Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology

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The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is a licensing examination developed by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB)[1] that is used in most U.S. states and Canadian provinces.[2]

The Examination is multiple choice, and tests eight content areas all representing a specific percentage of the exam. These include the biological bases of behavior (12%), cognitive-affective bases of behavior (13%), social and multicultural bases of behavior (12%), growth and life-span development (12%), assessment and diagnosis (14%), treatment, intervention, prevention, and supervision (14%), research methods and statistics (8%), and ethical, legal and professional issues (15%).[3]

It has been demonstrated that graduates of regionally accredited programs tend to get higher mean scores than those of regionally unaccredited programs.[4] It has also been argued that clinical psychology programs whose graduates have higher EPPP scores tend to possess the following features: higher admissions standards, a higher faculty to graduate student ratio, and more research.[5] In general, doctoral students score higher than master's students, PhDs outperform PsyDs and EdDs, and clinical psychology students outperform counseling and school psychology students.[5][6]

However, in spite of the near universal use of the EPPP in North America, its validity has been questioned[7][6][8]. Specifically, no evidence in favor of the EPPP's predictive, incremental, or criterion validities has yet been provided, and it appears to have only been evaluated in terms of content validity. Thus, there appears to be no empirical evidence demonstrating that the EPPP is associated with relevant professional performance criteria, is predictive of future professional performance, or incrementally adds to the process of licensure evaluation.

In a study using program-level national data (i.e., not individual data points per application but aggregated by program), EPPP scores were positively associated with: GRE scores, US News and World Report Scores, Research Emphasis of the program, % of faculty in the program who ascribe to a cognitive behavioral orientation, GPA, and % of students receiving an APA-approved internship. Negative predictors of EPPP score included: Rate of admittance, US News and World Report Rank, and % of minorities in the program.[6]

Further, a recent study of 4,892 doctoral-level applicants found significant differences in failure rate according to ethnicity (i.e., Blacks = 38.50%; Hispanics = 35.60%; Asians = 24.00%; Whites = 14.07%)[9]. Therefore, Black and Hispanic applicants appear to be failing the exam at over 2.5 times the White rate. When using White applicants as the reference group, Black and Hispanic applicants passed the exam at rates lower than 80%, indicating the potential for adverse impact.

The EPPP Part 2 is currently in development. It will be a computer based examination, containing "innovative item types", that is designed to augment and complement the current EPPP (which will be re-named EPPP Part 1). The EPPP Part 2 will provide an examination of the practice skills one needs for independent practice as a psychologist. The skills assessed will include Scientific Orientation, Assessment and Intervention, Relational Competence, Professionalism, Ethical Practice, Collaboration, Consultation, and Supervision. The EPPP Part 1, on the other hand, measures the foundational knowledge of the profession deemed necessary for the entry-level independent practice of psychology. The target date for launching the EPPP Part 2 is January 2020. [10]


  1. ^ "The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards".
  2. ^ Clinical Psychology Program Improvement on the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology by Donald I. Templer, Lori Tyler, Adam A. Nelson, Scott Winstanley, Cammy Chicota; Journal of Instructional Psychology, Vol. 31, 2004
  3. ^ (2011) Examination For Professional Practice of Psychology. Edmonton, Canada: Psychology-Canada. Retrieved April 10, 2011, from http://www.psychology-canada.ca/examination-for-professional-practice-of-psychology-eppp/
  4. ^ California Psychology Licensing Exam Rates of Graduates of Accredited and Unaccredited Programs - Brief Article, Journal of Instructional Psychology, June, 2000 by Donald I. Templer, Marie Tomeo, Michael Harville, Steve Pointkowski
  5. ^ a b Yu, L.M., Rinaldi, S.A., Templer, D.I., Colbert, L., Siscoe, K., & Van Patten, K. (1997). EPPP score as a function of clinical psychology graduate program. Psychological Science, 8, 347-350.
  6. ^ a b c Sharpless, Brian A.; Barber, Jacques P. (2013). "Predictors of program performance on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)". Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. 44 (4): 208–217. doi:10.1037/a0031689.
  7. ^ Sharpless, Brian A.; Barber, Jacques P. (2009). "The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) in the era of evidence-based practice". Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. 40 (4): 333–340. doi:10.1037/a0013983.
  8. ^ DiLillo, David; Tremblay, George C. (2009). "How should the effectiveness of the EPPP be judged?". Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. 40 (4): 345–347. doi:10.1037/a0015734.
  9. ^ Sharpless, Brian (2018). "Are demographic Variables Associated with Performance on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)?". The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied: 1–12. doi:10.1080/00223980.2018.1504739. PMID 30346907.
  10. ^ The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP Parts 1 and 2): Frequently Asked Questions. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, December 2017