The American Planning Association’s (APA), American Institute of Certified Planners exam is a nationwide verification of an individual’s qualifications. The certification shows an individual’s pledge to uphold the high standards of practice, ethics, conduct, and continuing education required by the APA. The AICP exam is one step in the process of becoming AICP certified.


The AICP exam assesses a candidate’s knowledge and skills through a three and a half hour, 170 multiple-choice question, computer-administered test. The questions utilize varied methods of introducing information such as tables, graphs, word problems, and yes or no responses. The examination covers five topic areas:

  • Fundamental Planning Knowledge – 25%
    • History, movements, and influences on planning
    • Legal principles and decisions
    • Theories of planning
    • Pattern of human settlement
    • Statutory basis of planning
    • Natural, social, and economic systems
    • Core values of planning
  • Plan Making and Implementation – 30%
    • Effective research techniques
    • Spatial analysis
    • Public engagement
    • Communication
    • Preparation, formulation, and implementation of plans and policies
    • Monitor and assessment
    • Program management
    • Social justice
  • Areas of Practice – 30%
    • Comprehensive and sectoral planning
    • Planning: community, subarea, corridor, and neighborhood
    • Planning: sustainability, transportation, and infrastructure
    • Planning: hazards, mitigation, resiliency, environment, resources, and economic development
    • Urban design
    • Housing planning
    • Parks, recreation, and open space
    • Planning: historic, cultural resources, institutional, food, health, and rural and small town
  • Leadership, Administration, and Management – 5%
    • Leadership
    • Managing external relationships
    • Internal organizational management
    • Technology
  • AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct – 10%

Registration, scheduling the exam, and cost

To register for the AICP Certification, you must follow the following steps:

  • Be a current APA Member with dues current at the local chapter and with APA.
  • Meet APA’s eligibility requirements for AICP membership.
  • Submit the online application and pay all fees.
  • In eight to ten weeks, you will receive a confirmation email of the status of your application.
  • If you are approved, register for the exam.

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Once approved, you will register online to take the exam during the exam window. The registration fee is $425, not including previous costs, and once paid; you will receive a confirmation email detailing information on how to schedule your exam at a testing facility of your choice. Test centers are located worldwide. After you have passed the certification, you will receive an invoice from APA for your AICP credential. This cost is in addition to fees previously remitted.

Test Day

Arrive early for your examination. Arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled test time so that you will have time to find parking and complete the required paperwork. Leave personal belongings in your vehicle or at home and follow the rules for the testing center carefully. Negligence could find you disqualified and your fees forfeited. Security measures at the facility include scanning with a metal detector wand and visual inspection of your clothing, including eyewear.

At your testing station, you will be provided with scratch paper and a pen or pencil. The test administrator will also discuss any breaks that are provided during your exam and the policy for taking it.

Exam results and scoring

At the conclusion of your exam, an official score report is generated. Each question is scored on the difficulty of the question, and your overall score is scaled. A scaled score of 55 is required to pass. If you did not pass, you may take the test again. You will be required to pay the exam registration fee again and meet all requirements for the credential.

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You can obtain a copy of your score report on the testing facility’s website. If you need a letter of affirmation from APA about your good standing, contact APA’s customer service after your AICP dues.


Your professional career and advancement depends upon successfully obtaining the American Institute of Certified Planners credential. Becoming certified not only shows your colleagues and employers your commitment to the standards of the American Planning Association but exhibits your desire for continual professional development. Don’t let one credentialing exam stand in the way of your progress.

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by Mometrix Test Preparation | This Page Last Updated: June 28, 2022