Three Weeks of Torture

By Christine Pitts

Have you ever taken a test and walked out saying to yourself, “ I definitely failed.” Has that test ever been one of the biggest tests of your life, like your comprehensive exam for graduating from your masters program?

Almost a month ago I took the CPCE (Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam). This exam was the determining factor if I could graduate with my masters. I spent the entire summer studying. The exam consisted of eight sections with twenty questions per section. The eight sections are the core content areas of my masters program. Basically, imagine taking eight classes for a year and a half, then taking an exam on all the things you learned, but only twenty questions for each course. Let me tell you, it does not narrow things down. Half the time I was thinking, “what should I even be studying for this area?” Twenty questions for an entire class is nothing – but these twenty questions meant everything.

It’s one of those exams where you feel like your life depends on it. I felt like if I didn’t pass my life would be over. The exam took me almost four hours and I walked out of there saying “I definitely failed”. It was hands down the hardest test I have ever taken in my entire life. It took three weeks for the scores to come in. Talk about torture.

It was ten o’clock on a Wednesday night when I received the e-mail saying our grades had been posted. My friends and I had an imessage group chat going on. Once we found our scores the group went silent. I opened the grades on our online system and my eyes flashed to the top right corner that read PASS. I could not believe it. After the initial shock I got to look at the actual score and found I had done much better than I had thought. The exam was pass/fail, but I found I knew a lot more than I original thought.

I learned a lot from this exam. Aside from feeling confident in my knowledge on counseling, I learned that I really need to have more confidence in myself. Sometimes it can be really hard. For, example when there is a lot of pressure. Beside the pressure of “if I don’t pass I can’t graduate” I also had a lot of outside pressure. For one, I am the president of the student affairs honor society at my school. All I could think was “if I fail, everyone is going to questions why I am the president.” I thought about my friends passing and if I didn’t what they would think of me. In retrospect, this was all absolutely ridiculous.

If you’re a student affairs graduate student and you have to take a comprehensive exam, best of luck.  I can say confidently that even if you think differently, you got this! 

Student Affairs - the First Years

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