A step-step guide to pass your RICS APC first time round

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Working within the Built Environment

Surveyors play a pivotal role in shaping the world we live in; from sporting venues to museums, shopping malls to the houses we live in. This makes their skills very attractive to employers and opens up global career opportunities.

Why become a qualified Chartered Surveyor (MRICS)

For the majority of Surveyors working within the industry, they will strive to become a respected member of the ‘Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (MRICS) the professional membership body for qualifications and standards in land, property, infrastructure and construction.

Your RICS qualifications is your passport to some of the best projects within the global marketplace

To qualify as a Chartered Surveyor, and to carry the designation ‘MRICS’ behind your name; you must first either complete a RICS accredited degree or hold a minimum no. of years relevant work experience. To find more about your elgibility on the most common routes to become MRICS (click here)

What is the RICS APC?

The Assessment of Professional Competence (APC), is a structured practical training programme, which takes around 24 months to complete in the workplace. It is a combination of practical work experience and theoretical study. Unlike most academic assessments, the APC is an interview rather than a sit-down test. Which means that you really have the opportunity to prove yourself infront of a live panel rather than scratch your head in confusion in a closed exam. (Remember it’s not a memory test, it’s all on ability and capability to demonstrate your experience).

The training structure is based on several set of skills known as ‘competencies. Based on your chosen pathway (Project Management, Commercial, Valuation etc) you will be required to complete from mandatory and technical competencies, which will assess your ability, knowledge and skills against set levels. The APC also assists to enhance your interpersonal, financial, business and management skills as well as provide the foundation to business ethics.

The overall APC process

For some professionals, 24 months may be a sufficient timescale to attain to the relevant competencies set within your chosen pathway. However, for most, you may have not gained enough ‘relevant‘ experience to successfully evidence against the respective competencies; particularly for Level 3 competencies where you will need to demonstrate a clear understanding with ‘relevant‘ examples.

You should therefore be realistic about how much you know about the subject/topic/competence before moving forward. Utilising your counsellor during and through the process will separate you from passing/failing.

Your APC Counsellor

A counsellor can really guide you and provide the level of confidence required to hit those competencies at the required level. In-house counsellors tend to be better than using external support as they can monitor your day-day activities and ensure you get exposure to a variety of work; however, circumstances may prevail – particularly if you are working within a SME. If this is the case seek support from your management and/or external network for professional guidance. You can also reach our to RICS directly.

As advised, the counsellor will play an integral part in attaining to your RICS qualifications, when looking for an appropriate counsellor ensure they can commit their time to your development. Ideally, you should organise a dedicated meeting with your counsellor once a month during the initial months of my training and weekly during the run up to the APC submission and subsequent assessment. Most large firms with dedicated training centres will organise mock-assessments for candidates; however for those who do not have access to this privilege, you may wish to reach out to your extended network and try to get as much support and mock testing as possible.

Recording your experience.

RICS has traditionally followed a paper-based system, however, recently RICS’ have promoted candidates to use the RICS assessment resource centre (ARC) – an online portal to record, manage and submit your application.

As it is now mandatory to follow the ARC system candidates should familiarise themselves with the system and make sure their counsellor is aware of how to sign off competencies online. Remember it is now mandatory that counsellors undergo ARC training before they are able to approve candidate’s submissions.

For anyone looking to pass their APC first time round, Graduate Surveyors offers the following advice:

Plan – Planning is the key to success. Plan your APC journey based on your eligibility. Work backwards from the assessment and submission dates to ensure you are spending enough time at every stage of the way. Utilise your diary to ensure your counsellor is able to sign off your competencies. What may help is condensing your revision and relating technical, often complex information, with real life examples based on experience.

Prepare – Preparation is key. Your documentation will separate you from succeeding or failing. Make sure your documents are concise, relevant and presentable. Ensure that you apply relevant knowledge to achieve the required levels within each competency. Avoid rambling on or writing about areas where you have little or no experience in – don’t leave yourself open, the assessors may pick up on this! Mock Interviews are invaluable – If you can, sit mock interviews with colleagues, senior management and/or approved RICS APC assessors. The mock interview will provide reassurance and confidence which will ease nerves and make you more prepared.

Perform – Put on a show. Imagine your APC Assessment as a performance and your submission as a script. Memorise your script, rehearse it and make sure you understand it like the back of your hand. During your assessment, be confident, clear and demonstrate understanding. The APC assessment is actually exciting, so we don’t believe you should get too worried!

Your RICS qualification is your passport to some of the most exciting opportunities in this world. Embrace this and the journey ahead will be a rewarding one. What you will learn during this process will build the foundations to your future and you may than wish to continue with other relevant qualifications such as ‘The Chartered Institute of Building (MCIOB)’ or ‘Association of Project Managers (MAPM) or another.

The RICS APC is a challenging process, however with a positive attitude, commitment and the right work ethic anyone can become a respected member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. The letters behind your name (MRICS) signify recognition, reputation, knowledge and competence. It also provides clients and prospective employers with confidence ensuring they receive a service which reflects the highest professional standards.

Graduate Surveyors provides bottom up advice to those who would like to pursue a career within the Built Environment. Our team have received MRICS status and thus in a position to give you rational, clear and logical advice to help you along the way. if you’re looking to seek some further advice why don’t you click here now.