Strategies For Selecting the Best Answers on the EPPP

Strategies for Selecting the Best Answer on the EPPP

The EPPP (Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology) is an exam that tests how much you know about psychology! There are 225 multiple-choice questions that cover 8 different areas. But, it's not just about what you know - you also need to have some specific test-taking skills. That means you have to know how to figure out what the questions are asking and how to pick the best answer.

If you're getting ready to take the EPPP, don't worry! This article is here to help you learn those test-taking skills and best practices. If you want to learn more about the EPPP in general, check out our other post What is the EPPP? or sign up for our free sample questions.

Let's start by looking at some examples of the kinds of questions you might see on the EPPP.

Example Questions

Here is an example of a type of question you might encounter on the EPPP in the Assessment and Diagnosis Domain.

The male-to-female ratio for children and adolescents with ADHD is approximately:

a. 5:1

b. 2:1

c. 4:1

d. 1:1

As you can see, each question has four possible answers, only one of which is correct. In this case, the correct answer is B, as the gender ratio is approximately 2:1 (though it may be higher in clinical settings, where comorbidity with ODD/CD is high). Answers A, C, and D are not gender ratios that are approximate with ADHD, which makes these answers incorrect.

Here is another example of a type of question you might encounter on the Growth and Lifespan Development Domain.

What theorist placed emphasis on the importance of relationships with others as an important factor in cognitive development?

a. Piaget

b. Vygotsky

c. Kohlberg

d. Gilligan

In this case, the correct answer would be B. Lev Vygotsky is known for his social-cognitive theory of cognitive development. Piaget (answer A) is known for a theory of cognitive development that focused on adaptation, assimilation, and accommodation. Kolhberg (answer C) and Gilligan (answer D) are both associated with a theory of moral development.

Have a Plan for Tackling Each Question

When you’re taking a test like the EPPP, it helps to be methodical about each question. It’s important to have a plan for how you’re gonna tackle each one, so you can focus on the question and not become anxious.

Planning for breaks, you’ll have 55 seconds for each question, so make sure you read it all the way through and take your time. Sometimes when we’re stressed, we read too fast and make mistakes. Take a deep breath and remember to use all the time you have.

If you read the question carefully the first time, you won’t waste time re-reading it. Try to figure out what the question is about and what it’s asking you. Don’t look at the answer choices yet! First, try to come up with your own answer in your head.

Usually, your first answer is the right one, so don’t change it unless you’re sure. And sometimes you might have to guess, but we’ll talk about that next.

Preparing for Educated Guesses

Knowing how to make educated guesses is a critical skill when it comes to taking exams like the EPPP. It's important to remember that you'll only earn points for correct answers, and there's no penalty for getting an answer wrong. So, when you're unsure of an answer, it's always best to make an educated guess.

Educated guessing doesn't have to be a shot in the dark. There are some principles you can follow to guide your choices. Mastering the art of guessing can make a significant difference over the 175 scored questions of an exam and could be the difference between passing or failing.

One approach to making effective guesses is to pay attention to context clues. For instance, if you're being asked about a particular theory or psychologist, you may not know the answer exactly, but you can make a good guess based on the context of the question.

The key to successful guessing is the ability to use your knowledge to eliminate wrong answers. If you choose an answer randomly out of four possibilities, you have a 25% chance of being correct. However, by using your knowledge to eliminate one out of four possible answers, your chances increase to 33%. Eliminating two out of the four answers will increase your chances to 50%, while eliminating three out of four possibilities guarantees the correct answer. Thus, when faced with a question you're unsure of, don't hastily guess and move on. Instead, read the answer choices carefully and use your knowledge to eliminate as many incorrect answers as possible. This approach can significantly increase the chances of making correct guesses throughout the entire exam.
For instance, when tackling a question on the Growth and Lifespan Development Domain, you can apply the same principles of context clues and process of elimination to make educated guesses.

What do we call the phenomenon whereby subtle emotional signals from a parent influence the infant’s behavior?

a. The discrepancy hypothesis

b. Separation anxiety

c. Social referencing

d. Synchrony

In this case, answer C is correct because social referencing refers to the subtle emotional signals from the parent that influence the infant’s behavior. If you didn't know this answer, let’s consider how you might be able to narrow your options through eliminating some of the answer choices. Suppose you know that the discrepancy hypothesis (answer A) refers to a cognitive theory stating that infants acquire schemes for familiar objects around 7 months of age. Knowing this, you could eliminate Answer A as an option. Similarly, if you know that separation anxiety (answer B) refers to an infant’s fearful reaction to being separated from their attachment objects, then you could also eliminate that as an option. Finally, you may know that synchrony (answer D) refers to the back-and-forth interaction between an infant and caregiver. By thus eliminating wrong options, you can infer that the correct answer is C, even if synchrony is not something you specifically remember.

Another principle to effective guessing is to apply the True/False Test. Determine if one of the answers as a stand-alone fact is correct or incorrect. This will help you eliminate answers that are obviously incorrect.

Bottom line: When you see a question you don’t know the answer to, do not simply wager a random guess, but work to first narrow down your options.

Pay Close Attention

It's crucial to read the questions carefully when taking the EPPP exam. It's common for test-takers to feel rushed and anxious, which can lead to careless mistakes. Rushing through questions without paying close attention can cause you to select the wrong answer even if you know the correct one.

To avoid these errors, take your time to read each question and answer choice thoroughly. Keep an eye out for distractors and make sure you're answering the question being asked rather than one that seems similar. Some questions might be counterintuitive or contain double negatives, so be sure to pay attention to the wording.

For example, some questions on the EPPP may ask you to identify what is not true, which can be confusing. Stay focused and take your time, so you don't fall into the trap of answering a different question than the one that was asked.

Which of the following is NOT an example of normative conformity?

a. A teenager wants to belong to the school's popular group, so she dresses like the most popular girls in her class.

b. A worker wants to be accepted by his peers, so he joins the group for happy hour after work.

c. A young boy does not want to stick out like a sore thumb, so he does what everyone else is doing during recess.

d. A tourist is welcomed by a local guide and learns that the proper way to greet someone in this new country is to bow his head, so he does this to new acquaintances.

If you read the question hastily, you may have “normative conformity” in your mind and then quickly pick an example of normative conformity. But the question is asking what is NOT an example of normative conformity, and so answer D is the correct answer.

Another reason it is important to read the answers carefully is that sometimes you may be led astray by an answer that is only partially, not fully, correct. Consider the following example from the Ethics/Legal/Professional Issues Domain.

Teresa is a forensic psychologist conducting a court-ordered psychological evaluation of Mr. Goleman. Which of the following would be Teresa’s best course of action in reference to Mr. Goleman’s right to privilege regarding her findings?

a. Teresa should determine whether the findings would be favorable to Mr. Goleman and let him assert or waive privilege at that point in time.

b. Mr. Goleman is not entitled to confidentiality regarding the test findings.

c. In the informed consent process, Mr. Goleman should be informed that the findings will be released to the court.

d. Mr. Goleman does not have the right to privilege, and no discussion of this matter is warranted.

In this case, answer C represents the best practice in this situation. Answer A is incorrect because the court, not Mr. Goleman, is Teresa’s client; thus, it needs to be established before testing begins with Mr. Goleman that the results will be released to the court. Answer B is close, but not correct: Mr. Goleman does not have privilege, but he does have the right to confidentiality in all other aspects. For example, the therapist cannot reveal the findings to a third party other than the court. The first part of answer D is correct, but the therapist should disclose this issue to the examinee; hence, the whole answer is invalidated.

It is especially important to read the questions carefully when you come across questions written in the negative, with double negatives, or with absolute words. Try substituting an equivalent positive word statement for negatives, or substitute a qualified term for an absolute one (e.g., “frequently” for “always,” or “typically” for “every”) to see if the truth-value of the statement still stands.

Read All Rationales

When practicing for exams, don't just focus on reading the questions carefully. It's equally important to give the answer choices and rationales the same level of attention. Mere memorization of the right answer won't help if you don't comprehend why it's the correct one. It's highly recommended to avoid moving forward until you fully comprehend the rationale and can articulate it in your own words.

Don't Let Your Clinical Experience Distract You

When tackling mock exam questions and rationales, it can be beneficial to draw on your experience but it can also present obstacles. At times, you may find it difficult to reconcile the textbook-style answer required on the exam with what you feel is the right answer based on your experience. It's important to keep in mind that the EPPP is designed to test your knowledge in a textbook-style way. If you come across a rationale that you disagree with, that's okay, but it's crucial to separate that from the textbook-style answer that the exam is seeking.

As you go through each question and answer choices, focus on the information presented in the question and the options given - this is all the information you need to answer the question. Resist the urge to look beyond what is provided to you in the question and answer choices.