Saturday, May 28, 2016

Current Status: Demoralized

I understand about California BBS/licensing regulations/red tape/understaffing, and I wasn’t expecting the licensing process to be easy or quick, but I wasn’t necessarily expecting this process to be so demoralizing.

I received the mass BBS email last week with title “***BBS Exam Update – Please Read Carefully***” and body of email stating “The BBS has concluded analyses for the following exams: LCSW Law & Ethics (LCLE) – Passing score: 34.”


You might remember I got a score of 34 in February when I took it.  I failed by one point.  Now they’re stating that passing score is 34. 

I thought this miiiiiiight have meant that there was renewed analysis of all the LCLE exams since the BBS first started giving it in January of this year. 

After all, they didn’t specify anywhere in any of these announcements (via email, Twitter, and Facebook) that this analysis is for only a specific group of test takers. 

They also did not send an email like this when analysis was completed for the Jan-March group of test takers, so this type of announcement was unprecedented.

I reached out to BBS with my question – does this mean that someone who scored a 34 in February is now considered to have passed?  I emailed, commented on their Facebook announcement, and responded to their Twitter announcement.  They haven’t responded to my email at all, but the response via Facebook and Twitter was “No.”

I understand the process—they tweaked the exam for the April-May group of test takers, and after analysis, there is a different passing score for this exam version than the version I took in Feb.

But honestly, I think my hopes have been raised and then crushed enough in this process.  They could have just clarified “For candidates who took the exam in April and May” in the initial announcement to be as clear as possible.

I also received a notification about new mail in the PO Box the day after the BBS announcement, while I was still waiting their response about what it meant if I got a 34 earlier in the year. 

After hearing their “No,” I felt consoled that at least the BBS was sending me my authorization to register for the re-take of Law & Ethics.  I’ll get the permission, refresh my memory on the content, just take it, pass, and move on, I thought.  It has to be the BBS, It can’t be Chase AGAIN, I thought to myself, since the Chase rep promised me that now my PO address is removed from their solicitations. 

My husband checked the PO Box and texted me a picture of a Chase advertisement in my PO Box.  HA!  Hahahahahahha.



I feel like the BBS and Chase are working together to haze me into the exclusive LCSW club. 

In the meantime, I just continue to wait to receive permission to take Law & Ethics exam again.  Fun times in the licensing process! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Where Have I Been?

It’s been a month since I last posted!  Where have I been, huh?!

Kate McAk IG

Well, across the country, for one.  We took a trip out to Chicago to see family, and undergoing travel preparations for a family of four is a time-consuming feat, not to mention the days spent out of town and then the time playing catch-up after our return.  Good news is that both boys were great on the planes and we also had a wonderful time with family.

BY THE WAY shout-out to my aunt, who I saw at a family party, and inquired about why I hadn’t posted in a while!  That, coupled with the fact that I realized this morning that I had 3 comments on the blog itself from unknown readers, feels very motivational for me to keep up!  I have readers!

Reflecting on this past month, there have also been some seasonal activities that kept me busier than usual lately (I’m a Room Parent for my 2 year old’s preschool class, so there was heavy involvement in Teacher Appreciation Week earlier in May) but the main reason is two-fold:

Kate McAk IG

Hospice work.  I work per diem as a social worker with a hospice agency, and my caseload has been ramping back up since I returned from maternity leave in February.  I now have about twice as many patients on my caseload as I had earlier this year.  I’m definitely happy with this, since in the per diem world, more patients = more income, but I was somehow surprised at how much more time it took each week.

It’s as if I have units of the day for my professional life, and hospice has been using all of them, with little to no time left to study and blog.  And I can’t exactly borrow units from anywhere else.  From where would I take them? 

The time spent caring for my baby, my toddler, my husband?  Non-negotiable. 
Managing the house, cooking, cleaning?  Hmm, I already do the bare minimum with cleaning. 
The time spent on my own health and my sleep?  Sometimes this is compromised, but it shouldn’t be. 
Time for extended family and friends? That’s already neglected far too often.

I know I’m not the only one struggling to find a balance between all of these.  It seems like every other little family I know is similarly hustling.  I imagine it’s also a familiar tune for other social workers out there reading this – navigating spending your time doing the actual social work job that you have and also preparing for the LCSW exam.

Kate McAk IG

 The other reason is that I’m still in limbo with the Board of Behavioral Sciences.  I can see that they cashed my $100 check to process my application to re-take Law & Ethics exam, but although we are past the mandated 90-day waiting period, I have not yet received official word from them that I can schedule my exam. 

There’s even an option on PSI’s website to select “register for a RE-test” in connection with my 2/10/16 Law & Ethics exam, but I get an error message when I try, because clearly the permission has to first get to PSI from BBS.

A friend of mine who passed Law & Ethics in March is also waiting around for BBS to send permission to the ASWB for him to sit for the ASWB Clinical exam, so it seems there’s a backlog going on… and frankly that makes me lose motivation.

A couple weeks ago I got notification about new mail in my PO box, so I thought it may have been BBS sending me info on registering for my re-test.  Nope, it was Chase junk mail again.  HA!  I was able to talk to Chase Solicitations department and remove that PO box address from their mailing list, since I already had to call Chase about fraudulent charges/stolen identity on my credit card (oh yeah, that’s another thing I’ve been dealing with).

So that’s where I am—just acknowledging my current place in the LCSW process.  Putting it aside a little bit while I wait for BBS permission again.  To be continued!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Self-Determination

You are working with an inpatient cancer patient who tells you he is interested in ceasing aggressive medical treatment and starting palliative care.  You’ve had experience with patients dying and also with those who choose to end treatment.  However, in your opinion, he is considering hospice earlier than most other patients usually do, when his chance of survivorship is quite high, and it “feels wrong” to you.

Think of similar situations where you feel conflicted, or outright may not agree, with a client’s desires or actions—a pregnant woman who is considering different plans of parenting, adoption, or abortion.  A domestic violence survivor going back to the abusive partner to give him/her another shot.  A graduate student who tells you about some dishonest paper writing or exam cheating.

Social workers encounter plenty of circumstances with clients that raise personal issues for themselves.  In those, it can be hard (but even more important) to stay professional and recall the ethical guidelines.

The NASW Code of Ethics says explicitly (emphasis my own): “Social workers respect and promote the right of clients to self-determination and assist clients in their efforts to identify and clarify their goals.” This is section 1.02, Self-Determination.



Sometimes it seems like a client’s own decision will result in a chance of harm coming to themselves or others, and we know that promoting a client’s wellbeing is another important part of the code of ethics (section 1.01).  

But when can you limit clients’ own decisions?  The following sentence in the self-determination section of the code states: “Social workers may limit clients' right to self-determination when, in the social workers' professional judgment, clients' actions or potential actions pose a serious, foreseeable, and imminent risk to themselves or others.”  Those qualifiers need to be present in order for a social worker to step in.  Thus:

In real life counseling as well as on the ASWB exam (and California Law & Ethics exam), right/best answers in the self-determination category might look like 1) you helping clients explore the pros and cons of various paths, 2) assisting them in making a decision for themselves, and 3) generally respecting their own decisions – excepting issues involving mandated reporting, duty to warn, suicidal ideation with a plan & means to a plan, etc.  

Good luck studying!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Behind the Scene Annoyances

Here are some logistical, helpful steps to re-applying for the California Law & Ethics exam.  What follows is a behind-the-scenes view of me completing those steps, aka a list of annoyances.

  • I got an unexpected notification that I had another piece of mail in my PO Box
  • Wondered if there was any possibility that the mail was from the BBS saying that there was a mistake and I did not in fact fail by one question.  Computer error maybe? 
  • Went to pick up the mail
  • Cursed Chase Bank when I realized they trolled me with junk mail once again
  • (Seriously, are they reading this blog?  And laughing?)


  • I paid for all of my online courses
  • …the day before NASW-CA sent out an email with the extra special 20% off coupon code
  • Felt frustrated by that, too


  • Went on a walk to the post office to mail my completed packet to BBS
  • Passed CA smog test car shops that promise “Pass or free retest”
  • Thought about the 3 courses I paid for plus the $100 check in the BBS envelope
  • Sighed longingly

  • Waited in a long line at the post office
  • Realized I was standing near an awesome actor in line
  • Made conversation with him about everything we have in common
  • Let him borrow my pen, asked for baby’s first picture with a celebrity in exchange
  • Took a picture
  • Realized I may have been the annoying one in this situation.  Sorry, Danny Pudi.

Danny Pudi, my lego-faced baby, and me (excited, not annoyed, right here).


Here’s how this is relevant: I find I can re-focus on test prep better after taking a little break and releasing my annoyances via a mini vent session.  Maybe you’ve had a test fail or frustrating experience and need a similar mental health break before restarting fresh.  Thanks for listening!  Now back to studying.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Next Steps

If you failed your BBS California Law & Ethics exam, here is information about what to do next. 

First, you need to take additional courses before you can re-take the Law & Ethics exam.  Specifically, you need 12 hours worth of California law and ethics courses.

You can take courses in person or do it more quickly, and on your own time, online.  I chose to do mine through the NASW-California chapter online.  I selected four courses, which added up to the total 12 hours.

I even got to do one course for free!  Here is a course on the NASW Code of Ethics, worth 2 CEUs (continuing education hours), at no charge.

I paused for a minute, wondering if this course on the national code would count specifically toward the California requirement, but the course details specify that it is eligible to be used towards the 18 hours on law and ethics that California ASWs need to accrue, as well as the biannual 6 hours for California LCSWs renewing their license, so I think we’re OK.

Image Credit Pixabay

The letter informing me that I failed didn’t give a lot of instruction on where to find the application to re-apply for the exam—it just directed me to the general BBS website.  I had to click around for a while before I found it under Forms and Publications.  Let me save you some time -- here is the Request for Re-Examination.

You’ll need to fill out the application, write a check for $100, and include printed certificates of completion for the courses in the packet.  I also scanned a copy of the application to keep for my own records.

I sent my packet to the BBS with a tracking number and return receipt, so I can verify that they received it, and then I plan to monitor my checking account to see when they cash my check.

BBS recently updated their site with processing times – minimum of 30 business days for Request for Re-Examination.  There is also a mandated 90-day waiting period between exams.  That puts me at taking the exam no earlier than mid- or late-May.


When I get approval, I’ll sign up for a test spot online, go back to the PSI location, reflect on the benefits of taking this exam, and do it again! (…and pass!)



Monday, March 28, 2016

Saving Money

On top of the reasons why the social work life can be challenging, we as a profession also don’t tend to make a great amount of income.  Save your hard-earned money while you’re in the LCSW process by following these tips.

Image Credit Kate McHugh Akbar

PO Box

The link above discusses why to use a PO box for BBS correspondence.  To do that, you can go online to price check different sizes of boxes.  In my experience all of my local post offices were sold out of the smallest and most affordable boxes.  I knew I didn’t need an expensive, larger box – I only get mail a couple times a year.  Instead, I chose to get a small PO Box in a neighboring town.  I then utilized the Real Mail Notification™ program that emailed me whenever I got new mail, so I only had to go there when I knew there was mail.

Online Courses

You may need to take courses before you can apply for your LCSW exam-eligibility (like me, since my MSW was from out of state) or take additional courses before you can re-take the Law & Ethics exam (me, again).  One of the many providers for these courses is the California chapter of the NASW.

If you are an NASW member, you can get a discount on all the courses, anytime.  Additionally, NASW-CA sends out occasional emails with discount codes.  As perusal of my email history shows that these get sent out on Thursdays, so if you’re about to buy some courses on a Wednesday, wait a day and see if a new coupon code gets sent out.  Sign up for the NASW-CA emails.

Right now, in honor of Social Work month, NASW-CA is giving 10% off all courses using code 2016SWMonth – add courses to your cart here.  Only through March 31, 2016.

Exam Prep

Social Work Test Prep is doing a special coupon code for March 2016 to celebrate Social Work month, and it's for 15% off exams and bundles -- just enter SWMONTH15 at checkout. Or, if anyone sees this after March ends and still wants a coupon code, you can use SWLEP10 for 10% off.  If both are expired, you should “like” SWTP on Facebook because they post occasional discounts there, too. 

Free Ethics Course!


Want a totally FREE ethics course?  Here is a course on the NASW Code of Ethics, worth 2 CEUs (continuing education hours), completely free! 

Both California (where I’m aiming to achieve my LCSW) and Illinois (where I previously held an LMSW) required a certain number of Ethics CEUs each and every renewal, so this free course is useful for so many social workers. If you get as excited about this as I did, you’re welcome! 

Any other money saving tips you want to add?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Ethics and Sex, Part 2

Part 1 of this topic touched upon the reasons why sexual contact between therapist and patient is harmful, and covered the standards in the Code of Ethics that dictate proper sexual behavior between therapist and patient.

There are additional guidelines for sexual contact with colleagues:  

The Code prohibits sexual contact with a colleague who is your supervisee, student, trainee, or anyone else over whom you have authority (standard 2.07[a]). 

It’s advised against having a sexual relationship with other colleagues if there is any potential for conflict of interest (standard 2.07[b]). 

Sexual harassment between colleagues is also prohibited (standard 2.08).

How should you go about answering exam questions about sexual content?

If there is a question on the exam about you as the therapist having romantic or sexual feelings for a client, obviously don’t select answers that involve you acting on your feelings. 

However, the correct answer usually isn’t to terminate immediately, either.  You can’t realistically terminate everyone to whom you feel attraction.  

Sometimes the best answer on the test includes talking about the sexual/romantic attraction with the client.  However, the “best-best” answer usually involves seeking consultation with a colleague to process your feelings.

Specifically for California test-takers, if you learn someone has previously had a sexual relationship with their therapist, you should give them the booklet entitled Professional Therapy Never Includes Sex.

Also important to note -- If you learn that a minor client has had sexual contact with their therapist, that is a mandated report of child abuse.

The booklet states that “A national study revealed that probably fewer than 10 percent of all therapists have had sexual contact with their patients,” though it does not give a citation for that study.  Anyone know it? 



Regardless, any number of therapists having sexual contact with clients is too many, and up to 10% is an astonishingly large number.  So although this topic may seem obvious, it bears reminding – don’t do it!


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ethics and Sex, Part 1

Focusing in on ethics for the short-term.  One common topic on both the ASWB Clinical exam and the BBS Law & Ethics exam is sex.

The very first thing discussed in the Code of Ethics is that we as social workers have a “primary responsibility to promote the well-being of clients” (standard 1.01). 

Engaging in a sexual relationship with a client is unethical because it gets in the way of promoting that very well-being.  For a pretty thorough description of the ways clients can be harmed via sexual contact with their therapist, check out Kenneth S. Pope’s article, “Sex Between Therapists and Clients.”

Image Credit Kate McHugh Akbar

The Code of Ethics spells it out pretty clearly.  Paraphrased below:

Don’t have a sexual relationship with current client, either consensual or nonconsensual (standard 1.09[a]).

Don’t have a sexual relationship with clients’ relatives or friends when there is a risk of exploitation/potential harm to the client.  This type of relationship could be harmful to the client and difficult for the social worker to maintain appropriate professional boundaries (standard 1.09[b]).

Don’t have a sexual relationship with a former client.  Again, even though the therapeutic relationship has been terminated, there is remaining potential for a sexual relationship to be emotionally harmful to the client (standard 1.09[c]).

You also shouldn’t treat people with whom you used to have a sexual relationship.   Even though the therapy is in the past, same reasons: It can be harmful to them and hard to maintain appropriate professional boundaries (standard 1.09[d]). 

Also, don’t terminate with a client in order to pursue a sexual relationship (standard 1.16[d]).

Related—don’t sexually harass clients (standard 1.11). 

Be careful about physical contact—don’t do it when there’s potential for harm, and it’s the social worker’s responsibility to discuss appropriate boundaries (standard 1.10).

Part 2 of this topic will cover a few more standards relating to sexual contact between colleagues, and also discuss how to answer questions about sexual relationships on the exam.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Why Social Work?

March is Social Work Month, and World Social Work Day 2016 is on March 15th.  So yes, that means that today is basically the most social work-y day of the year.  To celebrate that, let’s continue the discussion from yesterday and reflect: why did we choose social work?

While in college, I discovered an Intro to Psychological Services class, read the course description about different services in the mental health field, and knew that this class (and the accompanying major) was the right one for me. 

Encouraged by my major advisor, I began volunteering at the local domestic violence shelter.  What started as one volunteer shift per week operating the shelter’s hotline evolved into a part-time job my last year of college in which I worked 12-hour overnight shifts at the shelter. 

I also had a practicum internship at an adoption agency where I was able to observe counselors working with pregnant mothers as well as potential adoptive families, and I myself got some direct experience answering the expectant parent hotline.

Those experiences enabled me to confirm my desire to be a part of the social services field.  At that point, however, I was undecided between a graduate program for counseling or social work so after college I sought work experience that would help me decide.   

Image Credit Kate McHugh Akbar

I spent two years working as a sexual assault prevention/intervention counselor at a rape crisis center.  I really enjoyed the work, which included providing individual peer counseling to survivors as well as being an advocate for survivors going through the forensic medical, criminal justice, and legal process.  It felt extremely rewarding to be present for someone undergoing a lot of trauma and pain, and to be able to make an impact during one of the most challenging parts of their lives.

We also provided very comprehensive prevention services to youth in schools as well as the general community.  Prevention was about education: talking about gender role socialization as well as the societal issues that correlate with abuse and assault, with the ultimate goal being to change attitudes. We taught that sexual assault is a crime motivated by power and control, where sex is used as the weapon. 

During this time, I compared counseling and social work grad programs.  I went to several academic open houses and spoke to dozens of current students and graduates of different programs.  I also re-read Reviving Ophelia, 11 years after I read it the first time.

Through this process, I realized that in addition to being fascinated by the counseling case studies, now I also had a desire to study the issues affecting young women from the prevention and policy viewpoint.  I wanted to be engaged holistically in the lives of the people that I worked with: seeing them as individuals, as a part of the whole community, and by looking at the community’s practices and issues as well.

Professionally, I felt the best when I was not only assisting survivors after the assault, through counseling, medical advocacy, and legal advocacy, but also engaging in the social environment to try to change attitudes and possibly decrease future instances of sexual assault.  

That is how I knew social work was the best career choice for me—it would set me up to be able to continue to do a variety of different types of fulfilling, empowering work.  I’m now five years post-masters and continue to feel satisfied being in the social work field.

Image Credit Kate McHugh Akbar


Happy Social Work Month – and Happy World Social Work Day!

Monday, March 14, 2016

My Early Interest in Mental Health

Let's say that you just failed to pass a licensing exam and will need to retake it.  You might be feeling discouraged and in need of a little extra motivation.  One way to pump yourself up is to go waaaaaay back and explore why you became interested in this field to begin with.

Mid-1990s, Chicago suburbs: My interest in the mental health field began in junior high school.  I read Reviving Ophelia, a book by Dr. Mary Pipher, which discusses her work counseling adolescent girls who are struggling to thrive in our culture and society.  As an adolescent girl myself, I was fascinated by the case studies.  

I loved reading about the girls’ lives and issues like sexual assault, substance use, family divorces, and eating disorders.  Dr. Pipher’s book inspired me to begin wanting to do similar work as an adult.  I realized today that I have kept this book on all my different bookshelves for the past 20 years.

Still on my bookshelf after 20 years.  (Image credit Kate McHugh Akbar.  Reviving Ophelia and all other books pictured credit to authors.)

Because of this book, I sought to learn more about mental health.  I found an old college psychology textbook at a church rummage sale and bought it for $.50.  To this day, I can still recall reading about Harry Harlow and seeing the image of the rhesus monkey clinging to the soft terrycloth “mother” instead of the wire mother-figure that provided milk.  

I also made use of the library to feed my interest.  I remember borrowing books about arachnophobia to try and understand why I felt the way I did about spiders.

In 8th grade we wrote a big research paper, topic of our choosing.  My paper discussed if individuals suffering from multiple personality disorder (now called dissociative identity disorder) should be held responsible for crimes committed by their alter personalities.  I found this paper in my parent’s house several years ago and it’s hilarious.

At age 14, in the yearbook, my classmates predicted that I would become a women’s activist, while I predicted for myself that I would grow up to be a psychologist or a clinical social worker.  I completely forgot about this until I rediscovered the yearbook in my 20s!  If that isn’t motivation to keep studying for the clinical social work exams, I don’t know what is.  

Come on self, let’s make 1998 Katie’s dreams come true.

That's my story, what about you?  Please share!

You’ve learned about my initial interest in the mental health field.  Come back tomorrow in honor of World Social Work Day to read more about why I specifically chose to become a social worker.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Tips to Make Your Social Working Life Easier

Professional life as a social worker can be hard – we often work with some of the most vulnerable populations and don’t always receive a great deal of appreciation for our efforts.  If you’re in the process of getting your LCSW, make your life a tiny bit easier by reading these tips.

Image credit Kate McHugh Akbar

If you are applying for the LCSW in California, the governing entity is the Board of Behavioral Sciences.  You probably already know to sign up for their email alerts to receive major updates and also to make sure that nothing is missing from your application packet before you mail it in – two of the more obvious and oft-repeated tips.

In California, the BBS is required to publish your address after you are licensed.  This is the same address they use for corresponding with you about your exam eligibility and other important matters.  If you don't want your home address made public, you can use your work address.

However, if you don't have a work address that is convenient, consistent, and reliable, another option is to use a PO Box with the USPS.

The USPS has a program called Real Mail Notification™ where you provide your cell phone number or email address, and they will send you a notification every day that you are scheduled to receive mail.  That way, you don’t miss a piece of mail or spend unnecessary time traveling to the post office to find your box empty.  It’s available in many post offices, but not all, so check with your local office.   

When I sent in my application packet to the BBS in 2014, there was a pretty hefty backlog.  They had a page on their website where they updated their application processing status (e.g., in September it said they were currently reviewing applications received in the week of February 1).  While they don’t have these updates up on their site anymore, I recently tweeted at them and they said their processing timeframe is now 30-60 days.  Much better!  Also, helpful to know that they respond quickly to tweets.

Some final tips regarding testing: If you haven’t already been there, you can look up your specific test center on a community review site like Yelp to see what other test-takers have to say about the center.  I found both my local PSI and Pearson test centers on Yelp, and read helpful tips about the parking situation, nearby food, and pros and cons of morning vs. afternoon test times, to name a few examples.

Specifically, ASWB exams are held at Pearson test centers.  Pearson has some resources on their site to get you familiarized before your test day – you can take a panoramic tour and see pictures of their lobby and testing rooms, as well as watch a somewhat peculiar wordless video on security measures for test-takers.  All that visualization can definitely help you feel even more prepared for your exam.

Please share – what other tips have you found helpful in the licensing process?  Other than study hard and make use of practice questions, of course! 



Sunday, March 6, 2016

Law & Ethics Exam - So Close!

I’ve been having some unhappy times lately with regard to receiving my California Law & Ethics exam results. 

Image credit Kate McHugh Akbar

To recap – on January 1, 2016 the California Board of Behavioral Sciences restructured their process of licensing clinical social workers.  They created a new exam, Law & Ethics, as step one.  Step two is the nationally-used ASWB clinical exam, but first you have to pass Law & Ethics.  The BBS spent two months reviewing the first round of Law & Ethics exams, statistically analyzing results and assessing pass/fail scores.  I took my exam on February 10 and have been waiting for the results.

This past Friday morning, while out running errands, I got an email that said my Post Office Box has new mail.  BBS just recently announced that they had sent out results, so I felt excited thinking that my mail was my test results.  I drove five miles to get halfway to the post office in a neighboring town before realizing I didn’t have the PO Box key on me.  I turned around, went home, got the key, and drove to the post office. 

Image credit Kate McHugh Akbar

I eagerly open up my post office box to find… junk mail from Chase Bank.  What!  I’ve only gotten junk mail once in my two+ year history of having a PO Box, so this twist felt quite disappointing.  No, Chase, I don’t want to get involved in your pyramid scheme for referring new customers; I wanted to receive my exam results I’d been waiting on for almost a month.  Both my baby (aka my constant companion) and I felt irritated at having spent so much pointless time in the car—but I’ll point out that only the baby cried about it.

(I’ll discuss in another post coming up about 1) why I use a PO box for BBS correspondence, 2) how I get emails telling me when there’s new mail, and 3) the strategy behind having my PO Box in a different town.)

Next day – I was standing in line at a children’s museum with my family to do a meet-and-greet with a dinosaur from a PBS cartoon (#momlife).  I got an email once again saying that my PO Box has mail.  I thought to myself this has to be the exam results—it just isn’t likely that I’m tricked with junk mail two days in a row.

I left my husband and toddler to play at the museum longer while I took the baby and zipped over to post office.  I opened up the box to find it IS results from BBS but… I failed.  By one point.

My toddler mimics everything we say now, so let me just say… shoot.

BBS determined that California social workers taking the Law & Ethics exam need 35 questions correct in order to pass.  I got 34 questions right.  So I was close, but close doesn’t count.

Image credit Kate McHugh Akbar

In order to be authentic for other readers out there who may have failed this or other licensing exams, let me share – this doesn’t feel good!  It feels kind of embarrassing to have failed an exam for your profession.  When sharing the news, I feel the need to add a caveat: I didn’t pass the exam, but I’m ethical, I swear!  It definitely feels frustrating to have this drawn-out process last even longer now, and I’m annoyed to have to pay extra fees to retake it.

But – I know I was close, so with more studying, I’m pretty certain I’ll pass next time.  Since this exam is so new, it was harder than usual for me to prepare for it and know what to expect.  I know I’m in good company – I have other friends and peers who haven’t passed exams the first time around, but they later have been successful. I still believe in all of the advantages to taking the Law & Ethics exam that I wrote about last time.  This test measures how well you can take this specific exam, not your worth as a professional.


If you passed Law & Ethics – congratulations!  If you didn’t pass it this time, feel free to commiserate with me.  Come back and read my future posts about the next steps in the process.  Thanks!