Happy new year! If getting licensed is one of your new year’s resolutions, here are some tips that you want to be mindful of as you go into the new year.
1—Start as early as possible. If you’re still in school, it’s not too early to do your research. Look up your state’s board of social work and see what their requirements are for your level of licensure. Usually, you will have to submit several documents to verify that you graduated (both Masters and Clinical exams) and completed some type of experience (especially for those taking the clinical examination) before you’re even authorized to register for the exam. In some states, you may even be able to take the exam earlier, which may help you secure employment sooner. In fact, one of the reasons to start doing anything you can as early as possible is to reduce the gap between graduation and employment.
2—Partialize. Just like we would encourage our clients to break down goals into smaller steps, partializing will be important with preparing to get licensed. Set up study goals that are realistic (reviewing one content area at a time) and that gradually reinforces rather than forces you to memorize as much information as possible. The ASWB exam is a reasoning exam designed to measure core competencies, not a history or memorization test. If you divide your studying into different content areas (human development/diversity, assessment, direct practice/psychotherapy, and ethics), you can target your needed improvement areas even better.
3—Take Practice Exams. Since the test is a reasoning test measuring certain competencies, there’s no better way to get used to this type of assessment and increasing your confidence than through practice and reinforcement. Practice can help you target content areas that you need to review, and it can also sharpen your ability to assess what the question is asking you.
4—Form or join a study community. Getting support from classmates or doing one to one tutoring is a good way to hold yourself accountable, and also a good way to avoid the two extremes: either having studying that’s too spread out or too crammed and condensed. It can also help you get a good sense of your learning and critical thinking style.
5—Mindset. I always tell my students to think of the “why” motivating them to want to get licensed. For clinical exam candidates, one of the main motivating reasons is so that they can go into private practice, or find a new job that will up-level them in some way, such as a leadership position. Often, focusing on your reason for getting licensed can help mitigate test anxiety and provide positive reinforcement to stick to your study plan.
Best of luck and success in this new year!