AICP: Practice Exams, Real AICP Questions

American Institute of Certified Planners practice exams cover AICP latest questions: emerging trends, plan implementation, ethics etc.

AICP: What You Can Expect

The American Planning Association offers the American Institute of Certified Planners, or AICP, as a professional institute for certification in urban planning. This includes assisting these individuals in learning more about the areas of professional development, ethics, planning education, and the standards of planning practice. Members who achieve AICP certification will pledge adherence to a detailed Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and receive the honor of placing the initials "AICP" after their name. What must be done to become a certified planner with the American Planning Association, or APA? Are there required exams, and if so, are there study guides available to assist in gaining knowledge of test topics previous to registration?

The AICP certification is a recognized benchmark throughout the United States, proving the validity and capability of a professional planner. In order to achieve this certification, more than an exam is required. Relevant education and professional experience is required, and candidates must be members of the American Planning Association in good standing who pay an annual fee. The AICP exam is offered twice a year for two weeks only, once during the month of May and again in November. Since 2005, the test has been administered by computer rather than pencil and paper.

Required levels of education and experience vary in combination and are applicable for eligibility to take the exam as follows:

  • If no college degree is held, a candidate must have a total of eight years of professional planning experience.
  • If the candidate holds a post-graduate, graduate, or undergraduate degree not otherwise defined, four years of experience must accompany the education.
  • A Bachelor's degree in Planning from a program accredited by the Planning Association Board (PAB) or a Graduate degree in the same from a program not accredited by the PAB requires an additional three years of experience.
  • Earning a Graduate degree in Planning from an program accredited by the PAB can be accompanied by just two years of related experience.

Professional experience is defined in several ways. It can include employing an appropriately comprehensive point of view in situations where planning is needed, involving a professional level of responsibility and resourcefulness in the planning process, applying a planning process in a situational environment, influencing public decision-making in the public interest for plan implementation, or a combination of any or all of these aspects.

In order to prepare for the exam, candidates will need to study an APA AICP study guide and perhaps look into sample questions and tests so that they are familiar with the knowledge to be tested and the format of the test. Most test prep packages include study information and notations, outlines of topics to be covered, and sample questions that will cover material to likely be tested in the actual exam in a format that will appear on the AICP test.

While no short reading list can cover the entire subject matter of the AICP, there are some selected reading materials suggested by the APA to assist in gaining the necessary knowledge in planning to become more familiar with the topics tested. There are also several study courses that can be bought over the internet, some of which offer interactive study sessions with CD-ROMs, as well as several hundred test questions divided into separate tests so that candidates see a full range of question difficulty and are prepared with training for almost any question that can be covered in the actual examination process.

Some study courses are divided by specific topic for more particular concentration on material that could be covered in the AICP. Some topics that may be encountered by testers include Planning Law, Statistics, Budgeting and Management, Planning Ethics, Economic and Demographic Methods, Planning Law, Planning History, Subdivision Regulations, and Planning Theory. Most study guides also cover test taking techniques to familiarize candidates with the particular methods that will achieve the best results on the test.

Candidates should look for study materials produced by individuals that have recently taken and succeeded in passing the AICP examination so that they receive the latest updated information in topic and format, as well as true reactions from individuals who have the experience fresh in their minds. Unfortunately, the APA offers very little specific information regarding the evaluation of the test itself and seeks to gain an accurate assessment of an individual's knowledge and skills without what the administration may even consider as "cheat sheets", or unlicensed study guides from outside sources. However, these materials are available, and since they do not include specific examples and exact questions from the AICP exam, they are perfectly legal and extremely helpful in achieving a passing score on the test.

Most of the essential knowledge of planning that is incorporated into the exam required for AICP certification will revolve around urban planning, including educational zoning, subdivision planning, community interaction, transit systems and roadways, and other pertaining planning necessities. While some planning methods are just as applicable in suburban and outlying areas, urban areas are where knowledge of planning is most essential, with a more densely populated area and greater influx of traffic on a daily basis. Therefore, the concentration of the AICP exam and certification process is to enhance the knowledge and abilities of planners for urban communities.

As a certified planner, a member of the AICP will be able to work with others in the association, sharing experiences and ideas and building stronger foundations with which to plan and implement designs for the urban communities. In order to assure that an aspiring tester passes the exam, APA AICP study guide materials give foreknowledge of what to expect on the test and allow candidates to familiarize themselves with the format of the exam.

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