How I passed the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam even if I am not from the United States – How to Apply for the AICP exam

I am working and living in the Philippines. I took and passed the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam in 2017. Let me tell you how….

I usually encounter questions on how to apply, prepare and pass the AICP exam. I decided to make this blog entry to answer all those questions. This blog entry on AICP is composed of three parts. The first part is “How to Apply for the AICP exam”, the second part is “How I passed the AICP exam”, and the third part is “What are the benefits of passing the AICP exam”.

First step is to sign-up to be a member of the American Planning Association (APA) ( Membership to the APA is one of the requirements of the AICP exam. You may apply as a Planner, Student, Commissioner, Academic, a Person Outside the U.S. and as an Allied Professional and Citizen. Because I am from the Philippines and outside the United States, I clicked the Membership from Outside the U.S. A list of Foreign Dues Chart was sent to me through email. On October 13, 2015, I paid $45 through my credit card and became a member of the American Planning Association (APA). I renew my membership every year with the APA.

Second Step is to learn all about the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam. You may check it in this link – The difficult part in this process is submitting the requirements. The requirements are as follows:

  1. Membership to the American Planning Association (APA).
    I became a member by applying and paying the dues.
  2. Should be engaged in professional planning (as defined by AICP), either currently or in the past.
    I applied for the exam in July 2016. My experience in professional planning at that time includes five years as a staff in the Office of the City Planning and Development Coordinator in our City and three years as the City Planning and Development Coordinator (City Planning Head).
  3. Combinations of education and corresponding years of professional planning experience.

To Check Eligibility Requirements :

In July 2016, I already finished my Post-Graduate Diploma in Urban and Regional Planning, Master in Public Management and an undergraduate Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy.

I am quite confident that I am qualified to take the exam. I sent documents verifying my Educational History, documents describing and verifying my Employment History, and three essays demonstrating my work experience meets APA’s definition of professional planning experience.

On July 30, 2016, I received an email that my application did not meet all of the requirements to qualify for the AICP exam. I learned that my Criterion 2 Essay (Evaluate Multiple Impacts to a Community When Implementing Professional Planning Tasks) did not meet the requirement. I was offered the AICP Candidate Pilot Program to meet the requirements in the future.

I personally think that one of the issues I failed to communicate is that I am the head of the City Planning Department of my City. In the US, the head of the City Planning is called the Planning Director while in the Philippines, the position is called the City Planning and Development Coordinator. If you look at it, the word “Director” is not the same as “Coordinator”. However, they are the same in terms of organizational structure and they are just called differently in different countries. It is the applicant’s duty to explain this in their essays.

I emailed and asked if I can revise my criterion 2 essay. I was given reconsideration and on August 6, 2016, I submitted my revised essay. On September 13, 2016 my November 2016 AICP Exam application was approved.

The third step is registering for the AICP exam. The instruction in the email and the website are really helpful. At this stage, the only thing to do is register and pay in the website. I didn’t immediately register and pay.

On September 15, 2016, upon personal assessment and due to lack of time to prepare for the exam; I asked AICP if I can take the exam on May 2017 instead of November 2016. We had a change of City Mayor and as a City Planner, I need to adjust to the new programs and projects that the new Mayor wants me to assess and implement. AICP informed me that since I haven’t registered for the exam, I can take the next scheduled test.

AICP informed me that my exam application is approved through the May 2019 exam cycle (3 years cycle). I do not have to go through the formal application process which includes the criteria essays and verification documents to take the test on May 2017.

On December 2016, I paid $425 exam fee for the exam. I received a confirmation email with my Eligibility ID. The Eligibility ID allowed me to register the date and venue of my exam in the Prometric website. I chose the only Prometric testing center in the Philippines which is located in Makati City.

There is no turning back, I am registered to take the exam.

Check my next blog on How I prepared and passed the AICP exam:

You may also want to check my blog on the Benefits of passing the AICP exam:

To learn more about How to Apply for the AICP exam:


Author: cityplanningcoordinator

A city planning and development coordinator (City Department Head) in a medium-size fast urbanizing city in the Philippines. A certified US Planner, a Philippine licensed Environmental Planner, and a Project Management Professional (PMP).

3 thoughts on “How I passed the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam even if I am not from the United States – How to Apply for the AICP exam”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: