The Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) is a nationally administered multiple
choice exam designed to evaluate professional knowledge students have acquired during their MFT
Program. The CPCE is designed to assess students’ knowledge of counseling information viewed
as important by MFT programs and is similar to state licensing exams. Additionally, the CPCE:
- Stimulates student integration of knowledge learned in separate courses
- Helps prepare students for the state licensing exams
- Gives students comparative strengths/weaknesses feedback
- Allows programs to examine student functioning in various curricular areas
- Gives programs an objective view of the knowledge level of their students
- Compares the program’s results to national data
Passing the CPCE is a graduation requirement for MFT students admitted in the Fall 2012 semester
or later. For MFT students admitted before Fall 2012, taking the CPCE is highly recommended,
but not a graduation requirement.
The CPCE covers eight core curriculum areas:
- Helping Relationships [CNS 502, 516]
- Professional Orientation & Ethics [CNS 506]
- Human Growth & Development [CNS 507]
- Group Dynamics [CNS 512]
- Social & Cultural Foundations [CNS 513]
- Career & Lifestyle Development [CNS 518]
- Research Methods & Program Evaluation [CNS 524]
- Appraisal or Assessment Techniques [CNS 525]
Each applicant must...
- have successfully completed all six prerequisites for MFT Practicum prior to sitting for
the Exam. [CNS 501, 502, 504, 505, 506, & 507]
- have a 3.0 GPA
- be in good standing in the MFT program
Students applying for the CPCE are encouraged but not required to have completed coursework
covering the eight core areas listed above. It is highly recommended to have completed CNS 513
Social and Cultural Issues and CNS 524 Research in Counseling as well.
Students must apply to take the CPCE. The exam fee is $45 which each student
will pay before taking the exam. The student must complete the CPCE application
form and submit the $45 fee to Dan Jackowitz in the Counseling Offices. Payment to the Counseling
Office does not guarantee your reservation for the test. The Counseling Offices must receive
the application and confirm with each student before the student is added to the Exam list. Test
booklets are ordered only for those on the Exam list. The student will receive a confirmation
e-mail to inform him or her of the date & time of the Exam. Please refer to the CPCE Application for deadlines
to register, test dates, and payment information. Any student who does
not submit all required paperwork and fees prior to the deadline will not be allowed to take
The test will cover the eight common-core areas as defined by the Standards
for Preparation for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational
- Helping relationships – studies that provide an understanding of counseling and
- Professional orientation and ethics – studies that provide an understanding of all
aspects of professional functioning including history, roles, organizational
structures, ethics, standards, and credentialing.
- Human growth and development – studies that provide an understanding of the nature
and needs of individuals at all developmental levels.
- Group work – studies that provide
an understanding of group development, dynamics, counseling theories,
group counseling methods and skills, and other group work approaches.
- Social and cultural foundations – studies that provide an understanding of issues
and trends in a multicultural and diverse society.
- Career and lifestyle
development – studies that provide an understanding of career
development and related life factors.
- Research and program evaluation – studies that
provide an understanding of types of research methods, basic statistics,
and ethical and legal considerations in research.
- Appraisal or
Assessment Techniques – studies that provide an understanding of individual
and group approaches to assessment and evaluation.
The CPCE consists of 160 items with 20 items per section. Scores for
each section and a total score will be reported for each student by the
CCE. Western Seminary San José is responsible for determining a minimum criterion score for their students.
A demographic questionnaire will be included on the answer sheet for research purposes.
Students are allowed four hours to complete the examination. After each
examination, upon obtaining the results from the CPCE office, we will
contact students by mail of their grade results. Results will be posted
approximately 4 weeks after the test administration. Students who fail the exam will have to
re-take the section(s) not passed or the entire CPCE.
Completed Exams are mailed to and scored by the Center for Credentialing
and Education (CCE). Once scores have been calculated, they are returned
to the Counseling Offices within four weeks. Examinees receive a notification from the Counseling
Offices informing them of their score on the Exam.
The CPCE national norms are used to determine the minimum passing score
on the Exam. The minimum passing score varies each year.
Students who fail the CPCE the first time
- If a student fails three or fewer core areas, he or she will be re-tested over the failed
core areas. The student will be administered a subtest or subtests.
The subtests will be administered on a date scheduled by the Counseling
Offices. If a student fails a subtest, he or she will be required to retake the entire CPCE.
- If a student fails four or more core areas, he or she will be required to retake the entire
Students who fail the CPCE (or sub-section) the second time
- Student will be required to complete an exit interview, Mapping Your Future Interview,
with at least two Faculty Members of the MFT Program. The student will be
required to prepare evidence and discuss items relative to his or
her plans to pass the CPCE.
There are no published study materials available for the CPCE; however,
the exam content is similar to the NBCC National Counselor Examination.
Students may obtain free sample questions from the NBCC website: www.nbcc.org/NCE/Sample.
Paid subscriptions to exam test banks covering the eight content areas
are available online at www.counselingexam.com/nce.
A list of other study resources is available at www.nbcc.org/Exams/Study#NCE.
Please note these references are suggestions not endorsements.