Preparing to sit your Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) can seem a daunting experience – but never fear, because last year’s APC honour roll candidates have advice to help make your preparations less traumatising, and we will be sharing that advice with you in this two-part series.
“You already have technical skills from the ITC exam, and soft skills from articles so, in a way, you have been preparing for the APC since university,” says Jashine. “The pre-released information guides you on what you need to learn, which means preparing for the APC exam is significantly less volume than the ITC.”
She suggests immersing yourself in the professional programmes and attempting each case study as though it were the final exam. She found keeping up with APT’s professional programme, which ran from April to October, more than enough preparation. The programme is structured in such a way that you work through five case studies, with the APC exam effectively serving as the sixth case study.
Pay special attention to the marking grids to identify highly competent indicators, as well as focus on how to research the industry effectively, linking that information back to the entity in the pre-released information and incorporating it into your solution.
A critical part of successful APC is your team. “Select a small team who you work well with and who you can depend on to attend meetings and contribute to the tasks,” she says.
For Darryl, the fact that the APC simulates and assesses what happens in the real working world means that you need to hone your competency framework skills and focus on areas or ‘triggers’ that you identify in the scenarios of the case studies.
Because the ITC focuses on technical knowledge and skills, and the APC is more practical, the importance of your team cannot be underestimated. “You’ve got to have a good team with diverse backgrounds in different fields because this will provide you with greater insights and will result in richer responses,” he comments.
As such, he says, the earlier you start thinking about and selecting your team, the better. “You need a team that you trust and that you can rely on.”
Graham says the most important tip he can give trainees preparing for the APC exam is to focus less on the technical aspects of the question and rather focus on the audience you are addressing and using the appropriate language and tone in responding to the questions.
The exam’s format means that little preparation is required before the pre-release period apart from attending and completing either the UCT or APT professional programmes. “I do not advise any technical studying prior to the pre-release period, other than the Continuing Professional Development updates offered by the respective programmes,” he comments. “I can, however, suggest that each candidate take a day or two leave before the pre-release period to get some rest and mentally prepare for the exam.”
Time management, planning and communications skills are also vital abilities that you should work on enhancing before the exam because all the questions need to be answered to give yourself a chance of passing – so plan your time well.
“Lastly, I would highly recommend taking part in the eWriting pilot as typing rather than writing saved me time, and allowed me to edit my responses throughout the exam,” he says.
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