The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) licenses social workers in order to ensure the public is aware of the standards and professionalism required within the social work field. The ASWB exam is required in order for a social worker to become licensed and work in the field.
Before taking the ASWB exam, you first need to register. This is done through the social work board in your jurisdiction. The board’s website generally has information about whom to contact regarding exam registration. You must contact someone directly in order to receive their approval, which is needed before registering for the exam. Once you receive board approval, registration can be completed via telephone or online.
The exam is multiple-choice and is comprised of 170 questions, with 150 counting toward your final score. Each question has four possible answers. The test is taken at various test sites by use of a computer. However, previous computer experience is not required. The program is user-friendly and allows users to review a tutorial before beginning the test. Pencil-and-paper format tests are generally not available.
There are four levels of exams: bachelors, masters, advanced generalist (master’s degree with two years supervised experience) and clinical (master’s degree with two years of clinical experience in the field). Each applicant is given four hours to complete the exam. Pass rates vary by test, but range from 57-80 percent. Depending on the exam level, the number of correct answers needed to pass varies from 103-115.
No breaks are given during the duration of the ASWB exam. Although breaks can be taken during the exam, if needed, no set break time is given. This is because the test is relatively short, and the allotted time of four hours is usually more than enough time for test takers to take a break if needed.
Special accommodations are available for those with disabilities or special circumstances that make it difficult for them to complete the allotted time or standard format. The ASWB Candidate Handbook offers an application for applicants to fill out to qualify for special accommodations. Applicants must be approved for disability accommodations. Special accommodations given include paper-and-pencil administrations and extra time for those whose primary language is one other than English.
After the test is taken, you will receive your results by mail. The score report will show the number of questions needed to pass, as well as the actual number of questions answered correctly. The score report will also show the breakdown of questions answered correctly in each area of content. For security reasons, test scores cannot be given via telephone.
Scoring varies by board. Some give an actual score (such as 70 or 75) that needs to be obtained. However, whether you passed or failed, not the number of questions you answered correctly, is all that matters. Therefore, some boards may only grade your test as “pass” or “fail.” Because the ASWB’s passing score is a national passing score, passing the exam in one jurisdiction means you passed the exam in all jurisdictions. For this same reason, if you fail in one jurisdiction, you fail in all of them. However, passing the exam doesn’t necessarily mean you are licensed in all jurisdictions throughout the country. The licensing requirements for each jurisdiction differ, so additional qualifications may be needed before you can gain licensure in that jurisdiction.
ASWB Exam Preparation
There are many ways to prepare for the Association of Social Workers Board (ASWB) exam. There is no right or wrong way to do so; it’s purely up to each individual and their preferred learning style. There are study groups, practice tests, study guides, flashcards, seminars and other types of study aids that are available to test takers.
The ASWB website offers two types of study aids: an online practice test or a study guide in hard-copy format. Due to a conflict of interest, the ASWB cannot recommend a specific study aid. However, an online search will yield many websites offering test preparation materials for test takers.
There are test preparation materials available for all four levels of the ASWB exam. Many companies offer audio courses, live seminars, study guides, summary guides, online practice exams and practice questions. Each method of study has a different price and time commitment, so it’s best to choose the right study aid that fits your learning style, as well as your budget. Some are able to do well on tests with minimal study time. However, others need to immerse themselves in the content and receive as much preparation as possible. No matter what your situation, reviewing some sort of study aid, whether it be practice questions or study guides, can give you a good idea of what to expect when it’s time to take the test for real.
When choosing a method of exam preparation, you want to order it ahead of time. It’s best to give yourself several months to study and prepare for your exam. You definitely don’t want to feel rushed and have to cram all the information just days before the test. Therefore, keep this in mind when choosing a test date.
Another thing to look for when buying test preparation materials is the reputation of the company from which you are buying the materials. What is their success rate? What types of study aids do they offer? Is there any guarantee or return policy if you are not satisfied? You also want to make sure their materials are current, since the test is updated yearly.
Price is also a factor when choosing a method of study aid. Study guides often range from $30-50. Flashcards range from $40-50. Seminars can range from $270-300. Practice exams can cost $79 or more. Sometimes you can order several items as a package and save money.
Exam preparation materials vary by company, material offered and range in price. There are many available, so look for one or two that offer the best overall value.
What to Expect on an ASWB Study Guide
The Association of Social Workers Board (ASWB) exam can be difficult to pass if you don’t know what to expect. Although the exam is fairly short (170 questions), the questions can be tough or worded in such a way that you may not be able to easily answer the question. That’s why there are so many exam preparation materials available at your disposable. However, one popular method, the study guide, can give you a thorough overview of the material and offer you a glimpse of the types of questions you can expect.
The material in a study guide varies according to the company. Some may offer only practice questions and brief overviews of each of the 11 sections of the exam, while some are more thorough and teach you how to analyze the questions and how to study smarter, not harder. Students also learn specific strategies, such as how to answer the questions, brainstorm and look for specific words and phrases. It’s important to understand that if you order the practice tests, those are all you will receive. However, if you order study guides, they include practice tests.
Study guides are also comprehensive and include information about the various subject matters covered on the ASWB exam. Examples include personality, displacement, driving forces, psychosexual development, social learning theories, cultures, ethnicity, signs of elder abuse, schizophrenia, dementia, substance abuse, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, mood disorders and panic disorders. A positive aspect of the ASWB study guides is that they are created by social workers and exam experts, not by writers with no prior knowledge of social work. Therefore, you can rest assured that the information in the study guides is correct.
Study guides are available for all four ASWB exam levels: bachelors, masters, advanced generalist and clinical. When choosing a study guide, you’ll need to choose the correct one based on the exam you are taking, since each level has different material and levels of ease. Content is divided into 11 sections and includes human behavior, social work assessment, diversity, supervision, ethics, administration and research. The master’s level focuses more on diagnosis and intervention planning, as well as social/economic justice. Diagnosis and intervention planning is the main focus at the advanced generalist level. The clinical level focuses on human behavior, diagnosis and assessment and clinical practice.
Many study guides include a chapter on each section, as well as study questions at the end to gauge your understanding of the material. Some may also include full-length practice tests, forms, reference guides and other study aids to help reinforce what you learned. Again, what you receive with your study guide purchase will vary by company. The ASWB offers a basic study guide that includes a breakdown of the test, along with 50 sample questions. This is due to a conflict of interest. Since this doesn’t apply to other companies, they have the ability to offer much more.
Before purchasing an ASWB study guide, be sure to do some research. Check out various websites to see what other companies offer. Be sure to compare the material and prices thoroughly. Although prices vary, study guides are often less expensive than practice tests purchased individually, but more thorough. Practice tests may cost $75 each, while a study guide may cost $30-50 and include smaller versions of practice tests. It’s also important to make sure the material is current. ASWB exams are updated yearly, so you want a study guide that is not outdated because it will be virtually useless when it’s time to take your exam. Some companies update their study guides and practice tests twice a year.
Using Flashcards to Prepare for ASWB Exams
Similar to the SAT or ACT exams you took in high school in order to get admitted to the college of your choice, the Association of Social Workers Board (ASWB) exam is also a standardized test designed to see how much you know. The purpose is to assess your skills and knowledge in the area of social work. It would be extremely difficult to memorize everything. This is why learning concepts and being able to effectively use repetition are key elements to passing the ASWB exam.
Some companies are taking advantage of the repetition element by creating and offering flashcards for test takers to use as study aids for the ASWB exam. Although you may not have used flashcards since you were a child, flashcards are a proven and effective method n terms of helping test takers learn key concepts quickly and easily. Studies show that flashcards engage several of the senses – flipping through cards and trying to see if you know the answer – making studying an active process that allows you to retain more of the information.
Using flashcards is a quicker and easier way to study than memorization because many tests cover so much information that there is no way to possibly memorize everything in a reasonable amount of time. This is no different for the ASWB exam. The flashcard systems created by companies reduce the amount of information into approximately 100 key concepts that are the most important.
There are many advantages to using flashcards when studying for the ASWB exam. First of all, they thoroughly cover the main sections of the exam. They are available for all exam levels. They are also durable, meaning they won’t smear or wear out and are strong enough to be used daily. Flashcards are also the perfect size – not too big to be carried around in a purse, but not so small that you can’t read the font. Because of their portability, you can take them anywhere and study when you have a free moment, whether it be during a lunch break or while waiting for an appointment. Flashcards also include thorough explanations, not just yes or no answers. They include detail as to why the answer is right or wrong, with all the information you need on the back of the flashcard. No research is required. The explanations are detailed, but without the technical words and jargon. They are straightforward and easy to understand.
Another positive aspect of flashcards is that they are engaging. Studying guides and textbooks can be boring, but flashcards can be fun if you turn it into a game. You can quiz yourself and see how much you know. You can also make it a group activity and have friends quiz you. It’s easy for someone to help you, as no prior knowledge of social work or the ASWB exam required.
Flashcards for the ASWB exam cost approximately $40 and often include a money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied. However, it’s important to note that flashcards or other study aids will not automatically give you a passing score on the ASWB exam. As a test taker, you still need to apply yourself and put a large amount of effort into the test preparation.
Becoming a Social Worker
Social workers are required to have a license due to the specialized education and training needed in order to deal with a variety of emotional situations. These are situations that affect their clients and may include serious illnesses, custody battles and behavior and discipline issues. Social workers must deal with difficult issues and make effective decisions that affect their clients’ lives. Therefore, a thorough education in the area of social work is crucial.
The first step required to become a licensed social worker is to obtain the required education. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work is required. There are also master’s and doctoral degrees available from many colleges and universities throughout the United States. The education must be from an accredited degree program. After graduation, the next step is to apply for licensure within your jurisdiction. The requirements for each jurisdiction are different, so it’s important to know what which requirements apply to you. Then the licensing board determines which test you will need to take. There are four levels of the ASWB exam: bachelor’s, master’s, advanced generalist and clinical. The one the licensing board will choose depends on your level of education and desired focus within social work.
Once you determine which test fits your goals, the next step is to register for the exam with the ASWB. The ASWB ensures that you are eligible to take the exam and will review your education, work experience and goals in order to make a decision. Those taking the test at the bachelor’s and master’s level require no previous work experience. However, those taking the ASWB test at the advanced generalist and clinical levels need a minimum of two years of work experience in the social work field. If you are approved, you will be notified by mail. After you receive your approval, you will need to schedule the exam at a testing site. It is important to pass the exam. If you fail, you will need to wait a certain amount of time before retaking the test – usually 90 days. In addition, not all applicants are approved to retake the test. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to study hard and prepare ahead of time so that you pass the first time and don’t have to worry about any delays in receiving your license. If you pass, you are issued a license by the licensure board in your jurisdiction.
The entire process, from eligibility determination to licensure, can take at least several months. Once you receive a license, the education does not stop there. You must complete continuing education, with the exact number of hours varying by state. It is your responsibility, as a social worker, to know the requirements that apply to your state. If you have any questions about the requirements or the licensing process, you should contact your state’s social work licensing board. You can find the contact information on the ASWB’s website. E-mail is the preferred method of communication, since it can be difficult to reach someone by phone.