Read our 10 tips designed to give you a smooth exam application experience.

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

Check out the Criterion Response Checklist. This is a great resource to make sure your responses meet the requirements.

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:

  • 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.

Tip 5

A complete job history is not required. Focus on providing only enough experience to meet the minimum eligibility requirements.

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 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:

  • 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
    criteria requirements.
  • 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 on the project(s)
  • 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
    positions verified.
  • 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.

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.