They’re Making the EPPP Longer

For those of you who are fortunate enough to not be aware, the EPPP is the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. It is the test that anyone who wants to practice as a psychologist in the United States or Canada must pass when they apply for licensure.

When I took the EPPP in 2015, it consisted of hundreds of multiple choice questions, many of which had little or nothing to do with my clinical practice. I have some hilarious examples, but I remember signing an agreement that I would not disclose test questions, so you will just have to imagine. I can tell you that I mildly injured myself while studying because I got a practice question wrong, and the explanation was “None of these answers is technically correct, but B (my answer) is somewhat correct, and C is slightly less incorrect than B.” This is the only time in my life that I have ever punched a wall.

person in white shirt with brown wooden frame
Photo by cottonbro studio on

Shortly after I took the EPPP, there was talk of changing the exam. At first, I was excited. Much of the test had nothing to do with my actual practice, and it has been shown to have significant racial bias. People who do not pass the EPPP must either pay hundreds of dollars to re-take it or give up on becoming licensed even though they have already shown that they can pass every graduate course required to be a psychologist and an entire internship.

Alas, the goal is to make the EPPP longer and more complicated, not more streamlined. In addition to the wall-punch-inducing multiple choice section, they want to add a clinical component. Why not replace the standardized test with a pure clinical component? Or why not let students’ qualifying exams, dissertations, practicum, coursework, and internship speak for itself? What exactly is the national licensing exam hoop doing to protect the public or elevate our field?

According to the Association for State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB, aka the folks behind the EPPP):

Until the launch of EPPP-2, graduate programs, clinical supervisors, and licensing boards were responsible for measuring an applicant’s competency. For licensing boards, this can involve counting practice hours, an oral exam, and letters of recommendation. Yet ASPPB officials said these methods have known reliability concerns and proposed moving to a more formal assessment to ensure all licensed psychologists have been assessed for both content knowledge and clinical competence.

So, everything we have in place has reliability issues in predicting clinical competence – but how does the EPPP predict competence? Especially with its known biases. I assume the new exam will cost more, not to mention an increase in the cost for study materials, further adding to the financial burden of new graduates.

Dr. Keenan-Miller, who I’ve talked about in this blog before because she is awesome, circulated a petition against these changes, but it seems ASPPB wants to move forward anyway. According to the press release, they have seen a “significant increase” in interns requiring remediation, receiving formal complaints from supervisors, and not completing their internships since 2020. Essentially, they are concerned that online classes and chaos resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has led to graduate students leaving programs unprepared for the field.

Maybe that is true; I can’t say for sure. I have been teaching a graduate course online since 2020, and my impression of my students is that they are engaged, dedicated, and knowledgeable. But one class is hardly a sufficient sample size.

Regardless, our students are investing years of their lives and hundreds of thousands of dollars into their training. If there is evidence that this investment is not yielding qualified psychologists, shouldn’t it be on the institutions that took all their money and did not sufficiently train them? Maybe APA needs to revisit their accreditation standards for universities. Frankly, graduate schools should provide EPPP study materials. Why did I buy over $1,000 worth of study aids to learn how to take a test that my school was supposed to prepare me to pass?

ASPPB says the EPPP-2 is going to be able to accurately vet whether or not someone has the skills to be a competent psychologist, but what are they basing this on? And what have they done to address the racial biases that already exist in our field? I’m not convinced.

Published by Dr Marschall

Dr. Amy Marschall received her Psy.D. from the University of Hartford in September 2015. She completed her internship at the National Psychology Training Consortium with specializations in assessment and rural mental health. Currently, she specializes in trauma-informed and neurodiversity-affirming care, and she is certified in telemental health. Dr. Marschall runs a private practice, RMH Therapy, where she provides individual and family therapy as well as psychological assessments across the lifespan. Dr. Amy Marschall is an author and professional speaker.

%d bloggers like this: