Preparation for APC

Source: These notes were first released in June 2001.

1. Preparation before the examination

  1. Understand common practice
  2. Understand reasons behind common practice
  3. Understand possible deviations from common practice
  4. Understand reasons for deviations from common practice
  5. Distinguish between good practice from bad practice
  6. Understand that own office standard may not necessarily be reasonable practice or common practice
  7. Read more and read wide
  8. Read trade newsletters and journals
  9. Read general newspaper
  10. Watch out issues affecting the industry and the society
  11. Watch out new development in technology affecting the industry and the society
  12. Study real examples done by colleagues and others
  13. Base answers on good practice and be practical

2. Documents to be brougt into the examination hall

  1. Suites of standard form of contracts and sub-contracts for both Building and Civil Engineering Works
  2. Standard Method of Measurement for both Building and Civil Engineering Works
  3. Sample cost estimates
  4. Sample bills of quantities complete with preliminaries and preambles
  5. Sample specification
  6. Sample financial reports
  7. Sample final accounts
  8. Sample insurance policies, bonds, warranties, guarantees
  9. Usual reference books (citation of names of court cases would be impressive but not necessarily useful)
  10. HKIS Newsletters and Journals

3. Understanding the questions

  1. Number of points being asked
  2. Any tricky points
  3. Any tricky words
  4. Be careful about the relative time and dates

4. Time allocation

  1. Answer all the required number of questions and their sub-questions
  2. Observe that length of answers should be proportional to the number of marks
  3. Do not write excessively long for sub-questions with very few marks
  4. Reserve time to proof read final answers

5. Writing down brief points

  1. Address each number of points being asked with a few points (i.e. more than one) of answers
  2. Try to imagine similar situation, use common sense to judge, when faced with something that you do not know or do not have experience

6. Presentation

  1. Present the answers in the form of a letter, a fax, an email or a report as requested by the questions
  2. Give date, addressee, project title, subject matter, greetings, signature, c.c., cover page, contents page, as appropriate
  3. Present answers as written drafts ready for typing
  4. Do not be afraid to use cut and paste, stapling, crossing out, etc. in order to catch up time
  5. Do not use correction ink

7. Calculations

  1. Do not prepare a detailed cost estimate when a cost per m2 estimate is suffice
  2. Give priority to correct approach, format, formula, consistency in values, relative differentials, rather than spending too much time on improving the accuracy of individually insignificant figures
  3. Check arithmetic
  4. Check transferring
  5. Feel that the totals and proportions are making sense

8. Expanding points

  1. Set out the points logically, systematically
  2. Be as concise and precise as possible
  3. Be straight-forward and relevant
  4. Be fair and reasonable
  5. Watch out conflicting answers
  6. Do not write things that you do not really understand
  7. Say less rather than say wrongly
  8. Do not just list out all the points you remember from the textbooks
  9. Do not include information just to show your knowledge on contracts
  10. Do not just cite the name of court cases and give conclusion to the issue discussed
  11. Do not cause the assessors to check the casebooks
  12. Avoid putting in answers which are not realistic due to practical reasons or nature of project
  13. Do not be afraid to state reservations

9. Tact and sensitivity

  1. Be diplomatic, avoid upsetting or creating embarrassment to your business partners in your answers
  2. Do not downgrade the usefulness and contribution of other professions and occupations
  3. Do not simply say that this is outside your scope of work, when you are asked to give opinion on matters which are not entirely QS matters. Try to offer considered and helpful opinion but also qualify that the matters should also be reviewed by other more competent people, like architects, engineers, lawyers, insurance consultants, etc.

10. Assumptions

  1. Make reasonable assumptions
  2. State all necessary assumptions, which are usually expected to be given in formal answers, explicitly in the answers
  3. State that certain assumptions are subject to technical input or comments from other consultants
  4. Do not make assumptions just to make answers easy or avoid answering the real issues (Duck-outs)

11. Backups

  1. Do not repeat in the backups information that has been adequately covered in the front answers, assessors' task will be easier
  2. Avoid inclusion in backups some points conflicting with the front answers, without valid argument
  3. Use backups to show your thinking process and evaluation between different options before putting forward the selected single option in the front answers

12. Giving conclusions

  1. Give simple conclusions to various views or points expressed

13. Giving recommendations

  1. Do not just list out all the pros and cons
  2. Give your recommendation to solve the problems posed to you
  3. Give sensible recommendations
  4. Give practical solutions
  5. Watch out that things theoretically or contractually correct may not be practically good solutions
  6. Give theoretically or contractually correct interpretation but at the same time do not be afraid to suggest practically good or commercially viable solutions

14. No "right" answer

  1. Note that there may not be absolutely right or wrong answers
  2. Demonstrate that you have considered different possible interpretation or courses of actions, and explain why you would choose a particular one as your recommendation

15. What not to do

  1. Do not give answers to defeat the purposes and use of the QS profession
  2. Do not give answers to suggest that other professions or occupations are more superior
  3. Do not collude
  4. Do not show the name of yourself or your company in the paper

16. Proof reading

  1. Watch out conflicting views
  2. Watch out reversed meaning due to inclusion or omission of negative words like "no", "not", etc.
  3. Watch out empty spaces with missing words that you have blocked out by correction ink

17. English

  1. Be simple
  2. Use correct tense
  3. Observe grammar
  4. Avoid usual errors
  5. Number sub-paragraphs for clarity

18. What and what not to enclose

  1. Include in the submission all front answers and backups to your answers
  2. State the standard form of contract and the method of measurement used and do not enclose them
  3. Arrange the front answers and backups systematically to show the flow of your thinking process and to assist the assessors to follow the logic of your answers
  4. Any special notes to assessors should be given at the front of your submission
  5. Enclose only relevant information
  6. Do not enclose irrelevant information for the sake of making your submissions look more informative

19. Attending interview

  1. Be calm
  2. Smile
  3. Be confident
  4. Give clear expression
  5. Give reasonable length of response
  6. Share past experience
  7. Observe professional conduct
  8. Be fair and reasonable
  9. Show continuing professional development
  10. Do not change profession