How to Prepare for the ASWB Exam
This is a guide to Best ASWB Exam Prep Resources In The United States Of America for Social Workers looking to take the practice exam. In many states, if you want to become a licensed master social worker (LMSW), then you need to pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Clinical licensing exam. Known for its rigor, this exam determines whether or not you can practice clinical social work in your state. The exam usually consists of 170 questions and depending on which version of the exam you get, you’ll need anywhere between 90 to 107 correct answers to pass it. However, there are many resources available online to help with your advanced generalist exam.
If you already know this information because you’re already planning to take the ASWB exams, then skip ahead to the next three sub-headings. For those just beginning to explore social work as a career path looking for test taking tips, this information will be valuable.
In most states in the US, you can become a Licensed Bachelor of Social Work if you earn your BSW from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). For that, you need to demonstrate professional values thorough field extensive knowledge in ten competencies the CSWE lists as necessary to gain licensure. Yet, as the name implies, to become a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), you need a master’s degree. Earning your BSW gets you training in generalist social work practice, but pursuing an MSW opens opportunities for specialized skills and training.
What Are the Benefits of Getting Your LMSW?
Is it worth it to get the LMSW? Getting your MSW does not mean you have gained your LMSW. One is a degree, the other is a license. However, the benefits of getting your LMSW are listed below.
- Ability to open your own private practice as a prospective social worker
- More career options for treatment planning
- Higher wages
- Greater professional accountability and regulation to social work’s Code of Ethics
- Title protection
- More opportunities to work in policy reform
- Help with clinical interventions
- Open a private practice to make your own funds
- Learn more about professional ethics with a higher degree
Furthermore, earning your LMSW qualifies you then to pursue becoming a Licensed Social Worker (LCSW), if you so choose. That comes with additional benefits and responsibilities, but that’s a topic for another blog.
How long should I study for the ASWB exams?
All licensed social workers have to take and pass an exam and have comprehensive review from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). A clinical exam guide is helpful, especially for those with test taking anxiety! The exam is given at five different levels, depending on the student’s level of education with detailed answer explanations.
The five categories are associate, bachelor’s, master’s, advanced generalist, and clinical. There can be multiple exams, so have study materials ready. The tests can differ depending on which state the student lives in and some states even require more hours than others of supervised training in clinical practice before a social work student can earn their degree. There is a baseline practice test available that test takers can take ahead of time for their actual exam.
Should test takers have study strategies?
It is recommended that test takers have study strategies at least two to 12 weeks before the exam to get answers, depending on which level of the exam they will be taking. The higher the level of education, the more study time that will be needed for the student to be successful. All students will take their exams at a secure testing center in the United States. The location will depend on which state they live in and where the exams are being offered.
Many test takers who have taken and passed the test prep practice tests with answers say that it requires about 50 hours of study time to complete the test prep and pass it on the first try. Most consumers of social work exams prefer a all-inclusive package that is easy to navigate. It is recommended that students embark on a practice test ahead of time to ensure they will do better when the final exam rolls around. The two to 12 weeks of study should be spent mostly on the topics in areas that the student is struggling with after they learned that information from the practice exam. Also have study materials together beforehand.
Is the ASWB exam hard?
Social work requirements can differ from state to state, but nearly all of the 50 states in the country require that test takers take and pass the association of social work board examination before they receive their social work license. The pass rate of the ASWB clinical exam was 74.8 percent in 2020 when the exam was taken nearly 17,000 times. In the category of associate degrees, 77.6 percent of 250 students passed the exam. Students with a bachelor’s degree in social work achieved only a 68.5 percent pass rate out of 2,696 exams. In other words, the exam is very difficult for many students to achieve a passing score.
Is the ASWB practice test prep worth it?
Many social workers that took the practice test prep for the ASWB exams in their states agree that the practice test prep is definitely worth it and saves hours researching and helps them to feel confident. The practice tests provide students with information and free products about each type of specific question that will be on the final exam.
Students can purchase the practice test prep for around $85 along with a $25 guidebook. Test takers can find a comprehensive collection of ASWB test books at most online bookstores. The practice tests gives students a sense of what taking the real test will be like and they are given a score so they can see where they are at and where their weak areas are so they can study those topics more independently before it is time for them to take the final examination. And, most consumers of social work exams prefer a prep book that covers important topics like case management.
Format of the Exam
Most consumers of social work exams prefer to know the format of the exam. The exam includes the four following sections. As you might expect, each section covers roughly 25% of the exam.
- Human development, diversity, and behavior in the environment
- Interventions with clients and client systems
- Environment Assessment and intervention planning
- Professional relationships, values, and ethics
Prep book that covers case management t and other important topics, and the exam consists of 170 multiple choice questions answered over 4 hours. Of those 170, 20 of those questions will be unscored, serving as test questions for ASWB to possibly use in future exams. But they do not tell you which questions will not be scored, so take each one seriously. Also, the sample tests are not monolithic. Not everyone takes the same test. For that reason, you need between 90 to 107 answers to pass the exam.
ASWB Exams Prep Tips
Here are a few tips to consider while preparing for the exam
Consider the following:
- Nerves – If you’re nervous, take the advice you give to your clients so often. Take deep breaths and make sure you do something that makes you feel good the day before.
- Registration – On the day of the exam, you’ll need to provide two forms of ID, have your picture taken, and relent all electronic devices. Some places may even require you to have your palm scanned. We tell you this now so it won’t throw you.
- Time management – Most people believe four hours was more than enough time. So use it well! This means you’ll have an hour per section. If you notice you’re moving much faster than that pace, then feel free to double-check your answers.
- Breaks – Do not count on scheduled breaks. They don’t have them for the entire 4-hour period of the exam. You can use the bathroom and stretch, but that counts as part of the 4 hours.
- Ethics and Values – Nearly every resource will tell you to pay particular attention to the ethics and values that inform social work practice during your study. Although each exam section listed above covers roughly 1/4 of the exam, knowing the values has the most weight.
- Correct answers – Since you don’t know how many answers you need in order to pass, don’t let that occupy your mind.
- Letter of the Day – Before the actual exam, pick a “Letter of the Day,” whether that’s A, B, C, or D. If you have no clue what the answer could be on a certain question, select the letter you chose.
- Acronyms – Learn all the helpful acronyms you can.
- DO NOT CRAM – Do not cram for the exam! It’s far more beneficial mentally that you get at least 7 hours of sleep the night before than if you get only 3 or 4 because you spent the night studying.
- 5 Minute Rule – If you’re the type of person who likes to review everything before taking an exam, I suggest you plan to give yourself a mental break from that at least 5 minutes before you go to take the exam. That break can help your mind settle, and can help your recall.
ASWB Exam Prep Resources
Finally, there are a ton of online tools, helps, and resources available to you to help you in your ASWB exam prep. Here are just a few tools you should consider.
- Social Work ASWB Masters Exam Guide – Perhaps the most valuable resource we can list. This guide includes everything you need to know about the exam and how to prepare for it. It also includes a full 170 question practice test, as well explanations for the correct answers.
- ASWB MSW Practice Exam App – Available for iPhone and Android, this app includes 800 practice questions according to the 4 sections of the exam.
- Resources at ASWB – Believe it or not, ASWB does not want you to fail. They have plenty of resources on their website. If you can have a conversation about the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities, then you can pass the test.
- If you feel you need more help, STUDY provides multiple online sample tests.
With these ASWB exam prep resources and the tips above, you can be certain you have all the tools you need to pass!