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RICS APC Lifeline - 5 of the Most Common RICS APC Mistakes

RICS APC and AssocRICS mandatory competency business planning

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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?

According to RICS, the RICS APC referral rate is nearly 40% because candidates don't:

  • Understand what's included in the process

  • Know how to demonstrate their competencies

  • Show evidence of their technical knowledge and professional experience

So, in today's blog, we are going to look at 5 key areas where we have seen RICS APC candidates struggle in the written submission and final assessment interview. We will also give you advice on how to avoid these and seek success in your RICS APC final assessment interview this Spring.

You can also listen to our CPD podcast on Anchor for more free AssocRICS and RICS APC training and support.

What are the 5 of the most common mistakes that RICS APC candidates make?

1. Not understanding the competency descriptors and referring to inappropriate knowledge or experience, e.g. referring to Residual Land Valuations in the Development Appraisals competency or to measurement in the Inspection competency

2. Treating the final assessment interview as an exam not an assessment of your competence, leading to a lack of familiarity relating to your level 2 and 3 experience and examples

3. Poor proof reading and presentation of your final written submission

4. Not adhering to the RICS guidance on word counts, CPD, presentation timing and structure of your written submission

5. Referring to outdated legislation or RICS guidance, e.g. Money Laundering Regulations 2007, Disability Discrimination Act 1995 or RICS Property Measurement (1st Edition)

We will look at each of these in turn below.

1. Not understanding the competency descriptors and referring to inappropriate knowledge or experience

It is vitally important to ensure that your competency choice reflects your role, experience and responsibilities. We have seen candidates who have chosen 'standard' competencies set by their firm or followed by colleagues or friends, which they do not have sufficient experience to demonstrate levels 2 and 3 in (as appropriate).

Whilst it may be possible to read up on level 1 knowledge through your revision, without the right experience of undertaking work (level 2) and providing reasoned client advice (level 3) - you are making life very difficult for yourself from the outset!

We recommend reading through the RICS APC pathway and competency guides at the outset and during your RICS APC journey, to ensure that the competencies and levels you select fit your professional role.

Speak to your Supervisor and/or Counsellor to ensure that you select appropriate competencies, read through the specific requirements of the competencies you are looking to select and ensure that you have an action plan to fill any gaps in your experience as you work towards your final assessment.

If you move roles or departments, you may want to consider swapping your competencies or levels to ensure that when you sit your final assessment, you have the requisite knowledge and experience to hit the required levels.

We also recommend reading though the specific detail of the competencies you chose. We see many candidates referring to Residual Land Valuations in the Development Appraisals competency, despite RICS confirming that 'development appraisals also have a role in residual valuations of development sites, but it should be remembered that the two are different activities'.

This could be a potential area for referral if you do not understand the difference between the two and lack experience of specifically undertaking development appraisals (i.e. to assess profitability or viability of a scheme, rather than land value).

We also frequently see candidates referring to measurement in their Inspection competency. Apart from using up your word count on irrelevant experience for the Inspection competency, you are likely to face challenging questioning as you have not displayed your understanding of the competency in accordance with the RICS guidance. Keep the two separate and give yourself the best chance of RICS APC success from the outset!

2. Treating the final assessment interview as an exam

The RICS APC is not an exam or a test - it is an assessment of your competence at the end of a period of structured training, more substantial practical experience and/or preliminary review success.

Whilst you do need to know the full breadth and depth of the knowledge underlining your competencies at level 1, you also need to be able to apply this to your level 2 and 3 examples of professional experience.

Assessors are trained to question you first at level 3 (or level 2 if this is highest for a given competency), given the limited time available in the interview. This means that you should be answering questions using your experience, with back up support and justification based on your knowledge as necessary.

Your revision should primarily focus on being familiar with your submission and the examples you have put in. For example, if you refer to a Building Survey in Bristol, a HomeBuyer Report in Sheffield or a lease renewal in Bournemouth, know the specific detail of your experience and be able to discuss the framework of any RICS guidance, legislation or wider knowledge.

So, make sure you don't fall down in your final assessment interview by not being able to discuss what you have done with your assessment panel. If you are looking for some quick and easy ways to brush up your underlying knowledge, make sure you check out our revision quizzes and full blog archive.

3. Poor final written assessment submission

We often see poorly written final assessment submissions, this includes poor proof reading, informal style (e.g. don't rather than do not, we're rather than we are), non-professional language (i.e. think like you are writing a client report not an email to a colleague) and poor structure.

We recommend passing your submission around to as many people as possible, colleagues, friends, family and, of course, Property Elite through our submission review service. Often, lay readers (i.e. not surveyors) pick up things that you might have missed in terms of ensuring your submission is easy to understand, concise and coherent throughout.

Make sure you pick up easy to amend issues such as spelling, grammar and formatting. Perhaps take a few days after you write your final version and then come back to the proof reading aspect - a fresh pair of eyes will make sure you do spot any errors before you submit your documents to RICS.

4. Not adhering to the RICS guidance

Make sure you read the RICS APC Candidate Guide from cover to cover, as well as signing up to the Property Elite newsletter to receive your complimentary E-books.

There are many mandatory requirements that your submission needs to meet, particularly if you are submitting your preliminary review assessment.

These include:

  • Sticking within the word counts - there is no 10% rule, which you might have benefited from at University

  • Ensuring your summary of experience includes the right amount of competencies at the right levels

  • Ensuring your summary of experience is structured correctly in terms of levels 1, 2 and 3 and with an adequate number and range of examples

  • Adhering to the structure set by RICS in relation to your case study. We see many candidates doing their own thing and ignoring the requirement to state their key issues, for example

  • Ensuring you submit at least 48 hours of CPD (at least 50% formal) per 12 months' structured training (or as otherwise specified if you are on a different route)

There are many more requirements, so make sure you understand what you need to do well in advance of submitting your final assessment documents to RICS. Once you have submitted, these are what your interview will be based upon and you will not have the chance to amend them before you face your panel in your final assessment. Giving yourself the best possible start to your assessment stands you in much better stead to succeed.

On the preliminary review route, not sticking to the RICS guidance is likely to lead to referral. So, treat it like a set of client requirements or Key Performance Indicators that you have to meet, no matter what!

5. Referring to outdated legislation or RICS guidance

We have seen many candidates refer to outdated legislation or RICS guidance, including:

  • Disability Discrimination Acts instead of the Equality Act 2010

  • Old RICS measurement guidance rather than RICS Property Measurement (2nd Edition)

  • 2007 rather than 2017 Money Laundering Regulations

  • Past editions of the RICS Purple and Blue Books

  • Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 rather than the CPRs and BPRs 2008

How can we help?

  • 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 and signing up for your services online.

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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