The Master’s Comprehensive Examination, the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam™ (CPCE™), assesses the student’s overall knowledge of counseling. It consists of 160 multiple-choice questions. The examination incorporates the eight core content areas with 20 questions each, covering professional orientation, research and evaluation, group work (dynamics, processing, and counseling), appraisal of the individual, the helping relationship (including theory as well as methods and techniques of counseling), human growth and development, social and cultural foundations, and life span and career development. The exam has been created by the Research and Assessment Corporation for Counseling (RACC), in conjunction with the Council for Credentialing and Education® (CCE®) – both affiliate corporations of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The CPCE™ exam is commonly used in counseling programs throughout the country and provides students with an opportunity to synthesize their knowledge while also preparing for the licensing exams which they will need to take upon graduation.
The examination may be taken upon the completion of academic course work in the eight core areas of counseling. CG 500/5500, CG 505/5505, CG 502/5502 or CG 509/5509, CG 530/5530, CG 531/5531, CG 535/5535, CG 561/5561, CG 562/5562, and CG 563/5563 should be completed prior to taking the examination.
To prepare for the examination, students should review all notes, texts, and other readings from the appropriate academic course work. The Master’s Comprehensive Examination (CPCE™) may contain questions that have not been addressed specifically in the individual student’s academic course work. Therefore, to be well prepared for the examination, students are encouraged to keep up with the current body of knowledge in the field. This effort toward keeping current may be especially important if course work spans several years, as it does for many students. Students are encouraged to review current journals, and to keep current through reading, workshops, and small group discussion. Students are also encouraged to review the Ethical Code (ACA or ASCA) as well as position statements of the ACA and or the ASCA and other professional associations. Some students find it helpful to review commercially prepared study guides. Any study guide used for the National Counseling Exam is appropriate for use with the CPCE exam. These materials can be located by going to the National Board of Certified Counselors website or just Googling the topic. A common resource students have used is the Encyclopedia of Counseling by Howard Rosenthal. This resource is available online at Amazon and other book sellers. If students desire further guidance about preparing for the exam, they should set up an appointment with their advisor. There is no penalty for guessing on the examination.
Students must register at least two weeks prior to their intended test date using this form:
Comprehensive Exam Registration Form (please note: you must be logged into your JCU email/Google account to access this link)
Within one week after submitting this form students will be emailed a CCE® registration link. Students will have a 6- month window to take the exam. Students must then submit their CCE® registration via the link provided. Within 7 business days, the students will receive an email from Pearson VUE regarding their approved examination. The student must then create an account with Pearson VUE. Students will be prompted to select a Pearson facility nearest them, and schedule their examination for an available time slot at the selected facility. Pearson VUE sites can be viewed by going to the following link,
and clicking on “Find a test center” on the right side. The three testing sites closest to John Carroll University are in Beachwood, Westlake, and Copley Township.
The student will pay the $150 exam fee to Pearson VUE via personal credit card. Upon completion of the exam, students’ scores will print with no indication of pass/fail status. Official scores and descriptive statistics from the previous month’s test takers are delivered to John Carroll around the middle of each month and are then emailed to students.
Students need to take the test by March 31 if they wish to graduate at the end of spring semester, by July 31 if they wish to graduate at the end of summer semester, and by November 30 if they wish to graduate at the end of fall semester AND students must receive a passing score.
If a student is unsuccessful in passing the examination on the first attempt, the examination may be repeated. However, before the student is eligible to repeat the examination, he or she must meet with his or her faculty advisor to organize a plan of study to prepare for the repeated examination. This plan must be in written form and must be filed with the department chair. Students who are required to retake the exam (up to three attempts) will simply log into their Pearson VUE account, pay for and schedule the exam (another CCE® registration is not required).
Please note: Pearson will give students a 6-month window during which they will have up to two (2) attempts to take the CPCE. However, students will only be allowed to attempt the exam once every 30 days.
If three or more attempts are required, students must obtain permission from the Department Chair who will notify CCE®.
A letter from John Carroll University’s Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) Office will have to be written on university letterhead with the student’s name and what services they are approved to receive. This letter is to be delivered to the Department of Counseling’s administrative assistant. She will notify CCE®. Further instructions will be given to the student for additional steps to take to schedule their exam with Pearson VUE.
For students admitted Summer 2023 or later, the passing score is a raw score of 82 or one that is within 3/4 standard deviation below the current mean for the national sample of students who took the exam as an exit exam.
For students admitted Spring 2016 or later, the passing score is one that is at or within 3/4 standard deviation below the current mean for the national sample of students who took the exam as an exit exam.
For students admitted Fall 2015 or earlier, the passing score is one that is at or within one standard deviation below the current mean for the national sample of students who took the exam as an exit exam.