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Thread: AICP Exam Prep- November 2014 Exam

  1. #1
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    AICP Exam Prep- November 2014 Exam

    Hi,

    I plan to take the Novemeber AICP exam. Can anyone answer the following questions?

    1.Did you take a prep course? if so which course and was it worth it?
    2. Best ways to study all of the material?
    3. Is there anyone who bought the AICP Exam Prep 2.0? If so, was it worth it?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    It's been a while and I used 1.0. 2.0 just came out. I thought it helped for me. The chapter presidents package didn't help me much, but for only $15 it wasn't horrible.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  3. #3
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    Hello:

    1. I took the Massachusetts APA Chapter's prep course. It was worth it.
    2. I detailed how I studied in another thread: http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=50860
    3. I was temped to buy AICP Exam Prep 2.0, but I got by using free or almost free study materials. See my other post.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally posted by TheBostonian View post
    Hello:

    1. I took the Massachusetts APA Chapter's prep course. It was worth it.
    2. I detailed how I studied in another thread: http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=50860
    3. I was temped to buy AICP Exam Prep 2.0, but I got by using free or almost free study materials. See my other post.

    Good luck.

    Thank You TheBostonian. This was helpful

  5. #5
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    I'm taking the exam this November as well! Ugh.
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  6. #6
    I passed the May 2013 exam.

    I did not purchase/take a prep course.
    I used a few different APA Chapter resources.
    I did buy a $50 exam study guide off Amazon but not sure if it was really worth it.
    I did use the Planningprep website quite a bit and think it is worth checking out.

    Good luck

  7. #7
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    I was given the 2010 Study Guide from a colleague and I'm going to start there this weekend.
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  8. #8
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    Thanks Pirate08! After reviewing the PA notes and some notes from friends, hopefully I will be okay

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    I took the Planetizen prep course for less than $200 and it helped me pass the November '13 exams. I didn't purchase any of the recommended study aids. I used Evernote on my computer and phone to make flash cards.

    I've mentioned this in other threads, but I have a bachelor's in urban & regional planning from a state university whose undergrad program is not accredited by the PAB. I worked as a small town planner for 7 years. $199 for the Planetizen course is a fantastic deal. I studied lightly and didn't even go through all the Planetizen material. I studied about 30 hours total. I did not crack the "green book", nor did I buy the $400 worth of supplementals that Planetizen advertises.

    Despite having a sleepless night before the exam plus severe test anxiety, it took about 75 minutes for me to plow through all the questions at the Prometrics test center. I passed the AICP with a 57 (76%, the passing score is 55). I felt good because I passed it on the first try, but I normally do really well on standardized tests, so I was disappointed to get a barely passing score. Of course, my 76% counts just as much as the overachiever who got 99% correct, so I don't feel too bad.

    In hindsight, though, I cut it really close. If I could do it again, I would:

    1. Make a schedule to review ALL the Planetizen modules. I only went through some of them and got bogged down in case law instead of going for breadth.
    2. Study more, at least 50 hours.
    3. Commit to an in-person study group once a week, or attend an in-person prep seminar.
    4. Commit to using the Evernote app on my phone to review my notes/flashcards at least once a day in addition to the rest of my study time.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    First off, read through some of the pinned boards on how people prepared for the exams - tons of resources.

    Personally, I took the Planetizen course - I did not go to school for planning and I do not work with nor have close relationships with others that had been through the AICP certification process. I was overwhelmed when I started studying. The Planetizen course is not sufficient on its own, but it did provide a lot of structure and the practice tests were really helpful. Especially if you're not naturally a good test taker. The tips for how to process multiple choice test questions were really helpful.

    I borrowed the APA Exam Prep 2.0 to study. It was helpful for going over facts, but that's basically all it was - a checklist with definitions or dates. It didn't really put things in context.

    I did read The Practice of Local Government Planning pretty much cover to cover. I got an old version off of Amazon. That was helpful to put everything in context. The PA chapter study notes were probably what I relied on the most, but you need to do some fact checking and the statistics and fiscal analysis sections are way, way too in-depth for what you need (no need to memorize long, complicated formulas).

    I took the test in May 2013 and passed with a 63 on my first try. I did not feel confident that I had done that well when I hit the submit button after finishing the test, but I did feel like I had prepared myself well for the exam.

    Good luck!

  11. #11
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    Ok, I've started studying and I have been going through some practice questions on planningprep website. But I've hit several questions that seem more like trivia and less like an actual professional certification test. Is that just this site or is that kind of what I should expect from the exam?
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Planningprep is not at all what your test questions will be like for the most part. And some of the answers on there are incorrect. There will be very few fact recall questions. Most questions will be scenario-based. "You are the Planning Director for a mid-sized city and are conducting an analysis to determine the need for a new library. What's the first thing you should do?" - that kind of thing.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gtpeach View post
    Planningprep is not at all what your test questions will be like for the most part. And some of the answers on there are incorrect. There will be very few fact recall questions. Most questions will be scenario-based. "You are the Planning Director for a mid-sized city and are conducting an analysis to determine the need for a new library. What's the first thing you should do?" - that kind of thing.
    Thanks, that's what I thought; yay! And that's what I'm more prepared for. Fact recall/ memorization is not my specialty.
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    I should say that you should still study and learn the facts. They'll help with the scenario-based questions. And there will also be quite a few questions that require you to know the facts, but won't be straight recall. One of the example questions I remember reviewing was "Which of the following are features of small towns?" or something along those lines. Each of the multiple choice options listed three features, and you had to figure out which group of three features was correct. That's more of the fact recall that you're likely to see.

    Again, check the sticky thread at the top of the forum for exam resources. I took the Planetizen course which had really good practice tests, but I believe there may be another source or two with really good exam practice questions that won't be as expensive.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    The Grueling Exam---

    Quote Originally posted by rent8104 View post
    Hi,

    I plan to take the Novemeber AICP exam. Can anyone answer the following questions?

    1.Did you take a prep course? if so which course and was it worth it?
    2. Best ways to study all of the material?
    3. Is there anyone who bought the AICP Exam Prep 2.0? If so, was it worth it?

    Thanks
    I had taken the 2014 May Exam. Passing was 55, my scaled score was 66. Not bad, but I'd wished I had done better, considering I'd been studying off-and-on for ten or twelve years. I have known planners who have passed on the first time; some who've done it the second time; and some who've had to do it a few times before passing.

    Your own job experience can help. If you took Urban Planning & Policy at an accredited school, that can help. I had kept many of my text books, which I found useful. I have the "old" Local Planning Green book, and our library had the "old" State and Regional Planning Green book and the "new" Green book. They are useful for a sort of a framework, especially the "old" local version. The "old" state and regional version was good for certain parts, like budgeting. The "new" local version was good for highlighting changes occurring after the older ones had been published.

    Pay particular attention to the Bulletin and the topical areas covered and the percentages of questions for each area.

    Find the areas you may be weak in, and, if you can, bolster your strong areas just a bit more. Remember, one extra question passed can mean the difference.

    Know things backwards and forwards, not just in one tunnel mode. Love is a "many-splendored" thing! If you see the word "super-block," what is that? Who is that associated with? When was that a first or when was this dominant? What else was going on in the same period? Who is associated with the concept? Where was it employed? Was it a counter-movement to something else? Did it get replicated? Did it have drawbacks? Name some key features of the concept... etc. Then also, if you were talking about a certain decade, you should be able to recall that the "super-block" arose in this period, inspired by whom, where first (state/town), and so on.

    One thing that I think that helped moi was that I took several practice tests --- AND TIMED / 150 QUESTIONS. The ones I had used were authored by Michael R. Waiczis, who I believe is retired by now, of Clovis or Fresno, California. He was familiar with the AICP test as an advisor and took it himself as part of the test validation process. My last version was 2003. I think you could still order some old versions online.

    But, anyway, when I took some practice tests, I found I blew the time parameter on a couple (probably over-focus on certain questions, like stats) of these mock exams. By the time I took the real test, I went thru it once quickly, and then I went back and cycled through the unanswered questions until I answered every question (with time to spare).

    The other thing not to forget is to use that little online computer mock test on the APA web site. It just has a handful of questions, but it gives you a feel for the modus operandi of the computer-oriented, test-taking procedures.

    --I had more, but this is getting a little long, aye?

  16. #16
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    My application was accepted! Thank the Lord!!

    Now to really get down to this studying thing...
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  17. #17
    I plan to take the Exam AGAIN in November and am using the $199 Planetizen Course as well as the "Green Bible" The planningprep questions seem to be less involved and easier than the actual Test Questions.

    Best of Luck!

  18. #18
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    Passed Exam

    Hi all -- thanks to Cyburbia for all the info on study material. Great insights on the forum for AICP exam prep.

    For those interested, here are some thoughts about the AICP exam process from my perspective:

    I did not purchase any materials or pay for a class. It was my first time taking the test and I can assure that I was nervous, stressed, and anxious for the two months leading up to the test. The test itself went rather quick, but there were certainly some difficult scenario questions. As others have stated, the best possible answer can be difficult to choose. The wording of the questions is also a bit cryptic. All in all, I felt pretty confident moving through the test, but was not entirely sure that I would pass. After clicking end, I had to endure the 14 questions about my study habits. Didn't answer a one -- just wanted to see my results. I ended up with a scaled score of 70, with 91% of the questions answered correctly. I guess I might have studied too much, but I really think my work experience also helped. I work as a planning consultant on a range of different topics.

    Here is a list of my study materials:
    1. PA Chapter study notes -- great resource. Start with some of the law/implementation items. This should provide a solid foundation for studying.
    2. Planningprep.com -- good questions and practice tests were very useful. Some of the questions were very close to actual exam material. .
    3. Planning webcasts -- Watched a few of these, primarily on planning law. Very dry.
    4. Policy Guides on APA Website
    5. GA APA Chapter AICP Prep PPTS

    I used note cards to quiz myself on material. I do better by writing key concepts down, so the note cards were very important. I probably had a 5-6" stack by the end.

    Good luck to everyone taking and/or applying. I am so glad to be done.....It's a long and somewhat painful process, but worth it in the end.

  19. #19

    Planetizen

    I've read the mixed reviews regarding the Planetizen class. On their website, they boast a 90% pass rate among their students? Is that true? If so, that's a heck of a sales pitch. I don't have a degree in planning, just field experience, and I'm wondering if something like this would be beneficial to me.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    Rad - That was me, too. I didn't go to school for planning, just professional experience. I also don't work with any other certified planners. I'm the first planner to have a job in my county, so I didn't really have anyone with experience to help me get through the process.

    The Planetizen class isn't a stand alone resource - you'll still need to do other things. When I first became eligible to take the exam, though, I was REALLY overwhelmed with how much there was to learn and how to structure my preparation. I would say that's what the big benefit of taking the Planetizen course was for me - it does go through some of the information, which is helpful, but it also helped give me a much better understanding of the types of information I would be asked, the depth of knowledge I needed to have, how to undertake my preparation efforts, and how to think through answering the test questions. Plus, there are three full-length practice tests that were very helpful. I was able to pass the test on the first try, but I'm not sure if I would have just studying the information on my own, and I REALLY didn't want to have to take the test a second time, so the extra cost for the course was worth it to me.

    That's just my experience, though - I'm smart, but I wouldn't necessarily describe myself as a good test taker in general.

  21. #21
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    Recap of topics covered on Nov 2014 AICP exam

    Hey everyone,

    I passed the Nov. 2014 AICP exam and wanted to share some of the general topics I saw covered on the exam. Obviously, I can't give you the actual questions & answers, but hopefully this will help with your study routines. Note:I checked with my chapter ethics officer and they were fine with me posting general topics covered on test, but not specific questions and answers.

    1.) environmental justice
    2.) US policies/goals regarding carbon emissions
    3.) the different types of city development theories (neighborhood unit, sector theory, concentric zone theory, etc.)
    4.) overlay zoning
    5.) understanding state involvement in local comp planning
    6.) understanding development concurrency
    7.) being familiar with types of population projections and which work best for different situations
    8.) Radburn NJ
    9.) ethics issue scenario facing a private sector planner
    10.) understanding survey bias
    11.) understanding presentation techniques for big groups vs. small groups
    12.) understanding impact fees
    13.) Housing Act of 1954
    14.) understanding RLUIPA
    15.) understanding safetea-lu
    16.) floodplains
    17.) understanding goals, objectives, policies and their hierarchy
    18.) impervious surface
    19.) basic understanding of new urbanist movement. places that are important to the movement.
    20.) FAR
    21.) Doing a basic population count based on data provided. Nothing too advanced here. mostly migration, immigration, births, deaths
    22.) understanding what data the census offers at different extent levels (block, block group, tracts, county, state)
    23.) understanding the different methods used for sampling
    24.) comparative economic analysis
    25.) understanding the steps involved in capital project budgeting
    26.) being familiar with recent strategies companies are using to reduce commute times/change modes for their employees
    27.) understanding transportation systems management
    28.) understanding 14th amendment
    29.) understanding the role of an APA ethics officer
    30.) understanding outreach techniques for lower income or minority groups
    31.) understanding techniques for reaching political acceptability on an issue
    32.) being familiar with different traffic calmning techniques
    33.) knowing main points concerning migration of people and jobs from NE/MW to the South in mid 20th century
    34.) advocacy planning
    35.) Ian McHarg and his significance to planning
    36.) understanding basic knowledge on GIS
    37.) PPBS
    38.) 1968 Fair Housing Act
    39.) sustainability movement and how it relates to planning
    40.) understanding development agreements
    41.) basics of school planning
    42.) TIFs
    43.) Special Assessments
    44.) Euclid vs. Ambler
    45.) Nollan/Dollan
    46.) understanding takings precedents and what courts have regarded as a taking
    47.) understanding easements and what they can be used for

    Disclaimer: This list is definitely not comprehensive and the questions are chosen at random from a larger question bank.

    Anyway, hope this helps!

  22. #22

    Practice Exams vs. The real test

    Has there ever been any comparison to practice exams and the real test? I've heard that Planetizens tests are more like the actual exam than Planningprep.com. I've taken some from them. I also took Henry Bittaker's from Florida. I would love to know feedback from people as to what they were scoring on practice exams compares to how they did on the actual exam.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian
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    I remember when I took the Planetizen course, I was basically at the borderline of what the instructor said you needed to pass the exam when I took the practice exams (maybe in the 75 - 80 percent range? I can't remember what she said you should shoot for). I really spaced the three practice tests out, and tried to take them after I'd done significant studying so I could see how I was doing answering them for the first time to avoid just memorizing answers to specific questions. I got a 63 on the exam, so I did much better than I had expected based on the Planetizen questions, but I did think the Planetizen exam questions were really good practice for the actual exam.

    I will also say that I was not at all confident that I had passed when I submitted my completed exam. I'm not a great test taker, and I think I marked or skipped 2/3 of the questions my first pass through because I was unsure of the answers, but I was obviously able to go back and deduce enough right answers to pass. I think the best advice I can offer is to use as much of a variety of studying materials as you can.

    Good luck!

  24. #24
    Quote Originally posted by gtpeach View post
    I remember when I took the Planetizen course, I was basically at the borderline of what the instructor said you needed to pass the exam when I took the practice exams (maybe in the 75 - 80 percent range? I can't remember what she said you should shoot for). I really spaced the three practice tests out, and tried to take them after I'd done significant studying so I could see how I was doing answering them for the first time to avoid just memorizing answers to specific questions. I got a 63 on the exam, so I did much better than I had expected based on the Planetizen questions, but I did think the Planetizen exam questions were really good practice for the actual exam.

    I will also say that I was not at all confident that I had passed when I submitted my completed exam. I'm not a great test taker, and I think I marked or skipped 2/3 of the questions my first pass through because I was unsure of the answers, but I was obviously able to go back and deduce enough right answers to pass. I think the best advice I can offer is to use as much of a variety of studying materials as you can.

    Good luck!
    That's right where I am, I'm in the upper range of the "barely pass" and I've been frustrated I haven't been scoring higher. Needless to say I need to keep improving on my score.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    Took it and passed today. One thing that I haven't seen mentioned much in these threads are the practice tests at PlanningPrep.com. There were a few questions on the test I took today that I had previously encountered (or a similar variant) on planningprep.

    I took every practice test there at least once and re-took a few that I had originally done poorly on. In addition to this I used the 2.0 APA outline and an outline of the Green Bible by Waiczis. My chapter also sent out a bunch of notecards for studying that were pretty helpful for some of the rote memorization stuff.

    I studied probably 50-75 hours over about a year (really stretched it out).

    My first time through the computerized test I was a little nervous, especially when I hit a rough patch of questions in the middle. I had about an hour and a half left to review the entire thing...after going through the whole thing again and figuring out the ones I REALLY had to guess at, I was sure I had passed.

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