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What is today's blog about?
In this week’s blog, we look at the RICS APC final Counsellor sign-off process which takes place via the Assessment Resource Centre (ARC).
This is a common area for confusion and stress, which is easily avoidable with advance planning and communication with your Counsellor. Make sure you help them to help you and don’t make the process any more challenging than it needs to be!
How does the sign-off process work?
Before your Counsellor can sign you off, you need to have completed the following on ARC.
Photo – ensure you upload a professional photo which clearly identifies you. Ensure this is in the correct orientation so you don’t end up looking sideways at your assessors!
Competencies Selected – you need to ensure that you have the right number and levels of competencies selected. This will inform what appears on your Competencies page, so you should be able to identify any errors relatively easily.
Mandatory Competencies and Technical Competencies – you need to have uploaded your Summary of Experience wording for each level of every competency via ARC. These need to have then been approved by your Counsellor, although we will look at this process later on.
CPD – ensure you have sufficient hours recorded and that the box turns green (‘Complete’). If you have logged incomplete hours it will show as Orange (‘Started’) and you will not be able to progress with your application.
Ethics Assessment – ensure you have undertaken this within the required period.
Case Study – ensure you have uploaded this in PDF format and that it has been approved by your Counsellor.
Counsellor Selected – you will need to have ensured that you have informed RICS of your Counsellor and that they have been allocated to you on ARC.
Approved by Counsellor – your Counsellor will need to approve your application on their own ARC system before you can submit. This requires them to already have approved all of your competency levels and your case study.
Declaration – you need to have gone through this section after being approved by your Counsellor. The button may remain greyed out until your Counsellor has finished their approval process.
Proposer and Seconders – we have already looked at this process in a previous blog, however, without entering in the details of your Proposer and Seconders you cannot submit for final assessment. This box may also be greyed out until you have been approved by your Counsellor.
You will know you have successfully completed each section because the progress box will turn green and show ‘Completed’. If anything is highlighted in red (‘Not Started’) or orange (‘Started’), then you will not be able to proceed with your application.
What key pitfalls might I encounter?
Candidates and their Counsellors often face difficulties in the submission process via ARC.
Here are some of the most common pitfalls:
Counsellor hasn’t approved your Case Study by clicking on the orange (‘Started’) button. Each time you make amendments, it will need to be sent back either for feedback or for approval – so make sure that your Case Study hasn’t been sent back to you rather than being approved.
Counsellor hasn’t clicked on the Competencies Selected button to individually approve each and every competency level. Sometimes, the progress button will show as green (‘Completed’) on their screen – however, if they click on the button then a long list of competencies may appear underneath which they can then sign off.
Counsellor hasn’t clicked the Approval button relating to your whole application. They need to do this as well as approving your competencies and Case Study separately.
Counsellor hasn’t completed their declaration and clicked ‘Submit Approval’. This will allow you to proceed to submit via ARC (i.e. the greyed out buttons identified above should become active).
How can we identify what the issue is?
There are a number of ways to identify what has gone wrong in the Counsellor sign off process:
Ask your Counsellor to check their notifications using the envelope button at the top right hand corner of their ARC screen. This may help to identify where their approval or input is needed, e.g. sign off of individual competency levels.
Check the ARC screens of both you and your Counsellor to identify where you have become ‘stuck’ in the process. Check what boxes show as either red (‘Not Started’) or orange (‘Started’) and take action to resolve these. Also, make sure you check whether all of your individual competencies have been signed off, even if this progress button shows green (‘Complete’) on your Counsellor’s ARC. If you cannot meet in person, use screen sharing to work together to identify potential issues.
Ensure that you meet regularly with your Counsellor, which could be online or by telephone rather than in person. Doing so will help to identify potential issues and enable you to become familiar with ARC together.
Don’t leave the sign off process until the last minute – give your Counsellor sufficient time to navigate ARC and fully review your final assessment submission. It takes quite a lot of time to individually sign off each competency level, for example, particularly if your Counsellor needs to return any feedback to you via ARC for amending.
Even after your Counsellor sign-off process is finished and you can proceed to the Declaration and Proposer and Seconders stage, if you don’t have the latter arranged then you will not be able to submit. These signatures are now provided electronically so you will need to know their RICS number or email address. Your Proposer and Seconders will then need to electronically approve you via their own ARC, which may take time to access if they are busy or have never used the system before.
Make sure you read the RICS ARC guides from cover to cover, as these might also help to identify where any issues are occurring.
In conclusion, prepare early and work collaboratively with your Counsellor. Being aware of the potential pitfalls will help to avoid any delays and additional stress in the sign off process, as well as maintaining a good relationship with your Counsellor!
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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.