How I Prepared and Passed the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam even if I am not from the United States

I am from the Philippines. I haven’t worked or lived in the US. Yet, I passed the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam in 2017.

I usually encounter questions on how to apply, pass, and what are the benefits of passing the AICP exam. This blog is my second blog entry from a series of three entries.

I initially planned to take the exam on November 2016 but due to lack of preparation, I postponed my exam to May 2017. I believe I can pass the exam if I am given an ample preparation time (5 months). The first thing I did is learn all about the procedure, content and context of the exam.

I took the exam in a Prometric Testing Center in our Country which is in Makati City. Makati City is around one and a half hours travel time from my City. I checked the place before the exam day and looked for a hotel nearby where I can spend the night before my exam. This is to really make myself focus and address small stress triggers that may arise before and during my exam.

The content of the exam specifically the Exam Outline and Recommended Readings are sent via email through links to the American Planning Association AICP website. The exam is composed of 170 multiple choice questions wherein there are 20 unidentified questions-in-development that do not count toward the final score. It is basically a 150 items exam.

There are five major topic areas along with the percentage of exam questions pertaining to each major topic as follows:

The exam coverage is overwhelming. I am fortunate that most of the topics are also the same topics I studied when I took and passed the Philippine Environmental (Urban) Planning exam in June 2015. However, the coverage is still overwhelming and I need review materials specific to the AICP exam.

The planning principles and policies are similar (if not the same) in the US and the Philippines. The context of the exam is Planning in the US setting. There are US Constitutional Laws and Court Decisions specific to the US. These are the things I knew nothing about. It took me a longer period of time to learn this aspect of the exam. I concluded that I really need specific review materials for this exam.

On December 2016, I purchased the AICP Exam Prep 3.0 in the American Planning Association Website. I paid $249.00 for the review materials. The lectures are in video form and there are mock exams. I listened and watch the videos whenever I have time. I took the mock exams in the reviewer several times.

Three months before my exam, I listened to the lectures almost everyday before I go to bed, and answered the mock exams weekly. I answered the mock exams repetitively until I reached my target grade which is around 90% correct answers. A week before the exam, I stopped listening to the videos/lectures and focused on answering the mock exams daily until exam day.

I checked-in to the nearest hotel from the testing center a day before the exam. I prepared the requirements and just browsed some mock questions before I slept that night. I was in the test venue one hour ahead of my schedule. I took several bathroom trips to make sure I am really focused for the exam.
I took the exam and felt good after the exam. I believe I gave my best and I look forward to the results.

On July 31, 2017, the result of the exam was released. 376 members of the American Planning Association passed the AICP Certification Exam held in May 2017. I passed the test and one of the seven International AICP Passers, probably the only Filipino.

The result link is https://www.planning.org/blog/blogpost/9131392/?fbclid=IwAR27-3jW7OaiOHHhPmElWBUQawemp1eCZ1qlbZmBzKgoSw_kQh1WFTU5iSg

The Certification came letter thru email and regular mail. I am now AICP certified and can now use the AICP suffix after my name.


I did it!! So what now?

Follow my Next Blog on to learn about the Benefits of passing the AICP: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=340

To Learn on How to Apply for the AICP exam:https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=325

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).

One thought on “How I Prepared and Passed the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam even if I am not from the United States”

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