APC final assessment: tips for success
The best tests
15 November 2017
David Cohen offers 5 top tips to ensure success in your final assessment
So you want to pass your APC? The secret of success is just one word: preparation.
Do not underestimate the amount of time you need for this. From the point you start your APC to the moment you leave your final interview, you need to plan for success and organise both yourself and your work portfolio. Many unsuccessful candidates either lack the relevant competency experience at the required levels or have not adequately prepared for the interview, even if the panel does find their submission documentation acceptable.
This article therefore presents our top 5 tips for preparing to pass your APC.
1. Have a plan
You should have a plan in place right from the start. Agree this with your employer, counsellor or whoever is working with you on your APC, but be open-minded and prepared to change the plan if necessary.
The requirements for the APC are defined in the relevant pathway guide, and it may be that the experience you need will not always come directly from your employer, so think about how you will gain this otherwise. When formulating your plan, ensure you understand the APC process. Arrange and hold regular meetings with your mentors to be certain you are sticking to your plan, or agree with them how to change it where necessary.
2. Know your submission
When your documents are complete and you have submitted them, don’t forget about them. Make sure you know the content of these documents in as much detail as you can since this, along with the APC guidance, is the only information the assessment panel will use to prepare for the interview.
You may well have written parts of your submission documents some time before uploading them to the Assessment Resource Centre (ARC); continuing professional development (CPD) entries, for example, may pre-date your final assessment by 2 years. Refresh your memory on what you have submitted ahead of your interview.
3. Answer questions aloud
One of the best ways to practise your ability to respond to questions is to arrange for someone to ask you about the various topics using different styles of question. It will help if the questioner has technical knowledge and is a chartered surveyor in your discipline so you can discuss your responses with them afterwards. Perhaps even record the session so you can hear how you respond and work out ways to be more efficient in your answers – you may not like doing so, but it will be worth it.
4. Arrange a mock interview
The best way of testing everything you have prepared is to arrange at least one full mock interview with a panel who know the final process you will face. See whether you can find a couple of friendly assessors to help.
Remember that questions will be open, and 'yes' or 'no' responses are not permitted since they would give you a 50% chance of getting the answer right. This approach will test your knowledge at Level 1; discussing your experience in relation to this is required at Level 2, and at Level 3 you must also offer appropriate advice.
5. A safe pair of hands?
Assessors are checking that the experience you have presented in your written submission is evident when they ask you about your working history, and that it corresponds to and is in line with the RICS Quantity Surveying and Construction pathway guidance. The minimum level of knowledge and the experience and advice you should demonstrate is detailed in these guidance notes.
Do not underestimate the amount of time you will need to prepare for your APC
There are no excuses if you have not gained sufficient experience or knowledge when you are at the final interview stage – if this does prove to be the case, then you are clearly not ready for the assessment.
The assessment panel wants to ensure that you are a safe pair of hands and can provide the services of a professional and RICS member. Only after the assessment will you be able to set up your own regulated firm and offer services as a chartered surveyor.
A final thought: don’t panic. This article aims to provide an insight into issues commonly faced by candidates in their preparation. Many of these can be totally avoided before you even make your written submission.
Yet as assessors, we still see problems on a regular basis, such as:
- word count does not comply with the guidance
- poor CPD evidence is provided
- an inappropriate topic is chosen for the case study
- spelling and grammar are poor
- the documents are poorly presented
- lack of knowledge is demonstrated at Level 1
- evidence of project-specific experience is lacking for the competencies at Level 2 and 3.
The assessors want you to pass, but you must be ready when you submit your documents to sit the final interview. RICS sets no quota for numbers of passes or referrals. Be assured that if you are not ready you are very unlikely to succeed – this is why the assessors are trained for these interviews. Remember to keep positive, ensure you plan well and prepare meticulously for all stages of the APC process.
This will mean that you have a greater chance of success.
The APC Academy can support employers and candidates through the assessment process.
We offer a number of bespoke services and seminars that include assisting with document preparation, providing questions based on the submitted documents and arranging mock interviews and presentations. Combination packages of these services are very popular, so if you feel you need more help please get in touch.