Taking the AICP Exam
The testing windows for the AICP Exam are every May and November, with applications typically due 5 to 6 months in advance. The most current information is available at: http://www.planning.org/certification/. For questions regarding the AICP Exam, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a first person perspective on applying and studying for the exam, check out the thoughts of Megan Lehman, AICP.
Studying for the AICP Exam
The PA Chapter’s Professional Development Committee (PDC) offers several different forms of help to those studying for the AICP Exam. These include a spring in-person prep session (typically held in Spring and Fall), free online materials, and study manuals available to borrow or purchase, as well as links to additional websites for further guidance.
As a complement to the Certification Maintenance (CM) focused Chapters, Divisions, and Universities webinar series, several webinars focused on AICP exam prep were conducted in 2012 and 2013. Experienced instructors from the Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina chapters presented these sessions. Recordings of 7 individuals sessions, all including “AICP Exam Review Series” as part of their title, are available on the Planning Webcast YouTube Channel.
Free Online Materials
The PA Chapter and its PDC have developed a set of study notes to help planners who are preparing to take the AICP Exam. The notes are based on several sources and address case law, theory, planning processes, public participation techniques, urban design, housing, budgeting, growth management techniques, zoning, subdivision/land development ordinances, transportation planning, recreation planning, economic development, environmental issues, quantitative analysis techniques, and demographics. The notes are a comprehensive starting point for someone preparing for the AICP Exam, and were compiled over several years by Lee Slusser and Dave McFarland, and were last updated in 2007. Many thanks to those who contributed to these notes.
Other Online Study Materials
Prepare for the Exam
- AICP Guide: Registering and Taking the Exam for everything you need to know about scheduling your appointment, requesting an exam transfer, and ID requirements
- Contact your Chapter Professional Development Officer for information, advice and additional resources
- Map out your study plan: Review the exam content outline to understand the scope of the exam and make an initial determination of areas on which you should focus. The percentages indicated for the major exam topic areas approximate the number of questions addressing that topic in the exam question pool. Balance your exam preparation accordingly.
- Given the breadth of information covered by the exam, studying over a period of multiple months is recommended.
- Formulate a study plan — where, when, and how often to study, and what resources you need to properly prepare. Revisit your study plan as you progress and revise as necessary.
- The AICP Certification Exam has been developed to be taken by a national audience and focuses on a wide array of planning topics. When developing your plan, concentrate on planning knowledge, principles, and practices that are applied nationally, rather than those unique to a region, state, or locality.
- Attend an exam prep training: Pennsylvania Chapter holds a full-day AICP exam prep session in early spring, stay tuned for more information. We provide detail on the application process, exam content, and testing tips. The depth of these offerings varies, with some chapters offering multi-session prep courses.
The videos linked below are from the Exam Prep workshop at NPC19. This two-hour workshop is available in six parts:
- Welcome Remarks and Exam Prep Tips
- Fundamental Planning Knowledge (25% of exam content)
- Plan Making and Implementation (30% of exam content)
- Areas of Practice (30% of exam content)
- Leadership, Administration and Management (5% of exam content)
- AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (10% of exam content)
- Access online resources: Some resources are available online. Online research can be particularly useful for exam content that is a weakness in your background.
The following resources are useful starting points provided by APA:
- PAS Reports
- Planning magazine
- Selected Resources: AICP Certification Exam
- APA Policy Guides
- AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
- National Planning Pioneers
- Planning and Law Division Foundational Land Use Law Cases
- Chapter Presidents Council Exam Prep History Timeline
- American Planning History Since 1900 — This free resource was developed for individuals interested in the planning field. Although it is an engaging and useful resource, be aware that it is not a comprehensive list of historical milestones in planning.
- Familiarize yourself with taking an exam: In addition to studying concepts and facts, it is important to feel comfortable with the testing experience itself. Practice exams will familiarize you with the structure and flow of exam questions and help identify areas of knowledge that need additional study. Do NOT use example questions as the sole source of facts and knowledge you need to pass the exam, and keep in mind that non-APA source questions may not closely approximate the structure of actual exam questions.