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EPPP Step 2 FAQs

EPPP Step 2 FAQs 

  • What is the EPPP Step 2?
  • Why is ASPPB developing the EPPP Step 2 now? Do we really need another licensing exam?
  • How does the EPPP Step 2 differ from the EPPP?
  • Why can’t the EPPP Step 2 be incorporated into the EPPP and still have just one examination? 
  • Will this be a computer-based examination?
  • Since accredited graduate programs and internships assess competency, why is there a need for another licensure examination that assesses competency?
  • Will the EPPP Step 2 be required in all jurisdictions?
  • If my current jurisdiction does not require it, and later I want to move to a jurisdiction that does require it, how can I do that?
  • Does the EPPP Step 2 add to the assessment of competence; will it be valid and reliable and legally defensible?
  • Is the EPPP Step 2 just for HSPs or is it for all psychology service providers?
  • Is the EPPP Step 2 for those taking the examination under a master’s license requirement?
  • Is the EPPP Step 2 going to be used for already licensed psychologists when they renew their licenses?
  • What will EPPP Step 2 cost and where does the money go?
  • Will the EPPP Step 2 add time and expense to Boards?
  • Will the EPPP Step 2 be available in French and Spanish?
  • Will the EPPP Step 2 replace the EPPP?
  • Will the EPPP Step 2 include essay questions?
  • Will the candidates register in the same way they currently do for the EPPP?
  • Will candidates receive their examination results unofficially at the examination site?
  • In my jurisdiction they have an oral examination.  Will I still be required to take it if I am taking the EPPP Step 2?
  • Will there be accommodations for those with identified disabilities?
  • Will there be a limit on how many times I can take the EPPP Step 2?
  • How much time will be allowed to take the examination?
  • Can I take the EPPP and the EPPP Step 2 while I complete my training?
  • Can I take the EPPP and the EPPP Step 2 before I apply for licensure?
  • Will ASPPB explore the possibility of changing the timing of licensure exams; that is, have it such that one takes the EPPP prior to internship and the EPPP Step 2 after the doctoral degree is awarded?
  • ASPPB has just announced that they will be developing a new exam for licensure.  Why haven’t I heard about this before? 


    What is the EPPP Step 2?
    The EPPP Step 2 is an examination that is currently under development by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards  (ASPPB).  This examination will assess the practice skills needed to be licensed to practice independently as a psychologist. It will be a computer- based examination that is designed to augment and complement the EPPP, which measures the foundational knowledge required for the independent practice of psychology.

    Why is ASPPB developing the EPPP Step 2 now?  Do we really need another licensing exam?
    ASPPB’s primary mission is to assist our member boards (all of the licensing boards in the US and Canada) in their mandate of public protection. One of the mandates for licensing boards is to ensure that the professionals they license are competent.  Competence is comprised of the integrated use of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values.  We have been successfully assessing knowledge for over 50 years with the EPPP, but have relied on supervisors for their view of licensure candidates’ skills.  Due to conflicting roles, it has been documented that supervisors have difficulty providing accurate evaluations of their supervisees to others who may have to evaluate the supervisee’s competency.  And to add complications, psychology has a number of training models that are used and are accredited by the APA.  Thus different programs train their students in a myriad of ways without much standardization resulting in vastly different levels of knowledge and skills in their students.  These differences are well documented by the highly variable pass rates on the EPPP, ranging from 100% of students passing from some programs to 13% of students passing from other programs.  And as you can see from summary data on the APPIC Application for Psychology Internship there is also great variability in the type, quality and quantity of practicum experiences that are required by accredited programs, not to mention that many of our jurisdictions license graduates from non-APA accredited programs.  These issues of variability and lack of standardization make it more difficult for licensing boards to ensure that the psychologists they license are competent.

    Additionally, the profession of psychology has moved into a “culture of competence” and we now have essential agreement among many groups (e.g. APA’s CoA, CPA’s AP, MRA and ASPPB) on what the necessary competencies are to practice independently.  This essential agreement was a necessary precondition to developing a skills examination.  We also now have the technology available to assess skills via a computer based examination, rather than use a more costly and time consuming examination using either real patients or standardized patients.  So ASPPB concluded that now is the optimal time to develop a standardized examination to assess the functional skills necessary for practice as a Psychologist. With a test to assess skills, in addition to the current test to assess knowledge, licensing boards will have available to them an examination series (the EPPP Step 1 assessing knowledge and the EPPP Step 2 assessing skills) that will offer a standardized, reliable and valid method of assessing competence.


    How does the EPPP Step 2 differ from the EPPP?
    The EPPP Step 2 will provide an examination of the skills one needs to practice independently as a psychologist.  The skills that will be assessed by the EPPP Step 2 are based on the “ASPPB Competencies Expected of Psychologists at the Point of Licensure” that will be validated by the 2016 Job Task Analysis.  These skills include relational skills, intervention and assessment skills, ethics, systems thinking, and professionalism.  The EPPP, on the other hand, measures the foundational knowledge required for the independent practice of psychology.

    Why can’t the EPPP Step 2 be incorporated into the EPPP and still have just one examination?
    The EPPP assesses the knowledge base necessary for competent professional practice and the EPPP Step 2 will focus on the assessment of professional skills required for competent practice.  While these two aspects of competence are related, they are not redundant but rather sequential; that is, one needs the knowledge before one can apply the skills.  While we have considered combining the two examinations, given the breadth and complexity of both psychology’s knowledge and skills base, it is difficult to imagine that one examination could adequately assess such breadth of content without the length of the resulting examination being prohibitively long and expensive.

    Will this be a computer-based examination?
    Yes, the examination will be computer-based with “innovative item types” such as the use of vignettes, avatars, multiple-choice items, and items with multiple correct responses.

    Since accredited graduate programs and internships assess competency, why is there a need for another licensure examination that assesses competency?
    Professional licensure is different from graduate education and training. While both seek to ensure that psychologists are properly trained and competent to provide services to the public, the single mandate of all psychology licensing boards is public protection. That takes precedence over everything else. This mandate is two-fold. In order to protect the public, licensing boards must ensure the competence of those entering the profession, and then must monitor the ongoing professional conduct of licensees. The EPPP Step 2 will be another standardized tool for licensing boards to use to accomplish the first task, providing boards additional evidence of the competence of those they license.  Currently less than 20% of psychology licensing boards require that applicants graduate from accredited programs.  Accrediting bodies accredit psychology programs, but do not necessarily ensure that each student from those programs has acquired the competencies necessary for independent practice.  The licensing boards are tasked with ensuring that each applicant is competent to practice independently.

    Will the EPPP Step 2 be required in all jurisdictions?
    Although all jurisdictions use the EPPP, each jurisdiction will determine whether or not to use the EPPP Step 2. The EPPP tests the knowledge required for entry to practice and the EPPP Step 2 will assess the skills necessary for licensure.   Both examinations will comprise a comprehensive assessment package to determine a candidate’s readiness for licensure to practice as a psychologist. ASPPB believes that boards will have better information to determine a candidate’s readiness to practice independently if they administer both examinations, but it will be up to each jurisdiction to decide if and when the EPPP Step 2 will be utilized.

    If my current jurisdiction does not require it, and later I want to move to a jurisdiction that does require it, how can I do that?
    Candidates may be required by the new jurisdiction to take and pass the EPPP Step 2 prior to being licensed in that jurisdiction.  If required to take and pass the EPPP Step 2, candidates will work with the licensing jurisdiction that requires it to determine the steps necessary to take the examination. Although the policies and procedures for the EPPP Step 2 are under development, there will be a mechanism for licensure candidates to be able to register and take the examination if they need to take it in order to move to a new jurisdiction.

    Does the EPPP Step 2 add to the assessment of competence; will it be valid and reliable and legally defensible?
    Yes, the EPPP Step 2 will add to the comprehensive assessment of competence.  ASPPB is currently undertaking a Job Task Analysis that will not only revalidate the EPPP, but will also determine the skills that should be assessed by the EPPP Step 2.  The Job Task Analysis will create an examination blueprint to be followed for creation of the skills examination. ASPPB, assisted by Pearson VUE, will follow the most current testing standards for the development of the EPPP Step 2, just as we have done with the EPPP.  Additionally, a skills examination will put the profession of psychology in line with other professions as all major healthcare professions assess knowledge and skills as part of their entry-level examination requirements for licensure.

    Is the EPPP Step 2 just for HSPs or is it for all psychology service providers?
    The EPPP Step 2, like the current EPPP, will be designed for all psychology service providers, i.e., Health Service Psychologists and General Applied Psychologists, who wish to be licensed to practice independently as psychologists.

    Is the EPPP Step 2 for those taking the examination under a master’s license requirement?
    Yes, just as jurisdictions currently use the EPPP as a requirement for licensure regardless of degree level, the EPPP Step 2 will be used for that purpose as well, and jurisdictions that license at the Masters level of training will use the EPPP Step 2 in addition to the EPPP to assess their Masters level licensees.

    Is the EPPP Step 2 going to be used for already licensed psychologists when they renew their licenses?
    No, the EPPP Step 2 is being developed for entry-level licensure and is not intended to be used to assess maintenance of competence for already licensed psychologists when they renew their license in their own jurisdictions.

    What will EPPP Step 2 cost and where does the money go?
    The cost of EPPP Step 2 has not been determined at this time.  ASPPB is concerned about the financial burdens on those entering the profession and is committed to keeping costs as low as possible.  If adopted by states, EPPP Step 2 will be a required step in the licensure process and thus by definition a high stakes exam.  Developing a high stakes exam particularly one that will use computer based simulations and taped scenarios and vignettes and possibly even avatars will require considerable up front costs. ASPPB is prepared to absorb those start-up costs and operate the program in a cost efficient manner that will maintain the program in the years ahead.

    Will the EPPP Step 2 add time and expense to Boards?
    ASPPB will provide most of the administrative support necessary to register and administer the EPPP Step 2 to minimize any financial or human resource impact on its member jurisdictions.

    Will the EPPP Step 2 be available in French and Spanish?
    As with the EPPP, translated versions of the EPPP Step 2 will be made available in jurisdictions that have legislated language requirements.

    Will the EPPP Step 2 replace the EPPP?
    No, the EPPP Step 2 is being designed to complement the EPPP, and together the two examinations will comprise a comprehensive competency assessment package (knowledge and skills) to assist licensing boards in the determination of a candidate’s readiness for licensure and independent practice.

    Will the EPPP Step 2 include essay questions?
    The EPPP Step 2 is being designed to include a number of innovative question types, such as the use of avatars, the review of test protocols, and multiple-choice questions requiring that multiple correct answers be selected. Since the examination will be computer delivered and scored, it is unlikely it will include essay questions. 

    Will the candidates register in the same way they currently do for the EPPP?
    Yes.  Once candidates have passed the EPPP and been approved by their regulatory bodies as eligible to take the EPPP Step 2, they will register online through the examination portal, and will schedule to take the examination directly using the Pearson VUE test site.

    Will candidates receive their examination results unofficially at the examination site?
    Yes, candidates will receive a score at the examination site.  This score, however, will not be official until it has been received by the regulatory body, and has been confirmed.

    In my jurisdiction they have an oral examination.  Will I still be required to take it if I am taking the EPPP Step 2?
    The determination of eligibility for licensure is the domain of the regulatory/licensing boards/colleges where candidates apply for licensure.  The EPPP and the EPPP Step 2 are tools available for regulatory bodies to use in their determination of the eligibility of candidates for licensure as psychologists. The regulatory body in each jurisdiction will determine if an oral examination needs to be taken.               

Will there be accommodations for those with identified disabilities?
Requests for examination accommodations will be considered if they meet the terms outlined in the Americans With Disabilities Act or for Canadian candidates, the Human Rights legislation in their home province. Requests for accommodation must be sent in writing to the regulatory body and must include the accommodations requested and medical/professional documentation supporting the request. The licensing body must approve candidates for accommodations. Reasonable requests that do not impact the validity or the security of the examination will be considered.

Will there be a limit on how many times I can take the EPPP Step 2?
This issue is being discussed by ASPPB and its member jurisdictions.  Information about the number of times the EPPP Step 2 can be taken will be posted as soon as a decision has been made.

How much time will be allowed to take the examination?
The amount of time that will be allowed to take the EPPP Step 2 will be determined over the next 15 months as the examination is developed and will be posted on the ASPPB website as soon as it is determined.  There will be regular updates about the EPPP Step 2 throughout the development period.

Can I take the EPPP and the EPPP Step 2 while I complete my training?
These examinations are designed to assess the knowledge and skills required for licensed practice.  Therefore, candidates must have completed all degree requirements before being allowed to take these examinations.

Can I take the EPPP and the EPPP Step 2 before I apply for licensure?
No, candidates will apply for licensure to a regulatory board/college that must approve their eligibility to take these examinations.

Will ASPPB explore the possibility of changing the timing of licensure exams; that is, have it such that one takes the EPPP prior to internship and the EPPP Step 2 after the doctoral degree is awarded?
The issue of the timing of the exams is one that ASPPB is interested in and quite willing to discuss with our member licensing boards and other relevant stakeholders such as APA, CPA, students, early career psychologists, and training associations.  As we move farther along with the development of the EPPP Step 2, we will look at data that is generated by early takers of the exam, consult with our member licensing boards jurisdictions and make appropriate recommendations to our member boards about this issue.


ASPPB has just announced that they will be developing a new exam for licensure.  Why haven’t I heard about this before? 

ASPPB has been working on the development of this exam for the last eight years and, because ASPPB values openness and transparency, has regularly presented updates on it at the ASPPB membership meetings since 2010.  Traditionally, there have been representatives from many of the major psychology organizations attending these membership meetings (e.g., APA Practice and Education Directorates, Canadian Psychological Association, APA Board of Educational Affairs and Board of Professional Affairs, American Psychological Association Graduate Students, Committee on Early Career Psychologists, Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers, American Board of Professional Psychology, Council of Chairs of Training Councils and a variety of individual training councils including CUDCP, NCSPP, and CDSPP). Likewise, ASPPB has included sections on competency assessment and the development of competency assessment mechanisms in its liaison reports to professional associations for many of those eight years.  Additionally in 2014, ASPPB made formal presentations about competency assessment and the development of a new exam at both the APA Convention and the APPIC conference. There will also be a presentation at the 2016 APPIC Conference and will likely present new information about the EPPP Step 2 at the 2017 APA Convention.  

Updated: August 3, 2016

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