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 an APC 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.
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 APC diary?
The diary is used to populate a summary of the days of experience gained under each competency and each level in a table called the log book.
The assessors will not see your diary, you only need to send your log book as part of your submission documents. You can download an extract of the RICS submission documents below if you have never seen the log book.
However, if the assessors 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.
Is there an APC diary template?
The diary was previously recorded on line via the ARC system which automatically populated the log book.
With ARC being no longer in use, the RICS has produced a Word template (below) but you need to add up the days manually to create your log book which is a hugely tedious and time consuming task.
As an alternative, APC Support Limited has developed an APC Diary Template which allows you to record your daily work experience in a few clicks and automatically populates your log book. It saves you days of administrative work while providing live analytic data to monitor and discuss your progress with your counsellor.
For those who have already started their diary on ARC, make sure to print and save a draft copy of both your diary and your log book. You can manually type the figures onto the RICS log book at the cut-off date and continue recording your diary on the new template.
What should I record?
You should only record your technical competencies (core and optional), not your mandatory competencies. On your days off or training days, you must simply leave the boxes blank.
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.
Recording many days under the same competency will not suffice to attain Level 3 if all the experience gained is limited to the same basic and repetitive tasks; you will need to gain varied and in-depth experience in each competency in order to be ready to sit our Final Assessment.
You may also find that you are recording very few days against certain competencies. But if you think carefully about it, you may notice that some competencies overlap and that you could alternate under which competencies you record certain activities.
Ultimately, a solid understanding of the competencies will be key in completing your Diary efficiently and you should make constant reference to your Pathway Guide .
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 and resume recording your experience until you have achieved the required 200 days or 400 days. You can add an explanation note to your log book if you want.
I found that my APC 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.
For this reason, you should try to include a bit of information for each entry: name of project, brief description of the task undertaken, key figures, etc. You would be surprised how quickly you can forget all about a project!
BUT… be savvy with your time. We would recommend you to only provide details for potential summary of experience examples and keep your entries as short as possible. You can save associated files in a special APC folder for future reference.
Please find below an example of a completed APC diary using APC Support Limited template.
Speaking from personal experience, I strongly strongly advise all candidates to keep their APC Diary up-to-date. I have spent days going through my Outlook calendar and files trying to remember what 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!
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.
If you are completing your degree part-time (either a day release BSc at University, a Degree Apprenticeship 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.
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.
If you are completing 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 enroll 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.
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. Please visit our website to discover the full range of our services: APC Support Limited.
Please feel free send me an invite on LinkedIn if you want to connect.
by Sonia Desloges, APC Support Limited
With all the lively debate over the last few days regarding the value of our RICS membership, a few APC candidates have started questioning whether there was any benefit in them sitting their APC.
You should not doubt about it. Passing your APC will be the proudest moment of your career and it will make you the best surveyor you can ever be.
First, let’s clarify that this debate is re-ignited every couple of years and always by senior surveyors. Everybody will reach a point in their career when they will have achieved such high personal reputation that their employers and clients will trust them whether they still hold their MRICS letters or not. I can understand why these people are questioning the value in maintaining their membership at this level of their careers.
But how do you think that these senior surveyors have achieved success in their careers?
It is simple. They worked really, really hard to prepare for their APC and continued working hard to deliver high standards to their clients and promote trust in the profession. I do not believe that they would be where they are today if they had not gained their MRICS charterships in the early years of their career AND continuously abided (consciously or not) by the RICS Rules of Conduct.
You need to understand that the debate is completely different if you are trying to achieve recognition in the profession.
The fact is that clients and employers do value your MRICS status.
Everybody knows that no surveyor can pass their APC without months of intensive and dedicated work. Passing your APC is really tough and this is what gives it its value.
And I know that you will never be a better surveyor than the day you pass your APC.
I have supported hundreds of candidates through their APC journey and one of the comments I receive the most is;
‘How did my boss ever trust me before? I actually knew nothing and I now realise how many times I have messed up without even being aware of it.’ (or something in these lines!)
In order to meet the level 3 requirements, you must be able to advise your clients without supervision. This requires you to question why you made such or such recommendation to a client and identify all the other options that you have failed to consider. Soon, you become able to think outside the box and suggest innovative solutions to your clients that will add value to their projects and lead to repeat business for your company.
The APC is an eye and mind opener. It forces you to be curious about your profession and continuously seek better ways to serve your clients.
And once chartered, you can still find value in your membership.
When I support small consultancies, the first thing I teach them is the RICS best practice, and I develop templates and procedures that allow them to implement this best practice. Within a few weeks, their staff are able to work more effectively and their client’s satisfaction improves beyond all their expectations. More importantly, they learn how to take pride in their work again.
The RICS have developed and published countless global standards and guidance notes which are powerful tools for firms and that is why I still value my MRICS letters to this day and I would encourage all surveyors not to give up on the RICS and their APC.
Ignore the noise and follow your path!
About the author:
Sonia Desloges is the director of APC Support Ltd, a specialist APC training and mentoring consultancy. She has assessed and trained hundreds of APC candidates and witnessed how their APC success has driven their career progression. If you need support with your APC preparation, you are most welcome to drop her a line at sonia@APCsupport-ltd.co.uk for an initial chat.