specify exam choice the semester before internship
The Comprehensive Examination is an important part of your matriculation process and is geared toward assessing your understanding of the significant content and process areas of our master's degree program. The Graduate School requires a comprehensive examination or an alternative method designated by the academic unit to measure student competency in the major areas prior to advancement to the master's degree. In addition, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges requires an evaluation of student competency in order to evaluate whether our program meets a set of standards of quality. The Department has chosen the comprehensive examination to meet these requirements. As noted in the Student Handbook:
In addition to the required courses and a total of 60 semester hours, all students must pass a final written comprehensive examination. Students are eligible to sit for the examination during the semester in which they will complete all program requirements, with the exception of Internship. Completion of Internship is not a requirement to sit for the examination, which is given in fall and spring semesters. Additionally, students must be registered for a minimum of two (2) graduate credit hours at the time they sit for the examination. Students may take the comprehensive examination a total of three times. Students who fail the examination must retake it in the semester immediately following the semester in which they failed it or the next semester that it is offered. Students who fail the examination three times will be recommended for dismissal from the program. In keeping with the Graduate School policy, students must enroll in two credit hours in the semester in which they retake the examination. The M.A. degree will not be awarded until the student has passed the examination. In preparation for the examination, students are strongly encouraged to retain their course textbooks and notes from all courses.
Any student with a disability must notify the department no less than 30 days prior to the examination date to discuss necessary accommodations and/or special services.
Examination options & resources
The COMPS - Case Study Exam
- Offered in-house, twice a year: the week before the Fall semester and the week before the spring semester. Students should plan on taking it the week before the semester of their Internship. Students will be notified of the exact date and location.
- Multiple choice case studies (similar to the licensure exam format)
- 70 questions total, 7 case studies / 10 questions each
- Recommended tips/resources:
- Become familiar with the ACA Code of Ethics, which can be accessed for free here: Give special attention to ethical considerations related to informed consent, working with minors, providing group counseling, roles and responsibilities of a supervisor, as well as multicultural awareness.
- Become familiar with the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5. If you’re wondering, “does this mean I have to memorize the entire DSM?” The answer is, “no.” Instead, focus on just the diagnostic criteria. Each disorder in the DSM has a section with the heading “diagnostic criteria.” For example, if you look at page 160 in the DSM, you will see Major Depressive Disorder along with the heading “diagnostic criteria.” The criteria is broken down from sections A-E. Focus on just the diagnostic criteria. If you want to increase your knowledge, and lay an even more solid foundation of DSM knowledge for purposes of your future licensure exam, consider reviewing the “Differential Diagnosis” heading for each diagnosis as well.
- Review your Counseling Theories text book (Seligman & Reichenberg) and be familiar
with which theories best align with certain symptoms, as well as the interventions
that correspond to these theories.
NCMHCE Sample Case Studies - NBCC
- Rehabilitation Counseling: Concepts and Applications
- Legal, Ethical, and Professional Standards in Counseling
- Foundations of Mental Health Counseling
- Counseling Theories and Practice
- Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling
- Human Growth and Development
- Human Sexuality Counseling
- Career and Lifestyle Assessment
- Medical Aspects of Disability
- Research and Program Evaluation
- Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychopathology
- Foundations of Substance Abuse Counseling
- Individual Evaluation and Assessment
- Group Theories and Practice
A STUDENT WHO FAILS THE FIRST TIME MUST MEET WITH HIS OR HER FACULTY ADVISOR TO RECEIVE GUIDANCE ON HOW TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS. FAILURE ON THE THIRD ATTEMPT OF THE COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION SHALL RESULT IN DISMISSAL FROM THE GRADUATE PROGRAM.
PREPARING FOR THE COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION
Students have used a number of strategies to get themselves ready. Suggestions include:
- Reviewing course notes, required textbooks, course content posted to Canvas, and assignments prepared for all required courses.
- Forming study groups with other students in the program and reviewing together. Becoming a member of a study group helps to keep you on-task. Preparation for a comprehensive examination is a lengthy process, typically covering at least an entire semester, so it is beneficial to have a partner or group to help you stay on track.
- Creating a timeline or breakdown of your study strategy for the semester preceding your comprehensive examination. Breaking down course content (see the 14 knowledge domains listed above) into several weeklong sections allows you to achieve more manageable goals, making the task seem less daunting. This timeline will also allow you to assess whether or not your schedule and course-load will allow for the preparation needed to pass the exam.