I completed my APC in the first half of last year. The process is challenging and takes hard work and commitment, but I found it an invaluable period of development.
My APC journey followed another intense period of study. After graduating in quantity surveying from Glasgow Caledonian University in 2009, I joined a cost consultancy on a full-time basis, at the same time as completing a distance learning MSc (Project Management in Construction).
Here are my tips on how to put yourself in the best possible position to get chartered once you are sitting the final assessment, including how Faithful+Gould’s structured APC programme has contributed to my success.
The final months
The months before the final assessment are really important. Tasks include submitting your final submission, studying and preparing for the final assessment, and preparing your presentation.
Your final submission documents are the first chance to make a good impression, it’s therefore critical to keep your diary and documents updated from the outset and don’t leave them to the last minute. This includes your CPD log, experience record and case study (formerly called the critical analysis). This forms the main part of the assessors’ questioning.
...keep your diary and documents updated from the outset and don’t leave them to the last minute.
You should be familiar with everything you include in these documents, be able to do it, and advise on it, at Levels 1, 2 and 3 – the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) assessed levels on competencies.
Case study project
This is an important document as it’s what your presentation will be based on and forms your first round of questioning. It is not essential that the project is one of high value, what’s more important is that you choose a challenging project that demonstrates your problem solving skills and capabilities. I chose a £2.5million project I’d worked on with BSkyB. You’re expected to have been involved with your project day-to-day, so you need to know the important details and be able to justify actions that were taken.
Here you describe how you have achieved the required levels against each competency relevant to your pathway. It’s vital to link your experience to project examples. You discuss projects you’ve worked on, the knowledge you gained, the work you did and how you advised on the project – once again levels 1, 2 and 3 of the RICS competencies.
It’s vital to link your experience to project examples.
You’re not expected to know everything in your pathway, rather a broad understanding and awareness of all key areas. However, be prepared for the the assessors to question you on any aspect of your experience record given this is work that you have identified as having undertaken and therefore should know well.
The 10-minute presentation delivered in your final assessment is linked to your case study. The presentation doesn't need to cover the whole case study, but can focus on a specific aspect.
Practise and practise again – I did this with colleagues who were able to give me constructive feedback.
Timekeeping is important - the assessors allow just a 30 second margin of error, either way. I suggest you don’t write out your presentation, but have bullet points in case you trip up. Practise and practise again – I did this with colleagues who were able to give me constructive feedback.
Remember, the assessors are not trying to trip you up - they want you to pass. They expect you to know what’s in your submission, to give strong answers to reinforce this, and to be able to answer confidently any questions they throw at you. It is essential that you demonstrate your professionalism and competence through solid communication skills.
Faithful+Gould’s APC programme
Faithful+Gould’s support in the APC process puts candidates in the best possible position to pass their APC. Not only do they ensure that candidates get experience on a wide range of projects, but they also run a structured in-house APC programme and employ a dedicated consultant. Candidates benefit from advice, mock assessments and workshops that focus on your presentation and case study, along with a dedicated SharePoint site which contains lots of study aids. I was also helped by internal assessors and colleagues who had recently passed the APC – locally in my office and across the organisation through question and answer sessions.
I really benefited from the support at Faithful+Gould and it was great to finally hear that I’d passed and become chartered.
I think this comprehensive package of support really sets Faithful+Gould apart from other consultancy firms, and the benefits for candidates can be seen in Faithful+Gould’s APC pass rate. It currently stands at 87%, which is well above the national average of 66%.
I really benefited from the support at Faithful+Gould and it was great to finally hear that I’d passed and become chartered. You’ll get there too. Plan carefully, don’t leave it until the last minute, and be sure to ask for help.