Top 5 Complaints About Social Work Licensing


Not to be a “Negative Nelly,” but there are a few (5 to be exact) complaints that we consistently hear about the social work licensing exam.  We are here to tell you that you are not alone.

Complaint #5 – It is so expensive.

Social work licensing can be expensive, but it is an investment in your future. The actual exam costs $230 for the Bachelors and Masters levels and $260 for the Clinical and Advanced Generalist levels. And, before you can register for the exam you have to register with your state social work board, the fee of which varies state-to-state, but tends to be about $100, including the application fee, criminal background check, fingerprinting, and transcript requests.  Other costs to consider are study preparation materials and workshops. Although not everyone attends a workshop, most people purchase social work exam study materials from companies like SocialWorkGuide.com. And, once you are licensed, there are costs associated with license renewal and continuing legal education that are often covered (at least in part) by your employer.

Complaint #4 – there were so many things on the exam that I didn’t know or study

Social Work is a broad field – there are many areas and topics that fall under the field of social work.  The exam is written to cover topics across the many types of social workers. It would not be reasonable for you to expect to know every single topic tested on the exam.  And, the test writers don’t expect you to know all of it, which is why it doesn’t require you to get 100% of the questions correct in order to pass. The Complete Guide to Social Work offered by SocialWorkGuide.com contains a comprehensive review of topics generally tested on the exam and other useful study preparation information.

Complaint #3 – I have been a social worker for 20 years and my new state won’t grandfather me

Each state varies with respect to who they will allow to be grandfathered in due to changes in licensing requirements. If you are one of the unlucky ones who is not eligible for grandfathering, try to keep a positive outlook on the process and feel assured that the reason for licensing is in large part to ensure a certain minimum competency while maintaining a high level of integrity for the profession. If you are planning a move, however, it is best to check with your state board early on so you aren’t blind-sighted when you move.

Complaint #2 – I wasn’t given partial credit

It’s true.  The ASWB exam is a 4-item multiple choice exam, meaning your answers are either correct or incorrect. There is no partial credit and there is no way to justify your answer.  We can debate the pros and cons of multiple choice exams, but at the end of the day, they are here to stay…for better or for worse. Brushing up on your test taking strategy is equally as important as studying the content.  You can understand a topic as well as the next person, but if you don’t choose the answer that the test writer is looking for, you will get it wrong and will not be given credit. For multiple choice strategy tips, consider purchasing The Strategic Guide to the ASWB Exam:  Mastering Multiple Choice on www.SocialWorkGuide.com.

Complaint #1 – They were trying to trick me

The top complaint that we receive is that the questions are tricky. On some level, this is true.  The questions and answers can be challenging, but rest assured that the test writers are not intending to trick you. Writing an exam question that is effective and an objective measure of knowledge is much more difficult than you think and takes a lot of experience.  SocialWorkGuide.com has been writing practice social work exam questions for over 15 years and we will be the first to tell you that a lot of thought and input goes into every question.  Often, when it appears that the writers are trying to trick you, sit back and re-read the question – this time, do not try to overanalyze what they are asking.  This is not a time to flaunt your detailed knowledge on a topic. Take each question at face value, use the process of elimination and apply your best judgement.

March 1, 2020

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