Are you a visual learner?

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

Have you figured out your learning style? Have you aligned your study plan to coordinate with your learning style? If you grasp new information better through seeing it, then your learning preference may be visual. As you continue to understand the three learning styles, this article will focus on everything you need to know as a visual learner.

What is a visual learner?

A visual learner is someone who likes to see what they want to learn. The space that is created by visually seeing information aids in the learning process. The term for this is visual-spatial learning.

If you like to see concepts written out versus hear about them, you are a visual learner. Your ability to see how the information looks helps you absorb the material and memorize it. Just because you are a visual learner doesn’t mean that you don’t include other learning styles such as auditory or kinesthetic. The goal is for you to identify the best way you learn the material then align your study plan to match it.

 You may be a visual learner if you:

  • Make lists to help you learn or stay organized.
  • Find it useful to write out your thoughts and ideas.
  • Prefer reading material and study guides versus listening to audio recordings of the same information.
  • Find it helpful to highlight, underline, or make notes in your study guides.
  • Re-write information you have learned. For example, you re-write lecture notes.

Tips to help visual learners

  • Write things down. Whether it’s a term or process, be sure to write it out.
  • Utilize flashcards to help memorize and understand the material.
  • Watch videos that cover the concepts and theories you are learning.
  • Visualize critical concepts as symbols, acronyms, or picture. For example, in learning systems, draw a diagram or image to represent it.
  • Arrange your notes in an outline.

There are many more tips, techniques, and strategies available for visual learners. Don’t waste your valuable time on a study approach that isn’t tailored to your individual need. Now that you know the power of being a visual learner make studying easier by learning about the Taylor Study Method.

This is a research-based package that helps each of the different learning styles. The Taylor Study Method is especially helpful for visual learners because it offers video lessons for deeper dives into more difficult content. It also provides Flash Cards to aid in over 750 key terms. You want to do your best, pass your exam, and take the next step in your career so be sure to get the right support through the process.

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.

5 tips for finding the right clinical supervisor

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

The task of finding a great clinical supervisor can be a daunting task. Many clinicians that have been through the supervision process has advice to share and what they think you should avoid in a supervisor.

I had an incredible clinical supervisor who taught me everything she knows which I contribute to my success today. After our formal clinical supervision ended, we developed a friendship, and she is still my mentor. I hope you have a similar experience as I did and to help you find the right fit, here are the best five tips for finding the right clinical supervisor.

Tip #1 Clinical style and personality

Look for a supervisor who has a clinical style and personality that you like. As you are starting out, you may not know your clinical style yet, but you can identify the approach you relate most with.

You can find out their clinical style by asking them about their experience, their thoughts on best clinical practices, and what type of clients they enjoy working with. Ask them about their counseling style and approach they use most often. Listen to what resonates with you and if you are turned off by anything they share.

Tip #2 Talk with their previous supervisees

In the decision process of choosing the right supervisor ask them if you can have the contact information of other supervisees, they worked with. Then ask two or three of these people about their experience, what did they like or not like.

This is a great way to find answers to your questions about the supervisor from others that have worked with them. I would recommend that you ask at least two different people in case one of them had a bad experience personally versus one that was caused by the supervisor.

Tip #3 Make sure they have time for a new supervisee

It may sound silly to think that you have to ensure that the supervisor has time to see you, but don’t overlook this crucial tip. I have seen clinical supervisors take on many supervisees at once then not be able to provide time to meet their needs for licensure.

Ask the potential supervisor how many people they are currently working with. Also, ask about the typical hours they offer for supervision. For example, if they can only see you on Tuesdays from 2:00p-3:00p and you are working during that time, it probably won’t work. Don’t be afraid to speak up for what you need including late day or evening hours that may better fit with your schedule.

Tip #4 Cost of supervision

Finances can be stressful especially when you aren’t licensed as a clinician and trying to gain supervision hours. The cost of supervision differs by geographical region, experience, and other factors.

Ask about the cost of each supervision meeting and the ability to negotiate a different rate. For example, if they charge $100 for each session, ask if they would consider charging $75 if you pay a month at a time. That way they would receive a lump sum versus payment at each session. They may be inclined to give you a deal since you are willing to give that amount of payment at once.

Tip #5 Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

Finding the right clinical supervisor can be stressful and may cause you to overthink the process. Don’t make it harder than it is. This is just one part of your clinical career. If your supervisor isn’t fantastic, so what, you will learn from others as you continue your experience.

Don’t get stuck and not be able to move forward if you have a negative experience. Learn what you can from it and seek out other clinicians in your network for support. Join a local clinical association or meet up group. There is support around you but you have to be the one to reach out.

You will make the best decision for you in choosing a clinical supervisor. Each of these five tips can help you through the process, but at the end of the day, pick the supervisor that feels like the best fit. Keep moving forward, and this part of your beginning career will fly by before you realize it.

EPPP & Test Anxiety

Impact on Test Performance

Think about how stressed you are before an exam.

Now, think about how stressed you might before an exam like the EPPP (read E-triple-p).

Since I’m sure you’re already a little worked up over a past test that was particularly stressful, or one that is coming up that is putting some extra pressure on you, I want to remind you that you’re ok. You’re going to be fine! That’s right—I’m going to go ahead and make that bold presumption. I know it’s stressful and hard to believe that you’re going to survive but take a little faith that you will.

The future clinician in me wants me to remind you that if at any time you feel that your anxiety about testing, something else, or just generally feels as though it is impairing your life—please see a mental health professional. Although it could be typical anxiety, it could be something that breaks the threshold into clinical disfunction.

To give a little face to the beast, it is important to examine test-taking anxiety and the impact that it can have on our overall test scores, especially the EPPP. Test Anxiety (TA) is extremely common among students, one study noting that 20% of respondents endorsed some form of test-taking anxiety, whether non-clinical or clinical [1]. With such a high number, you might think that there would be a wealth of information on how to handle it. Unfortunately, it’s quite the contrary.

Signs and Symptoms of Test Anxiety

Anxiety can manifest in a few different ways, and it is important to note that it will present differently for each person.  Physically, anxiety, including Test Anxiety, can present as a rapid heart rate, profuse sweating [3], psychomotor agitation (think: bouncing your leg or fiddling with a pencil), or other “nervous habits” such as biting nails [4].

Anxiety tends to present in a rather unfortunate way behaviorally. For example, avoidance behaviors are very common in anxiety issues. These behaviors could include procrastination or avoiding test preparation [3].  Think about it this way: have you ever been so nervous about an exam or an assignment that you just avoided doing it altogether rather than face the stress? Even though we intellectually know that putting off the stressful event won’t truly alleviate the stress, it is so much easier to postpone than to address the issue at hand [2]. We will talk more about how to avoid and address these issues in the “ways to cope” section of this blog.

In addition, anxiety can also present behaviorally similarly to aggression [6]. Again, think about your own life. Have you ever been so stressed out or nervous that you just “snap” at someone? Even if you know that whatever set you off wasn’t that big of a deal—it just seemed like it at the time [6]. Research suggests that the thing that sets you off when you’re under a lot of stress is just the straw that broke the camel’s back, and the poor barista that made the mistake got the brunt of your built-up stress and anxiety [6].

Depression is also another major presentation of anxiety [6]. Rather being able to maintain a constant state of stress, the reaction is to retreat within themselves into a state of depression [6]. It is our natural response—there’s some major danger presented to us (in this case, an exam), and the length of time that our “fight-or-flight” response has been activated simply cannot remain activated any longer. In an over-compensation by our body to preserve itself is to move in the complete opposite direction of the heightened state of arousal experienced during periods of high stress [6].

Overview of the EPPP

If you’ve never heard of the EPPP, you’re lucky. The EPPP is the licensure exam faced by most psychology graduate students. Along with the EPPP, you will also need to take another similar exam before licensure based on in which state you will be practicing. Therefore, you will need to be able to generalize these strategies and this infomration to more than just one major standardized exam standing between you and your license.

To better face the monster, let’s get a deeper understanding of the EPPP itself. This exam is geared for doctoral level psychology students is governed by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) [8]. At the time that this blog is being written the EPPP is a one-part exam that is to be taken over 4 ½ hours [7]. However, this will likely be a two-part exam by the year 2020 [8]. This exam includes 225 questions [7], of which only 175 are scored [9]. When the director of the ASPPB was asked about the test, she described it as “essentially everything you learned in graduate school” [10]. Just a little bit intimidating, right?

If you would like to read more on the EPPP, check out our blog post on the EPPP and licensure requirements for professional psychology.

Test Anxiety on Overall Outcomes

I know it already seems stressful enough, but let’s dive into the actual, research-based negative outcomes associated with test-anxiety. One 1990 article written by Zollar and Ben-chain note that in our age our lives seem to be determined by our overall test performance [11]. I.e., if we do poorly on an exam, it reflects directly on us and on our overall self-definition [11]. Not only do they impact our own self-definition, they can impact the way that others’ view us. In such a competitive society, we need some easy way to compartmentalize and rank people [12]. Fortunately or unfortunately, standardized exams seem to be the best solution at this time. Knowing that our exam performance could impact the way that employers or other graduate programs view us, there is an added level of stress.

One study found a significant relationship between a student’s level of test anxiety on major exams and their overall performance [12]. By using Spielberger’s Test Anxiety Inventory, Rana and Mahmood were able to demonstrate that students that experienced high levels of a cognitive factor of test anxiety (worry) did significantly worse on these exams [12]. They were able to use these findings to conclude that many students’ overall low performance or underachieving on certain exams could be attributed to unchecked high levels of Test Anxiety [12].

Of course, there is a good level of stress, sometimes referred to as eustress [13]. However, the stress that this blog is talking about is much more detrimental. Eustress refers to that positive level of stress that motivates you to get things done and to get them done well. For example, you might be a little worried about doing well in a particular class, so you ensure that you do all of the assignments and study a little extra for the exams. The stress that has been shown to be associated with negative outcomes is taking that level of stress to the extreme, distress [13], and in this case, Test Anxiety [1].

Ways to Cope with Test Anxiety

Thankfully, treatment for TA has been shown to be quite effective [3]. Rather than just be doomed to wander the halls of your higher-education institution, there are some treatments offered by professionals and some interventions that you can do by yourself. First, of course, if you feel like you are suffering from TA, please seek professional help. Many college campuses offer free or low-cost mental health care. Feel free to speak with the professional about what you might be going through. They offer a judgement-free space to air your issues, and they may even have resources for your classes that could help you cope better with the test anxiety.

Additionally, there are simple training techniques that you can take to improve your own Test Anxiety symptoms. For example, time management is a major step that you can take to better your anxiety. This isn’t to say that you don’t already have good time management skills, but sometimes our anxiety takes that away from us. When syllabus week rolls around, look at all the major exams that you will need to prepare for. Set yourself a schedule—actually budget specific time that you will be in the library or other study space plugging away at the material. If it might help you, have a gentle accountability buddy. This is someone who will gently remind you that you have some studying to do, or who could gently guilt you into making sure that your work gets done.

Developing some more pronounced study skills can also help. For example, rereading your notes the same day that they are written or even the next day can greatly improve your retention. Also, simply highlighting the information in your book can be helpful as well. By starting your studying early, it can actually help reduce the anxiety around studying! There is a myriad of different study skills that can help you improve your grade, so I don’t want you to limit your scope of study development just to this list. Please do your own research and see what works for you!

We can see that anxiety surrounding your studies can be detrimental to your overall performance. With some professional interventions or accommodations and some personal anxiety relief tactics, anxiety and TA is something that can be managed!

  1. American Test Anxieties Association. (2018). Retrieved from https://amtaa.org/
  2. Connon, H. A., Rash, J. A., Allen Gerwing, A. M., Bramble, B., Landine, J., & Gerwing, T. G. (2016). Post-Secondary Educators’ Perceptions of Students’ Test Anxiety. Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning7(1), 9.
  3. Test Anxiety & Academic Performance (2018). Retrieved from https://www.mheducation.ca/blog/test-anxiety-academic-performance/
  4. Kerr, W. J., Dalton, J. W., & Gliebe, P. A. (1937). Some physical phenomena associated with anxiety states and their relationship to hyperventilation. Annals of Internal Medicine.
  5. Sarason, I. G. (1984). Stress, anxiety, and cognitive interference: Reactions to tests. Journal of personality and social psychology46(4), 929.
  6. Barrett, P. M., Rapee, R. M., Dadds, M. M., & Ryan, S. M. (1996). Family enhancement of cognitive style in anxious and aggressive children. Journal of abnormal child psychology24(2), 187-203.
  7. Zhou, E. (2018). Are You Dreading the EPPP? Here’s How to Prepare for it. Retrieved from http://blog.time2track.com/are-you-dreading-the-eppp-heres-how-to-prepare-for-it
  8. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.ASPPB.net/
  9. Reasons why you need to stop studying 3 days before your test. (2018). Retrieved from https://blog.taylorstudymethod.com/category/eppp-study-video/
  10. Cynkar, A. (2007). The Path to EPPP Excellence. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2007/09/eppp.aspx
  11. Zoller, U., & Ben-Chain, D. (1990). Gender differences in examination type, test anxiety, and academic achievement in college science: a case study. Science education, 74(6), 597-608.
  12. Rana, R., & Mahmood, N. (2010). The relationship between test anxiety and academic achievement.
  13. Le Fevre, M., Matheny, J., & Kolt, G. S. (2003). Eustress, distress, and interpretation in occupational stress. Journal of managerial psychology18(7), 726-744.

Myths About the EPPP

Maybe you’ve heard things about the EPPP keep you from taking the next step towards licensure. But, are you correct about what you believe about the EPPP?

The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) collected common myths about the EPPP and countered with the truth in an article called “EPPP Myths versus Reality.” We have addressed some of those myths below and included how the Taylor Study Method can help you prepare to pass the exam.

Myth:

I am less likely to pass the EPPP if I receive a hard version of the exam.

Truth:

It is true that versions of the EPPP vary in difficulty. But the difficulty of the exam you receive is considered in how the exam is scored.  What that means is that each version’s passing score is equated to consistently test your level of knowledge. As the ASPPB puts it: “Practically speaking, this means that the “harder” forms require fewer correct answers to pass and “easy” forms require more.”

Myth:

Most people will fail the EPPP.

Truth:

Your chances of passing the EPPP are extremely high if you study with TSM. In fact, we are so confident that our program will make you successful that we bargain your purchase on it.

Myth:

The exam contains trick questions.

Truth:

Some questions might have more than one answer that seems somewhat correct. The point of this type of question is not to trick you, but to see if you understand why the correct answer is, indeed, correct. In addition, the EPPP questions have gone through review workshops to ensure they meet the specific criteria set by the ASPPB.

Whether you once believed these myths to be true or you are uncertain you would be able to pass the EPPP, we believe you can do it. The dream is yours, and the reality can be yours too.

 

Further Reading

 

 

Digital Distractions: Staying focused in an increasingly distracting world

I know I’m guilty. I see my phone light up or hear a buzz, and in an instant, I’m pulled out of whatever I am doing, no matter how deep into the task I may be. Distractions are all around us and avoiding them is next to impossible. After all, that phone buzz might be something trivial like an Instagram notification, or it could be an email from a professor with vital information about an assignment—I might as well check to be sure. And just like that, I’m lost in all the notifications and Buzzfeed quizzes that come my way. Without even knowing it, an entire hour can be wasted.

I know I’m not alone, as has been confirmed by several surveys [1, 2, 3]. One study found as many as 97% of students found themselves distracted by their phones or other forms of technology [2].

Even though there seem to be several detrimental aspects to technology, it is simply not feasible that we entirely do away with technology. We seem to be faced with a double-edged sword. On one hand, our entire culture is entirely enmeshed with technology, with the academic sector seeming to be some of the deepest involved [4]. Because our educational system is so deeply involved with technology to the point of dependence, doing away with technology is simply not a practical goal.  Since we as students and budding professionals are required to be electronically connected, how can we make sure that we are focused on the task at hand, rather than the latest tweet?

The first tip to ensure that you are staying on task is to keep your goals in mind [5]. A good way to do this is to lay out a “to-do” list and prioritize what needs to be done first [6]. This allows for a second, yet integrally intertwined, tip—focus on only a few most important goals, rather than an entire list [5]. This allows you to keep a visual reminder of your task in front of you, as a sort of prompt to stay on topic. Keeping the list close also allows you to write down things you might be worried you will forget if you don’t attend to them right away. You are then able to stay on task better as you won’t need to run off on the occasional rabbit trail until one task is entirely accomplished [5].

By keeping fewer and the most important goals in mind, you are actually allowing yourself better focus [5]. Studies have shown that human working memory, the part of your mind that holds the tasks at hand, can only hold a maximum of about 3-5 items, give or take two items [7]. Because our minds can only hold such a finite number of meaningful trains of thought or tasks, it is important to be judicious about these slots [7]. As mentioned before, this gives you more working memory to devote to the task at hand, rather than the infinite number of other things vying for our attention [7].

Even with meticulously prioritized to-do lists, the temptation of social media still calls out. No matter how intently you intend on focusing, you are still human—breaks are required. This leads into the next tip: set predetermined breaks for yourself [8]. Our friends in behavioral science have helped to demonstrate that when we have a reward set out for us, we are more likely to keep working hard for that reward [9]. Moreover, you might be less tempted by that Facebook notification if you know that you will get to check on it in the next 50 minutes [8].

Another benefit of the pre-planned study break is the ability to return to your work refreshed and ready to go [10].  However, one article notes that only social media or internet-based breaks may not be enough to allow you to return to your studies energized [8]. Instead, the authors suggest more physically engaging activities, such as taking a walk outside (not just a couple laps around the library), organizing the stuff piling up around you, taking a shower, or even just chatting with a friend about something unrelated [8]. All of these options allow you a short reprieve from the studying that lies ahead and allows you to escape the computer screen for a bit [8].

Even with a study break and the most organized list possible, I will find that my mind wanders onto other things. Controlling “internal distractions” is also necessary to make the most of your study time [5]. These internal distractions can be defined as any internal stimuli (like thoughts, memories, or even conflicts) that act as diversions or aberrations from the task at hand [10]. These internal distractions can be taken care of through a variety of ways. The list to leave any pressing thoughts that pop up, sometimes referred to as a “parking lot”, is one way that you may already be employing [11]. Perhaps in order to manage these internal distractions, you need to have something to drown out your own thoughts—like background noise or music (both Spotify and YouTube have excellent playlists of focusing music) [12].  Offering strategies on how to handle these internal stimuli is even more subjective than these other general focus tips. In order to find what will work the best for you in terms of controlling internal distractions [12], you may need to spend some time consciously getting to know yourself and your study habits first.

Sometimes outside of regulating ourselves, we still need an external supervisor. Thankfully, some application developers have us in mind [11]. There have been several (free!) apps and extensions developed to help people like me (and a good proportion of the population) study more effectively by removing the temptations of social media [11]. These applications and extensions typically work in similar ways; by disabling access to whatever websites that you need “taken away” so that you can work [11]. Macintosh users can try the app “SelfControl” [11], and people using Google Chrome can also install the extensions “StayFocusd” or “I-Am-Studying” [11].

The demands on students seem to be greater now than they have been before, simply because we are living in the age of information. The need to be connected is ubiquitous. However, the same method through which we access so much information can also serve as a massive distraction. Implementing these focusing strategies can help you take more advantage of all of the data at your disposal while better blocking out the digital distractions!

Now, that’s enough time perusing a blog—get back to studying!

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.

The Dynamics of the EPPP

Viewing the EPPP in the right light to take the exam properly.

The EPPP (read: “E-triple-P”). The dreaded EPPP. I know I have made my best efforts to ignore it. Even so, it still looms in my future. And, dear readers, I assume it looms in your future as well. However, the Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology does not need to be such a terrifying concept for us.

What is the EPPP, again?

The unknown is almost always scary, right? So to help alleviate some of the mystery behind the exam, lets delve into what the EPPP is exactly, and who needs to take the exam. This exam is geared for doctoral level psychology students is governed by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) [4]. At the time that this blog is being written the EPPP is a one-part exam that is to be taken over 4 ½ hours [1]. This exam includes 225 questions [1], of which only 175 are scored [2]. When the director of the ASPPB was asked about the test, she described it as “essentially everything you learned in graduate school” [6]. These questions cover a total of 8 domains in which we, as psychology graduates, are expected to be fluent [3]:

  • biological bases of behavior
  • cognitive affective bases of behavior
  • social and multicultural bases of behavior
  • growth and life-span development
  • assessment and diagnosis
  • treatment/intervention, prevention, and supervision
  • research methods/statistics
  • ethical, legal and professional issues

The EPPP is currently a one-part exam. However, there is a second part being developed at this time—and it is intended to be launched in January of 2020 [4, 5]. So, for those of you who will not be taking the exam for a couple years—heads up. The current form of the exam is intended to assess the basic and foundational skills necessary for early career psychology professionals to thrive on their own [5]. The second part of the exam is intended to examine the more practical skills needed to be a competent psychological professional [5]. It is anticipated that the EPPP Part 2 will assess the following areas [5].

  • Scientific orientation
  • Assessment and intervention
  • Relational competence
  • Professionalism
  • Ethical practices
  • Collaboration & consultation
  • Supervisory practices

For a more detailed description of the EPPP, see our previous blog post “What is the EPPP?”

That’s not intimidating at all.

Now that we have a basic understanding of the EPPP, why don’t we dive into some tips to better view the EPPP:

Having a thorough and solid knowledge of psychology.

Ok, this one seems like a no-brainer. But still, many people are surprised about the breadth of information that needs to be mastered (or re-mastered) in order to be successful on this exam. Sources show that the information being covered in the exam covers practical things learned in experiences as recent as your internship to (seemingly ancient historical) concepts covered in some introductory undergraduate psychology courses [1].

Naturally, we all have those courses that we excelled at, and those classes that were a little more challenging. It is important to identify early on in your study process what you already know well and what could use a little more work [6]. Look through some study materials and practice exams in order to figure out what you know best and what needs to have the most of your attention. We’ll talk a little more about prioritization later in this post.

Develop solid study habits.

Another idea that might seem obvious, but nevertheless needs to be said. There are some unique aspects to studying for this exam. It is recommended that you start studying between 4-6 months before the exam [7]! Of course, this is no the absolute correct amount of time for everyone to study—there have been accounts of people studying for as much as a year prior to sitting for the exam and as little as just two weeks before the big day [1].  Although there isn’t an absolute when it comes to how much to study, too much is almost always better than too little when it comes to studying for the EPPP.

Scheduling Study Time

I encourage you to set a schedule of studying for yourself and stick to it. Too often when it comes to studying, procrastination is able to sneak in and rear its ugly head. I know I’m guilty. Fear not! Because in this situation, knowing this about yourself can be quite helpful. Of my acquaintances and friends who have taken the EPPP, most who have been successful have started slowly and escalated their studying as the test date approached.  Most told me that if they had studied the information months in advance, they feared they would forget it before the test arrived.

Get a Study Buddy

Reach out to people in your cohort! Meet people in Facebook/social media-based support groups (might I suggest the search terms: “EPPP support”) [8]! Try for people in your professional organizations! Ask your friends, family, and loved ones! What about online forums, like The Student Doctor? Even if you feel like you typically study better alone, it might serve you to have someone with whom to go through this [1]. Isolation only serves to further the anxiety that you will inevitably have over this exam.

Find an accountability partner, even if they’re not going to be sitting for the exam. This was something that I used quite frequently in undergraduate. Find someone who will harass you or at least gently ask you whether or not you have been following through on your study goals. Because I am such a procrastinator, I needed someone who I would feel guilty telling that I put off studying or that I fell behind “because I had plenty of time”. If you think this might work for you, I highly encourage it!

Prioritize Topics

Like I mentioned above—one of the major keys to this exam is knowing what you don’t know [6]. Once you know what you don’t know, you’ll know what your weak points will be on the exam. Taking a practice exam to really illuminate those points may help [8]. Focus a majority of your time on the topics that you are less familiar with, or ones that you weren’t able to complete successfully on the practice exam.

That doesn’t mean to entirely ignore the concepts that you did well on. Make sure to keep those in your study routine as well. It is important to ensure that you don’t just replace the information that you had under your belt at one time with other information. Also, keeping information in the mix that you already have mastered has been shown to be reinforcing (thank you, behaviorists), and therefore keep your study sessions a little less dreadful.

It is also important to do research on the topics and percentages of the EPP that they will occupy [7]. Try to prioritize items that fit into categories that will take up the largest portion of the EPPP [7].

Use Professional and Commercial Study Tools.

Seriously. This one isn’t just a plug for our own study tools. Professional organizations that are dedicated to helping students pass licensure exams often have the inside track on what is going to be relevant to this year’s particular EPPP [8].

As a current graduate student, I am fully aware of the budget we have. I know that the study materials can seem like just another excess expense. In order to save money, ask your friends and colleagues if they have any old EPPP study materials that they might be willing to hand down [8]. However, it is important to remember that the EPPP is updated every year, and it is possible that materials that you buy from colleagues or marketplaces may be out of date by the time you get them [7]. At least when it comes to practice exams, I would recommend using the most current edition available [8, 9]. Just to get your feet wet, here are a couple of links to some *free* resources that AATBS offers:

Overall, it is important to remember that there really is no definite answer to how, with whom, or how long to study. You know yourself best. And give yourself a little credit—you’ve made it this far in your educational career, trust what’s worked for you.

Having Good Test-Taking Skills

I know you’ve studied. I know you’ve memorized everything there is to know from personality disorders to practical applications of theory. Nevertheless, your intelligence and competence won’t be demonstrated on the exam without a good strategy for taking the test [10].

Have a methodology to approaching the exam questions. You’re an aspiring scientist as well as clinician, right? Plus, I’m sure you remember those research and scientific methodology courses. This is just an extension of your scientific approach. Having a solid strategy will help you make the most out of the information that you studied and make sure that it is reflected well on the exam [10]. It is a timed test, but that doesn’t mean that you should try to answer everything as quickly as you can [10]. With some break time factored in to the 4 ½ hour time allotted for the exam, you will have about 55 seconds per question [10]—so take your time! Taking your time on the questions will actually help you save time, as you won’t need to go back and re-read questions in order to get what the question is asking you [10].  

I know you’ve heard this before, and I know that it is printed on the exam itself, but it is extremely important that you read the questions on the EPPP carefully [10]. Many of the questions are written trickily. Several questions involve difficult language or double negatives, intended to trip up people who aren’t paying attention [10]. This goes back to what I was just saying—take your time and make sure you really understand the question.

Go with your gut [10]. Studies and statistics show that 80% of the time, the first choice that you make on the exam is the correct answer [10]. I know that it is tempting but try not to second guess yourself. Remember all that studying you did? Trust yourself—you were right the first time.

And of course, if you really don’t know, just take a guess! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, on this exam it’s in your best interest to guess! [10]. On the EPPP, you only get awarded points for correctly answering questions; you are not deducted points or penalized for getting an answer wrong [10].  Making educated guesses at questions when you are not certain of the answer is an important test-taking skill on the EPPP.

Educated guessing is not random. The first step in doing so is eliminating answers that you know are wrong. On the EPPP, you will be presented with four possible answers to questions [10]. The more answers that you are able eliminate, the more likely you are to get the correct answer. Another important tenet of educated guessing is identifying and utilizing contextual clues [10]. Being able to pick out any particular theories or psychologists that are being noted in the question may help direct you to the correct answer [10].

Time Management Skills

So, we’ve talked about study skills and test-taking skills, but one of the most important skill sets you can have is time management (both for the EPPP and aside from that). Naturally, with graduate school and all the responsibilities that you need to juggle for it, I’m sure that you have developed some excellent time management skills. Even still, you need to develop a special set of skills for this exam.

First, as I mentioned before, you are in charge of your own 4 ½ hours to take the test [1]. That means that you can take it as slowly or as quickly as you would like. You can spend as much or as little time on each question as you would like. You are permitted to take breaks when (or if) you would like.

Since you know yourself best, it is recommended that you develop good stopping points for yourself during the study process. Since I recommend taking as many practice exams as you can get your hands on, over time in those practice exams, you will start to notice where the natural breaks are for yourself. I encourage you to take what you need to help keep your mind on track. Still, I want you to be mindful that this is still a timed exam, and therefore you will need to keep the countdown in the forefront of your mind.

AATBS has already developed a suggested time table for taking the EPPP—feel free to check it out. According to this schedule, you have about 55 seconds per question. To me, just because it is expressed in seconds, it sounds like an extremely short time. However, really think about how long a minute is… pretty long, right? Plenty of time to slowly read the question and think about what it is really asking you. Often times, we end up getting stressed out and rushing through questions faster than we need to. Remember, part of managing our own time is knowing how much time should be devoted to a particular question. If you know it right away, great! More time for the rest. If not, no worries! Take your time, read slowly, and utilize some of those great test taking skills we talked about earlier.

Secondly, developing a time schedule for studying is also imperative for success on the EPPP [1]. As I mentioned previously in the study habits portion, if you are like most graduate students (myself included), procrastination is your forte. In order to combat this to the best of our ability, experts have recommended that you set up a realistic study schedule for yourself and make every effort to keep it—notice that “realistic” is emphasized here. Anyone can make a study schedule, but if you’re not even close to on track with it, what good is it doing you? Being able to anticipate some of the daily life struggles and still plan around them with time to study is going to be a key to your success at this exam.

Stress Management Skills

Finally, learning how to manage your stress for this exam is also important. What good are you going to be come test time if you’re so stressed out you can’t even remember your name? With all this planning going on, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

One major strategy that I suggest to combat this anxiety is getting connected. Like I mentioned before under “get a study buddy.” Reach out to people over Facebook, over the internet, in your cohort, in study groups, etc. Anywhere where you can get some support and somewhere to vent—take it! You’re going to need some outlet from all this stress.

Another excellent strategy is having a routine—and sticking to it! If you already have a pretty set routine, try to work your study time into that routine. Don’t upset your whole life just for the exam. Sure, it’s going to be a major piece of your vocational career, but it isn’t something that should make you hate everything else leading up to it.

Do you work out regularly? Do not give that up! Exercise has been shown to be a great stress reliever. And some studies have actually shown that keeping a regular exercise routine in place can help you do better on exams.

No matter what it is, find something that can help you escape the stress of this exam. It’s a major stressor in your life, and for many is the last major obstacle before you get licensed and embark in the world of psychology on your own! Anything that can help you escape that pressure will be a welcome relief—trust me!

Here’s a bonus tip:

Calm down. It’s going to be fine.

More than 80% of students who prepare and take the exam pass on their first attempt—so the odds are in your favor [1]. Even if you do not pass on the first go, it’s not the end of the world. It is simply a licensure exam, this doesn’t say anything about your intelligence or who you are as a person.

You’re a graduate student. You’ve taken a million exams before. You’ve made it this far. What’s one more? You know what works for you and you know what doesn’t. Now, get out there and crush it!

 

 

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 contact@taylorstudymethod.com 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.

Resources

Ni, P., M.S.B.A. (2014, October 5). How to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence ― 6 Essentials. Retrieved May 22, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201410/how-increase-your-emotional-intelligence-6-essentials

Further Reading