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!

Increase Emotional Intelligence and Decrease EPPP Stress

Emotional Intelligence can decrease the stress of the EPPP.

Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to effectively express, understand, and manage your own feelings. It also includes the ability to successfully engage and navigate the feelings of others. Because EQ is the ability to manage feelings, those who have a high EQ are better able to manage stress; an important quality when it comes to preparing for the EPPP.

Unlike a person’s Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, EQ can be improved. A person’s IQ does not drastically change over time. Approximately 90% of high performing employees have a high EQ whereas 80% of low performing employees have a low EQ. Conclusively, EQ can be a determining factor of success. Furthermore, the higher your EQ, the less overcome by stress you are.

Ultimately, EQ is an important part of effectively studying for the EPPP. Here are 3 ways to increase your EQ and subsequently decrease stress during the EPPP preparation process.

  1. Reduce Negative emotions

One way to increase your EQ is to increase positive emotions and reduce negative ones. This can be done through gratitude. Expressing gratitude literally detoxifies your brain and over time can drastically reduce stress and increase your emotional intelligence. Gratitude also has many health benefits such as decreasing anxiety and depression and improving sleep.

A practical way to express gratitude while you prepare for the EPPP is to put a positive mantra in your study space. Think of an encouraging phrase that grabs you, write it down, and pin it where you can see it whenever you are studying.

  1. Express your emotions when necessary

Per Dr. Travis Bradburry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 emotionally intelligent people have four main skills:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management

To increase your EQ, learn to appropriately express your emotions by first understanding what emotions you are experiencing and then expressing them in a safe environment with someone you trust. Practice appropriately expressing your emotions when you are stressed and overwhelmed with studying for the EPPP.

  1. Be proactive

When it comes to adversity, be proactive instead of reactive. For example, if someone upsets you, be proactive about your response to them. Take a deep breath and respond calmly instead of reacting out of being upset.

When it comes to studying for the EPPP, be proactive about stress. Don’t let your study schedule happen to you, create one before all the study materials and practice tests pile up with little time to learn anything.  Procrastination, though, is not always the only thing that will cause stress. Studying for the EPPP in general can be a stressor. Therefore, expect the stress and be proactive about how you will manage it when it happens.


Ni, P., M.S.B.A. (2014, October 5). How to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence ― 6 Essentials. Retrieved May 22, 2018, from

Further Reading

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


Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep Brain Stimulation

When I hear about electromagnetic brain stimulation, I immediately think of the old-style electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) portrayed in movies, like Jack Nicholson’s character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest [1]. In the film, Nicholson’s character (as well as many others) are sent to the presumably painful “Shock Therapy”, where they essentially have a battery connected to their head to “reset” them.


However, this is far from an accurate (or fair) representation of what is available today. In modern times, we have two major modalities available: electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

The first, ECT, is much different than what is portrayed in the movies [2]. The ECT that is available today (and the style that has been employed since the late 1950s) is much more civilized than is portrayed [2]. In particularly difficult to treat depression and anxiety disorder, ECT is often adopted to address and ultimately treat these persistent symptoms [3]. ECT works by inducing small, controlled seizures that offer some therapeutic benefit [3]. In these scenarios, the patient is always given muscle relaxers, so that the patient does not harm themselves during the convulsions that are induced. Overall, it is a much more scientific and civilized process than what is commonly imagined.

A bit more recent development in cerebral stimulation therapies is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). TMS grew out of the work that had already been established with ECT, and simply built upon it to create a second option that was (ideally) less invasive and intimidating to the patient [4]. TMS was originally developed to be used as a diagnostic tool—and eventually some therapeutic uses became apparent [4]. It wasn’t until 2008 that TMS finally became approved by the US Food and Drug Administration [4].

TMS is a technique in which an electromagnetic wand is passed over the cranium, or simply just near the head [6]. The coil is simply metal that is attached to an electric generator which delivers electrical pulses—ultimately delivering electromagnetic pulses intended to interact with natural electromagnetic brain wave outputs [6]. TMS is able to directly target specific regions of the brain in order to address certain neurological issues. In this way, they are able to address major issues without causing damage to other non-necessary brain regions. The technique ultimately helps to “reset” the person, much like in ECT [3].

In two major studies by University of Pennsylvania and Mayo Clinic, TMS was able to help individuals with memory [3]. In one of these studies, the patients were read a list of words while they were receiving TMS directed toward the lateral temporal cortex region of their brain [7]. The patients who were receiving TMS stimulation to this region of their brain as they were being read the list of words were able to remember the words significantly better than those who did not [7]. That is because the lateral temporal cortex is responsible for language understanding [7]. It was further confirmed by another study by UPenn which showed that when this cortex was not stimulated at the exact right time, the significant increase in memory was not present [8].

An interesting study found that ECT is slightly more effective that TMS on some psychiatric disorders, including major depression that was resistant to other methods of treatment [5]. In addition, ECT addressed the symptoms of anxiety while TMS did not [5]. Although ECT was more effective, patients still said they would have preferred TMS should both treatments be covered by their insurance [5].  This was shown to be related to the feelings of stigma and fear associated with ECT [3]. For example, films such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest [1] paint a terrifying and animalistic picture of brain stimulation. People seemed to much prefer something that would offer even a fraction of the relief in order to avoid the fear of a perceived tortuous scenario [3].

Overall, it is clear that brain stimulation deserves a little more attention from both the general public and the behavioral health community. It is clear with several different research studies that brain stimulation, whether it come in the form of ECT or TMS can be greatly effective for a range of psychological and neurological disorder that have few other treatment options. However, TMS seems to provide a workaround to a major barrier that ECT has: negative stigma. Since the development of TMS is relatively new compared to ECT, it hasn’t had the same ability to be impacted by popular media.  Instead, it seems to offer similar benefits to patients who are in need of this more radical level of treatment. It also serves as a stepping stone into ECT—should it ever become necessary.


  1. Zaentz, S., & Douglas, M. (Producers), & Forman, M. (Director). (1975). One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest  [Motion picture]. United States: United Artists
  2. Estridge, B. (2011). Jack Nicholson did for shock therapy what Jaws did for sharks: An expert argues that ECT has been stigmatised. Retrieved from
  3. Payne, N. A., & Prudic, J. (2009). Electroconvulsive therapy Part I: a perspective on the evolution and current practice of ECT. Journal of psychiatric practice15(5), 346.
  4. Horvath, JC; Perez, JM; Forrow, L; Fregni, F; Pascual-Leone, A (March 2011). “Transcranial magnetic stimulation: a historical evaluation and future prognosis of therapeutically relevant ethical concerns”. Journal of Medical Ethics37(3): 137–43. doi:1136/jme.2010.039966.
  5. Rapposelli, D. (2016). TMS Versus ECT: That Is the Question | Psychiatric Times. Retrieved from
  6. Lopez-Ibor, J. J., López-Ibor, M. I., & Pastrana, J. I. (2008). Transcranial magnetic stimulation. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 21(6), 640-644.
  7. Kucewicz, M. T., Berry, B. M., Miller, L. R., Khadjevand, F., Ezzyat, Y., Stein, J. M., … & Gorniak, R. (2018). Evidence for verbal memory enhancement with electrical brain stimulation in the lateral temporal cortex. Brain.
  8. Kucewicz, M. T., Berry, B. M., Miller, L. R., Khadjevand, F., Ezzyat, Y., Stein, J. M., … & Gorniak, R. (2018). Evidence for verbal memory enhancement with electrical brain stimulation in the lateral temporal cortex. Brain.

The connection between your mental and physical health

The connection between your mental and physical health

One of the most powerful symbiotic relationships that are often overlooked is the one between mental health and physical health. If you have poor physical health, it is highly likely that your mental health will decline as well. Whether it’s diabetes, obesity, or another illness your mental health is directly affected. Regardless of your range of healthiness, you can make changes that will improve your overall health. Here are a few suggestions to consider.


The yin-yang of physical and mental health

You already know that there is an endless list of benefits of being physically healthy. From increased energy to longevity of life, there are more pros to being in the best physical health possible. You have the power to increase the possibility of remaining healthy. Your gut is a powerhouse that keeps microbes in your body in synch. Think about the last time you felt nervous. You probably felt your stomach churn. That’s because the fight-or-flight response in your brain causes blood flow to your gut to halt or slow down. This means that your physical body is directly affected by your mental health. One will always affect the other that’s why you want to find a balance that works for you.

Activity and exercise

Good physical health starts with being active. Whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood, going for a swim, or working out at the gym, keeping active is key. Have you ever felt bad after a workout? Probably not because you felt better and had more energy afterward. This is highly beneficial for your mental health. Being active releases endorphins and a host of other ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain. This flooding of chemicals can lead you to feel happier, more content, and less depressed. This healthy step for your physical self has a direct positive impact on your mental health as well.

Food and diet

Your food choices can be directly linked to how you feel. If you are having a stressful day and not feeling your best, you may reach for carbohydrate-rich foods. It seems like a cliché but think about how the media portrays an upset and emotional woman. They show her crying and eating a pint of ice cream. Doing this now and then won’t wreak havoc on your body. However, continuing to eat sugary foods will impact your physical health through weight gain and the risk of diabetes. If you eat heavy carbohydrate food, it’s less likely you will want to go for a walk after dinner. Making food choices that involve vegetables and fruit can help both you’re physical as well as mental health.

How to change both for the better?

You start by deciding and committing to make a change in your health. Knowing you want to change your habits is just the start. You have to be willing to take action. This looks different for each person. The change you may be ready to make is to commit to increasing your activity each week. Your goal for change is your personal goal, no one else’s. Keep this in mind if you begin to compare yourself to others. Deciding each day what small changes you can make add up to a significant impact.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t reach your goals every time. The goal isn’t perfection; it’s persistence. If you slip up in your quest for better health, you can start over the next day. Take time to figure out what makes you happy and brings you peace. Maybe it’s having a day off where you do something fun or creative. It’s your responsibility to do what you need to improve your physical and mental health. Once you realize the connection, you will want to continue to strive to live your healthiest life.

Is Studying for the EPPP Affecting Your Mental Health?








Studying for the EPPP can be a stressful and overwhelming undertaking. Stress can be a normal part of the EPPP preparation process, therefore we must learn to manage it. But, what happens when it becomes more than stress and studying begins to affect your mental health?

In order to address the effect of studying on your mental health, you must first know the warning signs. Here are three signs that your mental health is being affected by studying.

  1. Panic Attack

A panic attack is characterized by any number of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, racing heart, dizziness, the sense that you’ve lost control, feeling faint, or a sense of terror.

If you do experience a panic attack, don’t try to fight it off. Instead, breathe deeply, engage yourself in your surroundings and allow the panic to subside.

  1. Forgetfulness

A surprising symptom of anxiety is forgetfulness. Because anxiety is overwhelming and consuming, it can cause you to forget things such as what you highlighted in last night’s study session. Furthermore, a hormone called cortisol is released when we experience stress. Cortisol is known for preventing the formation of memories.

  1. Depression

Symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness, disinterest in activities you once enjoyed, lack of energy, and anxiety. Experiencing depression during EPPP preparation can affect your motivation to study as well as your ability to maintain a healthy balance between studying and time with family and friends.

If you experience any, or a combination, of the above, then the stress of taking the EPPP is affecting your mental health. This means it is time to take a step back and get help. Talk to a trusted friend and seek professional help. A counselor can advise you on how to move forward through depression and anxiety.

If you don’t identify with the above symptoms, maintaining good mental health is key. Here are 3 ways to stay mentally healthy during EPPP prep.

  1. Know the warning signs of stress and burnout

Everyone reacts to stress differently, but here are a few possible warning signs of stress per The American Psychological Association (APA): Headaches, muscle tension, neck or back pain; Upset stomach; Dry mouth; Chest pains and rapid heartbeat; Difficulty falling or staying asleep; Fatigue.

Furthermore, if you feel like you have nothing left to give, you may be experiencing burnout.

Look at stress relief strategies here.

  1. Schedule breaks

When you create your study schedule, be sure to include breaks. During periods of rest, our brains store and organize the material we have learned. So, not only are breaks giving you rest to combat anxiety, but they are helping your memory and retention.

Your breaks should include small 5-10 minute breaks as well as longer 30 minute ones. Be sure to incorporate a good night’s sleep as well.

  1. Gratitude

Thinking thankful thoughts can literally detox your brain.  Thinking negatively creates toxins in your brain that can be combatted by shifting your thinking to positivity. By cultivating a positive, gratuitous attitude, you can starve your inclination to think negatively.

Not only will gratitude detox your brain and make you happier in general, but it will reduce stress and anxiety, ultimately making you mentally healthier.


Dunn, Carrie. “Mind over Matter: The Effects of Studying on Mental Health.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 6 Dec. 2008,


“How Anxiety Can Cause Forgetfulness.” 7 Strategies for Dealing With Work Anxiety,

“Listening to the Warning Signs of Stress .” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association,

Further Reading:

What to Expect on EPPP Exam Day

Your EPPP exam day has finally come. Do you know what to expect when you enter the testing center?

Pearson VUE testing centers, which is likely where you will sit your exam, administer the EPPP under standardized conditions per their established procedures. You may take the EPPP at any Pearson VUE testing center regardless of whether it is in the state or province you wish to practice.


When you arrive to your testing center, which must be 30 minutes prior to your test time, be sure to have all required documents with you. This includes a valid, government issued photo identification as well as another alternate form of ID with your name and signature. The names on your ID must match exactly with your Authorization-to-Test letter (ATT).

You will have 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete the exam which consists of 225 questions. 175 of the questions are scored and 50 remain unscored. You may take breaks during the exam as you wish, but there are no standardized break periods. When you do decide to take a break, your allotted test time will not pause. At the Taylor Study Method we recommend you schedule your breaks before you take the test. See our tips for test day time management here.

If you would like to take notes during the exam, the testing center can provide you with a whiteboard upon request. Scratch paper is not allowed but at TSM we recommend you request a whiteboard and use it like you would scratch paper. Furthermore, you are not allowed to bring your own ear plugs or headphones but may request them upon arrival to test day. If you are easily distracted, we recommend you take advantage of this feature – especially because Pearson VUE will be administering a range of different exams, which could cause minor distractions.

At the beginning of your exam there will be a short tutorial on how to move forward and backward through the exam and how to flag questions. The time it takes you to watch the tutorial is not counted towards your allotted test time and we recommend you take advantage of it. If you experience technical issues, tell a Pearson VUE staff member immediately. The test administrator on site will advise you on what to do if technical difficulties cannot be rectified within 30 minutes.

If you have further questions about what to expect on test day or how to register, give TSM a call at 1-877-510-5445 or email us at

What to Expect and How to Prepare for CPLEE Exam Day

Are you ready for CPLEE exam day? Before you arrive to take the test, make sure you are prepared.

First, prepare yourself for exam day by thoroughly reading the CPLEE candidate information bulletin board  by the California Board of Psychology.  It covers the following topics:

  • Purpose of the bulletin
  • Examination Development
  • Establishing the Passing Standards
  • Examination Scheduling Procedure
  • Special Accommodations Available
  • Examination Site Location
  • Reporting to the Examination Site
  • Taking the Examination by Computer
  • Study Materials
  • Examination Items
  • Understanding the Results
  • Abandonment of Application
  • Licensing Information
  • Licensing Fee
  • Fields of Competence
  • Continuing Education Requirements
  • Examination Summary
  • Examination Outline
  • Examination Study Questions

Once you have read the bulletin, you should do the following:

  • Visit the testing center location
  • Prepare for the exam the night before by choosing what clothes you will wear and by packing snacks and having your identification ready. (Clothing with pockets in not allowed)
  • Review pages 7 and 8 of the information bulletin so you know what items are prohibited in the testing center.
  • Review your EPPP exam day routine. You will follow the same routine when taking the CPLEE.

On CPLEE exam day, arrive 30 minutes before your start time. You will complete preliminary paperwork and verification during this time. To ensure timeliness, the Taylor Study Method recommends giving yourself an extra hour to get there in case of traffic or directional issues. When you arrive at the testing center, leave any prohibited items in your car. Once you enter the building and check in, you must provide one of the following forms of identification:

  • A current State issued Driver’s License
  • A current State Department of Motor Vehicles Identification Card
  • A current U.S. military-issued identification card
  • A current government issued passport

As a part of the check-in process, you will also provide a thumb print.

You will be given 2.5 hours to answer 100 multiple choice questions once the exam begins. Before your timer starts, the computer will take you through a tutorial on how to navigate the system. This does not count as part of your examination time, and we recommend you take advantage of the tutorial so you can go into the exam completely confident.

Once you are done with your exam, you will be provided with a printed report of your score.

If you have any questions or concerns about CPLEE exam day, give TSM a call at 1-877-510-5445 or email us at

There’s no such thing as a normal brain

Well, that’s good to hear. One of my old supervisors called it “graduate student disease”. As soon as we would cover a disorder in class or practicum, suddenly everyone in my cohort agreed that they had it. We spend so much time dwelling on psychopathology that it is next to impossible not to see some of the characteristics reflected in ourselves.

Thankfully, none of us actually had any major psychopathologies (aside from some anxiety, but who doesn’t in graduate school, right?). I’m sure that you all, my loyal readers, are also (for the most part) alright. Which brings us to our topic for this week. There is no such thing as a normal brain [1]. In fact, psychology shows us that there is not really any such thing as a “normal person” either [2].


To illustrate this point, we can go back to an example of the 1920s United States Air Force. Todd Rose details a specific instance in the Air Force at the genesis of jet-powered planes [3]. The government agency hired several research assistants to take the measurements of many pilots in order to find the mean measurements of them all [3]. The cockpits of the planes would then be fitted to the “average pilot” [3]. As the reader has probably anticipated, this did not turn out to be the best method. Even with the extreme accuracy and breadth of data collected, there were still a staggering number of “pilot errors” and complaints of not fitting within the cockpit [3].

It wasn’t until the 1940s that finally a Lieutenant decided to compare the measurements of each of the Air Force’s pilots to the arithmetic mean “individual” that they had created from all the data points [3]. Surely the average would at least account for a decent proportion of those individuals, right? [3]. What Lieutenant Daniels found was that there was not even one individual who fit into the “average” measurements that were taken [3]. That’s right, ZERO [3].

It’s easy to brush this off as a fluke. However, our field seems to back this up. Holmes and Patrick [4] agreed that variability is not only normal, but it is necessary. They explained that there is a larger issue with our society that encourages the population to push toward some artificial, imagined average [4]. They encourage variations in our culture and in our population [4]. It is important as an adaptive and evolutionary function [4].

In the past, our society essentially needed averages so that we could attempt to address the majority of the population or “do the most good”. However, in our extremely progressive world, science has allowed to tailor everything to the individual. Rose and Ogas describe this as a “science of the individual” [2]. They explain that there is enough knowledge to conform the systems of nutrition, genetics, medicine, neuroscience, biology, and even psychology to the individual [2].

However, how do we know a psychopathology then? Surely each difference being necessary in an evolutionary standpoint cannot stand up when faced with the idea of disordered behavior [1]. Avram Holmes [4] argues that there simply cannot be a single phenotype alone that is worth diagnosing a psychological disorder. Behavior develops and is maintained as it serves some sort of function for the individual [5]. This means that the behavior alone is not implicitly “good” or “bad” [1].

Holmes [4] described studying a myriad of phenotypes simultaneously to understand whether or not a person should be diagnosed with something that is clinically relevant. With this in mind, biomarkers are then much more difficult to see as adequate predictors of psychological illnesses [4]. He explains that that there a single biomarker would never be enough to cause a psychological illness. In order to better predict this, he notes that a broader approach should be taken [1].

This is good news for those of us suffering from “graduate school disease”. When we see single variations in ourselves that could lend itself to a disorder, that is never enough to be able to diagnose a psychopathology or disordered behavior [1].

This is also good news for our clients. As budding clinicians, we are required to take into consideration the entire picture of the client—to tailor our field to fit more with the model of “the science of the individual” [2]. There is no singular line that we can draw between a “healthy” or “normal” brain compared to a “pathologized” or “disordered” one, let alone person [1].



  1. Cell Press (2018, February 20). When it Comes to Our Brains, There’s No Such Thing as Normal. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved February 20, 2018 from
  2. Rose, T., & Ogas, O. (2018). There Is No Average Person. Here’s Why.. Psychology Today. Retrieved 19 April 2018, from
  3. Rose, T. (2016). The end of average: How to succeed in a world that values sameness. Penguin UK.
  4. Holmes, A. J., & Patrick, L. M. (2018). The myth of optimality in clinical neuroscience. Trends in cognitive sciences.
  5. Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis.