Prepare for the Exam
Step 1: Contact Your Chapter/Section Professional Development Officer
Your 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.
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.
Step 2: Map 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.
APA's AICP Certification Exam was developed in conjunction with Prometric. Get an overview of the proven certification development process that guided creation of the exam.
Step 3: Select a Comprehensive Preparation Product
A certification exam prep resource is an important component of exam preparation. Obtain additional information from suggested resources for clarity and to fill in areas where your background is weak.
AICP Exam Prep 3.0
The AICP Exam Prep 3.0 product addresses the entire AICP Certification Exam content outline. It is 100 percent web-based, so you can access it anywhere you have a web browser and access to the Internet. Features include:
- New! AICP has posted an updated content outline that provides detail about the exam competencies and introduces five new topic areas. A new document ― a "crosswalk" from the previous exam outline to the new one ― highlights the new topic areas and identifies some that have been removed. The crosswalk will help you locate new outline information in Exam Prep 3.0, which will stay the same in content, design, and layout as the 2007 outline.
- Over 50 lessons/sections on topics that cover the entire exam content.
- Content from selected PAS QuickNotes, the Journal of the American Planning Association, and Zoning Practice, so you don't have to purchase those publications.
- 12 hours of streaming video and PowerPoints on 51 topics in 8-15 minute lessons that are easy to review and understand.
- 4.5 hours of streaming video of ethics sessions at APA's 2013 National Planning Conference.
- Sample questions from: retired questions from the actual AICP exam, Exam Prep Package 2.0, AICP staff, and AICP Exam Prep 3.0 work group. All questions for all sources were reviewed and if needed, improved, by former AICP Exam Committee members. Questions are provided in three different forms:
- Assessment exam to determine areas of weakness and strength to inform study plan
- Pop-up questions at the end of each video lesson to reinforce learning
- Timed practice exam with 170 questions delivered in the actual format to simulate your exam-day experience
- Searchable glossary with thousands of definitions from A Planners Dictionary and the AICP Exam Prep 3.0 Glossary Workgroup.
- Access to a discussion forum to interact with other students and course faculty.
- Tips on how to approach scenario and multi-part questions.
The faculty for and contributors to AICP Exam Prep 3.0 included planners from around the U.S. in the public, private, and academic sectors. Among them were:
- Experienced Professional Development Officers who offer AICP exam prep on the chapter level
- Faculty from Georgia Tech, the University of North Carolina, and Louisiana State University
- Attorneys who specialize in land use and zoning law
- AICP members with Advanced Specialty Certification in transportation planning and environmental planning
- Fellows of AICP
- Browsers: Internet Explorer 9 and above, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or Google Chrome
- Browsers: Allow pop-ups from PLANNING Online Learning System
- Adobe Flash player
- Strong Internet connection
Step 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 provided by APA:
- Selected Readings: AICP Certification Exam
- APA Policy Guides
- AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
- National Planning Pioneers
In addition, check out APA chapter websites (contact your PDO).
Step 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.
APA also provides AICP Exam Illustrative Questions.
The AICP Certification Exam was updated in May 2017. The update maintains the basic core knowledge structure of previous exams, but places greater emphasis on emerging trends and current practices. To help you prepare, we have clarified exam resources, specifically the Exam Outline and Recommended Readings, and added detail that relates specifically to new or revised content.
After the exam window closes, a panel of subject matter experts will convene to determine the pass-fail standards for the revised exam. Members who sit for the May 2017 exam will receive their exam score information six to eight weeks after testing.
For more details about the new content outline, listen to this hour-long webinar presented by the AICP Exam Committee Chair, Karen Wolf, FAICP, she explains the process behind the update and what examinees should expect in May 2017 exam.