We are often asked whether different states require different scores on the ASWB licensing exam in order to pass and whether it is easier to pass the exam in one state over another. The answer is a bit involved, but the short answer is ‘no.’
The number of questions that you are required to answer correctly to pass a particular version of an exam is the same for every state. According to ASWB, you will need to answer 93-106 questions (depending on the version of the exam) correct. There are 150 exam items on the exam, however 20 of those 150 questions are pre-test items and are not graded. These pre-test items are being tested to see whether they should be used on future exams. These items are not marked as pre-test items, so be sure to answer all questions to the best of your ability. Some people think that questions that are poorly written or have typos are the pre-test question. I would NOT rely on that statement. Treat every question as though it were a graded exam question.
A state may list their passing score as a 70 or 75 – this number in many ways is irrelevant. It is just the number that the state uses to describe the pass point. In other words, if a test requires 105 questions correct to pass, one state may call 105 correct questions a “70” and another state may call that a “75.” This number does not correlate with the percentage of questions that you got correct. We generally tell exam takers that you want to shoot for 78% or better.
If you pass an exam in one state, you have passed the exam for another state regardless of what numerical value a state designates as “passing.” When an individual requests that his/her ASWB exam scores be transferred to another state, the score is reported simply as “pass” or “fail”; there are no numerical values reported.
You may have heard that exams scores are “scaled.” That is in fact true, but what does that mean? There are multiple versions of each level of the exam, so different exam takers of the same level can receive a different set of questions. To account for the differences in levels of difficulty across various versions of the exam, the computer calculates your raw score which is the actual number of items that were answered correctly. A certain factor is then applied, adjusting your raw score up or down. This serves to balance scores across the various versions of the exams making scoring more equitable and ensuring that the overall ability that needs to be demonstrated by an exam taker remains the same from one test form to another. In other words, no one receives an advantage or disadvantage because of the form of test administered. This also explains why an exact number of questions required to be answered to pass the ASWB exam can be identified.
For more information about the exam or for study materials for the ASWB Social Work licensing exam, go to www.SocialWorkGuide.com.