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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.

The CPCE is offered once each Spring, Summer, and Fall semester. 

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. If you would like more information about the licensure exams you can find out more for each license:

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.

Testing Information

The Texas State Professional Counseling Program uses the Center for Credentialing and Education's 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 Testing, Research Support, and Evaluation Center (TREC)* at Texas State University administers this exam. In order to cover the cost of exam administration, there needs to be a minimum of 14 students registering for the exam.

* Students in the Professional Counseling Program at Texas State University are the only ones who can take the CPCE administered through TREC. All other students should contact their program for approved testing centers.

Upcoming CPCE Testing and Application Dates

Semester CPCE Test Date Online Application Dates Application and Fee Due Date
Spring 2017 2/18/2017 Jan 2-13, 2017 1/13/2017
Summer 2017 6/24/2017 May 1-12, 2017 5/12/2017
Fall 2017 9/16/2017 July 24 - August 4, 2017 8/4/2017

Application and Payment Information

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Students will be notified about the CPCE application via the student listserv about one to two months prior to the CPCE exam. In order to take the exam, students must complete the CPCE online application and submit payment in full by the due date, both to the Testing, Resource Support, and Evaluation Center (TREC) for administration, and to CCE for the CPCE. Upon application, approval to test will be determined by the Professional Counseling Program, and eligible examinees will receive a link from the CPCE Coordinator directing them how to pay both TREC and CCE online.  

Total Exam Fee is $100: The CPCE electronic examination fee is $75. A $25 nonrefundable fee is paid for TREC on-campus administration. 

If a student needs to cancel or reschedule the CPCE exam for any reason, the $25 nonrefundable fee will not be returned through TREC, but the fee paid to CCE will extend examinee eligibility for 6 months. This means the student will need to test during the next scheduled CPCE administration. After that time, the examinee will have to pay for a new CPCE administration.

CPCE Testing Topic CPCE Testing Information
Date and Times Dates Indicated Above
Check in time: 8:30 AM
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Check In Location Commons Hall, Lower Level room G14
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 recommends bringing a sweater or jacket in case the room is cold for some students. Lockers will be assigned for students to store their belongings. TREC can answer other questions about the administration of the exam.

CPCE Online Application

Apply Online

The CPCE online application should only be completed during the application dates listed above for the corresponding testing date. Here is the link to the online application:

                                     CPCE Online Application



CPCE 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 - Professional Counseling Orientation
COUN 5328 - Professional Orientation 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
Assessment 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 - Advanced Counselor Ethics


The CPCE consists of 160 total 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.


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


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. Kathy Ybanez-Llorente