Your case study is one of the most pivotal sections in your APC submission. It is a major component in terms of quantity, as the basis of your ten-minute presentation and the subsequent questioning.
An ideal project will have drawn on your professionalism to consider key issues and options, then make recommendations for resolution. You should have a choice of projects that you are working on so you can evaluate which are best for your APC.
You will spend time and effort preparing the submission and presentation, so focus on your project with the greatest potential. A good starting point is to evaluate your projects against the APC Candidate guide to eliminate those that fail to meet the criteria, then reassess the remainder as they progress for your best choice.
Sometimes the project that you had the highest hopes for falls by the wayside or fails to meet the criteria in some way; it helps to have an alternative project as a contingency. Be proactive in gaining advice and guidance from your APC supervisor and counsellor when selecting your case study.
What could you look for in selecting your project? First, you should ensure the project is within two years of your APC submission date. Many candidates select a project where they are actively involved within one year of the submission date – if they are on the two-year structured training route they are likely to be given more responsibility in this second year, so it will be fresher in their mind and in certain circumstances it might be re-used if they are referred.
Second, if you provided reasoned advice on Building Surveying Level 3 core competency matters, then it has potential. Ideally, you will have identified the project early on as one where you are likely to be personally involved at Level 3.
Third, if your project has two or three key issues that relate to your Building Surveying competencies then it starts to look very promising. These will vary by project; examples include building defect investigation and repair, redesigning a refurbishment due to a client change, or the selection and specification of a product.
There should be meaningful options to consider when determining how the key issue should be resolved. If you had to research or reflect on an event in order to reach a reasoned decision on the project then this could be a key issue. Where you had already identified the project early on as a possible case study then it is a great help if you note key issues as they arise so you can select from these and have a ready-made aide memoire.
If you feel there are no meaningful key issues or options then do discuss the project or projects, key issues and options with your supervisor, counsellor or others involved in the projects; they may provide useful suggestions or advise you towards another project.
When preparing the 3,000-word case study, it can be tempting to select more than one project and also three key issues. While the 3,000-word limit is usually easily reached, the challenge is often to provide the clarity, accuracy and detail. This can limit your demonstration of the issues, decision-making ability, reasoned judgement and so on. Do take your supervisor’s or counsellor’s advice on the number of projects and key issues to cover. You may have a valid need for more than one project and three key issues.
Many case studies are on a single project and two key issues. Using two instead of three allows more detail, which should enhance clarity while helping you to keep to the word limit. An additional benefit of a single project and two key issues is in your ten-minute presentation, as it will also allow you more time per issue.
Once selected, then make the case study your own. It is a key part of the APC in representing you and your work, so take pride in its preparation and the chance to show assessors your professionalism.
Ewan Craig is an APC assessor, APC coach and local director with Right Surveyors
This article originally appeared in RICS Built Environment Journal April/May 2019 titled The case in hand