assessors to ask you questions such as;

  • How do you carry out a credit check / analyse company accounts?
  • What type of financial information do you usually request in a PQQ?

Which may lead to;

  • What type of ratios can you use? (liquidity ratios, profitability ratios, gearing ratios)
  • What are the signs of insolvency in a credit check / company accounts?

Which could in turn lead to;

  • What measures would you recommend if your client insists on appointing a contractor with low credit rating? [This would be asked within the Procurement and Tendering competency]

Or you may state that you are aware of your company’s accounts which were presented to you at a staff meeting. The panel would then expect you to know the answer to this question;

  •  What is your company’s current turnover and profit?

Final Tips

Remember that you are expected to achieve this competency at level 1. While you should be aware of the main accounting ratios, you are not a qualified accountant and you should not claim that you are analysing companies accounts for your client. (Do not fall short of the RICS Rules of Conduct!)

Remember that for most candidates, you only need to attain level 1 so keep it simple.


All our past APC candidates will give you the same advice: do not underestimate the time required to revise (learn?) for your APC! It will easily take you 3 months of solid studying every evening.

To make this task a little easier, 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.

Best of luck!

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.

Understanding the APC Submission Documents

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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 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.

  1. Candidate Details
  2. Summary of Experience
  3. Case Study
  4. CPD Records
  5. Ethics Certificate
  6. 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:

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 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 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 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

 

Referred candidates

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.

 

Further help

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.

 

 

 

Case Study – Part 3: Perfecting your draft.

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

 

 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:

  1. Select your key issue(s)
  2. Write your Case Study to the requisite format
  3. 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?

Logical reasoning

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!

Best practice

 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;

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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!!!

Lessons learnt

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!!

Further help

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.

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.

How do you convert your 3,000 word Case Study into a 10-minute presentation?!

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The Case Study Presentation or,

How do you convert your 3,000 word Case Study into a 10-minute presentation?!

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 2015 which I have enhanced through many discussions with fellow APC Mentors and APC Assessors.

Sonia Desloges MRICS

Outline Plan of your Presentation

Nobody can possibly read 3,000 words under 10 minutes so there is no point trying to cram everything in your presentation. Based on my personal experience, 1,300 words is a good target to keep within the 10 minute time limit.

You need to focus on the key message that you want to convey to the panel, and this might be by covering only one key issue during your presentation. It is actually common practice for candidates to only present one key issue. If the assessors want to know about your second key issue, they will do it during your 10 minute Q&A session.

So, what is the key message that you want to convey?

I think, in simple words, that you want to explain to the panel that you provided your client with the best possible professional and reasoned advice, that you have learnt a lot from this experience and that you are ready become chartered!!

You need to really focus on your logical reasoning. Do not waste time talking about the project details or what other people did more than strictly required. Remember that explaining is not just about providing information, it is being able to justify how and why things happened. You need background and reasons as well as facts.

One tool that we use to achieve this with our candidates during our ‘Case Study Presentation’ workshops are mind maps, also called spider diagrams. If you cannot attend one of our workshops, you should still be able to find some information on the web.

Suggested Format of your Presentation

The format of your presentation will be very similar to your case study but I have added some indicative durations and word counts for each section:

  • Introduction (30s / 100 words)
  • Background (app. 1min / 200 words)
  • Main body
    • Review of options (3 to 4.5min depending how many key issues / 400 to 600 words)
    • Achievements & lessons learnt (critical appraisal) (3 to 4min / 400 to 500 words)
  • Conclusion (< 1mn / 130 words)

Introduction & Conclusion

All presentations should have a powerful introduction and conclusion!

Your introduction should be brief (30s / 100 words) and only focus on the information that is relevant to the resolution of your key issue;

  • Introduce the problem to be addressed and context
  • State the purpose of your presentation clearly
  • Give the outline of your presentation: Tell them what you are going to tell them.
    • Background, options, outcome of solution applied, lessons learnt

Your conclusion (< 1mn / 130 words) should mirror your introduction and close your presentation without adding any new information;

  • Summarise: tell them what you have just told them.
  • Close:
    • Repeat the purpose of your presentation / key message
    • Show that you have achieved your aim
  • Thank the panel and welcome their questions

Background (app. 1min / 200 words)

The sole purpose of the background is for the assessors to understand how your key issue came to light and which constraints and challenges you had to overcome to resolve it. Remember that they will have already read the finer details in your written submission!

It could include the following elements;

  • Project description – only the relevant bits!
  • Client & contractor’s description if relevant.
  • Project challenges & constraints if relevant.
  • How did you get to the stage when you encountered your key issue.
  • Restate how you identified that there was a key issue(s).
  • Then state the options (between 2 and 4) that you considered;
  • Three courses of action were considered… [one sentence each]

 

Review of options (3 to 4.5min depending how many key issues / 400 to 600 words)

Review each option one after the other, like in your Case Study;

    • What was the option considered & why
    • What did you do
    • What was your recommendation and why

Do not forget to explain how and why decisions were made and do not hesitate to provide evidence and figures for one or two key points to reinforce your statements.

Achievements & lessons learnt (critical appraisal) (3 to 4min / 400 to 500 words)

One common mistake of candidates is to spend 3 minutes on the background and then fly through the lessons learnt. It is the easy way but not what the assessors are looking for. A decent portion of your presentation should be dedicated to the critical appraisal of your work because this is how you can demonstrate what an amazing professional you are!

  • Your achievements
    • Did your solution change the course of the project?
    • What was the most successful outcome?
    • Or was there any room for improvement?
    • You may provide here an update on the project if anything significant has happened since submitting your Case Study.
  • Lessons learnt (3 main ones only)
    • State lesson learnt
    • Explain why is it important as a chartered surveyor / for this project / client
    • And / or what you could have done better
    • And / or how you could / have applied it in later project(s)

Final words

Remember that if you exceed 10 minutes, the assessors will ask you to wrap up or cut you short, which would not be an ideal start to your Final Interview.

Our best advice is to practice your presentation dozens of times with colleagues, friends, family, in front of your mirror, with your dog, anything!!

Best of luck!

 

Further help

We have published an earlier blog on visual aids for your presentation. Feel free to have a read here: Visual Aids for your Presentation  

If you need some help to prepare for the interview, we offer APC Questions packs, mock interviews and mini mocks. Please check our interview preparation 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.

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.

Case Study – Part 2: Writing to the requisite format.

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 2016 which I have enhanced through many discussions with fellow APC Mentors and APC Assessors.

Sonia Desloges MRICS

Director, APC Support Limited

 

Case Study: Writing to the requisite format.

As I explained in the first part of this series of three articles, writing your Case Study should advance in three stages:

  1. Select your key issue(s)
  2. Write your Case Study to the requisite format
  3. Perfect your drafts applying concise and logical reasoning, using accurate vocabulary and demonstrating level 3 competencies.

This second post focuses – quite logically – on the second stage and will examine each section of the Case Study step by step.

Front Cover and Contents

The current RICS template for the Case Study is set out on ARC and also contained within the ‘APC Submission Template’ available for download on the RICS website:

http://www.rics.org/uk/apc/pathway-guides (select your relevant pathway and make sure that you select ‘chartered’ if you are applying for full MRICS status rather than Associate)

The Assessors will expect your Case Study to be presented to the highest professional standards, exactly like a formal report to a client.

Whilst this is not currently included in the RICS template, I would therefore strongly recommend that you add a front cover and a page of content.

You can download the amended template that I have produced here: case-study-template-august-2016

If you feel that this is a little adventurous, you will find that most assessors and APC mentors give the same advice on the APC Forum on LinkedIn. It will make you stand out from the crowd and in a good way.

This template is an exact copy of the RICS template but includes additional sub-sections to help you with your structure and your word count. You may choose to remove the sub-headings at the time of your submission or retain them, which will help the assessors follow your case study more easily.

You may adapt the front cover to suit your personal preferences but I would suggest including a photograph of your project as it will help grabbing your reader’s interest.

I have also added a couple of optional additional pages that you may want to consider. Those do not have to be included in the word count.

  • Confidentiality statement

The RICS have included a confidentiality statement assuming that you will obtain consent from your client and your employer. If this is not the case and you can not reveal all the names and details, I have included an alternative wording which you may amend to suit.

  • Glossary of Abbreviations

Using abbreviations and acronyms is generally not recommended but if you must, remember to incorporate a glossary or list of abbreviations. Remember to always use the full word with the abbreviation between brackets the first time you use an acronym in your case study, eg the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and thereafter RICS.

  • Page of Contents

Like all professional reports, your case study should have a page of contents. This page is automatically linked to the contents of your case study but you must remember to right-click on your mouse to update the fields.

Your case study is to be uploaded as a pdf rather than directly typed on ARC so you can really make an effort on presentation.

Section 1: Introduction (circa 500 words)

In this section you are expected to give a brief description of the project, your roles and responsibilities. You do not need to give detailed background to your key issue(s) in this section but simply put your reader into context.

As with every written work, start with an introduction sentence such as:

‘This report will critically analyse my involvement as the [your role] in project XYZ.’

You can add a brief outline of your report if you can afford the extra words (please omit if your wordcount if too tight!). For example;

‘I will present two keys issues which I encountered in this project and review the options I considered to overcome them. This report will go on to evaluate the outcome of my approach and recommended solution, and conclude by the analysis of the lessons I have learnt through this experience.’

1.1 Project Overview

Include some or all of the following as appropriate – this may be as bullet points if you are struggling with the word count;

  • Brief description of project
  • Brief description of client (and stakeholders but only if relevant to your key issues)
  • Stage at which the project currently is
  • Project key objectives (if relevant)
  • Project key risks and constraints (if relevant)
  • Key dates / timescales
  • Project value, form of contract, procurement (as relevant to your pathway)

1.2 My involvement and responsibilities

  • What was your role? (Keep it short and make a list with bullet points if you carried out many different tasks)
  • What was your level of responsibility?
  • At what stage did you get involved?

 

Section 2: My approach (circa 1,600 words) 

Remember that the assessors are only interested in what YOU did. Write the whole of your Case Study using the first person and active verbs.

2.1 Key Issue One: [Give it a title] (circa 800 words)

Provide the background to your first key issue in this sub-section.

You do not need to explain all the details of the project or circumstances. Focus on the key points that impacted on your decisions to consider and reject or adopt your options.

The type of questions you need to answer here may be;

  • What events or constraints led to the key issue?
  • What made it a challenge for you?
  • What was the stance of your client and stakeholders?
  • What were the risks to the project?

Do not omit to clearly formulate what your key issue was. The Assessors have not worked with you on your project and you should not over-estimate their ability to guess what you are trying to say. Ask a friend who does not know anything about your project to read your case study to check whether you have suitably expressed yourself.

2.2 Options

Start by explaining what your objectives were when you started tackling this key issue. What were you aiming to achieve?

This will enable you to set out a number of criteria against which you will measure the success of your solution in section 3 (My Achievements) of your Case Study. This could be just half a sentence or a couple of sentences depending on the complexity of your project.

Then briefly list the 2 to 4 options that you considered. (3 is always best)

‘As it was critical to my client that the budget was not exceeded whilst not compromising the end user’s requirements, I identified that three courses of actions were available to me for resolving this key issue:

  • Option 1: XYZ
  • Option 2: ABC
  • Option 3: Bla bla bla’

As the headings and sub-headings must be included in your word count, you may have to choose between listing your options here or stating them under the next series of sub-headings to keep to the word limit.

Then review them one at the time remembering that you want to demonstrate your level 3 competencies (providing reasoned advice).

Option 1: [title]

  • What led you to consider option 1? Why was is a realistic option?
  • What methodology did you use to analyse its suitability? Why?
  • What were the results of your analysis?
  • Why did these results lead you to reject this option?
  • How did you advise your client?

Option 2: [title]

Repeat the same structure for option 2.

Option 3: [title]

The last option is usually your solution. Same as options 1 and 2 but you may emphasise on how you established that it was the best solution and why.

You need to follow a logical reasoning and also demonstrate that you have taken into account your client’s requirements and that you have addressed the issue you were trying to resolve. Inserting a table listing the advantages and disadvantages of each option is not satisfactory. You must write full sentences and analyse the benefits or not of each option against your objectives.

Once again remember that you need to demonstrate that you provided reasoned advice.

This structure is adopted by most candidates but may not work with all key issues and some candidates prefer to briefly describe each option, why they considered them and the methodology applied under each relevant sub-heading. And they add an additional section ‘Analysis of options’ in which they compare and contrast the relative benefits and disadvantages of each option against the objectives they aim to achieve.

2.3 Key Issue Two: [Give it a title] (circa 800 words)

Background

2.4 Options

Proceed as per Key Issue One.

You do not need to have a second key issue if your first one was particularly complex and entailed the application of several Level 3 competencies.

I would not recommend more than two keys issues as the strict word count will not permit you to explain them in sufficient depth.

Section 3: My achievements (circa 400 words)

The official RICS Candidate’s Guide states:

‘In this section you should describe what you achieved, how you achieved this and what your involvement was. Demonstrate your ability to think logically, laterally and professionally giving examples of where you gave reasoned advice to a client for your level 3 competencies.’

To be clear, you should aim to demonstrate level 3 competencies in the whole of your Case Study, not just this section.

You do not need to explain how you achieved each competency nor how you were thinking logically, laterally and professionally. Assessors will work this out by themselves. In this section, you just need to explain what happened next.

I recommend that you tackle this section in two steps. First describe the outcome, then explain how you achieved it. Make sure that you focus on what YOU did.

Deal with your key issues one after the other to avoid confusing the assessors.

3.1 Key Issue One

The outcome

  • What was the result?
  • What were the project’s and client’s objectives and key drivers? Did you achieve them? Did they evolve over time? (Link it back to Section 2.2)
  • What happened next? How did you implement your solution?

Do not hesitate to give one or two precise figures or details if you can. This will provide the assessors with additional evidence that you have successfully resolved your key issue.

How did you achieve this?

This will be completely specific to your personal circumstances but below are some examples for consideration;

  • What arguments did you put forward to convince your client / stakeholders? (relate it back to your objectives)
  • How did your client react when you advised them of your solution?
  • Did you have any difficulties convincing your client and / or stakeholders? Why?
  • Was there a risk that your solution would fail? How did you mitigate this risk?
  • What did you personally do that contributed to the successful outcome?
  • In hindsight, do you think that there was a better alternative? (Maybe one option that your client rejected?)

3.2 Key Issue Two

Proceed as per Key Issue One.

 

Section 4: Conclusion (circa 500 words)

In accordance with the RICS Candidate’s Guide, ‘in this section you need to critically reflect on and analyse your performance and make reference to the lessons you learnt and what you would do differently next time.’

This is the most challenging section for many candidates and yet, probably the most important one. You should aim to identify three or four lessons learnt per key issue. You should also try to relate them to your pathway competencies.

  • Which competencies did you develop and how? (this may include soft and professional skills as well as rules of conduct and ethics)
  • Did you learn any better ways of doing your job? Did you gain a better appreciation of the reasons why the industry’s best practice is what it is?
  • What were the causes of your key issue(s)? In future projects, could you do anything to prevent or mitigate it?
  • Could you have tackled your key issues in a more efficient manner? (Obviously, you want to convince the panel that you dealt with it very well but you also need to be critical of your performance)
  • How have you used / could you use one or several of these lessons learnt in other projects?

Finally close your Case Study with a concluding sentence such as;

‘I believe the lessons learnt during my involvement in this project have contributed to my understanding of the role required of a Chartered Surveyor and I will ensure I take all of these forward on to future projects.’

Best of luck! 

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