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Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE)

What Students Need to Know

The comprehensive exam is an exit examination required of all Professional Counseling Master’s degree students at Texas State University. The purpose of the exam is to assess the student’s knowledge of counseling to ensure minimum competence in the field. The CPCE will also provide collective feedback that can be used by the program in developing/adapting curriculum.

Benefits of Using 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.

Please note CPCE is NOT a licensure exam.

Development of the CPCE

The CPCE is researched, developed, and distributed by both the Research and Assessment Corporation for Counseling (RACC) and the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE), two affiliate corporations of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The item writing committee was selected from master’s and doctoral level professionals. The committee compiled a comprehensive listing of texts used in counselor education programs. Each question was developed based on information found in the most commonly used textbooks.

Upcoming Comprehensive Examination Dates

Spring 2015: February 21, 2015
Summer 2015: June 20, 2015
Fall 2015: September 19, 2015

Testing Information

The Texas State Professional Counseling Program uses the Center for Credentialing and Education Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE). The examination was selected because it evaluates the eight CACREP core content areas and is a national standardized examination. The Texas State University Testing, Resource support, and Evaluation Center (TREC) administers this exam. The exam is only administered to students in the Professional Counseling Program. 

CPCE Testing Topic CPCE Testing Information
Date and Times Dates Indicated Above
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Location TBD - TREC will notify students 2-3 weeks before exam or students can contact TREC (not the Professional Counseling Program) up to three weeks before the test at (512) 245-2276. Students should make sure to look in the Spam email folder if they don’t receive an email from TREC.
Payment Payment of $70 should be made before the test date either by check at TREC, located in Commons Hall, Ground Floor, Room G4, or by credit card over the phone (512) 245-2276. TREC: Click here
What is Required on Testing Day Photo ID
Special Accommodations Contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) for questions about or documentation of any special accommodations for disability-based needs. ODS: Click here

Food, drinks, and phones are not allowed in the testing room. Students arriving late will NOT be admitted to the testing room. Students are allowed to take breaks on a one-at-a-time basis at the TREC monitor’s discretion. TREC can answer other questions about the administration of the exam.

Content Areas

The CPCE covers the Content Areas listed below. The CPCE should be taken as soon as the following courses are completed and prior to applying for Practicum. It is strongly recommended, but not required, that you complete coursework in the CPCE Content Areas before taking the exam. 

CPCE Content Areas

Content Area Definitions

Texas State Counseling Courses

Human Growth and Development Studies that provide an understanding of the nature and needs of individuals at all developmental levels. COUN 5368 - Developmental Issues 
Social and Cultural Foundations Studies that provide an understanding of issues and trends in a multicultural and diverse society. COUN 5301 - Community-based Counseling or
COUN 5328 - Intro to School Counseling
COUN 5316 - Counseling Diverse Populations
Helping Relationships Studies that provide an understanding of counseling and consultation processes. COUN 5307 - Theories of Counseling and Personality
COUN 5354 - Basic Techniques in Counseling
Group Work Studies that provide an understanding of group development, dynamics, counseling theories, group counseling methods and skills, and other group work approaches. COUN 5358 - Dynamics and Processes in Group Counseling
Career and Lifestyle Development Studies that provide an understanding of career development and related life factors. COUN 5355 - Career Counseling
Appraisal Studies that provide an understanding of individual and group approaches to assessment and evaluation. COUN 5305 - Assessment in Counseling
Research and Program Evaluation Studies that provide an understanding of types of research methods, basic statistics, and ethical and legal considerations in research. COUN 5391 - Research Seminar
Professional Orientation & Ethics Studies that provide an understanding of all aspects of professional functioning including history, roles, organizational structures, ethics, standards, and credentialing. COUN 5350 - Professional Orientation and Ethics


The CPCE will consist of 160 items with 20 items per CACREP area. Of the 20 items per section, 17 will be scored, with the remaining 3 serving as pretest items. The purpose of imbedded pre-test items is to generate actual score performance data on items for future use or deletion. 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. The CCE will provide statistics on the program's students as well as national data.

A demographic questionnaire will be included on the answer sheet for research purposes. Students are allowed four hours to complete the examination, including the demographic questionnaire. The demographic information requested includes:

  • ethnicity
  • gender
  • education
  • specialty
  • credentialing
  • preparation
  • internship/practicum experience


Passing the comprehensive examination is a requirement for graduation. The Professional Counseling Program established the passing rate of 67%, which is a cumulative score of 92.

Students must pass the CPCE examination with a 92, or the score must be within the standard error of measurement, for the student to proceed to COUN 5689, Clinical Practicum. A passing score of 92 must be obtained to proceed to COUN 5389, Site-based Internship. 

Students who fail the CPCE after the first attempt will need to set up an appointment with their advisor prior to signing up to take the CPCE for the second time to develop a study plan.  Additionally, students who fail after a second attempt will meet with a Program Standards Committee.  Upon the third failed attempt and based on PSC recommendations, students cannot register for classes and may not be allowed further attempts at the comprehensive exam (refer to Student Handbook for more information).

CPCE Study Resources

Information about the comprehensive exam can be found in the Professional Counseling Student Handbook and on the Professional Counseling website. Students should begin to study for the CPCE by participating in classes and studying class notes. Students can also use a study guide for the National Counselor Exam (NCE) to study for the CPCE.  Here are additional CPCE resources:

If you have any questions about the comprehensive exam, please contact Dr. Elizabeth Kjellstrand Hartwig