You did it! You’ve graduated with your doctorate in psychology and are only a few steps away from fulfilling your dream of becoming a licensed psychologist! Although the licensure process consists of several steps, preparing for and passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is definitely the biggest hurdle in becoming licensed.

Preparing for the EPPP can be overwhelming, with some even describing it as one of the worst experiences of their professional career! However, with the right preparation and mindset, taking the EPPP can be just another item on your checklist of things to do to finally receive your license. Below I offer some tips and insights on preparing for the EPPP and state licensing examinations, including finding the best study materials to meet your unique needs.

1. Establish a timeline

The first step in successfully preparing for the EPPP is to establish a timeline. A timeline is crucial to structuring your studying, as the available study programs range in duration from one month to one year. Having a timeline is also helpful in keeping the EPPP process time-limited. For example, it can feel more manageable and less overwhelming to remind yourself that the process is only four or six months, for example, as opposed to something that continues indefinitely.

2. Do your homework

A variety of companies offer materials and workshops for EPPP prep. Companies such as Academic Review, Psych Prep, and AATBS are amongst the most reputable sources for obtaining EPPP prep materials.

Each company offers a variety of materials ranging from study volumes to in-person seminars. Regardless of the company you choose to utilize, it is crucial to thoroughly research each company’s materials to determine which materials best meet your needs. Given that most study materials and packages can be quite costly, people are often willing to share their materials. However, it is important to have an understanding of which materials can be shared and which cannot; this is especially relevant for online study packages.

For example, each company offers subscriptions to online tests but each subscription is time-limited and cannot be shared amongst multiple users. Thus, when considering whether to purchase used materials, be mindful as to whether you will have complete access to the materials. It is also important to consider the age of used materials. For example, older materials may reflect DSM-IV content as opposed to DSM-5 content.

3. Stay true to yourself

The single most important piece of advice I can offer is to remain true to yourself throughout every aspect of preparing for the EPPP. It is vital to have an understanding of your learning style and preferred study strategies, and to select study materials that are congruent with how you have learned and studied in the past.

For example, if you routinely utilized flashcards to study during graduate school, it would likely behoove you to also purchase (available from Academic Review and AATBS) or create your own flashcards when studying for the EPPP. Also, if you typically did not need to study several days or weeks in advance for exams during graduate school, you may need a shorter timeline — such as 3-6 months as opposed to one year — to study for the EPPP.

Remember that the same study strategies which allowed you to succeed in graduate school will also facilitate successful completion of the EPPP. Similarly, it would not be beneficial to radically change your approach to studying when preparing for the EPPP.

4. Select your materials — and stick to them

Lastly, I recommend purchasing all of your materials from one company; or, establishing some uniformity amongst your materials. For example, I purchased all of my materials from Psych Prep and found considerable overlap in the content on the audio files and the practice exams. If you choose not to purchase a set of materials from one company, I advise you to establish some uniformity amongst your materials as opposed to utilizing a hodgepodge of sources.

For example, it may become confusing to use study volumes from AATBS but have paper practice tests handed down from a peer and originating from an unknown source, as a lack of consistency amongst the materials may actually pose a barrier to successful studying. In addition, once you commit to a set of materials it is helpful to consistently use the materials, as opposed to randomly introducing new materials along the way.

Further, one of the perks of purchasing a study program is that the program can hold you accountable in your studying. It can also be helpful to remind yourself to “trust the program”; if you follow the program as directed, you have a much greater likelihood of passing the exam.

Although this article focused largely on strategies for the EPPP, many of the strategies suggested can also be useful when studying for state licensing exams. Given that each state determines the content of the state law exam, companies such as Psych Prep, AATBS, and Academic Review do not publish study materials for each individual state. Rather, you can often find your state’s psychology law and code online in digital format. Or, some state psychological associations, such as the Pennsylvania Psychological Association (PPA), have study materials available for purchase on their website. It can also be easier to share study materials for the state examinations as opposed to for the EPPP.

In summary, although preparing for the EPPP can initially be overwhelming, it certainly does not need to be one of the worst experiences of your career. Some basic strategies, such as creating a timeline for studying, researching the available study materials, having an understanding of your learning and studying styles, and being consistent with your preparation can go a long way in making your experience of preparing for the EPPP more manageable and less daunting than anticipated.

Whichever approach you take to preparing for the EPPP, remember: you earned your doctorate and passed all of your necessary exams to do so — you are competent and fully capable of passing the EPPP, too!

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