AICP Exam Application Tips
Read our tips designed to give you a smooth exam application experience.
Before applying to take the exam, read the AICP Exam Guide. It is your complete guide to submitting a successful application. Most applicants who are denied are denied based on items explicitly addressed in the guide. And check out the Criterion Response Checklist. This is a great resource to make sure your responses meet the requirements.
It pays to apply early: 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.
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.
To ensure your verification letters will be accepted, provide your references with a copy of the sample job verification letter.
Acceptable ways to verify your educational experience include:
- Providing a notarized diploma(s)
- Providing an official transcript(s) from your university
- Providing a letter from the university confirming your degree and graduation date on letterhead.
A complete job history is not required. Focus on providing specific experience that meets the minimum eligibility requirements.
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 criteria for professional planning experience listed in the AICP application.
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.
When responding to the AICP professional planning criteria:
- Read the "dos and don'ts" guidance provided on pages 13–15, which describes each of the criteria that
your responses must meet to be accepted as professional planning experience, and use the Applicant
Response Checklist provided as an Appendix in this Guidebook to help make sure your responses meet
- Provide unique responses for each criterion.
- 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.
- Move beyond a discussion of project details and outcomes to discuss your role, duties, and impact on the project outcome for the project(s) described.
- Do not include information that does not qualify as professional planning experience.
- Do not include information in the criterion responses that is not tied to the positions submitted as
verified work experience. The duties and projects included in the responses must be related to the
- 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 individual role on the projects described.
Proofread your responses. Spelling and grammar errors can make it difficult for exam reviewers to evaluate the content of the responses. It may be helpful to have a co-worker review your material to have a second set of eyes for spelling and grammar errors. You can also use their review to ensure that you have provide clear and complete responses to the criteria,
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.
When finalizing your criteria responses, review to ensure that a person who has not done the exact same type of planning work can understand the project examples and duties that you discuss. This is especially important if you have worked in a very specialized area of planning. Your reviewer may not be familiar with acronyms or specialty terminology, so review your responses for an appropriate level of clarity and explanation to ensure that someone versed in planning broadly will be comfortable that they understand your role and duties based on your description.