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

( Put Your Name Here ) , AICP

One of the perks or benefits of passing the AICP exam is you can put the letters “AICP” after your name. People in the planning community will immediately know that you endured the preparation and passed the actual exam. People outside the planning community will ask about the meaning of AICP and it is still cool to tell them about the AICP exam and why it is important.

Having an AICP distinguishes yourself from other planners without AICP. It is not a license but a certification. It certifies that you passed and met the planning standards of the American Planning Association. There are jobs in the United States that prefer to hire AICP certified applicants than non-AICP passers. It is also said that AICP passers get higher income than non-passer.

That is if you are living or working in the US. I am not. I am living and working here in the Philippines.

I am already a licensed Urban (Environmental) Planner in the Philippines. I am working as the City Planning and Development Coordinator (City Planning Director / Head) in my City. What is in it for me to have an AICP?

First is the (modestly) bragging rights. Whenever I am invited as speaker in meetings, conferences, or conventions; it is nice to hear the word US Certified Planner (AICP) in my introduction. It looks good as part of my credentials in my resume. It is a good topic of conversation with colleagues. Hence, the reason I wrote this 3-part blog.

Second is the Planning updates that can be accessed in the APA website. There are numerous interesting topics that can be accessed in the website. It gives you a glimpse on how developed countries tackle problems through urban planning. It also gives you an idea that somehow there is commonality of challenges between developing and developed countries. The difference is how each country approach these challenges. There is a treasure of knowledge and ideas from the website.

Third and last is the access to the Certification Maintenance (CM) topics. These are up to date Planning topics and challenges discussion which has several themes. As an AICP passer, you are now required to earn CM to maintain your AICP. There are free CM on-line seminars, however most of them requires payment.

I am a City (Urban) Planner in a Developing Country earning a very modest income. I am a father of three kids and has limited financial capability. I cannot prioritize paying the CM on-line seminars with my existing salary.

On June 24, 2020, I received an email that my AICP membership has lapsed. I can no longer use the letters “AICP” after my name. I am saddened that I am in this situation. I am now in the process on reinstating my AICP membership with the least cost possible. Aside from financial issue, I also neglect to monitor my CM seminars and explore other ways to earn credits. Perhaps I’ll write a Blog Entry in the future on How I Reinstated my AICP.

Having an AICP is great if you are planning to work and live in the United States. Having an AICP gives you a lot of advantages if you are in the US. If you are outside the US, it gives you recognition and prestige that your skills and capabilities are at par with planners in other countries.

I took the exam as a personal challenge. I worked hard for it. I am planning to get it back.

The most important benefit for me is that I learned and proved that I can pass the AICP. I accomplished it even if I am not from the US.

If I can do it, So can you.

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

To learn more on How I prepared and passed the AICP exam: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=332

To Learn more about AICP Specific Benefits: https://www.planning.org/aicp/why/

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

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) (https://www.planning.org/membership/). 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 – https://www.planning.org/aicp/. 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 : https://www.planning.org/certification/eligible/

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: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=332

You may also want to check my blog on the Benefits of passing the AICP exam: https://cityplanningcoordinator.blog/?p=340

To learn more about How to Apply for the AICP exam: https://planning-org-uploaded-media.s3.amazonaws.com/document/AICP-Guide-Part-1-Certification-Application.pdf#page=24