Tips for Passing the EPPP, Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology

Passing the EPPP is the last task in the long journey towards becoming a licensed psychologist. After completing a dissertation, doctoral internship and a doctoral degree, the EPPP is the final step towards licensure.

The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is the licensing exam that is used by most states in America and Canada. The EPPP is used to certify the legal practice of psychology. The organization that oversees and administers the EPPP is the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB)


The EPPP Exam Defined

  • The EPPP is a computer based assessment that measures comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of psychology.
  • The exam consists of 225 multiple choice questions.
  • The time allotted for completion is 4 hours and 15 minutes.
  • Four tests forms are in circulation. Every 6 months, one is removed and another version is added.
  • Scores range from 200-800.
  • The exam fee is $600 with an average cost of $65 paid to the testing site
  • Most states only allow you to sit for the exam once your doctorate is complete. However, some states such as Kentucky allow candidates to sit for the exam prior to a doctoral degree.


Topics covered on the EPPP

  • Research Methods and Staistics:8%
  • Ethical issues: 15%
  • Biological bases of behavior: 12%
  • Cognitive Bases of Behavior: 13%
  • Social and cultural basis of behavior: 12%
  • Developmental psychology: 12%
  • Assessment and diagnosis: 14%
  • Treatment and supervision: 8%


Tips for passing the EPPP

1. Maintain your balance

The EPPP can seem like monumental task. Keep in mind that there is a safety net. You can take the EPPP up to 4 times in a calendar year, in case you don’t pass on the first attempt. This is not a do or die situation.

Keep perspective and look at the evidence that you are a qualified, competent student ready to pass the EPPP. The evidence is the successful completion of a dissertation, graduate coursework, a doctoral dress, and mostly likely a pre-and post-doctoral internship. These accomplishments are direct evidence of a highly capable, intelligent person.

These accomplishments are sound evidence that you are in a position to pass this last test. Now, it is just a matter of developing the right study system. Also look at the statistics for published by ASPPB. It is reported that 80% of examines pass on the first try!

In addition to believing in yourself, make sure the EPPP does not consume your life. Maintain your balance by eating healthy, socializing regularly, and committing to health and fitness. You will need a sound mind and healthy body to give your all.


2. Develop a study routine

I had several conversations with students in my cohort related to how much time is necessary to study. There is no answer that will suffice for all examinees. Some of my colleagues were able to study 6-8 hours a day over a two-month period. Personally, I found studying over 2 hours a day to be counterproductive. My study routine consisted of two, 1-hour study sessions every day, for 5 months. This is the routine that worked for me. Ultimately you will have to tap into your metacognition and determine what your optimal study routine is.

In addition to taking practice tests, the bulk of my studying consisted of reviewing each volume from  Academic Review and taking notes. Memorization is important, but I submit that the application of information is much more useful in preparing for the exam. The EPPP not only tests knowledge but the application of it to specific cases.

Pro tip: As you move along in the studying process, periodically ask yourself:

  • How is this concept applicable?
  • How can this theoretical piece of information be applied?
  • How does this information fit in with my clinical cases?
  • How can I apply this theory to my present clients?


3. Take the practice tests

Taking practice EPPP tests is one of the most important components to studying for the real exam. It is recommended to take a practice exam before starting the formal study process. This will provide valuable information on which content areas you know well. It will also help identify the others area that need more attention.

The practice tests will also expose you to the unique style of questions. The question style on the EPPP can be confusing, so examinees benefit from as much exposure as possible, to the distinct style of writing.

It is highly recommended to take practice exams under simulated testing conditions. This will provide exposure to the experience of feeling the pressure of answering 225 questions under time constraints. You will learn to pace yourself and manage energy levels. The ASSSPP allows examines to download a free practice exam, here. 


4. Start the EPPP preparation early

It is advisable to begin the study process for the EPPP as early as possible, while the content learned in graduate school is still fresh in your mind. For some students, it will be possible to begin studying during their internship year. For others, it won’t be feasible until after degree completion. In any event, begin studying as early as possible. This will inevitably will reduce the amount of study time need to pass the exam.


5. Apply what you have learned from psychology to study optimally

Remember the primacy and recency effects for memorization? Apply these cognition principles by studying information material which is most difficult for you at the beginning and end. The content that you are strongest with, should be reviewed somewhere in the middle.

Also, make sure you provide positive reinforcement to yourself. Build in short-term and long terms rewards. For example, give yourself a nice reward, such as completing a simulated practice test. At over 4 hours, you deserve something special!


6. Select the right study course

There are several study courses specializing in the EPPP preparation. I used the Academic Review

The advantages of Academic Review are:

  • All material is available online.
  • The study material is aligned to comprehensively cover all core areas of the EPPP.
  • The content is presented in a clear and concise fashion. There is no unnecessary information imbedded in the content review.
  • It is a great tool if you prefer to study alone, as it is not interactive.
  • They offer workshops however, which provides an opportunity to interact with content experts and other candidates.

Prior to my commitment to a study routine, I conducted a thorough review of all study prep materials. The Academic Review was the most effective in my experience. I am happy to report that I passed the EPPP on the my first try!


7. Familiarize yourself with the testing location

Acclimating to the specific testing location will help reduce test anxiety. Make sure you are familiar with the directions, parking, and overall facility to avoid any pitfalls on the big day.


Moving Forward

Passing the EPPP is the final hurdle in a long path towards becoming a licensed psychologist. The implementation of these tips will help prepare you for this final task. In addition to these practical tips, it is important to develop a healthy mindset. Many examinees approach the EPPP with resistance and resentment for having to take an exam after so much work has been competed already.

I cannot dispute that completing graduate coursework, a dissertation, doctoral internship and a doctoral degree is nothing short of the highest of attainments. Resistance to this final hurdle is a natural reaction, but will thwart your preparation. Instead, concentrate on the feeling of acceptance for this wonderful opportunity to at last, be able to practice in a field you are passionate about.

Acceptance in this context is related to assuming personal responsibilities for our choices and commitments. Accept that this final hurdle is part of the privilege to provide professional psychological services to those in need.

Respectfully submitted,

Joseph Graybill, Ph.D.

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