3 DEC 2018
APC counsellor and chartered building surveyor at Copper Seed, Victoria Richardson MRICS, provides advice on how to select your case study, getting the most out of your 3000-word limit and the common pitfalls to avoid during your APC final assessment interview.
Not only do you need to write about a project for your case study, you must give a presentation and answer questions about it. That’s a lot of extra attention you’ll be giving to one specific piece of work, so selecting the right project can be a bit of a challenge. The following scenarios should help with the process:
You can often sit down with your supervisor and counsellor to look at upcoming work and determine which project will make a good case study. If the project is going to satisfy the criteria in the Candidate Guide, there’s your case study project. Start keeping notes on everything you do on the project and you can turn those notes into a case study later.
We’ve all had those meals in a restaurant we probably wouldn’t have chosen if we knew what it would taste like; your case study project can be reminiscent of that. You may have selected a project that turned out to be as bland as water or may have even been cancelled.
Chances are you have been working on numerous projects, so think about whether one of those is a better option. You are not chained to your case study — if it isn’t working and you have an alternative, dump it. If you don’t have an alternative, work with your supervisor to see how you can get the best out of the project for your case study. After all, even bland water can be interesting on a hot summer day.
If you work on several projects that would make a good case study, there is no harm in seeing how they all progress before committing to turning one into your case study. Just make sure you are keeping good notes on all the potentials, so you have plenty of information to feed your write-up.
What can start out as a normal project can sometimes snowball into something far greater and your role may change as a result. If your case study project morphs into something different, remember to look back over the guide with your supervisor. If your case study can still hit the criteria, there’s no reason to change it. These changes can often create key issues to discuss. Showing how you adapt to a different role is a good way to illustrate your abilities.
You’ve selected your case study, done all the work (or might still be working on it) and you are ready to put pen to paper. Sadly, there is no magic recipe, but the following should help you get the best out of your 3000-word limit, have your panel eagerly turning pages and looking forward to your presentation.
Your case study is built around the key issues, so make sure you pick issues that can showcase your abilities.
This can be a tough part of the case study. This is where you need to have an honest reflection on your performance and examine any areas where you excelled or would change things if you could have a do-over. Talking through your performance with your supervisor is an excellent way to receive constructive criticism that can feed into the section of your case study. Remember though, this is about what you think of your performance — "my supervisor thought I did well" will not cut it.
While you only have 3000 words for your case study, you will also be required to give a presentation where you can explain your project further. The best time to begin crafting your presentation is while you are editing your case study.
Once you have your first draft, go through the full draft with a highlighter and mark-up any sections that could be removed and used in the presentation. If you are over the word limit, you know which parts to pull out.
I would then recommend asking your supervisor and counsellor to read through the draft and make their own comments. Ask them what questions the case study prompted, as you may want to answer some of those questions as part of your presentation or prepare being asked similar questions. Lastly, think about what questions you want to be asked – could you re-write sections to prompt these questions without detracting from the readability of the case study?
Victoria is an RICS professional and works as chartered building surveyor and owner of Copper Seed Ltd in Auckland, New Zealand. She holds a Certificate in Industrial Rope Access (Phase 1) and has broad experience in all building surveying disciplines, as well as working knowledge of various construction methods and techniques.