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Master of Arts Professional Counseling — CPCE Information


Beginning in the Fall 2023 session, students who are enrolled in the Professional Counseling degree program must successfully pass the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) practice exam.  The main purpose for this change is to give students the opportunity to take a practice exam while enrolled in the program to increase the likelihood of successfully passing the state exam on their initial attempt. The Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) is designed to measure a student’s level of mastery of the requisite knowledge and skills identified by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling for the preparation of professional counselors. The Counseling Portfolio currently submitted to the faculty in CSL6839 Pre-Practicum course will be replaced by the CPCE practice exam.

Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) Information

The CPCE is a national examination established and regulated by the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE). The practice exam will assess a student’s knowledge of counseling to ensure minimum competence before advancing to the Clinical Practicum Program. Taking this practice exam will give students the opportunity to become familiar with the format of the test questions and will provide an indication of their readiness for the actual exam.

Students may register and take the exam after completing a minimum of 30 hours with a 3.0 grade point average and good standing in their program. The exam covers eight common core areas that are all highly relevant to the field of professional counseling. There are 20 questions in each section. The courses indicated below must be completed prior to being eligible to take the CPCE.

The minimum passing score on the exam will be set by the Counseling Faculty and Administration of Amberton University. Currently, the passing score for the CPCE is 66% or 90 out of 136 questions. Students taking the CPCE will receive a raw score report after they have completed the exam via the CPCE-OnVue format.  The raw score report will be uploaded to their Pearson Vue account within 24-48 hours after taking the practice exam. Students must send a copy of the results to the University’s Campus Coordinator, Dr. Ken Johnson, at

Students may take the exam as often as necessary to achieve a passing score. It is imperative that students sign up for the exam during the sign-up period. The cost of the exam is $150.00. This fee is not set by, or paid to, Amberton University. Failure to do so could result in students NOT being able to sit for the exam during their desired timeframe. Note: It takes approximately 45 days for students to get registered to take the CPCE. Students should be aware that the sign-up dates for this exam will be strictly enforced. Students will submit the CPCE Request Form to the University in order to sign up for the exam. Unless otherwise noted, the deadline to sign-up for the exam will be:

  • March 21, 2024
  • June 27, 2024
  • September 26, 2024
  • December 19, 2024
  • March 27, 2025.

Students will take the exams online from their personal computers. The CPCE exam is taken via the Pearson On-Vue (Web Administration): Administered remotely to the examinee. The exam dates, times, and proctors are selected by Pearson Vue. Students who need special accommodations must take the exam at a testing site monitored by Pearson. Students must register for the CPCE practice exam 45 days prior to testing.

The CPCE practice exam is 240 minutes in length; 15 minutes to complete the NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) and the Exam Tutorial, and 225 minutes for the exam seat time. The CPCE practice exam contains 160 multiple-choice questions, though only 136 of the questions will count toward your final score. You will be given 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the exam.

Professional Counseling Degree Requirement:

  • All students must take and pass the CPCE practice exam and earn a score of 66% prior to enrolling in CSL6839 Pre-Practicum.
  • Students can take the exam after successfully completing 30 hours of required curriculum. Please see below for details.
  • For the CPCE exam, students have a 6-month window with 2 attempts within the six-month period. If students need to retake the CPCE after the first attempt, they have 1 additional attempts within their 6-month window.  Each attempt requires a $150.00 payment (not set by or paid to the University).
  • Students must wait at least 90 days to re-test
  • The Counseling Faculty will develop a remediation plan, CPCE Preparation Center, for students who have difficulty passing the CPCE.
  • To enroll for the practice exam, you must be approved by the University and follow the instructions emailed to you by NCE (at the email address provided in the CPCE Request form).
  • If you have questions concerning the CPCE exam, or the process, please contact the Campus Coordinator at

CPCE Required Steps

  • Complete required 30 hours with good academic standing (at least 3.0 GPA)
  • Apply for the CPCE Practice Exam by above deadline date
    • Amberton will submit approved student list to the NCE the day after the above deadline.
  • The NCE has 45 days after the deadline to email instructions and payment information to the email provided with the exam registration
  • Per the NCE instructions, complete the practice exam at your scheduled time
  • At the end of the testing, a raw score will be provided. Print out the raw score and email a copy to Dr. Ken Johnson,

Courses Required to be Completed for CPCE Eligibility

  • Theories and Methods of Counseling (CSL6782)
    These questions assess your knowledge of the philosophical and theoretical bases of the helping process.  Emphasis is placed on understanding the major counseling theories, basic helping skills, and applications to diverse populations.  Techniques and methods from each counseling perspective will be demonstrated and practiced under faculty supervision.  A major focus is on the application of the theories and methods of individual, group, and family counseling in schools and mental health settings.  This also includes professional, ethical, and legal issues specific to the counseling and guidance process.
  • Professional Counseling (CSL6780)
    These questions assess your knowledge of the history and philosophy of the counseling profession, the role of the counselor advocating on behalf of the profession, current labor market information, technology’s impact on the counseling profession, and self-care strategies appropriate to the counselor role.
  • Multicultural Counseling (CSL6832)
    These questions assess your knowledge of theories and models of multicultural counseling, effects of power and privilege for counselors and clients, help-seeking behaviors of diverse clients, and strategies for identifying and eliminating barriers and prejudices.
  • Life Span Development (CSL6801)
    These questions assess your knowledge of theories of learning, theories of abnormal personality development, effects of crises, etiology of addictions and addictive behaviors, and differing abilities and strategies for differentiated interventions.
  • Career Counseling and Guidance (CSL6803)
    These questions assess your knowledge of strategies for career development program planning, models of career development, ethical and culturally relevant strategies for addressing career development, and facilitating client skill development for career planning and management.
  • Advanced Counseling Skills & Techniques (CSL6830)
    These questions assess your knowledge of counseling theories and models, conceptualizing clients using a systems approach, processes for aiding students in developing a personal model of counseling, and case conceptualization skills.
  • Group Counseling & Therapy (CSL6805)
    These questions assess your knowledge of designing and facilitating groups, therapeutic factors, dynamics associated with group process, and approaches to group formation.
  • Counseling Assessment Techniques (CSL6800)
    These questions assess your knowledge of reliability and validity in assessments, procedures for identifying trauma and abuse, assessing risk of aggression or danger, environmental assessments, and preparing for initial assessment meetings.
  • Research Methods (RGS6035)
    These questions assess your knowledge of evidence-based counseling practices, mixed research methods, analysis of data in counseling, statistical methods used in conducting research, and needs assessments.
  • Counseling Ethics (CSL6740)
    These questions are designed to assess your knowledge of how to function in the formal role of a professional practitioner.  Major emphasis is placed upon ethical and legal issues, standards and conditions of preparation for the professions, and role identity matters.  Models of decision-making are presented with emphasis on application in mental health settings.

CPCE Preparation and Study Materials

Students should begin to prepare for the CPCE exam by participating in classes and reviewing class notes. Students are also encouraged to use a study guide for the CPCE/NCE practice exam. It is recommended that students begin reviewing their course materials and preparing for the exam at least two to three months before they plan to take the exam.

Preparation material (study guides) will be available in various places, e.g., CSL course material, Counseling Handbooks, Moodle site, etc. Students are responsible for securing their own study guides for the exams. There is no official study guide for the CPCE practice exam. Following are some recommendations for study guides for the CPCE practice exam: