AICP Exam Application Tips

Watch an exam application tips video and read our 10 tips designed to give you a smooth exam application experience.


APA and the APA Florida Gold Coast Section partnered to produce a 26-minute presentation with detailed tips to guide you through the AICP exam application and verification process:

Download a PDF of the presentation above (pdf)

Tip 1

Before applying to take the exam, read the Exam Candidate Bulletin. It is your complete guide to submitting a successful application. Most applicants who are denied are denied based on items explicitly addressed in the bulletin. 

Tip 2

It pays to apply early:

  1. If you apply during the early bird window and your application is denied, you can address the issues and re-apply in the same exam window. This opportunity is available only for early bird applicants, so make sure to apply by the early bird registration deadline.
  2. The majority of applicants apply right before the registration deadline. The volume of applications received at this time means more applications to review and a longer wait time to receive your status. Testing centers fill up, and you may have difficulty finding one with availabilities. Apply early to avoid these stresses.

NOTE: To qualify as an early bird applicant you must have all of your verification documents submitted on or before the early bird registration deadline.

Tip 3

To ensure your verification letters will be accepted, provide your references with a copy of the sample job verification letter

Tip 4

Acceptable ways to verify your educational experience include:

  1. Providing a notarized diploma(s)
  2. Providing an official transcript(s) from your university

Tip 5

Focus on providing strong responses for the positions needed to meet the minimum eligibility requirements instead of writing responses for positions that are not needed to qualify. A complete job history is not required. 

Tip 6

Internship experience can count toward professional planning experience as long as the internship was not part of course work for a grade and the work experience meets the four criteria for professional planning experience listed in the AICP application.

Tip 7

Part-time professional planning experience can count toward professional planning experience.  Simply prorate that experience into a full-time equivalent. Similarly, persons working full time, but devoting a portion of their time to another field, may also prorate that experience into a full-time equivalent.

Tip 8

When responding to the AICP professional planning criteria:

  1. Read the "dos and don'ts" guidance provided on the Demonstrating Professional Planning Experience page, which describes each of the four criteria that all employment positions must meet to be accepted as professional planning experience.
  2. Make sure you write individual criterion responses for each employment position needed to meet the minimum experience requirements. Applicants who have held multiple positions with the same employer must address the four criteria separately for each position.
  3. Provide unique responses for each criterion and each position. Copied-and-pasted identical responses for different criteria pertaining to the same employment position or for the same criterion across different employment positions will not be accepted.
  4. Use the word "I" and speak directly to your role and responsibilities related to the project work described. Do not write about yourself in the third person. 
  5. Move beyond a discussion of project details and outcomes to discuss your role on the project(s) described. 
  6. Do not include information that does not qualify as professional planning experience. See the Exam Candidate Bulletin for a definition of what counts as professional planning experience.
  7. Do not include information in the criterion responses that is not tied to the particular position in question. The duties and projects included in the responses must be related to the position being verified.
  8. Planning is a collaborative process but make sure you do not speak entirely about what the team accomplished. Exam reviewers need to be able to determine your role on the projects described.

NOTE:  For a position to count toward the minimum eligibility requirements, the applicant must provide acceptable responses to all four criteria. 

Tip 9

Proofread your responses. Spelling and grammar errors can make it difficult for exam reviewers to evaluate the content of the responses.

Tip 10

Project managers or people with substantial experience in the field sometimes take for granted the application process. APA is concerned not only with the number of years of planning experience, but also with making sure the experience meets the established professional planning criteria. Experienced applicants should take care in making sure their responses meet each established professional planning criterion. For example, managers or directors should use examples that demonstrate their planning experience, not their administrative or managerial responsibilities, when responding to Criteria 1 and 2.