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6 top tips if you've been referred

countdown to APC no text

It's a difficult time of year for some RICS APC candidates who have put a great deal of work in during the build up to their RICS APC final assessment and find they have been referred. It's important to remember that the RICS use this language for a reason - it's not failure, it's a referral to the next session to try again.

This means that in that final assessment the panel did not feel the candidate fully met the competencies as described in the pathway guide. It means, try again when you have more experience. It does not mean you will never be a chartered surveyor.

Some candidates find this very difficult, professionally embarrassing, and quite frankly heart-breaking. It feels like rejection and a slap in the face.

But it isn't. It just means not now.

The assessors have a wealth of criteria to follow laid down in writing by the RICS Professional Boards; this decision to refer does not mean you are a bad surveyor or a bad person, however personally you might feel it at the time.

Here are my five top tips to help you through this difficult hiccup in your surveying career:

1. Be angry
It's okay to shout and swear (but not at people!), go and do it on a long walk. Get some fury out of your system.

2. Analyse
When you have calmed down (and you will) sit down with your counsellor and look at the referral report, the pathway guide, and your final submission. Ask yourself what you can do differently. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Don't just resubmit and try again without any changes; you may get the same result
  • Try to put aside your feelings about the referral report and not get distracted by any minor errors, and take on board the advice - that's what it's there for
  • Consider changing competencies and levels (look at optional plus carefully)
  • Consider changing pathways - there is a lot more crossover than you think
  • Consider asking to work in a different team to gain more varied experience or, if this is not possible, consider changing jobs
  • Get some support - contact LionHeart and seek a professional APC coach
  • Practise final assessment techniques such as competency-based interviewing, presenting and writing clear summary of experience and competency evidence
  • Have a good quality mock interview with experienced and supportive assessment panel

3. Consider whether further action is needed
In a genuinely calamitous interview, there may have been a process error. You may appeal if you were unable to demonstrate competence because the process was not followed - for example the interview timing is not the expected 60 minutes (from start of presentation) or the assessors had the wrong documents. You cannot appeal against the panel's decision, only that it was not as per the candidate's guide. Appeals are £100, on a specific form and there is a time limit of 21 days from referral report - details here

4. Gain some perspective
After some natural time to mourn the outcome you had hoped for, try and reframe the situation - find a silver lining. Maybe a new job or some new skills. Ask yourself honestly - was I ready? Take a holiday or a break if you can.

5. Declare special needs
You should let RICS know if the assessors need to make any adjustments for anxiety or any other health needs (medical evidence is required). You can declare any educational special needs to enable the assessors to make reasonable adjustments, for example, allowing extra time.

6. Consider alternative RICS qualification
There is an AssocRICS qualification which still enables candidates to qualify as an RICS professional at a different level with a written only assessment. This can be a useful stepping stone to build confidence.

And finally...
Remember that it's a professional assessment and not a personal one. It's natural and normal to be devastated. It shows how much you care. Allow yourself to experience the emotions so that when you are ready you can move forward to try again.

It's not how you fall down that matters, it's how you get back up.


Alongside being a LionHeart trustee, Kate Taylor FRICS is an experienced RICS APC Assessor, APC auditor, RICS UK APC Appeal Panel and Chairperson with a passion for professional development. Kate is also the author of the Commercial and Residential Property Quick Start Revision Guides and the Estates Gazette 'Pathway to Success' APC series, and has previously been involved in updating the valuation, residential and commercial real estate pathways with the RICS Education Standards Board.

  • If you've been referred, you might be interested in LionHeart's  Wellbeing for APC Referral webinar. There will be further live sessions planned in autumn but you can view or download a recorded version here

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