The ARA’s assessors play a vital role in ensuring applications for Foundation and Registered Membership, and Fellowship of the ARA, meet the required standards. The feedback they provide after each assessment is vital in ensuring we continue to provide applicants with the best advice and guidance available.
Here are some top tips to give your application the best chance of success.
Make it personal: avoid using the passive voice and collective ‘we’ when writing the content for your competency forms. Remember you are trying to convince the assessors how your experience meets the required levels in your chosen competencies. Make absolutely clear what you were responsible for. Avoid general statements such a ‘we aim to change the policy’ or ‘improvements were made’. Instead say ‘I suggested the following policy change to my line manager, who agreed to implement it’ or ‘I initiated a training programme to improve staff skills in . . . ‘
Keep it clear and brief: ensure the content of your competency forms clearly demonstrates how you meet the required levels of experience in your chosen competencies. This is what the assessors are looking for. Keep the supporting information brief (summaries only please) and ensure that it is validated as appropriate. Supporting information should only be used to validate or support content.
Use key words: these are provided in the programme guide (section 1.2, page 4 & 5), and will help the assessor to judge the level of competency demonstrated in your application. For example, ‘I managed the process’ ‘I formulated the policy’ ‘I negotiated for resources’.
Be specific: give examples to back up the content in your competency forms, eg ‘I sought to identify and address potential sources of conflict, for example, by explaining in person to the whole team the reasons for new work procedures’.
Reflection: ensure that the reflection part of the competency form is informed by the activities described, and your development as a result.
Supporting information: this validates or substantiates the content used in each competency form. So make clear what each piece of information it is being used to demonstrate, and what role you took in creating it. For example, an extract or document setting out a policy might be used by you to demonstrate your skills in communicating a well-established policy to colleagues or service users, or it might be used to demonstrate a policy which you developed and negotiated acceptance of.
Read the guidance and blog posts: make sure you have read and understood the programme guidance before you enrol onto your chosen programme. Check this blog regularly, as each assessment round provides our assessors with new insights and feedback to offer candidates.
Check and check again: assessors will consider spelling and presentation, so please don’t rush your application. Spelling mistakes and poor presentation will have a negative outcome on the decision if an application is considered a borderline pass.
Seek support from your mentor: if your application is unsuccessful, discuss the assessor feedback with your mentor, reflect on the advice and prepare for your next assessment! Take your time, work with your mentor, and ensure your application is the best it can be. Unsuccessful candidates will have to pay a second assessment fee if they reapply.