Dealing With Anxiety


Why You Shouldn’t Underestimate the EPPP

As a coach, I’ve heard this statement all the time:

“I don’t need to study for the exam. I know someone that hardly studied. They passed the test just fine.”

Others have said:

“I don’t need to study for the exam. I went to a great graduate program that prepared me.”

While I’m not suggesting that one approach the exam with excessive stress, it is an exam that needs to be treated seriously and is not something to be taken lightly. This is especially true after committing four or more years towards your education after obtaining your undergraduate degree.

The EPPP is quite different than what you may have learned in graduate school. For example, if you obtained your degree in Clinical Psychology, it is unlikely that you focused much time on domains included in the exam such as Industrial Organizational Psychology. Some programs emphasize research and statistics while others only require the minimum, leaving many students to feel unprepared for these areas of the test. For many, it’s often been 2-3 years since their last statistics course. You are expected to be comfortable with an excessive amount of material in order to succeed on the EPPP. This is not something that you can simply retain from taking general graduate level psychology courses. This is especially true for students that have been out of graduate school longer than a year.

It’s also important for you to ask yourself one question:

“When is the last time that I took a multiple-choice format test?”

For graduate programs that tend to rely on papers and group work, multiple choice exams are often not utilized. For many, this may feel like a lost skill that needs to be practiced again, tailoring the practice to the rigorousness and level of difficulty expected of the EPPP test questions. For domains such as Ethics and Professional Issues, questions can be particularly challenging given that there is often more than one correct response. It is important to understand how to approach these questions and to be comfortable with the types of questions you can expect to see.

Going along with practice and experience, it is important to understand yourself as a test-taker through taking multiple practice tests. Studying adequately for the EPPP allows you to learn about yourself as a means of setting yourself up for success on test day. Do you know when you start to lose focus? Do you know how long it takes you to complete the exam? Do you understand how to cope with anxiety that surfaces during the test when faced with a question you do not know the answer to? All of these questions can be addressed and learned through allowing yourself time to go through multiple practice tests prior to your test day.

We may all know the one person who decides to share with the world how well they succeeded and how little they studied. Please don’t allow this narrative to impact your willingness to commit to preparing for the exam. You cannot guarantee they are being honest and you do not know the circumstances that led to their success. It is significantly more common to hear of the countless hours students have committed to studying for the EPPP as a means of obtaining a passing score. Although this is not intended to invoke fear, it is an exam that needs to be respected and adequately prepared for so as not to do yourself a disservice. In fact, a recent journal published in 2019 by the American Psychological Association titled Training and Education in Professional Psychology, found that most successful test-takers have reported studying between 200-300 hours.

Do not underestimate the EPPP. You deserve to give yourself the opportunity to be confident and prepared for this final stretch in your professional journey. Allow yourself adequate time to study (about 3 months for most people) and commit to a consistent study schedule each week, aiming for 15-20 hours per week. Make a plan to prepare for the exam by including time to review concepts and test topics, while also taking frequent practice tests.

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