Planning Experience Essay Tips

Read our tips designed to give you a smooth certification experience.


Before writing your planning experience essays, carefully read the guidance provided in the AICP Guide Certification Experience Essays which describes each of the criteria that your responses must meet to be accepted as professional planning experience, and use the AICP Planning Experience Essay Criteria Checklist to help make sure your responses meet criteria requirements.


Make sure that your responses clearly describe your personal roles and responsibilities in the project examples you describe. Planning is often done in teams, but your responses should clearly indicate your personal involvement in the project examples you select.


Use one specific project example in each essay to provide a clear and detailed explanation of how your professional planning experience meets criterion requirements. You may use the same project example in more than one essay, but each essay must be unique and must stand alone, not relying upon information provided in other essays.


Only use project examples that are drawn from your verified professional planning experience provided in the AICP Application. Project examples from positions not included in the AICP Application are not eligible and such responses cannot be accepted.


Proofread your responses. Spelling and grammar errors can make it difficult for reviewers to evaluate the content of the responses. It may be helpful to have a co-worker review your material to have a second set of eyes for spelling and grammar errors. You can also use their review to ensure that you have provided clear and complete responses to the criteria.


Project managers or people with substantial experience in the field sometimes take for granted the planning experience essays. AICP Certification verifies not only the number of years of planning experience, but also that your experience meets AICP's established criteria. Experienced applicants should take care in making sure their responses meet criteria requirements. For example, managers or directors should use examples that demonstrate their planning experience, not their administrative or managerial responsibilities, when responding to Criteria 1 and 2.


When finalizing your essay responses, review to ensure that a person who has not done the exact same type of planning work can understand the project examples and duties that you discuss. This is especially important if you have worked in a very specialized area of planning. Your reviewer may not be familiar with acronyms or specialty terminology, so review your responses for an appropriate level of clarity and explanation to ensure that someone versed in planning broadly will be comfortable that they understand your role and duties based on your description.