Every surveyor can recall the first time they walked into that dingy hotel at Heathrow to sit their APC assessment. I will always remember the feeling of dread as I took a seat opposite a panel of three suited-and-booted RICS assessors. On the day of my APC presentation – the final hurdle of a six-year process, I could feel the nerves rising as I waited my turn. But, to you budding surveyors: don’t be deterred. Here’s my insight as to what to expect, the lessons I learned, top tips to prepare for a successful presentation, and avoiding the dreaded resit.
Ask for advice
Practice and hone your presentation as much as you can and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. If it is not easy to find helpful colleagues – network. I make sure I attend as many work and client social events as possible (Allsop has a great summer party!) and I captain the cricket team. Getting to know colleagues across all different levels has been an important source of insight and help. Allsop also offers mock presentations, which I found invaluable – there’s no better way to practice for the real assessment.
Ensure you get the right exposure
Case studies, presented as part of your APC, are an opportunity to showcase your experience and understanding. It is difficult to pass your APC without good examples within your competencies. If you find that you are restricted in your on-the-job learning, don’t be afraid to be put yourself forward for opportunities that will give you front-line experience or take up opportunities that come your way.
For example, Allsop offer secondments to clients’ graduates if they aren’t able to get exposure to certain competencies within their own organisation. This helps them develop their submissions, and build their breadth of knowledge and experience for their assessment, which they wouldn’t otherwise get.
Submit your draft presentation early
At Allsop, we benefit from the support of a RICS Chairperson who acts as an external mentor and gives us feedback on our APC submissions. While many of the big firms often provide their trainee surveyors with a mentor, this is not true of all firms. We also have the added benefit of being a smaller group and therefore, receive detailed feedback and a bespoke service, including a filmed mock interview that we can watch back to see first-hand how we perform under pressure.
Take time to relax and fit revision around your social calendar
Avoid burning out by taking regular breaks from revision. This will also allow you to process all of the information you have absorbed. Time management is key; plan ahead to ensure you have enough time to cover all of your chosen areas, while still fitting in time to relax with friends. A full day at work followed by an evening with your head in property books will become unproductive without taking time out every now and then.
Avoid last minute cramming in the days running up to the interview. If you don’t know certain things by then, you won’t know them by interview day.
Once you have entered your submissions, take some time off to recharge before your presentation.
Know how you revise best and don’t compare yourself to others
While some people learn best by spending a day in the library meticulously copying out notes, others prefer a couple of hours of late-night reading. We all revise differently and take in information at a difference pace, so it’s vital to figure out what works best for you. Avoid comparing yourself to others; it’s the end goal of achieving your APC that counts.
Spend more time on your Level 3 competencies
The APC comprises multiple competencies and you can choose to take a number of these at one of three levels of proficiency, with Level 3 being the highest. As you are not required to know each competency to the same level of depth, tailor your revision according to your chosen Level 3 focus areas. Mandatory competencies, such as health and safety and data protection will be taken at a lower level and although you still need to demonstrate a good knowledge of the basics for these Level 1 pathways, for Level 3, you will need to provide examples of work you have undertaken and advice you have given to your clients.
Keep calm on interview day
If your assessment is scheduled for the morning, stay in the hotel the night before. Worrying about late trains and crowded tubes will only add to your nerves. Instead, opt for a stress-free morning with time to iron your outfit and browse the breakfast buffet.
Run through your presentation on the morning of your assessment
During the morning, run through your presentation once so that it is fresh in your mind. If you have a friend doing their assessment on the same day, team up and watch each other. Your presentation should run for 10 minutes, following which there will be a 10-minute Q&A on its content. You will then be quizzed for 35 minutes on your competencies and a further five minutes on workplace ethics.
Celebrate after your presentation
The final stages of the APC process can be challenging and waiting seven days for your results can be particularly daunting and stressful. Either way, celebrate after you have finished your assessment. Don’t worry about your results and relax. You’ve earnt it!
If you would like to get in touch with Dan, please contact him:
email@example.com or +44 (0)20 7344 2661