The social work licensing exams are written for social workers with different levels of experience. For the Bachelors and Masters exams, no experience is assumed. For the Clinical and Advanced Generalist exams, there is an expectation that you have 2 years of experience. This is important to recognize when you are studying and taking the exam because you don’t want to overthink and overanalyze the question coming up with an answer that a much more experienced social worker would give. We often tell students that the test writers are looking for “text book answers.” This can often be challenging for the more-experienced social worker. That being said, if you have been practicing for many years and are just now taking the ASWB exam, you should know that you’re not alone. There are many practicing social workers who are taking the exam later in their career for many different reasons. Some experienced social workers take the exam due to changes in state laws and requirements, a move to a new state, or simply waiting until they feel confident that it is the right time to take the test. Whatever the reason, it is possible to successfully take the ASWB exam as an experienced social worker.
Experience in the field offers lessons that you can’t fully get in the classroom. This can work to your advantage as an experienced social worker taking the ASWB exam. Both the Advanced Generalist and Clinical levels of the exam are designed to test the knowledge of social workers with two years of field experience. Having already worked in the field, you may be more prepared to answer some of the tougher questions as you may be more familiar with the material. The scenarios on the test may remind you of situations that you have actually experienced in the field.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that your experience may also make taking the test a little harder. Although it is beneficial that you may have experienced similar events, you have to remember that an exam scenario is likely never the exact same situation as one that you have experienced. Experienced social workers tend to pull from their experience and that can often lead to assuming or adding information into the question. It can be difficult to step back and read the case vignettes with a clear mind, using only the facts provided to choose an answer. Be sure not to let your experience get in the way of thoroughly reading and answering the questions based on the material.
Being experienced gives you a lot of insight into what it is really like to work in the field, but remember this is still a test. You still have to take the time to study the material and brush up on your test taking skills. You may not have taken a test since you graduated. That is okay; just remember to give yourself a little extra time to prepare. It might be a good idea to take a few practice tests to get you back in the swing of things. Preparation is the key to doing well on the ASWB exam. SocialWorkGuide.com offers a comprehensive study guide with social work content summaries and practice questions along with some test taking tips. Check out www.socialworkguide.com for access to the latest study material for all levels of the ASWB exam.