Prior blog post has more detailed information about how I studied to pass the ASWB LCSW exam.
Stepping back, I took a bigger picture approach to studying. I realized that I didn’t need to get too caught up in knowing all the content in the clinical social work world. The majority of the test is NOT recall, so you don’t have to know everything about every topic. Most questions are scenarios and you need to correctly answer what you would do FIRST or what would be your NEXT step.
Here’s how I practiced answering those types of questions:
- Rule out answers that are considered breaking confidentiality
- Is the answer I chose respecting client’s self determination?
- Am I meeting the client’s immediate needs, including ensuring their safety?
- Remember – WHO is your client?
- Avoid client abandonment
- One of the first things you need to do is empathize and acknowledge the client’s feelings
- After paying attention to the client’s feelings, you also might need to assess or clarify more about the situation, possibly refer, and sometimes provide education.
I also figured out a couple of test strategies that worked for me.
- I read the last sentence first
- Then I read the second to last sentence
- Then I skimmed the whole paragraph
- Last, I fully read the whole paragraph (and also noted keywords)
I found that this method helped me hone in immediately on what the question was asking – the question always found in the last sentence of the paragraph.
When there was a question that I was not sure of, I marked it. Especially if I thought a question was taking too long, I marked it and came back to it later.
Whenever I picked an answer that I was not 100% sure on, I told myself “That’s probably an unscored question” and moved on.
Years and years ago, before moving to California, I passed the ASWB LMSW in Illinois pretty easily without studying very much. Then my confidence was shot by failing the Law & Ethics exam of the LCSW back in 2016. It was buoyed by passing the Law & Ethics the second time, but I was still worried about failing again, so I took extra efforts to psych myself up. I journaled about all the work I did to study, reflected on some of the reasons why it didn’t matter right now if I failed, and made detailed plans for night before and day of strategy to feel planful and confident.
I also made plans for how I would celebrate in hope that I would be able to put the plan into action. Thankfully, I finished the exam and saw that I had passed, I was able to implement my celebration plan as a new LCSW!