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RICS APC and AssocRICS Lifeline – Word Count

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

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Property Elite’s sole aim is to build better property professionals - supporting your career every step of the way, whether you are an AssocRICS or RICS APC candidate or a MRICS or FRICS Chartered Surveyor simply seeking engaging CPD.

We provide a wide range of training and support, so why not find out more on our website about how we might be able to support you? We work with candidates across all RICS APC and AssocRICS pathways, routes to assessment and geographic regions.

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What is today's blog about?

This week, we are taking a look at a vital requirement of your RICS APC or AssocRICS final assessment submission; the word count.

We have been asked about this multiple times in recent weeks, so we wanted to make sure that we shared the love more widely!

You can also listen to our CPD podcast on Anchor for more free AssocRICS and RICS APC training and support, as well as watching our short CPD videos on YouTube

Why is this important?

For both assessments, this is an absolute limit and there is no leeway over. This is different to other settings in life, e.g. the typical 10% rule at degree level.

You can, of course, be under, although we’d recommend using as much as the word count as possible to provide sufficient depth and breadth to your submission. You don’t have to spend hours trying to hit the word count exactly, however!

Treat the word count as a client requirement, ‘a must’. Your assessment panel will view adhering to the word counts as an example of how you take responsibility and are able to follow instructions, i.e. providing a high standard of client care.

Where can I find out about the word counts?

The word counts are stated in the RICS Candidate Guide for your assessment, e.g. APC, SPA or AssocRICS.

What are the RICS APC word count limits?

Mandatory competencies – 1,500

Technical competencies – 4,000

Case study – 3,000 words

For your competencies, you can split the word count as you wish between each competency and each level. From experience, this can end up anywhere between 80 and 300 words per level per competency.

However, we generally recommend allocating more words to levels 2 and 3 to ensure you have sufficient words to explain your reasoned advice and work-based experience.

What are the RICS APC Senior Professional Assessment word count limits?

Each of your three case studies should be between 1,000 and 1,500 words. This means that for the SPA assessment, there is a minimum and maximum word count per case study.

What are the RICS AssocRICS word count limits?

Mandatory competencies – 1,000

Technical competencies – 2,000

Case study – 2,500 words

You can again split the word count as you wish between competencies. RICS specifically recommend around 150 words per mandatory competency as a guide.

How can I track my word count?

We recommend keeping your submission in a word processor based format, e.g. Word or Pages, rather than uploading immediately to RICS ARC. This means that you can keep track of the word count easily using the software itself and can avoid any issues inherent to ARC.

How can I reduce my word count?

1. Start by drafting or amending just one level of one competency – try to get this down to 200-300 words maximum (or less if at level 1). This will allow you to see what the right word count looks like on paper/screen and will let you practice working to a concise and coherent structure. Trying to do everything at once can be overwhelming, so break the task down into smaller elements.

2. Take out detail which could form the basis of desirable assessor questioning at your interview, e.g. mention a Calderbank offer in relation to rent review tactics, but don’t put in too much additional knowledge-based detail such as the caselaw behind it or what Without Prejudice Save as to Costs means.

3. Keep your examples focussed to just two or three per each level 2 and 3 competency. Any more than this and you will struggle to refine your examples to the level required. Keep the contextual detail relatively simple and instead provide a logical, concise explanation of what you did, how you did it (level 2) and the advice you gave (level 3).

4. Use a sub-heading as a title for each example, rather than using additional words explaining the project title. For example, ‘Word count blog - …’, rather than ‘I wrote a comprehensive blog on word counts for a website called Property Elite…’.

5. Ask someone else to proofread your submission and identify content that doesn’t add to your overall submission. If this is a non-surveying professional, this can often be helpful to take a step back and simplify what you have written.

Remember, you will be there in your RICS APC final assessment interview, alongside your written submission provided to RICS. This means that you can provide extra detail and justification for your reasoned advice out loud in response to the assessors’ questioning – rather than relying on trying to fit every single detail into your submission.

If you are trying to cut words in your AssocRICS submission where you do not face an in person interview, try to ensure that your submission combines both knowledge and experience. You have to adopt an approach that doesn’t try to set out everything you know in writing - so be selective and ensure what you write is relevant to you, your role and the contents of the relevant RICS pathway guide.

How can I increase my word count?

1. Ensure your examples are sufficiently detailed, demonstrating your reasoned advice at level 3. We often see examples without an outcome stated, this is helpful for the assessors to see your advice in context and to understand the results you achieved.

2. Ensure you have at least two to three examples in each level 2 and 3 competency. If you don’t yet have sufficient examples, then it may be a case of going away to gain more experience before you are ready to submit.

3. For level 1 competencies, read around your competencies in the relevant RICS pathway guide. This will give you plenty of ideas for what to include that you may not already have thought of, e.g. including sensitivity analysis and financing in Development Appraisals.

4. Ensure your case study key issues sufficiently explore the options you considered, before you discuss the solution or outcome that you advised to your client. This will help to show your justification for your advice, as well as demonstrating breadth and depth of knowledge.

5. Write in the first person and in comprehensible sentences, e.g. ‘I gave reasoned advice to my client…’. Try to make your structure and language flow to ensure the assessors can understand your advice and the justification behind it. Being too brief can cut out essential detail that helps to form a well-rounded and comprehensive submission.

How can Property Elite help me to comply with the RICS word counts?

We can provide you with support to reduce or increase your word count, as well as to provide a full review and feedback on your RICS APC or AssocRICS final assessment submission.

This includes advice on what you should cut out or add in, as well as helping you to refine your written style to be as concise and coherent as possible. This also includes support if English is not your first written language.

We want to help competent, knowledgeable and experienced surveyors to reach their full potential in the industry.

So if you are concerned about the word counts or your written submission – don’t hesitate to contact us to sign up for a free 15 minute consultation or to book in your submission review without delay. It’s generally never too late and there is always something we can do to support you to AssocRICS or RICS APC success!

How can we help?

  • Don't leave it too late to book your submission feedback and review, which provides two rounds of feedback from a current assessor on your RICS APC submission.

  • We offer a range of short and long-term support packages in our eShop, including our popular Monthly Mentoring service, as well as APC question packs, 1-2-1 mentoring and e-mock interviews.

  • Head to our blog archive to access even more free CPD and AssocRICS and RICS APC training and support.

  • Download your free AssocRICS and RICS APC resources, including e-books and revision quizzes.

  • Find out more about our bespoke AssocRICS and RICS APC training and support, before booking your free 15 minute consultation.

  • Not sure about signing up? Make sure you read what our recent successful candidates have to say in our Testimonials.

Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you

N.b. Nothing in this article constitutes legal, professional or financial advice.


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