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Thread: AICP exam 2013

  1. #1
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    AICP exam 2013

    If anyone else is planning to take the exam in May this year it would be great to hear from you and share what study materials you are using to prep for the big exam. I am currently using the APA's Study Notes and CD that came along with it and I have downloaded material from various APA chapter websites.

  2. #2
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    Me too!

    I'm planning on taking the exam in May as well. I'm using Planetizen's "Essential Reading in Urban Planning" as a guide for library check outs and also plan on taking their exam course. I have downloaded several packets from various APA chapter sites as well. How useful do you find the APA notes?

  3. #3
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    I saw that planetizen book but I thought it was on the pricey side! Is it useful? The study notes contain a huge amount of information but it is really random and difficult to use. It comes with a disc of sample tests which I have been using and seems pretty handy. I hear the exam itself is pretty random, so it's hard to know what exactly to study and how.

    A very different process to the one I had to go through to become a member of the RTPI, which was all about proving competence through your experience as a planner.

  4. #4
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    Planetizen course

    Agreed. The Planetizen book seems VERY pricey. Luckily I was able to find all of the readings (listed on their site) via inter-library loans through the local public library. Most of them are from Universities and I have only just started receiving a few. Many of the readings are also on the APA suggested readings as well.

    I decided to use the Planetizen course after reading many positive reviews and comments here about how it helps structure your studying. Something that it seems the APA study materials lack. I will probably get the APA info jut for the practice exams unless I can find them free elsewhere.

  5. #5

    AICP May 2013

    Hello All AICP candidates, you care of forming a study group online, like Facebook or skype? I am looking for study partners. At least we could discuss, in that way things are easier to understand and remember. Up for it?
    Thanks for the reading tip!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    I taught an AICP Exam workshop a few years ago (and will probably be doing another one sometime this Spring). Don't rely on just one type of material.

    Practice of Local Government in Planning, known as the green book of planning. Memorize this book inside and out.
    Everyday Ethics for Practicing Planners
    Planning in Plain English
    Successful Public Meetings: A Practical Guide for Managers in Government
    Mike Waiczis study material. Very thorough, but the guy fell off the face of the earth. Search previous posts on this person.
    APA Policy Guides, free for download on APA website
    APA-Florida and a few other APA chapters offer some checklists of stuff, but you will have to dig around the APA chapter websites
    APA's AICP exam material is a good checklist of items to know
    Planningprep.com has SOME good material but I don't think it goes far enough.

    Finally, you really should be purchasing and keeping your own study material. Yes, it is expensive (so is the exam). One its heavily frowned upon, if not an ethics violation itself to share study material. Second, the exam is updated with new material every 1-2 testing cycles so some of the study material might be dated.

    Hope this helps.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    I taught an AICP Exam workshop a few years ago (and will probably be doing another one sometime this Spring). Don't rely on just one type of material.

    Practice of Local Government in Planning, known as the green book of planning. Memorize this book inside and out.
    .
    The Green Bible

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    The Green Bible
    I don't know about anyone else but I have never studied or used this book in all my years of public and private sector planning. I think there are better options to study. Flash Cards, sample tests, and knowing the ethics and the guiding principles is more valuable IMO.
    @GigCityPlanner

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Plus
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    14 yrs ago the The Green Book was highly recommended
    and
    I still agree that it should be a part of your studying for the AICP exam.


    I agree with Tide about the ethics.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  10. #10
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I have said it before and I will say it again....

    Don't spend money on testing materials. If you have the experience to take the test, you really just need to polish up your memory of some abstract planning history. Most of the test does little to relate to your everyday job, but it tries to touch on planning topics of interest. The free materials provided by the State Chapters is amazing.

    If you want to spend some money get some general books that you can use in the future. If you are a horrible multiple choice test taker, then take what I am saying with a grain of salt.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    The exam has about a 60% pass rate for those planners taking it on the first try, with the average exam studying time of about 2 months. Yes, some of you can do some light studying, take the exam, and pass. More power to you. I have been approached by several planners who wanted more information/study material because they didn't take the exam as seriously and now have to do the whole thing over again. It is a multiple choice exam, but some questions are very carefully worded and can throw you off if you don't pay attention as to how it is worded. Finally, some questions are grouped together including scenarios with per capita multipliers. The equations themselves are very simple, but the answer to one question is used to computer the answer to the second question and so on. If you don't pay attention the first time around you can screw up 3-5 questions in a row.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    I have said it before and I will say it again....

    Don't spend money on testing materials. If you have the experience to take the test, you really just need to polish up your memory of some abstract planning history. Most of the test does little to relate to your everyday job, but it tries to touch on planning topics of interest. The free materials provided by the State Chapters is amazing.

    If you want to spend some money get some general books that you can use in the future. If you are a horrible multiple choice test taker, then take what I am saying with a grain of salt.
    If you want to save a LOT of money, simply don't take the test and tell APA to $&#* themselves.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    If you want to save a LOT of money, simply don't take the test and tell APA to $&#* themselves.
    Problem is with that advice, people will think you're trolling. Let people find out for themselves the value of AICP.
    The content contrarian

  14. #14
    Quote Originally posted by OfficialPlanner View post
    Problem is with that advice, people will think you're trolling. Let people find out for themselves the value of AICP.
    Me? Worried about the appearance of trolling? I'm just saying there's another option. You can have a full planning career without chasing titles and acronyms for yourself. And when someone brings in the factor of money, well, we all know who's really coming out ahead in the AICP racket... but boy, those letters sure are tempting. It should be: TTPM, for Take a Test and Pay Money. Then you can go in for job interviews and explain how, yes, you Took a Test and Paid Money for four letters and how that makes you a well-rounded planner worthy of the position. AICP really is a big joke, like many other half-professions that like to inflate their sense of worth. It was Jane Jacobs, after all, who railed against this emphasis on credentialing instead of true education in her last book, but there I go getting all plannerish.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    Well, for someone with just a BUP who has competed against MUPs for every single job interview, having AICP helps. Several employers who offered me jobs told me after the fact that I would not be considered if I weren't even AICP. At my current position, my design portfolio created a job in the company and I would have been hired regardless but was told I would receive more compensation because I was AICP. Yes, I am probably in the minority but not having AICP would have made my planning career options far more limited.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  16. #16
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Well, for someone with just a BUP who has competed against MUPs for every single job interview, having AICP helps. Several employers who offered me jobs told me after the fact that I would not be considered if I weren't even AICP. At my current position, my design portfolio created a job in the company and I would have been hired regardless but was told I would receive more compensation because I was AICP. Yes, I am probably in the minority but not having AICP would have made my planning career options far more limited.
    This may come across more blunt than I intend, but if the only advantage you have is AICP, then you've been doing something wrong.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    This may come across more blunt than I intend, but if the only advantage you have is AICP, then you've been doing something wrong.

    Chocolate, I don't remember if you have a graduate degree or not, but Raf and several others agree with me that the playing field is VERY different for planners moving up the ranks with just a college diploma. I earned interviews and offers based on the strengths of my interviewing and portfolio skills. AICP is not universally accepted/regarded everywhere. In southern Texas its the exception to the rule, but in some cases has given me somewhat of a leg up in my job search. Why else would a firm/agency hire me when they could get some other sap with two degrees for the price of one?
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  18. #18
    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    This may come across more blunt than I intend, but if the only advantage you have is AICP, then you've been doing something wrong.

    Chocolate, I don't remember if you have a graduate degree or not, but Raf and several others agree with me that the playing field is VERY different for planners moving up the ranks with just a college diploma. I earned interviews and offers based on the strengths of my interviewing and portfolio skills. AICP is not universally accepted/regarded everywhere. In southern Texas its the exception to the rule, but in some cases has given me somewhat of a leg up in my job search. Why else would a firm/agency hire me when they could get some other sap with two degrees for the price of one?
    Gotcha. Yes, from the perspective of "just" having a bachelors in planning, i see that it could give you a leg up. Again, no personal offense intended in my comment.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Back on track here...

    I downloaded several study guides from state chapters such as PA, FL, NC. The green book helps, so does doing a little ethics review. The test is more about know what the 'best' answer is, which is best known through general practice.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  20. #20
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    Toronto - I'd be happy to set up a study group, any suggestions on how this might work?

    nrshmid and others -thanks for the useful info, I was actually able to get in touch with Mike Waiczis about his study materials so he is still around and offering his CD of study material for 99 bucks.

    Does anyone have a "Green Bible" that they don't need anymore? Or perhaps you just want to share the planning gospel? PM me if you would like to sell yours, I'm trying to keep costs down given that I already have to pay an additional $100 to take the exam overseas!

    Am hoping that four more letters behind my name will help me get work in the States. Am studying for a couple of hours a week as it's difficult to fit in studying during the busy work week - looks like I may need to give up a bit of TV time in the evenings!

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    Do you have his contact info? I would love to include his contact info in my next workshop.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  22. #22
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    Study Group

    Quote Originally posted by Green Lane View post
    Toronto - I'd be happy to set up a study group, any suggestions on how this might work?
    I concur! I have never participated in an online study group, but I'm willing to try. I need all the help I can get.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Do you have his contact info? I would love to include his contact info in my next workshop.
    His email address is: waiczism@yahoo.com

  24. #24
    Quote Originally posted by Green Lane View post

    Does anyone have a "Green Bible" that they don't need anymore? Or perhaps you just want to share the planning gospel? PM me if you would like to sell yours, I'm trying to keep costs down given that I already have to pay an additional $100 to take the exam overseas!
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/The-Practice...item2a28af0cff

  25. #25
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    I took my AICP exam last May and passed on the first try. I had a MUP and had worked for nearly 5 years for both municipal planning agencies and an MPO. My experience in a wide spectrum of planning topics was a big help. Here are some other ideas to help you prep.

    - Set aside a set time each week to study. For me I spent most of my Saturday mornings studying for 3 months prior to the exam.
    - Look on state APA websites for study guides. PA, I think, has a really good and in depth study guide.
    - Know the big legal cases and why they were important.
    - Study planning theorists and theories. Here is a good link on basic AICP prep from one of my old professors. It is a very basic outline, but a good checklist of things to study.
    - Look at taking the Planetizen AICP prep class, it was $175 or so but it is all online and it contained good videos, especially on ethics, lots of study materials and quizzes. It was my main study source, which I then used to study other topics.

    It can seem overwhelming but with a good study plan you can pass the AICP on your first try. Good luck!

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