Over the course of his studies, Ezel Reshad frequently attended RICS training advisor surgeries and other DeLever APC training events. Ezel recently passed the APC and has now achieved his goal of becoming a chartered surveyor. Here, he talks to Jon Lever about his experience of the APC and final assessment
When I was asked to write an article about my APC experience, my first thought was where to begin. Anyone with an assignment to complete or a report to write will be familiar with the gently blinking cursor and the totally blank screen staring back at them. After a while sat like this, it struck me; not knowing where to begin was in fact the perfect place to begin.
When I decided to enrol on the APC I did so full of enthusiasm. You fill in the form online and wait for the envelope (or e-mail) to land on your desk. You start reading about the process and all that it entails and promptly realise, in my case at least, that the APC is quite a challenge. It involves:
- recording progress;
- writing up your competencies;
- appointing a supervisor and counsellor;
- having meetings with your supervisor and counsellor;
- gaining the required amount of CPD;
- collating revision material;
- rewriting your competencies;
- picking a case study;
- changing your case study;
- going back to your original case study;
- writing and rewriting your case study; and
- so on and so forth. You get the idea.
A helping hand
It is very easy to become overwhelmed early on, either by complacency or by not approaching the task at hand in a logical manner.
Trying to do too much at once may result in the standard of your work not being your best. And not treating the APC with the respect it demands is also going to lead you into trouble. Knowing where to begin is the trick, and for that I turned to the free service provided by the RICS – RICS Training Advisor (RTA) surgeries.
Jon Lever, who delivers them in my region, happens to be the same person who trains all of the RICS APC assessors and has done for many years, so any nuggets of wisdom were straight from the horse’s mouth.
At the RTA surgeries I was given the opportunity to ask questions in a pressure-free and casual environment, go through my documents and even deliver my presentation. Participants include some who have just registered, those halfway through, those just about to sit, and in some cases those who have been referred. The advice I got at the surgeries was invaluable, and I strongly recommend any candidate to get to the surgeries as often as possible.
Work-life balance challenges
One of the hardest things about going through the APC was balancing the amount of work I had to do for it with my day-to-day job and my personal life.
If you are thinking of embarking on your own APC journey, this should be given careful consideration before you commit. During my APC I bought a house, got married and saw my job role change markedly. Anyone who has been through any or all of these life events will know how much of your time they can take up.
When you consider the amount of revision involved in the months leading up to the interview (I was revising four hours a day during the week and six hours a day at the weekend), you can appreciate how easily you can fall behind and end up compromising one aspect of your life for the other. Unfortunately, with the APC, robbing Peter to pay Paul just won’t work.
As a local authority employee I also found it slightly more difficult than some of my private sector colleagues to get my competencies to the required higher levels. The best way I heard it described was that, in my sector, my experience was a mile wide and a foot deep. The flip side of this in the private sector is that candidates sometimes struggle to get the breadth of experience required.
Plan early on with your supervisor and counsellor how you will gain the required experience, and make sure you read your pathway guide. As a quantity surveyor, my guide was very thorough, and I referred to it right up to the night before my interview.
With regard to the APC Final Assessment interview, I will say this: it is brutal. Don’t get me wrong, your panel of assessors will be polite, courteous and very professional – but there is nowhere to hide.
If there is a weakness in your ability and experience they will find it, no matter how well put together your documentation is, or how brilliant your presentation. The three assessors represent probably close to 60 or more years of combined experience in their professional fields. They have been there and done that, and are on that panel to ensure that if you do get through, you are a “safe pair of hands” and are worthy of your RICS chartered status.
I strongly recommend you have at least one mock interview. I had two, both provided by Jon Lever’s colleagues at DeLever. In my first mock I was asked 108 questions within 50 minutes. I was under-prepared and over-confident. Needless to say, it was a train wreck, which gave me the proverbial kick up the backside. I left humbled and knowing that I needed to get my act together.
The second mock took place about four weeks before my real final assessment interview and went much better. I can confidently say that without participating in mock interviews the already daunting process of walking into that interview room with the panel of assessors waiting for me would have gone from being nerve-wracking to inducing full-on panic, which no doubt would have heavily compromised my performance. My actual presentation and interview went by in a blur of questions and answers in what seemed like 10 minutes, rather than one hour.
Perhaps the hardest part for me was that the panel gave nothing away. No encouraging nods, smiles, or knowing glances to each other when I had said something daft. The week after my interview waiting for the results e-mail was one of the longest in my life. I was convinced I would be referred, and was mentally preparing myself for the blow, when the e-mail landed saying “well done”. Knowing it was over was a huge relief. I felt euphoric.
Worth the work
On the whole, I found the APC an extremely rewarding and enjoyable process.
The work and revision I did made me a more knowledgeable and complete professional. I became more valuable to my employer and to those around me who were still going through the APC, and my professional confidence went through the roof. I firmly believe that I am a better quantity surveyor because of it.
There were times when I felt frustrated, even angry after my first mock interview, but I stuck with it, worked hard and now hold the MRICS designation. Five little letters that represent hundreds of hours of work on my part but, more importantly, show the rest of the world that when you work with me in a professional capacity, you can trust that I do so within the highly professional and ethically minded framework set down by the RICS.
Was the APC worth it? Absolutely.
This online masterclass discusses key elements of the APC final assessment interview. Hints and tips at www.delever.co.uk
APC Final Assessment Competency Revision Workshop
This preparation day covers everything a candidate needs to know for the APC plus other useful resources: www.delever.co.uk
Supervisor and counsellor APC training/recordings – formal CPD
Guidance on how to appropriately manage and support candidates to get them through the APC. Free one to two hours of formal CPD:
APC Commercial Property Revision Guide
Every forward-thinking APC candidate’s reference book for APC preparation: www.delever.co.uk
APC Explained Masterclass
This helps candidates to understand what needs to be done to achieve the APC, including a walk-through of the DeLever APC process timeline and myAPC Diary: www.delever.co.uk
A subscription to this product can save candidates 60% of their day-to-day APC administration: www.apcdiary.com
Free A2 pictorial view of the APC process that can be used to track progress: www.delever.co.uk
RICS APC Guides
These should be read at least once every three to four months and fully understood. Candidates from outside the UK also need to check their regional websites for any local APC requirements: www.rics.org
Ezel Reshad MRICS is an assistant quantity surveyor in technical design services at A1 Housing Bassetlaw Ltd.
Jon Lever FRICS is the RICS UK licenced assessor trainer, a RICS regional training adviser, an APC chairman of assessors and a member of the RICS governing council. Follow Jon on Twitter @deleverapc