Think of how exam writers must approach coming up with exam questions. (And, by the way, once you're licensed, you can become an exam writer. The ASWB hires pretty regularly. They just announced new hiring on their Facebook page.) "Okay...social work question...blank page...what am I supposed to ask?" They look at the ASWB's exam outlines (available to you on aswb.org; that's another fortress-building element, come to think. Maybe mortar?). They see there's a big section on assessment and diagnosis. They see there's a big section on ethics. "Ethics!" they think. "I know exactly how to get started on those questions. Computer boot up!"
They open of the NASW Code and get started from the top. Section 1.01, "Social Workers Commitment to Clients." Here's what it says:
Social workers' primary responsibility is to promote the well-being of clients. In general, clients' interests are primary. However, social workers' responsibility to the larger society or specific legal obligations may on limited occasions supersede the loyalty owed clients, and clients should be so advised. (Examples include when a social worker is required by law to report that a client has abused a child or has threatened to harm self or others.)
Okay, so what question would arise from this? Easy! There's even an example ("Examples include..."). A question about reporting abuse and/or threats to self or others. They type. Something about a client situation that may or may not require a report. Something not too obvious. Answers are, in brief, A. Report, B. Report not necessary, plus two "distractors"--answers that are appealing, splitting the difference between the basic "yes" and "no" answers. Like this: C. Wait to see if client continues with behavior before making a report. (Would that ever be the right way to go? Either something's reportable or it's not.) D. Seek supervision (Sometimes this is the right way to go. But as a soon-to-be licensed social worker, you should probably have a handle on reportability questions--at least on the exam.)
And so a licensing exam question is born. You'll see one just like it on the real exam--be surprised if you don't! And now you're ready for it. Yay!