The six most common mistakes APC candidates make – and how to avoid them

Passing your APC starts long before you sit your Final Assessment, says Danny Medcalf FRICS. With the right training and experience you can avoid the most frequent pitfalls.

“Ultimately, it all boils down to preparation,” says Danny Medcalf FRICS. “There’s a reason why the initials MRICS are so respected and that’s because passing your APC really is a sign that you’ve earned your stripes.”

As an APC Chairman, assessor, auditor and appeal panellist, Danny can recognise – and help to avoid – the common mistakes candidates make. “My advice is also based on 35 years’ experience of property, construction and management.”

Danny has highlighted the mistakes he often sees and gives his advice on overcoming them.

Danny Medcalf FRICS


1. Not spending enough time on your submission

Far too often, I see candidates who have failed to devote sufficient time to their submission documents, in particular the 1,500-word mandatory and 4,000-word technical competencies. Because these summarise your experience, as well as your diary, case study and CPD records, you need to prepare them over a period of several months. Remember, they have to be composed exactly to the APC’s requirements. There are models to follow online and RICS training to help you ensure you hit the bespoke format. Surveying is all about the details, so don’t fall down at the first hurdle.

2. Trying to go it alone

A helping hand along the way is vital and you only really get that from counsellors and supervisors who are completely APC savvy. It’s not just about seeking advice from expert surveyors but from APC-aware professionals. Counsellors and supervisors now have to do training to support candidates, so they’ll be even better placed to support. I’d also recommend seeking help from people who’ve done the APC themselves. Attend networking groups, remain curious and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

3. Not covering enough detail in the submission

It’s essential to show you have broad, hands-on experience that covers the key competencies. Your entire written submission is your vehicle to demonstrate you have knowledge and understanding, real-life experience and the ability to advise. If you can’t demonstrate this – in your document and in person – you will be referred. RICS’ Preparing for the Case Study course is a great way to be fully conversant with what’s required and will give you confidence before submitting your documents.

4. Lack of business skills and ethics knowledge

In parallel with your technical skills, you need to show a deep understanding of business skills as well. These form the basis of your mandatory competencies submission and must cover topics such as communication and negotiation, business planning, sustainability and accounting principles. Strong knowledge of RICS’ Rules of Conduct is essential too. You can sail through your assessment but this 10-minute section about the rules of the Institution is critical. If you don’t know what RICS stands for as an organisation, you won’t pass. There are online resources where you can read RICS’ Rules, and the Preparing for Final Assessment course is fantastic for getting feedback if you think you are ready for the actual interview.

5. Not practising the presentation enough

The ability to confidently, but not cockily, deliver a 10-minute presentation is so important. I’d recommend you practise it between 30 and 40 times with family or friends and your counsellor before you have the interview. If you can deal with the questions and get through the presentation, you’re halfway through the interview. Make eye contact. Be engaging. Show them the problems you’ve had to solve and how you’ve got to grips with the key issues.

6. Not knowing your written submission inside out

Your submission document consists of your summary of experience, case study, CPD record and log book. It’s not enough to write this brilliantly – you have to articulate every aspect of it brilliantly too, and make sure you know it inside out. This is absolutely critical – we don’t want to see any blank stares in the interview when we’re asking you questions. Be prepared to answer questions on everything in your submission because that’s what forms the basis of the assessment.

NB. Knowing every line of your submission inside out will enhance your confidence during that critical final interview hour!

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