August 12, 2015

ASWB Exams

A person who wants to become a licensed social worker will need to take one of the social work licensing exams owned by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Licensure for social workers is a matter of consumer protection. Since social workers can greatly affect the personal lives of their clients, state governments need a way to confirm that every social worker has the skills and knowledge necessary for safe and beneficial practice.

ASWB exams follow standards developed by the American Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education. Each exam consists of 170 multiple choice questions, and must be completed in four hours. The exam is electronic, which means that a computer will be used to answer the questions.

Before a candidate can take any of the ASWB exams, he or she will need to prove eligibility by meeting state board requirements. The steps in the procedure are:

 

  1. To establish eligibility with the state social work board, and get approval to take the exam. The board will also inform the candidate which ASWB exams are required in his particular jurisdiction.
  2. To register for the exam with ASWB by phone, fax, mail, or online. At this time the candidate will need to pay a registration fee of $175. He will also need to provide certain information, such as education and work history.
  3. To receive an authorization letter from ASWB in the mail. This letter includes a number that will be needed in order to set up a test appointment.
  4. To schedule the exam with an ACT center and take the exam at the scheduled time. There are more than 200 ACT centers across the United States.

When a person registers for the exam with ASWB, he will be asked to specify which one of the ASWB exams he intends to take. There are four main exam categories: Bachelors, Masters, Advanced Generalist, and Clinical. Each exam has different eligibility requirements.

    1. ASWB Bachelor’s Exam. To qualify for the bachelor’s category of the ASWB exam, a candidate will likely need a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), or the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work (CASSW). While the BSW is usually required, non-social work degrees may be accepted in some jurisdictions on an individual basis.The ASWB Bachelors exam was formerly called “The Basic Exam” for social work licensure.

      A majority of the questions on the exam cover the following categories:

      • “Assessment in Social Work Practice” (ex. social history and collateral data, use of assessment instruments, problem identification, and assessment of mental and behavioral disorders).
      • “Direct and Indirect Practice” (ex. intervention techniques, components of the intervention process, matching intervention with client system needs, professional use of self, and use of collaborative relationships in social work practice).
      • Other areas covered by the questions include such topics as human development, social work ethics, communication, and diversity issues.

      Social workers in most states and provinces are required to pass the ASWB Bachelors exam in order to practice social work at the entry level. Titles range from “certified social worker,” to “licensed social worker.” This exam is often not required for a person to be a “registered” social worker, although this title does require a BSW degree.

    2. ASWB Master’s Exam. To qualify for the ASWB Master’s exam, a person needs a master’s degree in social work (from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work.To meet eligibility requirements for the ASWB Masters Exam a person does not need post-master’s supervised social work experience in the field.

      Masters programs provide social workers with the skills to perform clinical assessments, manage large caseloads, take on supervisory roles, and to think creatively about meeting the social needs of clients. The ASWB Masters exam is required for social work in most health settings.

      The ASWB Masters exam was formerly called “The Intermediate Exam” for social work licensure.

      A majority of the questions on the exam cover the following categories:

      • “Human Development and Behavior in the Environment” (ex. theories and concepts, and application of knowledge).
      • “Direct and Indirect Practice” (ex. intervention models, methods techniques, and processes with individuals and groups).
      • Other areas covered by the questions include such topics as diversity and social/economic justice, communication, professional ethics, social work policy, and administration.

Social workers in most states and provinces are required to pass the ASWB Master’s exam in order to practice social work at the professional level. Titles range from “licensed graduate social worker,” to “licensed master social worker.”

    1. ASWB Advanced Generalist Exam. To qualify for the ASWB Advanced Generalist exam, a candidate needs a master’s degree in social work from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work and at least two years post-master’s supervised social work experience.

The ASWB Advanced Generalist exam was formerly called “The Advanced Exam” for social work licensure.

A majority of the questions on the exam cover the following categories:

      • “Assessment, Diagnosis and Intervention Planning” (ex. social history, use of assessment instruments, problem identification, effects of the environment on client behavior, impact of life stressors on systems).
      • “Direct and Indirect Practice” (ex. theories, methods, techniques, and intervention processes with individuals and groups).
      • Other areas covered by the questions include such topics as human development and behavior, professional ethics, and service delivery.

Social workers in most states and provinces are required to pass the ASWB Advanced Generalist exam in order to practice social work in most health care and government settings. Titles range from “licensed certified social worker,” to “licensed independent social worker.”

The Advanced Generalist Exam and the Clinical Exam are at the same level but emphasize different skills. The Advanced Generalist exam tends to focus more on management tasks and other indirect practice techniques, while the clinical exam emphasizes direct clinical practice techniques.

    1. ASWB Clinical Exam. To qualify for the clinical category of the ASWB exam, a candidate needs a master’s degree in social work (from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work and at least two years post-master’s direct clinical social work experience under supervision by a social worker who holds the LCSW license.

A majority of the questions on the exam cover the following categories:

    • “Human Development and Behavior in the Environment” (ex. theories of human development and behavior, impact of crises and changes, family functioning, addictions, abuse and neglect).
    • “Diagnosis and Assessment” (ex. information gathering, diagnostic classifications, indicators of abuse and neglect).
    • “Psychotherapy and Clinical Practice” (ex. the intervention process and techniques, treatment planning).
    • Other areas covered by the questions include such topics as communication, professional ethics, and the therapeutic relationship.

Social workers in most states and provinces are required to pass the ASWB Clinical exam in order to practice clinical social work in most health care and government settings. Titles range from “licensed clinical social worker,” to “licensed clinical independent social worker.”