Take the AICP Certification Exam
Step 2: Test and Earn the AICP Candidate Designation After You Pass
AICP Candidate Designation
All members who pass the exam earn the AICP Candidate designation. The designation will be added to your APA Profile and can be used after your name where applicable. You'll also have access to a digital certificate that you can link to your email signature, resume, social media, etc. The AICP Candidate designation will distinguish you and can be leveraged with your employer. You must maintain your APA membership in order to use the AICP Candidate designation.
Pro Tip: Using multiple exam preparation resources will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the wide scope and variety of planning knowledge that's key to scoring well on the exam.
Tip 1: CONTACT YOUR CHAPTER/SECTION PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
Your Chapter Professional Development Officer is a critical information source, whether you are seeking advice on how to prepare for the AICP Certification Exam or want to meet other individuals who are studying for the exam. They are your best local resource and may even know of study groups in your area.
Here are a few resources available from APA chapters:
Tip 2: MAP YOUR STUDY PLAN
Review the exam content outline to understand the scope of the exam.
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.
Pro Tip: Don't get overwhelmed by the exam content outline. Assess your topic area strengths and weaknesses and use it to determine where to focus your study efforts.
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.
Tip 3: ATTEND AN EXAM PREP TRAINING
Exam prep sessions offered by PDOs or chapters are a valuable starting point. They can 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 were recorded in February 2022. The recordings cover nine major topic areas, each encompassing several categories. The percentage of exam questions pertaining to each major topic area is indicated.
- Research and Assessment Methods (11% of exam content)
- Fundamental Planning Knowledge (15% of exam content)
- Communication and Interaction (13% of exam content)
- Plan and Policy Development (15% of exam content)
- Plan Implementation (12% of exam content)
- Administration and Management (6% of exam content) – Coming soon!
- Leadership (6% of exam content)
- Areas of Practice (12% of exam content)
- AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct* (10% of exam content)
*All ethics questions are based on the Code of Ethics valid through December 2021.
Tip 4: 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:
- Selected Resources: AICP Certification Exam
- Chapter Presidents Council AICP Exam Study Manual
- Chapter Presidents Council Exam Prep History Timeline
- AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
Note: All ethics questions are based on the Code of Ethics valid through December 2021.
Refer to that version of the Code.
- Planning and Law Division Foundational Land Use Law Cases
- APA Policy Guides
- PAS Reports
- Planning magazine
- 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.
In addition, check out APA chapter websites (contact your PDO).
Tip 5: 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.
Pro Tip: Practice exams should be used to familiarize yourself with the format of exam questions rather than acquiring specific knowledge.
- Prometric offers a tutorial demonstrating computer-based testing.
- Read about the AICP Certification Exam Development Process.
Tip 6: Purchase a copy of the CPC Study manual
The CPC Study Manual includes an enhanced introduction that provides broader context about the exam and additional detail on each of the five section topics in the exam prior to May 2022, designed to provide more clarity about what you will be tested on and to help you successfully prepare for the exam. While there is a new structure and additional knowledge areas on the exam starting May 2022 (see content area outline in Step 2), the knowledge in this study manual is still covered on the updated exam. This is an overview compiled by the volunteer Professional Development Officers of APA's Chapter Presidents Council.