APC Ask Me Anything - July Article

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 11:00

By RICS Training

Welcome to July’s APC Ask Me Anything (AMA) article. The RICS Training team are running free online sessions where candidates can ask an APC Assessor anything about the process, skills development and how to give yourself the best chance of success. Below you can read through some of the key questions raised by candidates from this month’s session. Find out what advice was given by our Assessor and Trainer Tony Ward, the Membership team and what training is available to you for overcoming challenges faced by APC candidates.

Having written the summary of experience (mandatory), my total is now 1,550 - is there a penalty or allowable allowance for going over the required word count?

As you need to state the word count total I would try and stick below 1,500 words. Here are some suggestions to help:

  • Make sure you don’t have any actual examples. In Level 1, remember it is just knowledge at this level and then for Level 2 and 3 maybe try a heading format to cut down on repetition. For example, for all Level 2's, maybe use common headings like: location, application and outcome
  • Try and use concise tags and signposts, not long narratives. It helps you keep the words down and helps the assessor get to the point quicker when reading it

How do I submit my case study to ARC? Do I copy and paste from my Word document onto an ARC window, or do I upload the whole Word document?

The case study on ARC is a PDF upload.

For project QS (not CA), can I still record attending progress meetings under the contract administration competency?

The general answer would be yes if you have read the pathway guide for CA and you know what is expected. Set that out before the meeting and then if achieved, write up the key points/tags/signposts that you got out of it. A good guide for everyone is try and use the language of the pathway guide when writing up your competencies.

I am struggling to write about some key hooks for Conduct Rules and Ethics, Level 2. Is it acceptable to only focus on demonstrating my personal commitment to the RICS 5 professional and ethical standards or would I be required to write about PI insurance?

Always try and state the 5 standards at Level one and then try and show examples of at least two in Levels 2 and 3. As for PI, I use the 'day 6 rule' - 1 APC final assessment; 5 results; 6, you can start up your own practice so you must know how to do this and things like PI, CHP, Locum agreements etc. are also important. If you know about your own organisations PI and CHP, that might give you good Level 2 content. 

My understanding of the QS pathway guide for the Contract Administration competency is that it relates to administering the contract (i.e. issuing instructions) rather than purely attending progress meeting as QS.

It depends which level you need this for. Level 1 is fine to be aware and thoroughly understand the process which a meeting can give you. Levels 2 and 3 need examples of you actually doing the work which may be less straightforward but if you can engage with the CA on the job without creating any conflict, this may well assist you in getting to Level 2.

To what depth should my Building Control diary be written? My inspections generally are 30 mins or less, but I am to record in full/half days. What’s the best guidance to achieve this?

Typically, diary entries only need to be day units. The main purpose of them is to remind you of what you have done during the STP and to facilitate meaningful conversation with you S and C. Write up the key points from the inspection and then add other relevant experiences from the day too. One day's worth of entries isn't going to get you to a level but when aggregated it will allow you, your S and your C to see if the level has been achieved.

Would the process of drafting a letter licence/event licence be a suitable Level 3 example for Property Management?

Only if you encountered a situation during the negotiating/drafting stage where you had to give advice to the client about an option. If it's just a pro forma licence, then probably not.

We have a Property Management Competency Masterclass where we go through all levels of the competency as well as focussing on Levels 2 and 3, including examples.

Under the Conduct Rules, Ethics and Professional Practice Level 1: Knowledge and Understanding, where do you obtain the specific knowledge from? For example, is it obtained from RICS regulation papers on Rules of Conduct Members/Firms, The Global Professional and Ethical Standards UK? Do you recommend any other good publications that must be read at Level 1 under this competency?

The RICS Regulation team have been busy recently and have issued a series of UK and Global professional statements. Conflict of interests is a very important one for example. Other topics to review and undestand thoroughly are how to set up RICS regulated firms, CHPs, PI insurance, the ethical decision tree, understand the RICS mission statement and attend the Ethics courses the RICS has.

Face to face Ethics courses

Ethics web classes

Ethics session on Compass

RICS mission statement

What is meant by Environmental Audit (and monitoring) and how does this apply to Building Control? My employers are unaware of how I can achieve Level 3 in this

Please see page 20 of the Pathway Guide.

I am a QS and currently have no diary days recorded against the sustainability competency. Can I simply achieve the required level for this competency through my own CPD?

The diary is for internal use by the candidate, S & C. You need to have some real-life experience at Level 2 just to show how you have applied the knowledge. Please review the Pathway Guide. It isn't necessarily that difficult nor as complex as you may think. You may be doing it anyway. The best thing here is to have a conversation with your S & C and all three of you reflect on how this competency can be recorded.

Can you give some examples of questions which could come up at final assessment please? What sort of topics are covered?

Level 2 and Level 3 should be based on what you have said you have done (with some exceptions) in Level 1 within your specific competency. Here are some examples of questions:

  • Tell me about the five ethical standards.
  • How do you go about setting up a RICS regulated firm?
  • What is RICS guidance on conflicts of interest?
  • Why do we have rules of conduct?

The RICS Competency Masterclasses all include a section on final assessment questions. 

I am doing a rent review for my case study which looked like it would be resolved quickly but has still not been settled. There are three Key Issues: 1, Treatment of the mezzanine; Key Issue 2, Establishing the market rent; Key Issue 3, Treatment of Evidence/Negotiations. All are dealt with except for the conclusion of the negotiations however, there is a chance these could be agreed in the next week or so. How would you recommend I proceed in terms of writing it up if this is not resolved or ends up going to third party before I submit?

It's not ideal not to have a conclusion but it's not necessarily the end of the world. Have you got 2 to 3 key issues? As an assessor, I would very much prefer all three chosen issues to have a conclusion so that you can show in detail your achievements and conclusion (i.e. what i would have done differently). Without it being agreed this becomes tricky. Two things spring to mind: is there a chance of finding a different third issue or I suppose another case study subject? For what it is worth I have a liking for the third key issue being an ethics/rules issue. I can't really say here because I don't know the detail but could one of the key issues be absorbed and then you enter a good ethics conundrum?

Does online training count as formal CPD?

Yes, if structured. RICS have a really useful guide on formal and informal CPD.  When you do online training with the RICS, it will automatically be logged in ARC as well.

My diary start date was officially 14th Oct 2016 - is there a problem with making an unofficial start at a later date in the light of not having a company who are up to speed? Basically, can I start to record from now for example?                    

This is for the Membership team really but you need either 12 or 24 months of structured training. If you delay the start of your recording you may have to delay your assessment. Please send an email to apc@rics.org.

I'm aiming to sit in on Session 2 upon submission around 1st September on ARC - how long will I have to wait until final interview date?

Session 2 normally takes place in October/November, the dates are published here. If they are not yet online, please check it again later.

I come under the 24-month requirement, I do not want to rush my assessment by any means and would rafter delay than fail. I feel that I may have a better chance if I follow the guidance structure (and my company does!) from day 1 rather than nearly 12 months in? Does that make sense? Or am I panicking too much about this? Can it be turned around?

This is for the Membership team so please send an email to apc@rics.org

I first enrolled on the APC program in February 2014. I was a year in at a firm undertaking agency work. For various reasons it didn’t work out and I left to travel in 2015 (I still paid my APC fee for 2015). I only recorded 6 months of a diary in 2014 and did not get any competencies signed off. In March 2016, I commenced employment with a new firm who are providing me with a structured training scheme and appropriate experience. I have recorded my diary since I started with this firm. However, in terms of my APC my supervisor and I agreed that we would discount my diary time/experience from my first employer and start a fresh to record the 24 months experience. My question is In terms of documenting within a submission, do I have to account for those ‘absent’ two years within my diary or somewhere within my submission documentation? Any assistance on this issue would be appreciated.

In all honesty, I don't know the answer to this. Having a guess on something so important is not an option but the Membership team deal with this sort of query day in, day out. My suggestion is try to email them first at apc@rics.org, and then copy their reply in with your submission so the assessors are clear of the guidance that has been given.

There are 15 rules of conduct for firms. Do you have to know them all?

You need to know there is 15 and have some examples and knowledge of say 2 or 3.

When will the next Ask Me Anything session take place?

The next session is on 12 September between 12.30-13.30 with Tony Ward who is a QS.


Finding out which training you need can be difficult. Working out what you need is step 1 and then you have to find out which courses will help you and where to find them. Please do come and talk to us if you need a steer. We have a team of people who can help you with training and other products from RICS like our conferences, online products such as iSurv and local events. If you want to have a chat about this, feel free to contact us. Also, you can see which courses we deliver and how they fit with the APC process here

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