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News & opinion

19 OCT 2018

How to ace your APC

Are you sitting your APC in 2018? Ryan Sherlock, presents his top 10 tips for preparing for, and sitting your final assessment.  He is an experienced APC counsellor and assessor, and a member of the RICS Oman National Board.

1. Organise as many mock interviews as possible

The final assessment takes the form of an interview. While revision from textbooks and articles will provide depth to your knowledge, it will not prepare you for a face to face panel interview. The technique of responding to questioning can only be learnt from practice. When completing my APC preparation, I tried to arrange one mock interview per week for three months leading up to the final assessment.

2. Form or join a study group

Having peers and friends to help and support each other is helpful in achieving any goal, whether that is to run a marathon or study for an exam. Organising a study group will give you the opportunity to discuss competencies and bounce ideas off each other. It will also provide a low-pressure environment to discuss and develop your ideas.

3. Peer review your case study

Ensure that before you select a project for your case study, you speak to as many other professionals as you can and run your ideas past them first. Remember, the case study is the first impression that the examiner will have of you. Many examiners will have numerous examinations to conduct in one session, and they do this out of their own free time. Submissions which are inadequately presented, poorly thought out and full of mistakes will not go down well.

4. Structure your CPD and summary of experience

The examiners will go through your CPD and summary of experience and select questions. Make sure during your revision that you have covered every subject mentioned. It does not give a good impression if you say you have done CPD tendering and when asked about tendering, you have a weak response.

5. Read lots of industry news and make sure you are up to date with market trends

If you’re a quantity surveyor, for example, make sure you are up to speed with cost per GIFA and unit within the market that you work. If asked to provide this information during the exam, always give a range and not a specific number.

6. You don’t have to answer all the questions

Remember, the APC is about assessing if you are professional. Part of being professional is understanding and knowing your limits. If asked a question that you don’t know the answer of or have a memory blank, do not try to improvise. It is entirely acceptable to tell the examiners that you cannot think of the answer but will make a note of the question and come back to them. Don’t forget that the examiner is continually asking themselves if they would be comfortable for you to represent their own company in front of clients.

7. Practice your presentation

This might seem obvious, but the number of assessments I have been to, where the candidate had not practiced, is surprising. By the time you sit your final assessment, you should be able to give your presentation in your sleep. Your presentation sets you up for the rest of the hour so make sure it is interesting and full of energy!

8. Expand on your case study

Use the presentation as an opportunity to develop your case study. Do not just repeat what is in the document. This is incredibly boring for assessors, and the chances are they will lose interest in the presentation.

9. Consider your visual aids carefully

RICS guidance states that you may use visual aids such as flip charts during the presentation. However, they are not mandatory. I would suggest that before you decided to use a visual aid consider this; does it add any value to my presentation? If the answer is no, then don’t use it.

If you do decide to use one, then remember to:

  • Keep the pages as simple as possible
  • Avoid too many bullet points.

The human mind cannot listen and read at the same time, so if there is a lot of text on your visual aid chances are the assessor will be reading it instead of listening to you or not reading it at all.

10. Enjoy yourself

This might sound crazy but if you speak to a newly qualified professional many of them will say that by the end of the assessment it felt like they were just having a conversation with the assessors. Keep in mind, your assessors have all been through the same process and know how you feel. They want you to pass, that is why they are there in the first place. All the hard work is worth it.

All the best of luck to all the candidates in 2018, work hard, and study hard!

Watch: Advice on completing the APC

These two short videos provide you with a quick snapshot on completing the RICS APC. The first is aimed at those with an accredited degree and less than five years of experience, and the second assists experienced professionals with a bachelor’s degree.

From the documents you need to read to what the assessment entails, see our brief overview on what you need to do to qualify as a Chartered Surveyor.