Structure of the EPPP

It’s still haunting us. The EPPP, like a final boss to beat after all your academics have been completed and you’re finishing up your postdoctoral training hours, is waiting for you at the end of all your hard work. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) have worked to develop this exam to comprehensively test your ability to perform both clinical and research-based skills in a real-world setting.

The exam, as it stands now, is administered solely electronically at Pearson VUE testing centers. However, in January of 2020, there will be an interactive component. The EPPP2 (the version to be released and adopted in January 2020) will include a portion that better addresses the hopeful psychologist-trainee’s clinical skills. They will be tested on the foundational and functional competencies required by the profession. Foundational skills such as evidence-based decision making, critical reasoning, and interpersonal competencies will be addressed. The functional assessments will focus more on the ability to assess clients, provide interventions, and offer consultation services within the scope of your competency.

First, it is important to get a general understanding of the EPPP. The exam is 225 multiple choice questions, which the test-taker needs to complete in four hours and fifteen minutes. Within this testing time, ASPPB accounts for one 15-minute break, which the test-taker can choose to take at any time. The questions also include 50 pilot questions, which will not be counted toward the tester’s final score. These are administered to help the ASPPB develop future forms of the exam. You will need to score a 70% correct, although there are a few states that require a slightly more stringent passing percentage. Following the exam, you will be provided with your “unofficial scores”, which will likely indicate if you have passed or not. These scores are still considered unofficial, as they haven’t been reviewed by official scorers of the ASPPB or Pearson. Barring anything unusual, these will likely be your official scores.

There are eight major domains covered by the EPPP. We’ll go into each here briefly. Something to note: the EPPP2, or the Enhanced EPPP will be released in January of 2020, which may or may not have a different breakdown. For now, this is the distribution of topics that we know, so these are the ones that we will delve into.

The first is Biological Bases of Behavior, which accounts for 10% of the exam. You probably remember taking a course titled something similar to this in graduate school. This portion of the exam focuses on reasons behind human behavior that are based in our biological make-up. For instance, heritability of psychological issues as well as brain structure. This section can prove rather difficult for some individuals, especially those who got into the social sciences to avoid courses like biology. Nevertheless, this information is very important for eventual psychologists. Knowing some of the biology that goes into the biopsychosocial approach understood by most psychologists is necessary to conceptualize your clients as well as communicate within the field.

Next, we have Cognitive & Affective Bases of Behavior, which is 13% of the exam. Again, this section of the exam likely reflects a course that you have taken in your graduate coursework.  This section deals with the theory that our behaviors are also driven by our cognitions and emotions. It is important to understand this and other bases of behavior as standalone theories, and to understand it as it interacts with the other bases of human behavior.

Third is the Social & Cultural Bases of Behavior at 11% of the exam. This is the final section explicitly about behavioral bases of the EPPP. This portion examines your knowledge on the culturally-based drives of our behavior. Specifically, Social and Cultural Bases of Behavior examines the relationship of a person to their peers and environment and how it impacts their behaviors. Additionally, this section also impacts the other two major bases of behavior: Cognitive & Affective Bases and Biological Bases. Social interactions have strong impact on the overall functioning of an individual, which is why it is vitally important to understand this section in light of the other sections.

There is also a section on Growth & Lifespan Development. This section accounts for 12% of the exam. This section deals with the changes in a human’s life—spanning all the way from infancy to death. This refers to things such as characteristics at a certain age, appropriate milestones for infants, intellectual development over a lifetime, and understanding the factors that lead to developmental variances from person to person. When thinking about Growth & Lifespan Development, most people focus on infancy and early developmental milestones. However, it is important not to ignore the developmental process after the age of 18. There is a robust amount of infomration to be studied after the client turns 18 (and it’s fair game for the EPPP)!

The ASPPB also uses 16% of the EPPP to test your knowledge and abilities in Assessment and Diagnosis. This section combines two major components of our profession, the first being clinical assessment. By this, the examiners are referring to “softer” assessments (such as in-session suicidal/homicidal ideation and assessments of orientation) as well as “hard” assessments (such as the Wechsler tests or the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale). These assessments provide valuable clinical knowledge to psychologists in their own respective rites. Understanding when each is appropriate and how to best make sense of the obtained infomration is a major required competency of psychologists. Related to the assessment component is the Diagnosis component of this section. You will be asked to use information provided by the exam to select an appropriate working diagnosis. You will likely be required to integrate information provided by a range of assessments into the diagnostic consideration.

The sixth domain covered by the EPPP includes Treatment, Interventions, Prevention, and Supervision. This domain represents 15% of the exam. Once the working diagnosis has been established, it only follows that the next section is the appropriate treatment and intervention styles. When provided with a diagnosis and some background information, the psychologist-in-training will be required to choose a certain plan of treatment and select appropriate interventions based on that treatment model. Naturally, this will require your intimate knowledge of different treatment modalities and associated interventions, as well as their respective efficacy for different diagnoses and demographic groups.

Everyone’s favorite section of the EPPP is the portion covering Research Methods and Statistics! Not to worry, this portion represents the smallest percentage of the exam, representing only 7%. If you are planning on being a researcher primarily, this may be a more exciting section for you. However, if you are the type that prefers clinical practice and intervention to research, this section can be a bit of a challenge. Many of the questions in this section surround interpreting research and determining proper use of statistics in the field. Knowing that all empirical research needs to have proper design and accurate use of statistics, the importance of this section is evident. Although all published studies have gone through some sort of peer-review process, there remains a burden on the psychologist interpreting the research to determine if the design and statistics are appropriate to the specific situation. Additionally, should you ever publish your own research, it is important to ensure that your research design, methods, and statistics are sound.

Finally, the EPPP also includes an exam on Legal, Ethical, and Professional Issues, which accounts for 16% of the exam. Later in your steps towards licensure, you will also take an exam entirely on ethics and the law. Although this exam is not your ethics exam, the ASPPB has included ethics in applied problems for the EPPP. Knowing how to practice and conduct yourself in an ethical and professional manner is extremely important to the profession and our respective governing boards. When something unethical or unprofessional happens, it tends to reflect poorly on our field as a whole. This may feel like some pressure—as it should. The EPPP is just another safeguard to ensure that when you enter the field as a licensed clinician, you are truly ready to take on the rights and responsibilities that accompany the title.

While we still do not know much about the EPPP2, we do know that the exam will move towards a competency approach. Specifically, they will be testing the individual’s competency in (1) Scientific Orientation to Practice, (2) Relational Competence, (3) Assessment and Intervention, (4) Ethical Practice, (5) Collaboration, Consultation, and Supervision, and (6) Professionalism. The EPPP2 (Enhanced EPPP) will be taken in a separate sitting from the EPPP as it is now, and you will be permitted another 4 hours and 15 minutes for this exam as well. The general reasoning behind this additions to predict and asses how you will perform as a clinician rather than simply how well you have been able to memorize and regurgitate information studied. In short, this is a more practical application to the EPPP’s information.

Are you an auditory learner?

Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST

When you are learning new material, do you read it aloud? Is it helpful to hear the information read to you? Do you prefer learning through lectures and discussions versus reading? If these ways of learning are useful, you may be an auditory learner. If your learning style is auditory and your study program is 90% visual, then you will less likely remember the information for the exam.

Each person learns information differently. As you prepare for your exam, it is helpful to identify how you learn and retain information. There are three major learning styles which include auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Over the next few weeks, we will explore each of these. This post will explore everything you need to know about auditory learning.

What is an auditory learner?

An auditory learner finds the most benefit from listening to study material and questions. Also, they are better able to retain information if they read it out loud and then listen to the recording. For example, someone with this learning style will find it helpful to read the exam questions out loud and answer them. Speaking the information helps them remember it better.

Someone who is an auditory learner doesn’t mean that they don’t also learn information from visual and kinesthetic styles. Auditory learners can absorb and recall information better when it is delivered through hearing. Knowing your learning style can cut down on test-taking anxiety and frustration.

You may be an auditory learner if

  • You find it helpful to have someone ask the question, and you verbalize the answer to them
  • You like someone to tell you directions versus reading directions
  • You discuss answers versus write out answers
  • You use rhymes to remember information
  • You read questions out loud then you provide the answers

Tips to help auditory learners

  • Listen to recordings of exam questions and study material
  • Read each exam question out loud then verbalize the answer
  • Record your reading of questions and answers in a voice memo app
  • Describe information in detail including steps and processes
  • Participate in group discussions of exam material

Finding your learning style is crucial to your exam preparation. You invest time and money to prepare for your exam so be sure to get the most out of your study material.TSM has provided every narrative definition in our program with an accompanying audio file for auditory-supported learning. Check out TSM’s research-based packages that help each of the different learning styles.


Procrastination: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

You know that term paper is due soon. You’ve got to get your client documentation ready for the audit. You need to study for your EPPP licensure exam next month. So why are you struggling to get started on all that work?

For nearly all of us, procrastination, or the act of delaying things, is a part of life. Even when we’ve experienced success getting things done in the past, the desire to put something off can strike any time.

Depending on the situation, procrastination has its positives along with ways it makes life harder. Normal levels of procrastination offer us unexpected benefits, while chronic, severe procrastination can cause us harm. Here’s a rundown of the good, bad, and ugly ways procrastination impacts our lives.

The Good

You’ll be more creative and insightful.
Have you heard the saying “your first guess is usually right?” Studies show that this often isn’t correct, and it’s better for us to take time to process to make the best decisions. Appropriate levels of procrastination gives us additional time to generate new creative, innovative ideas and for our subconscious to generate materials and solutions.

You’ll learn time management and productivity.
Procrastination doesn’t always mean doing nothing. While procrastinating one task, you might well be getting another one done. This is where the joke comes from that students clean during final exam prep; for many this is true! Through procrastination, we can develop time management skills, such as when to prioritize what tasks and what’s ultimately most important.

Your health can benefit.
Surprisingly to many, typical levels of procrastination benefit your health. Procrastinating sometimes can help you relax, reducing your stress and have lowered anxiety. A great part of procrastination is that we can all be reassured that doing it sometimes is healthy and normal.

The Bad

You might be predisposed to it.
Ever wondered why your classmates or colleagues procrastinate less than you? The answer is in your genes. Research suggests that those of us who score high on impulsivity are inherently more likely to chronically procrastinate. If this describe you, you’ll need to work extra hard on prioritizing to keep your procrastination at healthy levels.

It’s harder to progress.
Regular procrastination helps us prioritize, but procrastinating chronically means we’re getting stuck by not getting things done. Or we’re getting the wrong things done by cleaning when we should be studying. Avoiding critical tasks will keep us stuck in a rut, a self-defeating behavior that makes us unable to move forward in ways important to our life.

You might feel worse.
Students who procrastinate chronically feel worse about themselves, studies show. You’re more likely to temporarily feel worse about yourself after a major episode of procrastination, particularly for something important like a test. To mitigate this feeling and reduce your likelihood of severe procrastination again, practice self-forgiveness.

The Ugly

Your work quality will decrease
. Chronic and serious procrastination often results in lower quality work than we otherwise would have done. While some people believe they do their best work at the last second, research shows in reality this is rarely true. Students who chronically procrastinate also tend to receive lower grades.

You’re ultimately creating more work.
By putting off work in extreme ways, we make work pile up and, in the end, must produce a product with more effort than through proper schedule. And in many cases, we’re not just hurting ourselves. Last minute procrastination often means our classmates, colleagues, or loved ones are picking up slack, adding to their work and potentially causing feelings of resentment.

It could harm your mental health.
Chronic procrastination can have potentially serious consequences to ourselves. Severe procrastinators experience more stress, lower self-worth, perfectionism paralysis, and more illnesses. Ultimately, repeating this pattern regularly can lead to clinically significant episodes of depression and anxiety.

Feeling worried from procrastination related to your test? You don’t need to stress out any longer. Taylor Study Method has got your back with exam prep materials that will get motivate you to prepare to pass. We’re honored to be your trusted study partner.

Motivation vs. Expectation: How to reward yourself for going beyond the minimum?

Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST

How is your self-discipline with work? Do you put off your therapy notes until minutes before they are due? Are you a procrastinator that uses pressure as motivation? Do you get frustrated with yourself because you are doing the minimal to get by?

Regardless of what inspires you or how you stay focused be sure that you are always reaching beyond the minimum of what is expected. There are many benefits to being motivated to accomplish your goals or tasks. Whether it’s the sense of accomplishment, marking off your to-do list, or the potential that your employer will recognize how hard you have worked.

Rewarding yourself for staying motivated and exceeding expectations is a great way to keep the cycle going. Here are a few tips that will help you along the way.

What does it mean to you?

Taking time to ask yourself how you benefit from exceeding expectations is one way to stay motivated. For example, volunteering to take on a new task at work will allow you the opportunity to show others how dedicated you are to your job. You are willing to take on extra work to help the team. Whether it’s planning the next treatment team meeting or organizing a team building activity you can make a difference.

What reward would matter most to you?

Everyone’s idea of a reward is different. One person may buy themselves something small, and others may reward themselves with something that isn’t physical. For example, if you had a goal and exceeded it, you may want to plan to take a day off from work so you can enjoy yourself. Having this to look forward to can help keep you motivated to continue to exceed your expectations of yourself.

What have you been able to accomplish so far?

The quickest way to boost your confidence and motivation is to look back at what you have been able to accomplish up until now. You need extra inspiration to go further. Making a list of what you are proud of accomplishing is a great start. It doesn’t matter how small or trivial it may seem, give yourself credit for it. Use this list as a refresher when your motivation begins to decrease.

You want to exceed your expectation because it will benefit you. It may feel at times like you are doing it only for your job or another person, but you will be the one to reap the benefits. Find what motivates you, especially on tough days and keep at it. Your hard work will pay off.

Reasons why you need to stop studying 3 days before your test

Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST

Are you the person that is walks into the exam reading the study guide? Do you feel that if you don’t look over your note cards one last time that you will fail the test? Many people cram everything they can into the last moment before entering the exam room. If you think you are going to retain the last bit of information, you are mistaken.

What would happen if you stopped studying three days before your exam? If you are gasping in horror, take a moment to consider the following reasons why you need to move your study material to the side a few days before your exam.


You have been preparing for months

You didn’t start studying yesterday. Your preparation began months ago, and you followed a study plan. If you wonder, “Did I study enough?” you are normal. This exam has a lot of weight on your career, but remember that you started prepping well in advance.

You have used a proven study program and answered exam questions. If you continue to review until the last few days, you run the risk of feeling overwhelmed and forgetting what you have learned. Let it go and relax. Part of your plan was to practice self-care three days before the exam. This means that you will allow yourself to watch TV, read a book, visit with friends, or get outside.

Focus on sleeping, eating, and deep breathing

The last three days before your exam need to be spent recuperating and resting. This doesn’t mean you can’t review a few note cards. Your body and mind need to relax so that you can retrieve the information.

Try practicing mindfulness techniques to help you relax and focus on the moment, especially when you begin to feel nervous. Practice deep breathing exercises to help relieve any anxiety that you may be experiencing. Make sure that you eat a balanced meal that isn’t full of carbohydrates. Doing this three days before your test will help you function at your best.

You don’t want to create more anxiety

You are feeling anxious enough. If you study until your exam date, you will more than likely increase your stress. You want your hard work to pay off. Be sure to use the last few days to rest and relax so you can recall all of the information you learned.

A few days before the exam you will experience a spike in stress hormones. This is to be expected. This is further proof of why you need to focus on removing stress.

Your exam date is just around the corner. You have planned, studied, and now it’s time to take a deep breath. Since you used a study plan and kept up with your material, you are as prepared as you can be. Remember to use your mindfulness and breathing techniques throughout the exam. You can do this!





The power of self-talk in exam prep

Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST

You already know how powerful self-talk is because you encourage your clients to utilize this technique. If you haven’t used self-talk as a technique to help you prepare for your exam, then you are missing out on a great tool. Your ability to use affirmations to increase your confidence in your test-taking ability can be just as powerful as the knowledge you have for the exam. Here are a few tips on harnessing the power of self-talk.

Choose 1-2 affirmations that you can easily remember

Whether it’s your favorite quote or a motivational sentence choose a few that are easy to remember. Make this affirmation a part of your daily life by saying it out load several times a day.

Write down the affirmation as a visual reminder

Your brain is full of important exam material so utilize the power of written word by writing down your favorite affirmation. Place it on your computer screen, mirror, or on the dashboard of your car. Let this affirmation ground you and be a constant reminder that you will make it through your exam.

Schedule alerts in your phone

You have every other part of your life scheduled so why not include a daily reminder of your affirmation. This will help you develop the habit of remembering to practice positive self-talk.

Record your affirmations as an audio reminder

Everyone learns differently either through visual, auditory or hands-on experience. Try using the voice memo on your phone to record your favorite affirmations. This will help when you start to feel anxious, all you have to do is play the recording, and you have an instant reminder. Listening to this recording on your way to the exam will also keep it fresh in your memory.

Studying the relevant material is only half the battle of acing your exam. Don’t let your negative self-talk or lack of confidence keep you from doing your best. If self-talk is powerful for your clients, then it can be just as amazing for you. Remember to keep your head up, identify your affirmations, and start practicing them daily.

Why Teaching EPPP Prep Will Help You Pass  

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, you should be teaching EPPP exam prep:

  1. Do you want to study effectively?
  2. Are you bored of the way you are currently studying?
  3. Are you an expert at your EPPP material?

The truth is, you don’t have to be an expert at EPPP preparation material to teach it. In fact, teaching is an effective way of learning even when you’re not the best at the subject yourself.

Here are three reasons why teaching should be a part of your EPPP prep.

  1. Teach to learn

When you know that you’ll be teaching information later, you are going to take in the information more carefully therefore increasing your retention of it. Then, when you do teach it, speaking and processing through the information out loud helps you understand the areas you are struggling. If you teach the information to a fellow exam candidate, perhaps both of you can help each other fill in your gaps of understanding.

Do you lack a study partner or someone to teach? Teaching is still effective if you don’t have an audience. Repeating things out loud in a way intended for teaching helps you process and learn the information in a different and effective way.

  1. Teach to shake things up

Exam preparation can get monotonous. Having a study schedule  with intentional break periods is vital. Even so, studying the same way every day can leave you bored and burned out. Increase your memory and retention by studying differently. Teaching what you learned in your last study session will help you see the material differently, making it stick; and making it a bit more interesting. Furthermore, you can feel less alone in the process of EPPP prep if you teach to a study partner.

  1. Teach to become an expert

You don’t have to be an expert on the material to teach it. In fact, teaching what you know can help you become an expert. “There’s always someone who doesn’t know as much as you”, as said by Belle Beth Cooper on “Life Hacker” website.

By teaching others who don’t know as much as you, you be seen as someone who knows a lot about what you’re teaching. Not only does teaching help you learn the material, it helps you gain credibility about the material as well.

Ultimately, whether you teach to an empty room, create lesson plans for yourself to do in future study sessions, or teach a study partner, teaching is an effective EPPP study strategy.

Further Reading

The Number One Secret to Passing the EPPP

The Number One Secret to Passing the EPPP

Are you studying for the EPPP again after yet another failed attempt? Or perhaps you’ve failed your practice exams time and time again. Are you ready to start succeeding?

The short solution to being successful is this: quit cutting corners.

It’s time to take an honest look at your current study strategy and perhaps trade it in for something better. Although success does not come without sacrifice, it will be worth it when you receive that passing score.

First, assess your current studying situation by answering the following questions.

  • Do I want to pass the EPPP?
  • Have I failed the EPPP at least one time?
  • Do I often skim through study material rather than read the whole thing?
  • Do I feel like I don’t know where to begin with studying for the EPPP?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, take these next three steps.

1. Start a study program

If you’re not currently enrolled in a professional study program, look no further. There is a reason TSM candidates have a 96% first time pass rate. Our program is customized to assess where you’re at, what your timeline is, and how you learn best.

Email us at or give us a call at 877-510-5445.

2. Stick to your study schedule

At TSM, we take what we know about your timeline, your initial assessment, and learning style to deliver you an efficient and effective study schedule with 1-hour study sessions. The schedule is unique to you, so it will be easier to stick to.

3. Seek support

Whether this means you find a study partner or join a study group, it is important to have the support of people in the same boat as you. They will be there to encourage you, hold you accountable, and help you understand concepts and vice versa – two brains are better than one! Furthermore, TSM offers coaching sessions to objectively look at where you are and how to improve.

Ultimately, a passing EPPP score is yours – you just have to come get it!

The advantages and disadvantages of being a well-rounded student

The advantages and disadvantages of being a well-rounded student

Being a “well-rounded” student comes with a certain list of connotations.  I’m sure we can all think of someone from a class of ours who was involved in 13 clubs, 6 volunteer opportunities per week, fluent in 2 other languages, and could play the piano so well it put Beethoven to shame. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here, but nevertheless you get the point. There has always been a pressure placed on students to achieve high grades as well as demonstrate that they are more than just a one-trick pony. There seems to be an immense pressure on students who want to get accepted to colleges or graduate programs to “have a finger in every pie”—to be involved to some degree in everything.

However, the tides seem to be turning. There is not as much of a unilateral pressure to become “well-rounded”. According to some recent articles being published, there are some cons being discussed along with the pros.

So, why don’t we delve into the discussion:


The student can end up spread too thin [2]

            It’s easy to see. Look around your high school or your college campus. Look in the mirror. When a person is trying to do as many things as possible, it follows that some ball will be dropped, a deadline will be missed, information will be misconstrued. Rather than focusing on studying to understand the material, perhaps the student will only be seeking rote memorization so that they can have an extra hour for that volunteer opportunity. Maybe this person is slacking in their leadership role on campus in order to study more that one class. The list of pushes and pulls is infinite.

Please don’t interpret this the wrong way, my dear overworked and overtired students. You are all incredible people for taking on your education and your future in such a direct way. When these slip-ups happen, I’m not trying to assign blame. Instead, I want to use this as a way to explain how it extra-curriculars and the drive to become well-rounded has taken over as a cultural phenomenon. Being pulled in so many directions simply is not sustainable, yet we’re told that it is an absolute requirement to success.


It shows time management and other professional skills [1]

            This point seems to flow from the previous. If a person really can have all those lines on their CV by the time they’re applying to college or graduate studies, they must have impeccable time management skills [2]. Being able to successfully juggle the stress of classes, internships, volunteering, and whatever else may be on your plate is very indicative of success at the next level [1].

Practice developing social and professional skills is also a major “pro”. [10]. Research has shown that when a person is confined to a single, relatively stable group of people they are—on average—less successful than those who have an ever-changing and diverse network of people [10]. We can gather that people who take on more extra-curricular activities would likely have a larger network of people, and that these networks would be changing more frequently. Based on data collected by Forbes [11], these students may be more successful in the long run.

In addition, a peroson being able to handle so many different tasks also shows that they must have a way to balance out all the demands of their daily life as well as the demands imposed on them by their extra-curriculars.  Ideally, that person has also found a way to decompress and take a little time for self-care in order to avoid burnout (but that’s a whole other blog post).  These are all invaluable skills that are necessary to move up to the next level, whatever that may be.


It no longer sets the student apart from the rest [5]

            “In a world where everyone is super… no one will be” [7]. Although the quote comes from a children’s movie (The Incredibles, to be exact), it still holds merit. This line comes when the villain is revealing his plans to sell inventions to the world which will allow everyone to become super. He means that by letting everyone become special, they will no longer be unique, and therefore no longer special.

This notion can apply to the concept of extra-curriculars as well. When we are building our resumes, what makes us different, unique, special… super? We can think that having so many lines on our CV makes us different, but there will always be someone who has that extra opportunity on their list [5]. Chances are, when you are applying for the highly coveted place at your school of choice, there will be a stack of applications with just as many individuals who are just as “well-rounded” as you are [5]. Simply taking on tasks because you think it will make you better than the next person is not a real passion, and it definitely should not be the reason that you pick up French lessons in the afternoons.


A range of experiences can help prepare a student for a range of challenges in the future [3].

I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase before: “experience is the best teacher”. Having students participate in several different activities comes with the good intention of allowing students a background (however brief) in multiple areas. It also allows them the opportunity to attempt to bridge the different learning experiences. For example, a student taking a leadership seminar may be able to apply some of the concepts that they have learned to a soccer team they play on—even though they are not the captain. You have the opportunity to take skills and concepts learned in one area of your life and apply them to different scenarios and settings. Problem solving with skills learned from a vast background has been shown to be one of the most effective approaches [9; 11].

This seems to agree with the concept of a liberal arts education. I feel it necessary to disclose a bit of bias here. As the product of a liberal arts education, I cannot be more in favor of the liberal arts system. I wholeheartedly agree with the goals of creating lifelong learners who have a broad background to approach problems from an interdisciplinary stance.

That being said, the research seems to agree that liberal arts has a positive effect on student’s overall outcomes at the time of graduation [9]. This research has the potential to be generalized to a liberal arts approach to extra-curricular activities. These experiences have the potential to encourage a variety of lived experiences, foster interactions with peers and instructors, and create a broad perspective from which the student can draw. As we learned earlier, having broad experiential background [9] and network of support [11] from which to draw has been shown to help students in their future endeavors.


The system seems slanted toward people with more resources [4]

It’s no secret that families that can afford to help their kids with the financial burden of college open a range of non-paid opportunities that might not be an option for students in lower income brackets [4]. In an anecdotal example, one student came to his admissions counselor feeling as though he would not be a candidate for a “good school” simply because he did not have the time to volunteer as much as the others in his graduating class [4]. Because he came from a lower SES, he was required to have a part-time job outside of his classes. The fact that he had a job precluded him from participating in a laundry list of extra-curriculars and resume-builders because of the time constraints [4]. He was under the impression that it is mandatory to have an extensive list of experiences by the time one graduates high school. However, his dedication to his job and skills that he acquired while working all proved to be marketable skills in the college hunt [4].

One article found that this generation is volunteering only about a third of the time that its older counterparts did [8]. While there are several reasons why this could be, the most prominent one seemed to be employment [8]. There are many young people and students who need to have gainful employment just to stay afloat. If colleges and universities are requiring so many unpaid hours, it would seem to slant towards those who can afford to have experiences for which they are not paid.

It would seem that there are too many positives to entirely throw out the idea of becoming a well-rounded individual, but there are also too many negatives to leave the system entirely as-is. So, what can we use to moderate these experiences?

Passion is the key.

Allowing your passion to shine through is the most important thing in any situation, interview, or experience. It is important to remember that these interviewers have seen a myriad of other students who have a staggering resume. They can tell when someone is more interested in how they portray themselves rather than having a genuine passion for something.

One article suggested that instead of being “well-rounded”, we should strive to be more “well-angled”. Rather than being taken in a bunch of different directions, students should instead allow their focus to guide our extra-curricular choices. Rather than having a piece of you being pulled in every direction imaginable, try to focus your extra-curricular involvement.

It is important that the point here does not get lost in translation—I’m not saying that all extra curriculars are evil. Much to the contrary; extra-curriculars have become a sort of currency, rather than a way to more deeply explore one’s passions. Having extra lines on your CV is an excellent thing, as long as your passion doesn’t become getting the longest CV possible. As one of my graduate-school advisors has frequently reminded me, it’s all about weaving together a story about how you arrived at their office. All of these experiences and opportunities have helped to build you into the individual that you are now and have helped to fuel your passion.


Suggested Further Reading:

What the Best College Students D  by Ken Bain

CITATION: Bain, K. (2012). What the best college students do. Harvard University Press.


  1. Gutierrez, L. (2018). What makes a student well-rounded?. Retrieved from
  2. Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The story of success. Hachette UK.
  3. Parsons, D. (2018). 3 Proven Steps to Make Sure Your Student’s Application Stands Out – Student-Tutor Blog. Retrieved from
  4. Block, L. (2016). Why Colleges Don’t Want “Well-Rounded” Students. Retrieved from
  5. Well-Rounded College Applicants | Ivy Coach College Admissions Blog. (2015). Retrieved from
  6. Macan, T. H., Shahani, C., Dipboye, R. L., & Phillips, A. P. (1990). College students’ time management: Correlations with academic performance and stress. Journal of educational psychology82(4), 760.
  7. Walker, J. (Producer), & Bird, B. (Director). (2004). The Incredibles [Motion picture]. United States: Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios.
  8. Rudgard, O. (2017). Volunteer organisations face recruitment crisis as young people can’t afford to give up time for free. Retrieved from
  9. Seifert, T. A., Goodman, K. M., Lindsay, N., Jorgensen, J. D., Wolniak, G. C., Pascarella, E. T., & Blaich, C. (2008). The effects of liberal arts experiences on liberal arts outcomes. Research In Higher Education49(2), 107-125.
  10. Adler, L. (2017). The Single Best Predictor of Job Success. Retrieved from ictor-of-job-success.html
  11. Simmons, M. (2015). The No. 1 Predictor Of Career Success According To Network Science. Retrieved from

Caffeine, Alcohol and Insomnia on the Rise During EPPP Exam Prep

Caffeine, Alcohol and Insomnia on the Rise During EPPP Exam Prep  

Are you sacrificing sleep for an extra hour of EPPP exam prep? Are you drinking more cups of coffee than normal? Do your weekends consist of more glasses of wine than when you drank when you were not studying for the EPPP?

A recent study published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) shows that legal drug use, such as alcohol and caffeine, as well as sleep deprivation and insomnia, are on the rise during exam preparation. Alcohol and caffeine negatively affect sleep quality as is, but added exam preparation stress creates the perfect storm for poor sleep quality.

And poor sleep quality, or not getting enough sleep in general, can be dangerous. According to an article by Reader’s Digest,  sleep deprivation can impact us in the following ways:

  • A loss of 2-3 hours of sleep in a typical 8-hour night can result in performing similarly to if you had consumed 2-3 beers.
  • Your risk of fatality is increased if driving while sleep deprived
  • A lack of sleep can contribute to a lack in motivation and a lack of willpower

Not only can poor sleep quality and lack of sleep be fatal, but it is detrimental to your quality of studying. Ultimately, staying up that extra hour to study could be doing more harm than good.

The study published by PLoS obtained data of student’s consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. They used the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) to measure sleep quality in 150 university students before and after an exam period.

They found that poor sleep quality during exam periods and was directly correlated with lower academic performance. Alcohol and caffeine consumption increased during exam periods as well, which have a more indirect affected sleep quality but affect it nonetheless. Stress was the best predictor of poor sleep quality and decreased time in bed which led to an increase in sleep onset latency and daytime drowsiness.

So, before you stay up past your bed time for the sake of that extra hour of studying, think of what you are truly risking: quality studying. Instead of cutting into much needed rest, create a study schedule that allows for an adequate night’s sleep and appropriate breaks during your study sessions. Do not wait until you are mentally exhausted to take a break. Schedule both short, 5-10 minute, and long, 20-30 minute, breaks and take them when you have set aside the time.

Furthermore, keep your breaks productive. Getting outside and moving your body will rejuvenate the brain. Incorporate activities that requires less mental energy and are absent of digital distractions. Perhaps go on a walk, juggle the soccer ball, or even take a relaxing bath.


Zunhammer, M., Eichhammer, P., & Busch, V. (2014, Oct. 3). “Sleep Quality during Exam Stress: The Role of Alcohol, Caffeine and Nicotine.” Public Library of Science, 9(10). Retrieved from

Weinhouse, B. Reader’s Digest. “America’s Sleep Crisis Is Making Us Sick, Fat, and Stupid. But There’s Hope.” Retrieved from

Further Reading