2018 Changes to the Social Work Exam

Credit: James O’Gorman. Flickr username: jamesog. License: Creative Commons.

Happy New Year, MSWs! If you haven’t heard about it yet, one of the biggest changes that’s been making a buzz has been the ASWB’s plan to change the social work licensure exams this year. What does this mean for preparing?

  1. Don’t panic. The test, still in its current multiple choice format, is still pretty much testing basic social work skills across the four major content areas: Human Behavior/Diversity and the Social Environment, Assessment and Intervention Planning, Direct/Indirect Practice, and Ethics/Professional Values. Unlike the shift to the DSM 5, this constitutes less of a major change in content itself.
  2. What’s different? One of the main notable differences is that different areas will be weighted slightly differently, going up or down a few percentage points. For example, for the Masters examination, the chart provided by the ASWB indicates that Human Behavior will go down from being weighted at 28% to being weighted at 27%, Assessment/Intervention planning will remain the same at 24%, and Direct/Indirect practice will go up from 21% to 24%. The weight of ethics will down by 2%. While all content areas are important, this indicates somewhat of a shift to highlight more”practice-focused” questions.
  3. How can I prepare? You will want to be mindful of which exam you’re taking, because each exam’s “goal” is to test for basic competencies or set of skills you should know at that level. For example, as a Masters exam candidate, generalist skills will be weighted across the board (need to know micro and macro skills), while as a Clinical exam candidate, clinical intervention/diagnosis skills will carry more notable weight (though generalist skills are also tested).One helpful strategy I used to do well on both exams (specifically when it came to making sure I covered every competency) was to go back through old syllabi since there’s more often than not a breakdown of a basic social work skills each unit covers. For example, rather than going back and memorizing every theory at random, a Generalist Practice or Clinical Practice I class syllabus can neatly walk you through the social work process by unit—from engagement and assessment to termination and ethics, with carefully selected readings for each one.

Need more support? Contact me to see if tutoring would be a good fit for you!

2018 Exam Blueprints. (n.d.). Retrieved January 02, 2018, from https://www.aswb.org/exam-candidates/about-the-exams/exam-development/2018-exam-blueprints/


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