How To SOPE + Logbook Advice

For all the lovely people who are going for registration in the first round of 2020 and also for those who come after; we have rustled every tree, chased every bone, and finally found what you have been asking for!

We know that going for registration is often a confusing time for candidates; with at least 3300 hours under your belt, you set out to complete your logbook reviewing a mountain of documentation all before you even fill out your submission or write your statement of practical experience (SOPE). This time is often overwhelming and it can be very upsetting when you receive word that your application has been unsuccessful with little more than a letter noting which criteria you haven’t achieved and no real feedback on your submission.

Recently we approached an experienced architect who has been an examiner for several years, reviewing Part 1 Logbooks and SOPE’s as well as undertaking Part 3 Interviews. To demystify the process we asked them about what goes on behind closed doors and about how our esteemed colleagues determine if submissions pass or fail.



Assessors typically gather in a room and in a group setting review their allocated submissions against the AACA criteria. Troublesome submissions are flagged and discussed as a group as required. We asked our assessment expert what are the common pitfalls that applicants regularly make and they provided the following feedback.



‘Applicants are given license to set out their SOPE to their own “design” and expression. It’s often said if the SOPEs were based on a standard template they would be easier to complete reliably and also for examiners to assess but the freedom / responsibility for their set out is consciously given to the applicant as this is their opportunity to show, as professionals, they have the ability to communicate clearly in such a document.  This is still a formal document and should be expressed as a piece of professional writing. The use of tables, lists and diagrams can aid in distilling the key elements more readily than a large expanse of prose.

Because examiners will be reviewing many Part 1 APE documents in a sitting, all of which will be set out and expressed uniquely, it is therefore important that the SOPE clearly signposts which criteria are being represented against each project as well as clear evidence for them (i.e. so explaining what processes you undertook and what level of autonomy you had). One of the common errors I have come across is the attribution of experience against incorrect criteria (e.g claimed experience against 8.5 Identification and application of all relevant processes required for certification of monetary claims, project variations, extensions of time, project instructions or other administrative responsibilities under the contract provisions when what the candidate did was negotiate a fee variation for the architectural services).  Under these circumstances the time allotted for this experience would be deemed invalid.’



‘The Logbook software signals when you have passed the minimum hours required – this can lead to a candidate not logging experience they have achieved but do not feel they need to log.  This can lead to a logbook being submitted with a only a few hours over the 3300 which, should some hours be found to be incorrectly allocated (like the criteria 8.5 example above), can leave a candidate short of justified hours and result in a fail.

It is acknowledged that experience is not always easy to obtain, and many applicants are inclined to submit when they remain shy of key experience, even while having the minimum hours. The applicant should be convinced that directly after passing the exam they are capable of setting up their own practice or running someone else’s practice while they take leave.  Examiners will be considering this as part of the Part 3 exam experience of each candidate.

A key reference is also the AIA Acumen site which contains a number of valuable resources including the Practice Notes.  All applicants should be conversant with these before sitting the APE process and take advantage of the PALS course as well as scheduling “mock” interviews with experienced professionals and recently registered architects in order the prepare fully for the “experience” of the exams as well as the expected material content.  Many of us are only too happy to assist.’

We hope that the above advice comes in handy to everyone who is embarking on their registration journey and we at EmAGN wish you all the best in your APE adventure!

Don’t forget submissions close on the 20th of February.

Written by Sarah Ainsworth and Liehan Janse van Rensburg on behalf of EmAGN QLD