Monday, December 18, 2017

How NOT to Pass the California Law & Ethics Exam

So before I dive into the post about how I studied differently to pass the California Law & Ethics exam (LCLE) the second time, let’s first touch upon why I think I failed the first time.

I studied while at home taking care of my second baby and kind of rushed to take the LCLE exam before I went back to my hospice job when he was two months old, but really, the reason why I failed the LCLE I took in February of 2016 is because it was harder than I expected. 

To study, I had reviewed the Law & Ethics online courses I took from the California NASW (the content as well as the mid-course and end-course quizzes), I read through the NASW Code of Ethics, and I took the Law & Ethics SWTP practice exam.  Everything I read through I sort of assessed with a “Yes, ok, sure, I understand” kind of attitude.

Looking back, I have a couple memories of taking my baby on a walk to a local boba tea shop and then almost casually leafing through my printouts of the CA NASW course material – and basically flipping through the Code of Ethics booklet while waiting in the car to pick up my older son – and knowing what I know now, it’s hysterical!  I want to shake myself and say “You fool!  This style of preparation is not adequate!”

Plus, when I would take the SWTP LCLE practice exam a second or third time (trying to go over content again, as well as practicing answering test questions in a timed exam experience), I would easily remember what the right answer was from when I reviewed my wrong answers the first time.  So I learned the right answer to that question, but I didn’t really learn the important concept or the nuance to the question.

On the day of the test, I learned that the LCLE questions were longer than expected – I didn’t manage my time well. I had finished the practice exam with plenty of time to spare, so I was overconfident about my time.

The questions were also harder than expected – just to give one example, let’s imagine there’s a question about a new teenage client of yours reporting an episode of sexual abuse from her previous therapist.  There are so many layers to a question like this! 

  •       You have to think about if this is a situation where you keep confidentiality or break confidentiality—would you have to report it, or would you encourage her to report it? 
  •       If you report, would it be to the police or to the state licensing board or somewhere else? 
  •       If sexual assault is a crime that takes away the victim’s own power and control, do you help give that sense of power and control back to your client and let her make the decision about reporting this or not? 
  •       How much impact does the client’s specific age make?  Does it make a difference that she’s a minor?
  •       How much does it matter that the alleged perpetrator is a therapist? 
  •       How much does it matter if the alleged perpetrator has continued access to minors? 
  •       Which factor is the most important piece that you have to think about here? 
  •       Does that California-specific brochure, aptly named “Professional Therapy Never Includes Sex,” get given out in this instance? 

(... Y’all, I was not prepared for these types of questions.)

Generally, quite a few of the answers seemed to have two right answers, and I had a hard time narrowing them down.  I marked some that I answered but was unsure of, and I also had a list of the unanswered ones that I had skipped.  At the end, I went through all of the marked/unanswered questions – I answered the unanswered ones – and I changed some of the marked but answered ones.

So yes, you can see, this was not a recipe for success.  BUT!  I was successful in the second go around of the LCLE, so come back to read more about that.

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