Dress Rehearsal: Taking A Full Practice Exam

“You need to make mistakes in rehearsal because that’s how you find out what works and what doesn’t.” – Clarke Peters

Comic Daredevil Bello Nock – 2013 Royal Melbourne Show. Credit: Chris Phutully. License: Creative Commons.

Some time ago, I had written a post about battling text anxiety. One of the hopeful takeaway points is that if you’ve graduated from your MSW program, you already know this stuff.  The test, at its core, exists to tap into your already existing knowledge and experience.

That said, we all have areas of content where we could use refreshers. Some of us may need to study more of the clinical material, and yet others more of the macro practice material. Our strength areas may vary based on our fieldwork experiences, interests, sub-field of social work chosen, and elective courses.

However, at least in my belief, no amount of content review can replace replicating the conditions of the test. Sitting down in front of a computer for 3-4 hours, using the software interface you’ll use on the day of the test, sifting through the content with time constraints, and yes, even receiving a dreaded “pass/fail” result.

Unfortunately, the ASWB practice exam is only available for candidates who have already registered for the exam. That said, you are provided with a reasonable 30-day time window between access to the practice exam and the day you register to take your exam.

While the exam may cost a hefty $85 (in addition to any licensing fees and registration in your jurisdiction), I have found it totally worth it for students for the following reasons:

  1. It replicates the exam conditions (“dress rehearsal”): the software interface, all 170 questions (150 scored and 20 unscored), the time limit, and the comprehensive material/content, and the structure of the questions.
  2. Whether you “pass” or “fail,” it gives you a diagnostic percentages for sections you got wrong, and rationales for right answers. These then become the content sections to review.
  3. It boosts confidence. After taking a practice exam, where you’re “allowed to fail”, taking the real exam will feel like a more “familiar place” with the added edge and point advantage of knowing you looked at the struggle areas and improved on them.

While both content review and practice questions are important, as the days get closer to the exam, it’s often better to “train your brain” to soothe the test anxiety than “cram and ram” all the knowledge, theories, and facts in a short amount of time. Remember you are mostly tapping into knowledge, experiences, and judgment already in your preconscious!

Break a leg!

External Resources:

ASWB Online-Only Practice Exam (Available only for candidates registered for the exam)

Social Work Test Prep (Content review and practice questions available to all MSW students and grads. Resources available both before and after registering for the exam.)

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with or employed by the ASWB and all opinions here are my own.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s