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The worst AICP test questions

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
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17,058
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50
32) Which one of the following applications is LEAST likely to be approved by the Boulder Planning Commission?

A. A methadone clinic for transsexual Tibetan heroin addicts.
B. A prototype "Amsterdam-style" coffeehouse.
C. Design review for the Boulder Womyn's Center Valerie Solanis annex.
D. A PCS panel mounted inside a church steeple.


104) A developer wants to build a 20,000 square foot office building on a 10,000 square foot lot. There will be six off street parking spaces, and the first floor will be occupied by a health clinic specializing in pre-natal care. The front door is 300 feet from a bus stop, and 15% landscaping coverage of the lot is required. What is the FAR?

A. 2.0
B. 0.5
C. I'm from Canada, and we use meters, eh?
D. Radburn, New Jersey.


54) What's my zoning?

A. What's your address?
B. What's your tax parcel ID number?
C. What's your legal description?
D. Uhh, this is the HOUSTON Planning Department ...


25) What are the typical colors found on a zoning map?

A. Red=residential, blue=commercial, green=industrial
B. Green=residential, red=commercial, grey=industrial
C. Green=residential, yellow=commercial, red=industrial
D. Might as well paint it all red, damnit, 'cause y'all a bunch of Communists.


3) What is the ideal hairstyle for a planner?

A. A power cut, to establish rapport with developer's representatives at the office.
B. Cornrows, to establish rapport with low income citizens in the community.
C. A mullet, to establish rapport with contractors in the field.
D. It's all moot, because you'll lose all your hair after a couple of years of this.
 

Charley

Member
Messages
8
Points
0
At least you've managed to keep a sense of humor. I'm not sure what to think of the exam. Passing it will probably come down to whether I "guessed" what the exam writers were trying to ask. Thinking nationally and comprehensively didn't seem to be much help. Heck, my education and experience couldn't even help on some of those questions! Curious see what others thought of it.
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
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9,843
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37
I was pleasantly surprised by the exam. I felt very well prepared, and actually finished it with lots of time to spare.

One thing though...is there a surge nationally for "public breast feeding areas?"
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,853
Points
38
You would think with all the technology today, it would take less than eight weeks to get our exam scores back.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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17,058
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I was second or third out of the room (about 2.5 hours), and that's after checking all my answers twice. Did a run-through, skipping what I thought were difficult questions, and then spent more time with the brain-busters, for instance the multi-parter regarding pre-natal health clinics. There were a few stumpers, but overall I felt that in a couple of months, I'll be able to order some new business cards.

One thing though...is there a surge nationally for "public breast feeding areas?"
I haven't seen anything about it in Planning magazine, and if I did a Google search I'd probably get hit with results that would result in my firing, if I checked out the sites. Hopefully, that was just a question intended to check our ability to apply common sense.
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
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I was the first out of the room at the exam...took about an hour and 45 minutes (including checking over all the answers). The other 3 that were taking the exam (including my boss) used all 3 hours.

I used a similar strategy to Dan, and in fact about a half hour into the exam, the exam administrator asked me if I knew that I needed to use the answer sheet.

The public breast feeding comment I made earlier was simply because I thought it was a bit odd as an exam question, perhaps to make us look at a sensitive issue and consider appropriate design considerations.

I thought the APA/AICP CD-Roms were an invaluable resource going into the exam...since you could take practice exams and keep track of time as well as get explanations for wrong answers. Fortunately, the actual exam didn't have any wellhead protection questions, which seemed to pop up every third question on the CD.

All in all, I think it was to my advantage that I'm still relatively recently out of school ('97), have always been a good test taker, and that I'm a quick reader. New business cards will look nice in July.

Hope you all did well!
 

Joe Iliff

Reformed City Planner
Messages
1,441
Points
28
I took about two hours, and was probably one of the first five out of 45 done.

I didn't think the CPC Manual and the APA CD-ROM were particularly helpful since, like NH said, they included lots of stuff not appearing on the test, or at least not significantly.

I used Michael Waiczis's materials and attended one of his workshops and found his practice exams and guidance much more useful. The CPC and APA stuff seem to cover the content without covering the format of the test, and a strategy for passing. Obviously you don't need to answer every question right, so the object is to have a broad enough knowledge base to get enough of the middle (not too hard or too easy) questions right.

I also found that material they barely mentioned was important (like why they stopped building greenbelt towns). The CPC and APA stuff was much too general and needed to be more specific about what would be good to know.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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17,058
Points
50
You would think with all the technology today, it would take less than eight weeks to get our exam scores back.
Hey, did you take the exam in Daytona Beach? I was there ... my dog was back at the hotel room. (I drove down the day before, just so I could have a different environment for some last minute cramming, and so I wouldn't have to get up too early that morning.) I took Bailey to Flagler Beach afterwards, where she could run off-leash and bark at the surf.
 
Messages
23
Points
2
The rate of breastfeeding is at an all time high...almost 60 percent of women breastfeed for at least 3 months. Considering women represent half of the population, I would say it's an important issue. In many places, a woman can be arrested for breastfeeding in public. Providing private, clean spaces (sitting on a toilet seat does not count - that's disgusting!) for women to feed and men to change is truly a necessity.

Sorry guys! It has nothing to do with being a feminazi planner...just understanding there's a need.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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17,058
Points
50
In eight weeks, we Florida planners will eagerly open up the envelope that contains our AICP results, to find a note that reads "You have voted for Pat Buchanan."

It would be nice to have a Scantron machine right in the exam room. Hand the proctor your answer sheet, and if you passed, the attached color laser printer prints out an AICP certificate.

If you fail, the synthesized voice of Anne Robinson insults you for about five minutes. "Are you a zoning administrator, or just zoned out? I bet you can't even work Friday afternoon front counter ..."
 

Linden Smith

Cyburbian
Messages
141
Points
6
If you pass, they send the envelope addressed to John Doe, AICP. Inside, they give the score, but you have to request to get the breakdown on the questions right or wrong.
 
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11
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1
"I took about two hours, and was probably one of the FIRST FIVE out of 45 done.

I was SECOND OR THIRD out of the room (about 2.5 hours), and that's after checking all my answers twice.

I was the FIRST out of the room at the exam...took about an hour and 45 minutes (including checking over all the answers). The other 3 that were taking the exam (including my boss) used all 3 hours."


It's funny watching people trying to "one-up" each other over the test. I'm glad y'all did a good job. Now stop bragging. :)
 
Messages
27
Points
2
All AICP hopefuls, please note: I passed the test last year and my results did NOT come in an envelope addressed to John Doe, AICP. Thinking this was supposed to happen, I had a few tense seconds ripping open the envelope before I saw that I had indeed passed. Point is, don't slit your wrists thinking you flunked if your results don't come addressed to ____, AICP.

Have fun waiting! Last year it was the second or third week in July before we found out, if I remember correctly.
 

Tom Brooks

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
Reminds me of the Monty Python skit of the group one upmenship on being poor. "I lived in a matchbox." "You had a matchbox"! exclaims the other man. "Luxury! I had to work 28 hours a day, get up before I went to sleep, get beaten by my parents all day until they danced on grave. And when you tell your kids this story, they act like they don't believe you"!

I passed the test 8 years ago on my first try but I know one poor soul who flunked it seven times before passing. I thought the exam was more of a game of Trivial Pursuit than a certification test.
 
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27
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2
As for all of this "one-upping" going on, I must say that the test took me the whole three hours, I thought it was hard, but I still passed on my first try with a very decent score. Thus, don't sweat it if you weren't the first one out of the room or you didn't think it was incredibly easy. There is still hope.
 

Tom Brooks

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
One of the test questions I had on my exam in 1993 was what does ROM stand for. (Read only memory). Hardly an earth shattering question that should be used to test my knowledge as a planner.
 

CRP

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
Michael Waiczis's

Can you share this material with me???

Moderator note:
You have to purchase this material. No ifs, no ands, no buts... I find out about anyone giving out or accepting copyrighted material, I'll ban you. Nothing personal, CRP, you probably didn't know, but now you do. I don't take too much seriously, this particular matter I do. Good luck on your exam. ~ Mastiff




I took about two hours, and was probably one of the first five out of 45 done.

I didn't think the CPC Manual and the APA CD-ROM were particularly helpful since, like NH said, they included lots of stuff not appearing on the test, or at least not significantly.

I used Michael Waiczis's materials and attended one of his workshops and found his practice exams and guidance much more useful. The CPC and APA stuff seem to cover the content without covering the format of the test, and a strategy for passing. Obviously you don't need to answer every question right, so the object is to have a broad enough knowledge base to get enough of the middle (not too hard or too easy) questions right.

I also found that material they barely mentioned was important (like why they stopped building greenbelt towns). The CPC and APA stuff was much too general and needed to be more specific about what would be good to know.
 
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JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
24,192
Points
45
took it over 14 yrs ago,
so I really dont remember any bad questions besides the one NH Planner mentioned above,
study material has changed except for reading The Green Book,
when I took it was on paper - test question booklet, scantron answer sheet, & a # 2 pencil
 

Tarf

Cyburbian
Messages
699
Points
13
Can you share this material with me???

These days, Planetizen probably offers the best study materials.

BTW, does the "green book" refer to the "Practice of Local Government Planning"?
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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Can you share this material with me???
Moderator note:
Welcome to Cyburbia.

Piggybacking on what Mastiff wrote, from the rules:

5.1.3 Freely sharing copyrighted materials that are otherwise being sold by their copyright holders is not permitted.
For some reason, recently a lot of people have been asking for copies of Michael Waiczis's AICP test materials. It's unfair to those who put a lot of time and effort into creating the study guides. Also, when Cyburbia becomes a platform for others to freely share otherwise copyrighted materials, we can get in a lot of trouble. Please don't do this.
 

Hink

OH....IO
Moderator
Messages
14,433
Points
36
These days, Planetizen probably offers the best study materials.
Strongly disagree. Planetizen is probably one of the worst. The free stuff through the states, PA, GA, etc. are really the best materials. The only course I paid for was Ohio States online course, which was good for formatting the questions, but not on material.
 

Tarf

Cyburbian
Messages
699
Points
13
Strongly disagree. Planetizen is probably one of the worst. The free stuff through the states, PA, GA, etc. are really the best materials. The only course I paid for was Ohio States online course, which was good for formatting the questions, but not on material.

If the only course you paid for didn't include Planetizen, then how do you know Planetizen is one of the worst?

I'm using several resources, including stuff from the state planning organizations. I like the Planetizen stuff, personally.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Moderator
Messages
12,134
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35
I only used the APA study material (book and CD).....oh and my intensive 8 years of the experience.

The only question I thought was weird was about Charles Abrams who was the author of such and such book/theory/concept. It was one of those simple trivia "Who wrote such and such?" questions that is really useless to us practicing planners.
 
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arcplans

As Featured in "High Times"
Messages
6,336
Points
24
Strongly disagree. Planetizen is probably one of the worst.
Planetizen is one of the worst. I paid for the "study" guide back in 2008 before i got a response from APA rejecting my application because they received my transcripts "late" even though they received it on time. Any hoot. I found it to be too clunky and too umm..easy and broad based not well organized. Sort of like those SAT prep books that teach you to read the questions and the answer the "board" was looking for not the logical one, well planetizen did not do any of this. Not really training for the what the test looks like and the questions they would ask...

I than popped for the Mike W. Study guide and man, it blew me away. The practiced tests and the way the thing was organized really helped a brother out to train me how to take this test. I combined this with the green bible and AICP Code of ethics, easy pass the 1st time.
 

Tarf

Cyburbian
Messages
699
Points
13
The only question I thought was weird was about Charles Abrams who was the author of such and such book/theory/concept. It was one of those simple trivia "Who wrote such and such?" questions that is really useless to use practicing planners.

Going through all the practice tests, I'm finding a large number of them that are useless. For example, what year was the Americans with Disabilities Act passed. Now I know the answer to that for whatever reason, but seriously, worthless piece of information to have to know. As Einstein said, why memorize something you can always look up?

Also, again curious on the Planetizen stuff... all their stuff is on-line now (well not all of it, but the stuff I'm using is). Curious if this is different than what others got from Planetizen. I'm finding their resources to be helpful, though I agree they aren't organized well.
 

nrschmid

Cyburbian
Messages
2,856
Points
20
I wrote and led a 5 hour AICP workshop last year, which included a pop quiz with hand-picked questions. I threw several curve balls.

1. Which of the following court cases involves a beachfront lot?
A. Nollan
B. Dolan
C. Lucas v. North Carolina Coastal Council
D. Associated Home Builders of Greater East Bay v. City of Livermore.

A. Nollan.

There is no Lucas v. North Carolina Coastal Council. However, there is a case called Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council which involves beachfront property. This was VERY similar to a question I had on the exam 3 years ago (probably my most difficult question). In my workshop, 16/20 planners chose "C."

2. Although this varies across the country on average, for an efficient home heating system, use this level of insulation as a minimum for exterior walls:
A. R-10 to R-40
B. R-30 to R-39
C. R-11 to R-28
D. R-40 to R-50

C. R-11 to R-28.

The basic provisions are: walls (cavity + sheathing): R-19, ceilings: R-49, floors: R-25. I have absolutely NO idea why these questions appeared on the practice exams and the actual exams as this is more of a construction question. I think it might find a better place on the LEED for New Construction Exam.

3 Linear programming can be described as which of the following?
A. A technique to find the optimum design solution for a project.
B. Used to determine which steps in a project are most critical.
C. Graphically depicts the interrelationships of the tasks that make up the project.
D. None of the above.

A. A technique to find the optimum design solution for a project.

This was a paper quiz. With the exception of #1 above (due to its difficulty) I did not find out who answered what for the other questions (12 questions total). In preparing the quiz, I reviewed about 12 practice exams, over half of the exams were written by Waiczis. From my own test, I vaguely remember one very tricky multi part question involving multipliers (number of students, employees, etc.). There were a few simple calculations needed, but the question was very carefully worded. The answer from question 1 was needed to compute question 2 which was needed to compute question 3. After I completed the exam and reviewed these set of questions I realized the big mistake and had to re-do all 3 equations. I "think" I know where I can find this type of question if I dig around for a while in some bankers boxes.

I highly recommend purchasing Everyday Ethics for Practicing Planners as its questions are not found anywhere else in the study materials. However, this is an ethics manual first, study guide second, so there are a few scenarios that would probably not be on the exam (including the very controversial issue of adult uses and morality weighing in the final judgement, which runs counter to almost everything else in practicing planning ethics).

Hope this helps-
 

LTKS

Cyburbian
Messages
100
Points
6
Planetizen is one of the worst. I paid for the "study" guide back in 2008 before i got a response from APA rejecting my application because they received my transcripts "late" even though they received it on time. Any hoot. I found it to be too clunky and too umm..easy and broad based not well organized. Sort of like those SAT prep books that teach you to read the questions and the answer the "board" was looking for not the logical one, well planetizen did not do any of this. Not really training for the what the test looks like and the questions they would ask...

I than popped for the Mike W. Study guide and man, it blew me away. The practiced tests and the way the thing was organized really helped a brother out to train me how to take this test. I combined this with the green bible and AICP Code of ethics, easy pass the 1st time.
Agreed, Planetizen's course was useless. In addition to typos and wrong answers in the quizzes, the practice questions in general were way too easy with obvious answers and were worded nothing like the real AICP questions. Mike W's stuff is much more useful and extremely valuable. The practice questions were worded much better and actually made you think a bit (at least some of them). And having 5 (I think) versions of practice exams was great.

I wouldn't recommend that course to anyone, unless it was free and that was the only resource they had access to.

I studied like CPSU - supplemented the Mike W info with the Green Book and the Pennsylvania Chapter's free resources. Also had an easy pass the 1st time.
 

Masswich

Cyburbian
Messages
1,303
Points
23
Maybe this is a dumb question,but, like any other item you may buy that is copyrighted, can't people give or sell their copies of the test materials to someone else? I agree that photocopying or scanning them is not right, but when you buy a book don't you buy a book?

Moderator note:
Welcome to Cyburbia.

Piggybacking on what Mastiff wrote, from the rules:



For some reason, recently a lot of people have been asking for copies of Michael Waiczis's AICP test materials. It's unfair to those who put a lot of time and effort into creating the study guides. Also, when Cyburbia becomes a platform for others to freely share otherwise copyrighted materials, we can get in a lot of trouble. Please don't do this.
 

nrschmid

Cyburbian
Messages
2,856
Points
20
Maybe this is a dumb question,but, like any other item you may buy that is copyrighted, can't people give or sell their copies of the test materials to someone else? I agree that photocopying or scanning them is not right, but when you buy a book don't you buy a book?

I think this should be worded into an ethics question on the exam. First, anything criminal, including selling other people's copyrighted material, is indirectly an ethics violation. Second, it sends a warning to the test taker NOT to sell/distribute the study material after he/she passes the exam.
 

Hink

OH....IO
Moderator
Messages
14,433
Points
36
Maybe this is a dumb question,but, like any other item you may buy that is copyrighted, can't people give or sell their copies of the test materials to someone else? I agree that photocopying or scanning them is not right, but when you buy a book don't you buy a book?

I think this should be worded into an ethics question on the exam. First, anything criminal, including selling other people's copyrighted material, is indirectly an ethics violation. Second, it sends a warning to the test taker NOT to sell/distribute the study material after he/she passes the exam.
So I can't sell a book I bought? That seems a bit over the top.
 

Masswich

Cyburbian
Messages
1,303
Points
23
So I can't sell a book I bought? That seems a bit over the top.
My point exactly. You can certainly sell a book you legally bought. Same with training materials- if they don't say you can't sell them, of course you can. But you can only sell the originals, not make copies and sell them. You essentially bought a license for one copy of the material. You can sell the license.
 
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