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Clinical Mental Health Counseling M.A.

Clinical Mental Health Counseling M.A.

Comprehensive Exit Exam (CPCE) Information


CPCE LogoThe Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. It is a required exam for all FGCU Counseling Program students and must be passed in order to receive a diploma.

Advanced registration with the department for taking the CPCE is necessary, a sign-up link will be emailed to current students as soon as a date is confirmed. Students who have needs for special testing situations can arrange those through FGCU adaptive services, in advance, or with the University’s testing center.  Students should give each of those centers at least two weeks notice to make necessary arrangements.  

1. What is this exam about?
The CPCE is utilized by over 360 universities and colleges and is designed to assess counseling students’ knowledge of counseling information viewed as important by counselor preparation programs. Additionally, the CPCE:
  • Allows Master’s program comprehensive exams to better meet psychometric standards.
  • Gives programs an objective view of the knowledge level of their students.
  • Allows programs to examine student functioning in various curricular areas.
  • Promotes longitudinal self-study.
  • Compares a program’s results to national data.
  • Stimulates student integration of knowledge learned in separate courses.
  • Gives students comparative strength / weakness feedback.
The CPCE consists of 160 multiple choice items with 20 items per each of the eight (8) CACREP areas (see below). Of the 20 items per section, 17 will be scored items and the remaining three will be pretest items that are not identified to the student. The purpose of embedding pretesting is to generate actual score performance data on items. This allows CCE to select items for future test construction that have the most desirable psychometric attributes. Scores for each section and a total score will be reported to institutions for each student.
2.  How do I prepare?
There is no official study guide for the CPCE. Since the CPCE and the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) are based on the same eight knowledge areas, any study materials developed for the NCE should be useful for the CPCE. We at FGCU recommend that you study any and all materials, texts, and other resources from your courses which are also designed around the same basic CACREP standards. Studying as part of a group seems to be very helpful. Also, students have told us that they find the following resources helpful: 
 3.  How long will I have to complete the exam?
Although you probably will not need the entire time, students will be allowed four hours to complete the examination, including the demographic questionnaire.
4.  What is a passing score?
Students need to score a minimum of 90 total for all 8 areas to pass. This score is not a percentage but a raw score which means you need to answer correctly on 90 total items. For those who do not pass the test, you can retake the exam. In subsequent administrations of the exam, the highest subscores of all administrations will be combined to get the highest score.  When combined scores are used, students must achieve either a 95 or greater OR a 90 with all subscores at 10 or above.  This is consistent with 60% of the questions correct and with students held to a passing rate of 60th percentile. 
5.  How will I know about my results?
The results for each of the 8 areas and your total will be emailed to you when they are available, normally 2-3 weeks after taking the exam.
6.  Does this exam cost anything?
The cost of the CPCE is $50.00 per student. Each student will be responsible for the cost of the examination and any subsequent retakes of the examination. The company does not accept personal checks or cash. Please bring a casheir's check or money order made out to CCE.

CACREP Common-Core Areas

These eight core areas, which constitute the CPCE, serve as the primary theoretical basis for the examination. It is through these areas that the CPCE is associated with accepted professional standards. The CPCE covers the eight Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) common-core areas as defined by their Standards for Preparation:
  1. Human Growth and Development- studies that provide an understanding of the nature and needs of individuals at all developmental levels.
  2. Social and Cultural Foundations- studies that provide an understanding of issues and trends in a multi- cultural and diverse society.
  3. Helping Relationships- studies that provide an under- standing of counseling and consultation processes.
  4. Group Work- studies that provide an understanding of group development, dynamics, counseling theories, group counseling methods and skills, and other group work approaches.
  5. Career and Lifestyle Development- studies that provide an understanding of career development and related life factors.
  6. Appraisal- studies that provide an understanding of individual and group approaches to assessment and evaluation.
  7. Research and Program Evaluation- studies that provide an understanding of types of research methods, basic statistics, and ethical and legal considerations in research.
  8. Professional Orientation and Ethics- studies that provide an understanding of all aspects of professional functioning including history, roles, organizational structures, ethics, standards, and credentialing.