As Easy As A.P.C

Top tips for achieving your chartership

Manny Chahal – Senior Quantity Surveyor


Tuesday 4th December 2018 is likely to be an insignificant date for most people. For me, however, it was the day that a peculiar email notification appeared on my phone: ‘Dear Mr Chahal, it is our great pleasure to congratulate you…’ read the short preview. At first I thought I had ‘won’ another foreign lottery but, on reading beyond the first line, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a notification from the RICS informing me of my new status as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor!

The sense of relief was unbelievable. All of the late night revision sessions, presentation rehearsals and stressful mock assessments had paid off!

I found the whole APC process a real eye opener in terms of the breadth of knowledge and high standards required to be a member of the RICS. It is a challenge that cannot be taken lightly and will require your full dedication. Here are a few tips I learnt along the way…


Tip 1: Fail To Plan = Plan To Fail

It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Treat your APC as if it was a construction project. Create a simple programme, working back from your intended assessment date. Plot your document submissions, mock assessments, weekly revision topics, sign off meetings and the deadlines for your experience summaries. This will allow you, your supervisor and your counsellor to monitor your progress and keep you on track. As with any programme, be sure to allow some float!

Tip 2: Know Your Submission

Your submission documents will form the basis of your questioning, so be sure to familiarise yourself with every page. I recommend reading your submission as part of your revision and try to anticipate any questions you may be asked. In my assessment, I was quizzed on a CPD I had attended over a year before!

Tip 3: Get The Right Support

The team at Base is incredibly diverse in terms of experience and skill set. Leading up to my final assessment, I ensured that I was questioned by as many of my colleagues as possible – several of whom are RICS assessors. Challenging yourself to undergo questioning from multiple people of varying backgrounds and expertise will allow you to prepare for any eventuality and help you to become a more well-rounded candidate.

I also recommend forming a study group with other APC candidates on your team. My group would often meet to practice presentations, answer questions and raise any revision queries we had. Tackling your revision as part of a team in this way will definitely help in what can otherwise be a very overwhelming process.

Tip 4: Practice Makes Perfect

You will have a strict 10 minute window to deliver your case study presentation. The assessors will not hesitate to stop you if you go over this time, therefore it is vital that you practice your presentation as much as possible. Ensure that your delivery is clear and concise and be conscious of how much time you’re spending on different sections of the presentation. There is no point in a lengthy introduction if it means you have to rush your conclusion!

In the Interview…

Tip 5: Answer The Question

Sounds obvious, right? Yet when the pressure is on, many of us have a tendency to waffle without actually answering the question. Think about what the assessor is looking for. For example, they may be asking you about liquidated damages without explicitly using those words. If you’re unclear on what is being asked, you can seek clarification from the assessor.

Tip 6: Take A Second

In the assessment, questions can come thick and fast and it can feel as though the expectation is to provide a response just as quickly. Taking a few seconds to think will allow you to gather your thoughts and structure your answer. Just be careful not to hesitate for too long as this can indicate a lack of knowledge and may not fill the assessors with confidence.

Tip 7: Use Your Notepad

If you’re struggling to answer a question, note it down. You may have a few minutes at the end of the assessment to revisit it. You can also use your notepad to explain your answer. I was asked to describe the difference between contiguous and secant piling. Under pressure, I struggled to find the right words but then used my notepad to sketch out and describe the piling techniques.

Tip 8: Positive Thinking, Positive Outcome

Finally, try your best to approach the assessment with a positive mindset. The worst-case scenario is a referral, in which case the experience will serve as a great form of revision and, when you come to re-sit, you’ll already know what to expect on the day. Before knocking on the interview room door just remember how hard you’ve worked to get to that point. It’s YOUR assessment – own it!