What to Expect When You're Expecting...To Take the AICP Exam

We were on Episode 3 of The VERY UNofficial AICP Study Guide Podcast breaking down what to expect from the AICP exam. From how many questions are on the exam to the topics that the AICP exam covers, we’re covering it all.

To listen to our advice, catch the podcast episode here. Here are the highlights from our chat:

Podcast Interview

How many questions are on the exam?

There are 170 multiple-choice questions on the AICP exam.

To note, 150 questions actually count toward your grade. 20 of the questions are tested for future exam windows. Also, no two tests are the same because all questions come from a larger question bank. When you’re debriefing with your friends after the exam, don’t worry if their questions sound different than yours.

How long are you given to complete the exam?

3.5 hours and the time goes by quicker than you think! Go through and answer what you know. The online testing platform has a Mark and Review feature so you can go back and see what you didn’t answer. And our biggest piece of advice: review your answers at the end!

What are the main subjects covered on the exam? 

We call these the Big Five. The percentage of exam questions pertaining to each major topic area is reflected as a percent.

  1. Fundamental Planning Knowledge (25%)

  2. Plan Making and Implementation (30%)

  3. Areas of Practice (30%)

  4. Leadership and Administration (5%)

  5. Ethics (10%)

As you can see, Plan Making and Areas of Practice make up 60% of the exam so you should spend the majority of your time focused on those two categories, followed by Fundamental Planning Knowledge of course.

Based on your past planning experience or coursework, different test topics can be more difficult for different people. For instance, a transportation planner will have to spend less time studying transportation planning because they practice it every day, but may find studying subdivision review daunting.

Our Comprehensive Planning Study Guide is organized by the Big Five topic areas to make studying easy and efficient.

What kinds of topics are included in these areas?

If you can practice it as a planner, it will be featured on the exam. That means questions can touch on transportation, comprehensive planning, current planning, economic development, etc.

Each Big Five area will have a range of question times. They will always be multiple-choice but may require you to use rote memorization like the date a law was passed and others will require some simple math, like calculating Floor Area Ratio.

Use our practice quizzes and practice exams to work through sample questions that will prepare you for test day!


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