Our APC trainer explains how to deal with referral reporting and the RICS templates, including writing deficiency reports and how to change competencies

The issue of how to deal with referral reporting and the RICS templates was raised the other day. I was asked: “I am a referred candidate and I am resubmitting. From the RICS templates I understand I am supposed to resubmit my previous submission. My previous submission was poor with a lot of mistakes and I have since changed one of my competencies since my last referral and moving firms. Can you give me some guidance how I should approach my referral reporting?”

Here is my advice:

Writing your referral deficiency reports
Initially I would follow the RICS requirements as stated in template two of the RICS APC final assessment templates (version two), where it requires you to submit all of your previous documentation (identical to the submission you made for the assessment you were referred at) and then update your referral deficiency report in template seven and eight only. I will put this into context, which I think it will probably explain the advice a little better.

First, the referral period does not require any further diary recording or log books to be submitted. If you want to keep a separate copy of your final assessment templates and keep a continuing record of your experience and log books since your referral, for your own personal benefit, then so be it, but do not submit any further information from templates one to six to the next assessment panel.

Also, templates one to six of your previous submission were where you have been tested and referred against. Therefore it is probably best not to return to these, as the referral report should identify specific areas of deficiency relevant to that documentation in its current form. If you were to revisit these templates, then there is the likelihood that the referral report would not stack up for the next assessment panel and that has the potential to work against you. So, ultimately, this is where template seven and eight (deficiency reports) give you the opportunity to rectify and record your deficiency and skills gaps and turn the whole thing around so you can shine for the next assessment panel.

My advice is that you only need to write in template seven against the specific competencies that you were referred upon (and were noted in your referral report). However if your original template six was a little poor last time and you wish to rectify this, as far as I am concerned I think it would be a clever move to rewrite your whole experience record again into template seven ensuring that you amend and improve the areas where you were deficient.

I would also give the same advice for template eight, where you have to record a further six months, 24 hours, professional development. This gives you the opportunity to improve your professional development selection and breadth to highlight any deficiencies that you may have had last time. That said, a good stance for any referral candidate is to ensure that the professional development closely mirrors the specific areas of deficiency (as noted in the referral report) so that the next panel can see that you have thought carefully about the areas of referral and made every attempt to fill gaps to the best of your ability.

Changing competencies between assessments
If you were considering changing a competency from your first assessment to the second assessment this may pose a trickier situation.

First, I would suggest that you open a new version of the RICS final assessment templates (version two) and put in your new competency list in template three, making your competency changes. This will then feed through to template seven and you will then be in a position to write about your newly added/substituted competency.

I ought to also point out that there is not much time between your referral and the submission dates for the next assessment and I would question (but not discount) whether this period of time is sufficient for you to have obtained sufficient experience to be able to put forward a new competency. It is a question likely to be on the assessors mind, too, so you need to make sure you are doing the right thing here and are 100% sure you can support the new competency to the correct minimum level if questioned about it.

Changing competency does, however, present you with another problem of when and how you get this competency signed off as it is not part of your previous documentation and signed off for your first assessment.

I would suggest the following:

Using RICS final assessment templates, version two, update June 2009

1. Submit templates three to six from your existing referred assessment documentation UNCHANGED

2. Amend template one to say referred and fill in the information gaps.

3. Amend template two - select from the checklist dropdown the correct option to register you are a referred candidate and note that the checklist automatically updates itself giving a revised list of information that you need to submit for your next assessment.

4. Open a new copy of the templates and update template three, the competency list, to show you have made a new competency selection

5. Write your deficiency report in your new copy, in template seven, and include your new competency, making sure you have rectified all of the referral items and also written in full the new experience relevant to your new competency to the minimum required levels.

6. Complete template eight in your new copy of the final assessment templates

7. Amend your critical analysis accordingly, whether you need to write a new one or submit the previous one duly updated

As the above could seem confusing, I would be tempted to put a covering letter on your new final assessment submission explaining to the assessment panel what you have done so that they will understand your choice / logic and will therefore not make the wrong assumptions.

I wish you all the best with your next final assessment.