How I passed the CPCE
I am a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University earning my masters in counseling. As part of the program requirements, we have to take this exam called the CPCE. This exam was very anxiety provoking and most of my classmates were highly concerned about passing it, which in turn made me nervous.
I am happy to share that I took the exam in December of 2018 and passed with flying colors. This blog post is meant to reduce the anxiety of my fellow grad students that are worried about taking the test. I am going to share my study tips, the materials I used and offer a free download of the Encyclopedia of Counseling by Dr. Howard Rosenthal.
What is CPCE?
The Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam (CPCE) is a graduation requirement for counseling graduate students. Depending on the licensure requirement in your state (in the U.S.A.), passing this exam may be required for licensure as well. The purpose of this exam is to show you’re proficiency in counseling theories, research and ethical concerns. At the end of the exam you will receive a raw score and summary that shows you the areas of strength and weakness to evaluate your growth as a counselor. The passing score is decided based on the national average and the number is set by your institution. The average raw score if 70, so if you get 1 standard deviation below or above that, you should pass.
What is the test like?
I took the test at a testing center, which I scheduled months in advance so that I had enough time to study for it. It cost about $150 but they will charge a fee if you try to reschedule your date and time. It is a multiple choice test that has no time limit but I took 2 to 3 hours to complete it. On the exam, you are able to flag questions and go back to them at the end of the test to double check before you submit your answers.
I used the NCE Prep app to study for the exam. The NCE is the National Counselor Examination which is recognized in most states in the United States. A passing score on the NCE exam guarantees you licensure in most states. It cost about $4.99 (I think, I can’t remember) and the benefit of using this app to study is that it has more specific questions about research types, the similarities and differences in theories, group counseling and post modern theories. I could not find a link to the app but I provided an image below of what it looks like so that you buy the correct app.
The Audio Recording
I listened to the CD’s by Howard Rosenthal called Vital Information and Review Questions for NCE, CPCE, and State Counseling Exams. This CD pack came with 12 CD’s that reviewed questions from each section covered on the exam along with a review CD and one on test anxiety. I loved the CD because I could pop it in while I’m driving or at home doing laundry. The key to remembering the information is to make sure you’re actually paying attention and not just keeping it as white noise. Rosenthal asks over almost 200 questions and gives you the answer to the questions along with an explanation if needed. He goes into great detail on specific questions that you may come across on the exam and he goes over history, the names of theorists and how it relates to other theories. The questions were sometimes repetitive which helps for memory and the review CD is a great last minute studying tool.
I read the book Encyclopedia of Counseling 3rd edition by Howard Rosenthal. The book is daunting and long! There are more than 600 pages and a lot of information that I did not need for the exam, but, it is still a helpful tool. I recommend going through each question, and reading some of the explanations for the questions that you did not understand. If you’re taking the NCE, you should read every word in this book because the information is relevant. Plan to study 10 pages per day or whatever schedule works for you so you do not feel overwhelmed.
I have provided the link for a FREE copy of this book. This is the outdated version of the book but the information is pretty much the same, no need to spend your money.
Click the image below to download
If you have any questions, place them in the comment section below. Good luck!