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.
Here are a few resources available from APA chapters:
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.
Step 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 are from the Exam Prep workshop at NPC19. This two-hour workshop is available in six parts:
- Welcome Remarks, Application Overview, and Exam Prep Tips
- Fundamental Planning Knowledge (25% of exam content)
- Plan Making and Implementation (30% of exam content)
- Areas of Practice (30% of exam content)
- Leadership, Administration and Management (5% of exam content)
- AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (10% of exam content)
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:
- PAS Reports
- Planning magazine
- Selected Resources: AICP Certification Exam
- APA Policy Guides
- AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
- National Planning Pioneers
- Planning and Law Division Foundational Land Use Law Cases
- Chapter Presidents Council Exam Prep History Timeline
- 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).
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.