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Thread: Congrats to those who passed the AICP Nov. 2011

  1. #1
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Congrats to those who passed the AICP Nov. 2011

    Congratulations to all of you that passed the AICP exam this November. And a special congrats to bobcatplanner here in my region, and a fellow Texas State alumnus!


    To those of you that passed in November:As a service to other professionals considering taking the test in the next year, please list the study materials/strategies you found most effective. Please keep in mind that trading copyrighted materials is strictly prohibited on Cyburbia, but you should certainly endorse those that worked well for you.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

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  2. #2
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    Congratulations to all of you that passed the AICP exam this November. And a special congrats to bobcatplanner here in my region, and a fellow Texas State alumnus!


    To those of you that passed in November:As a service to other professionals considering taking the test in the next year, please list the study materials/strategies you found most effective. Please keep in mind that trading copyrighted materials is strictly prohibited on Cyburbia, but you should certainly endorse those that worked well for you.

    I just passed... so let's see...

    I took the Planetizen course. Many are critical of it - I give it a C+/B-. Planetizen is pretty good because it's comprehensive in what it covers; it's pretty bad, though, in the depth of coverage. Also, the site is not well organized. It seems like they made it one weekend 5 years ago but never bothered to update it. Nonetheless, it was helpful.

    I also got a hold of an old PA APA preparation course (electronic). That course seemed to be the direct opposite of Planetizen - very well organized and good information on topics it did cover, but in many cases wasn't comprehensive. For example, where Planetizen will talk briefly about a large number of laws, the PA APA materials limited itself to the "top 25" laws, legal cases, etc. Still, it also was helpful.

    I also found this free resource. Many questions are a bit dated, but from trial and error finding the right answers I actually caught a bit more information, not to mention finding the practice tests helpful. There are over 1,000 sample questions - and it's free, just create an account. Also, the site is a bit confusing to navigate at first, sometimes you have to refresh the page or go back to the "test" page to review your test results, etc., but it does work! http://www.planningprep.com/

    Finally, I purchased a book and flash cards from Amazon.com. Both were worthless... I don't recommend.

    I didn't get the APA materials due to cost, but would have to imagine those are pretty good?

    Hope that helps.
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  3. #3
    Thanks!!! And congrats to everyone else as well.

    Here is a recap on what materials I focused on:

    While I had a copy of the "Green Bible", I used it mainly to look for highlights and to get more info on certain areas and events. I did not read the book cover-to-cover, as I don't have the attention span for that. I found APA's AICP Study Guide 2.0 useful even though it was pricey, as there are 3 decent practice exams on the CD, and the study notes outline nice bullets for you, but they are just bullets so they omit a lot of key information, so they shouldn't be used as a primary study guide. I found planningprep.com very useful even though the questions are a bit outdated (I don't think the site has been updated since around 2005). But there are 12 practice exams that reflect the actual AICP exam pretty well. Plus it's free now! I got Mike Waiczis's study material. I would recommend it, as there are 7 really tough practice exams that really make you learn the material and how to read the questions carefully. My main complaint was that the answer key was not always consistent, as there were a few wrong answers given. Plus a few of the questions aren't written very well and are misleading (but I guess that's not too unlike the real thing!) So just be careful if you use his stuff..be sure to double-check some of the answers and make sure it's right.

    Other than that, I became familar with the ethics code, including reading through some of the scenarios in Carol Barrett's book. I read through some old Planning magazines, JAPA articles, APA's policy guides, and some recent court cases that were mentioned on the APA website.

  4. #4
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by bobcatplanner View post
    Thanks!!! And congrats to everyone else as well.
    Congrats! Good to see some AICP representation back on staff. Wear those letters with pride!
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  5. #5
    Cyburbian WhenIGrowUp's avatar
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    OK - I passed this morning.

    After spending 30-40 hours committing court cases and planning theorists & their product to memory, to have it all wasted by taking that test really stinks.

    My test had noting to do with the materials I studied. Those materials, in no particular order consisted of:

    1. The Green Book: I didn't read it cover to cover, but I referenced it when I came across a subject in which I felt weak.
    2. The CPC Study notes - there's no one item to point at here, I just felt that the study notes pointed you toward reading & memorizing more about specific planners, specific court cases and specific theories of planning and hardly any questions on the test were directly related to those persons & concepts.
    3. The PA Chapter's Webinar from Fall 2010 & the associated .ppt that went with it. More of the same/same from the above.
    4. Flashcards, D/L'd for free from studystack dot com. More specific details I memorized for a general subject matter type of test.

    Hands down the best source to help you amass a body of knowledge to read up on was Florida's Treasure Coast Section/chapter webpage: http://www.floridaplanning.org/treas...aicp_links.asp If you can't find it on there, you ain't looking hard enough.

    But honestly, you could read for 100 hours a month about everything from the plan for Philadelphia to Kelo and not be prepared for this test.

    To be specific: There were maybe, maybe 8 questions on my 170-question test directly on-point to what I read & memorized (as in, 'In what year was Euclid decided by the USSC' or that kind of thing, you get the idea). The rest, including 4-5 ethics questions, were generalized... unfocused... existential... esoteric ramblings about planning theory and practitioner theory that may or may not be based on what you've read about, or what you do for a living at your job.

    And yes, add to that: the answers are not clear, as at least 3 of the choices are completely plausible as correct, and sometimes all 4 were. But you had to pick one. The *best* one. Decided by whom, I don't know...

    I am not a regional planner, I am not a long-rang planner, and I do not prepare comprehensive & CIP plans all day. If I were, I would have had a much easier time with this test. It's not geared to process planners & municipal planners.

    But who cares. I passed. My name just got 4 letters longer.
    "We are not going to have public meetings to review architecture. Public input ruins the idea of professional review." -Design Review Committee Chairman, 11/04/09

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    Agreed

    I took the exam Monday the 21st and passed! Thank God. WhenIGrowUp, I concur with everything you say about the studying and the exam in general.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Post-exam afterthoughts

    I passed the AICP exam on November 21st 2011 as well. The next day I wrote down a lot of afterthoughts, notes and tips that I think a person facing the exam would find useful. They might be rather random, but I'll share them.

    I had Mike Waiczis' materials as I had taken his workshop a year earlier. His material is dated 2008 mostly, but a couple of his seven practice exams are useful. Other than that, most of the study material you could use are free on local chapters' websites. The most useful ones for me were PA and NJ. There are links from those to other states' websites as well as other free material out there. I also used Wikipedia a LOT. As I went through the notes from the PA and NJ websites, I used Wikipedia to look up law cases, technical terms etc.

    My strategy was to first take a practice exam (including the sample one in the AICP bulletin) before studying anything, so as to identify my weak areas - for me those were history and law cases. So I started studying those areas first, and it will become apparent when you delve into it which cases you must know, which key pieces of history and theory.

    I think a person who has municipal planning experience, a background in geography or real estate would have some advantage for this exam. There are a lot of questions that test your experience (ie. what would you do if you are a city planner in different situations) as well as skills and knowledge. That said, there were also a number of 'off the wall' questions that seemed like you either knew it or you didn't. I realized that before I took the exam (based on the practice ones) so I decided I wouldn't worry about studying every single thing. You just need to know enough to pass. The night before the exam, I closed my books after dinner and said "I don't know everything, but I know most things".

    One more thing - you will reach burn out! And then you know it’s time to relax a little. You will get to the stage where you realize you have studied as much as you can (and there could be still two weeks to the exam!). Recognize that you've reached that stage when you cannot improve your score on practice tests or you are constantly scoring approximately the same.

    Good luck! I will keep sharing as this or other threads go along on the topic of AICP exam preparation.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian WhenIGrowUp's avatar
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    So has anyone gotten their letter yet? I know my registration approval was late, can I assume the congratulatory letters after-the-fact will be late, too?
    "We are not going to have public meetings to review architecture. Public input ruins the idea of professional review." -Design Review Committee Chairman, 11/04/09

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WhenIGrowUp View post
    So has anyone gotten their letter yet? I know my registration approval was late, can I assume the congratulatory letters after-the-fact will be late, too?
    It takes them 2+ months to acknowledge you passed the test. I got mine I think 2 months, 1 week after I passed the test.

    Then the letter they send you (i.e., the invoice) indicates that the welcome package will take "approximately" 4 weeks from when they receive AND process your payment.

    In other words, when they feel like it.

    (/rant just because the APA has many members who work in government does NOT mean APA should mimic government bureacracy /endrant).
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    I got my congratulations letter sometime last week. The envelope is post-marked Jan 12 and the letter is dated Jan 13 (see that!? they did beat their own anticipated dates this time!). It did include a bill for $30, the pro-rated membership amount.

    I got my approval to take the exam on the very last possible date, about an hour before the extended-full-of-apologies deadline they gave themselves.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian WhenIGrowUp's avatar
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    My letter arrived last week. It sat in a bin until such time they got around to delivering it to me.
    "We are not going to have public meetings to review architecture. Public input ruins the idea of professional review." -Design Review Committee Chairman, 11/04/09

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