Everything You Need to Know About the AICP Certification Exam Update

Beginning in May 2017, testers will be taking an updated version of the AICP Certification Exam. This is the first comprehensive update of the AICP Certification Exam since 2007 and each of the over 800 questions in the question pool have been reviewed.

The update emphasizes the comprehensive nature of what planners do and includes new questions that focus on current knowledge needed for planning practice today, including innovative practices, trends, and emerging issues. It also emphasizes that the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct is foundational to practicing as an AICP-certified planner.

Who updated the exam?

APA/AICP conducted a “job analysis survey” to evaluate the tasks and knowledge related to work performed by planners and gather data about emerging planning trends. The results informed the creation of a new exam content outline. Exam questions, based on the new outline, were written by AICP members who are practitioners or educators working in the public and private sectors.

What does this update mean for me?

The exam is still 170 multiple choice questions (20 of which are pre-test and do not count toward the final score). The updated exam places a greater emphasis on emerging trends and current practices.

The number of content sections has been reduced to 5 (from 7) and the subcategories within these sections have been reduced to 42 (from 64). The percentage weight of the sections was adjusted, the most significant one being ethics which was increased from 5 percent to 10 percent.

How should I prepare for the new exam?

The updated Exam Content Outline and reading list are posted on the APA website and can help guide your preparation plan. The outline includes an enhanced introduction that provides broader context about the exam and additional detail on each of the five section topics, designed to provide more clarity about what you will be tested on and to help you successfully prepare for the exam. Additional recommendations on preparing for the AICP Certification Exam are available on the APA website.

What’s different about the new reading list?

The updated reading list includes resources that will not only help you study for the exam, but also to become a better and more knowledgeable planner. The reading list includes more readily available on-line resources, as well as resources available through APA. It is also better aligned with the new Exam Content Outline.

However, remember that no reading list can span the entire range of topics covered by the AICP Certification Exam. The reading list is not a substitute for planning education and professional planning experience. It is important to stay up to date on the important issues in planning and the tools and practices planners are using to address those issues.

Anything else I should know?

Remember that the first step towards taking the AICP Certification Exam is completing a successful Exam Application. Be sure to consult the updated AICP Exam Guide, for everything you need to know about preparing your application.

Top image: Photo in the public domain.


About the Author
Anna Read is APA's senior program development and research associate.

January 4, 2017

By Anna Read, AICP