How to Succeed at the EPPP Without Ruining Your Life

For many would-be psychologists, the experience of studying to pass the EPPP is as near to being tortured as anything they’ve ever experienced.

If that sounds familiar, and if your EPPP exam preparation is making you miserable, ruining your life and alienating you from those you love, then you should periodically run through the following checklist. Addressing the 10 items in this list could make the difference between an EPPP study experience that is enriching and rewarding vs. one that ruins your life.

Am I keeping a positive attitude about myself? In the midst of something as challenging as preparing for the EPPP, it can be tempting to doubt yourself and your abilities. Yet research shows that having a positive mindset can profoundly effect your career success. This includes rejecting the myth that you are cursed with a bad memory.

Am I taking enough breaks? When you give your brain a break from our EPPP prep, it’s easy to feel guilty. In reality, you should feel guilty for not taking enough breaks since research shows that frequent and structured rest periods enables your brain to organize and solidify the material you’ve learned.

Am I keeping close to the people I love? People complain that EPPP exam preparation can be a relationship-killer. If your EPPP studies are starting to alienate you from your spouse, or your boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s important to (a) talk to your significant other about your struggles; (b) carve moments out of your busy schedule to spend time with the person you love; (c) don’t get so wrapped up in your own struggles that you neglect the needs of those nearest you; (d) remind the people you love that your EPPP Prep is temporary; (e) ask the person you love to help keep you accountable to observe frequent breaks for the refreshment of your body and mind.

Am I getting sufficient exercise? In her APA article The path to EPPP excellence‘, Amy Cynkar explained how skipping out on exercise is the perennial temptation of the student deep in the throes of EPPP exam preparation. “Strapped for time between work and EPPP preparations,” she observed, “you might be tempted to forgo your regular workout routine to spend more time cramming. But studies show that exercise improves cognitive function, so stay healthy during the months of test prep by exercising…”

Am I balancing my EPPP studies with my other commitments in a deliberate and strategic manner? Juggling multiple commitments can be chaos without a system for staying organized. At TSM we have put together a series of tips to help the EPPP candidate achieve the right work-study balance. Our tips can be read in our posts ‘Multitasking and Your EPPP Exam Prep‘ and ‘Multitasking and Your EPPP Exam Prep (Part 2)‘.

Am I allowing digital distractions to unnecessarily tire my mind and deflect my focus? If your EPPP study takes place on a computer, you could be inadvertently making things harder for yourself by allowing seemingly innocent distractions to compete for your attention. Learn some strategies for protecting your executive memory from digital distractions.

Have I developed an EPPP study schedule? To study for the EPPP effectively, it’s very important to be proactive and deliberate in creating an effective study schedule. As we shared in our post ‘EPPP Study Schedule‘, “If you try to just study whenever life allows you to, without a clear schedule and plan, the chances are you will constantly be alternating between exhaustion and frustration.”

Am I relying on rote learning, or am I strategically incorporating memory and learning techniques into the study process? Sadly, many people’s approach to EPPP exam preparation involves little more than rote learning, which uses up unnecessary time and cognitive resources that might be better applied elsewhere. It is far better to take a paradigm shift away from the harder-equals-better mentality to a technique based strategy that incorporates theories of memory and learning into the study process, including the theory of spaced repetitions.

Am I studying too hard? Research published in the Journal Training and Education in Professional Psychology and summarized on the APA website, shows that the EPPP pass rates begins to fall off beyond 300 hours of study and even more dramatically beyond 400 hours of study. If you aren’t studying strategically, too much study may actually be counter-productive.

Am I getting enough sleep? Skipping sleep to study is not simply a bad idea, it doesn’t even work. We encourage all EPPP candidates to get plenty of rest at night and to take naps during the day as needed. This will help to keep your brain sharp and to solidify your knowledge into schemas that can be remembered.

Further Reading


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