Prepare to Pass: Your To-Do List for the EPPP

Even more than finding a job after graduation, I dreaded taking the EPPP.  Saying the name out loud felt like bad luck.  I put it off, and I put it off, until over a year had passed.  And still there it was. 

Where to begin?  The problem was that I had no idea what to anticipate.  My expectations for what studying would actually look and feel like were undefined, so I found myself completely unprepared for the amount of time and personal commitment that is required to do it right.

Experience taught me that the best approach requires some planning even before you start studying. 

Here are 5 Essential Steps:
Step One: Pick the (right) program and stick with it.

Content wise each EPPP study program should be similar.  But be careful to pick the one that will suit your particular study preferences.  Do you learn better in a workshop setting or are you a lone wolf?  Will you be studying primarily at home or will you need to have mobile access to your materials? 

Once you have found the right fit, all you have to do is figure out how you can stick to the program.  This is what you are paying for – someone else has already figured out what you need to study and organized the material in a methodical way.  Your job is to follow the program.

Step 2: Find the study time before you start.

Remember when you were in grad school and you always had something that needed to be done?  How you would be writing papers after work, maybe reading while your family went sledding on a snowy Saturday afternoon?  Welcome back.

Preparing for the EPPP will take up many hours of your (I’m guessing) already busy week.  Adequate preparation is like accepting a part time job – you will need to find between 10-20 hours to study per week…for at least a few months. 

This goes back to Step 1: make sure you can realistically complete what your study program requires.  For example, if the program you pick requires that you study X terms per day, and this will take you Y minutes, you need to figure out which minutes those will be each day before you even start.

Step 3: Do not underestimate this exam…

The EPPP is not a test of your intelligence or your skills in the therapy room.  It is a criterion-referenced exam with individual questions that are designed to measure how much you know. 

I know several smart and highly skilled psychologists who did not pass on their first attempt.  Reflecting on this (frustrating, disappointing, expensive) experience, each of them said the same thing: I didn’t study enough.

Step 4:…but don’t psych yourself out, either.

Here’s all you really need to know – the EPPP is passable. 

Take everything you know and feel about the test and stuff it into a corner of your mind while you study.  When it tries to slip out and you begin to feel overwhelmed, practice some thought-stopping techniques and take a deep breathe.

Step 5: Set the right intention.

What ultimately pushed me through periods of doubt was an intention that I set on Day 1.  I decided on that day to do my best to study.  That’s all.  I thought, if I make my best effort I can have no regrets, regardless of the outcome.


Cynthia Ransley, MA, TLLPCynthia Ransley, MA, TLLP is the Social Media Copywriter for MSP and works as a psychologist in Oakland county.  A couple of weeks ago, much to the collective relief of her friends and family, she passed the EPPP.