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Research Scales and the Social Work Exam

apple or donutHere's a quick research design practice question:

What type of scale is being used in a research question offering two choices, A and B?

A. Nominal

B. Ordinal

C. Interval

D. Ratio

Did you cover this material in school? If not, this page will get you up to speed. Let's take these from the bottom up.

A ratio scale can offer choices like 1-3, 4-6, 7-9. The most detailed option for researchers.

Interval scales offer rank order, equal spacing, but no true zero. Think of spots on a number line.

Ordinal scales is best for assessing ranking, order, or scaling-eg, rate your experience from 1-10.

Nominal scales offer simple choices. A or B or multiple choice. The ASWB exam is chock full of nominal scale questions. And so is the example. The correct answer: A, Nominal.

Will this be on the test?

Maybe. Research design isn't essential to beginning social work practice--and that's what the ASWB exam is designed to assess: Does the social worker have the knowledge, skills, and abilities for beginner social work practice? That means study the Code of Ethics up and down, backwards and forwards. It's essential. Understand basic assessment and interventions. Diagnostic questions will appear more and more as exams get more difficult, from Bachelor to Master's to Clinical. You can't know everything there is to know about social work and the ASWB doesn't expect you to. But you can have the essentials down.

The best way to get there, in our opinion: practice, practice, and more practice. Sign up to create an account and get started with SWTP's full-length practice tests. You'll be glad you did.

Happy studying and good luck with the exam!

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Social Work Exam Practice and the Updated NASW Code of Ethics

bookshelfWere you paying attention a couple of posts ago about recent changes made to the NASW Code of Ethics? Let's find out. here's a quick quiz-style question:

Which of the following is a crucial new component of the Cultural Competence section of the Code of Ethics?

A. Combating Stereotypes

B. Cultural Humility

C. Multicultural Competence

D. Social Justice

What do you think? If you know the Code of Ethics well, you'll recognize three of these as being anything but new.

Let's answer the question with a question, this time more in the style of the ASWB exam.

A social worker is confronted by a client for cultural insensitivity. The social worker, seeing that the client is right, apologizes and seems to repair the rift with the client. What action should the social worker take NEXT to remedy the situation?

A. Revisit the rupture with the client and examine any unspoken resentments.

B. In the next session, ask the client to help her better understand and remedy her biases.

C. Seek guidance from others who share the same culture as the client.

D. Engage in learning, self-reflection, and self-correction regarding the misstep.

Okay, this one kind of answer itself, even if you haven't recently read the update to the Code's Cultural Competency section. One just sounds more like the text of the Code of Ethics. Sometimes on the social work exam you get lucky that way.

Why else is this the right answer? Social workers-and people in general-should take care not to give others (particularly those who are disenfranchised in any way) the extra job of educating and hand-holding and putting-at-ease. That's work-usually unwelcome work. Three of these answers fall into that trap. One-D-does not. If an offered answer suggested seeking guidance from a supervisor regarding the misstep, that might have been the one to choose. It's supervisors' job to help social workers navigate difficult areas, often including their own conscious and unconscious biases. One way to think of it: if you're going to ask someone to do work, try to make sure they're being paid for it.

Cultural humility, by the way-that's the quiz answer. The phrase is new to the Code of Ethics, and describes something that wasn't quite there before. Keeping cultural humility in mind can only make you a better social worker-and all-the-more ready to pass the licensing exam.

Good luck!

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Social Work Exam Question Making–Home-Based Services

dinnertimeWhere do social work exam question come from? They come from social workers like you-or maybe like you a few years from now. Exam writers are licensed social workers who, for a fee, agree to help generate new content for the ASWB exam. Where do they get their ideas for new exam content? Well, where would you get it from? From experience probably. And, if you ran out of experience to draw upon, where would you turn? Probably past questions, textbooks, articles…

Which is why we recommend studying as if you were an exam writer. When you're reviewing exam content, think to yourself, "How might this material be formed into a licensing exam question?"

Here's some practice. Take a look at this Eye on Ethics column, Boundary Challenges Outside of the Office - Home-Based Services. There's material there for several solid social work exam questions. Real world, ethics-based, tricky situations. Here's one we came up with:

A social worker in a group home for adolescents who do not have stable families. The social worker's clients gather routinely for meals in the group home's dining room. They invite the social worker to join them. The social worker should:

A. Refuse the invitation to avoid boundary crossing.

B. Accept the invitation and join in regular conversation.

C. Accept the invitation but refrain from overly engaging in dinner table conversation.

D. Politely refuse the invitation and return to other work.

How would you answer?

The article includes more info:

The program model includes having the social worker, who serves all of the group home's residents, join in meals occasionally to enhance relationships.

So, if you've read that, you can quickly strike A & D (refuse and politely refuse). That leaves joining the dinner and talking and joining the dinner and talking only a little.

Sure, social workers are generally  better off listening than holding forth. But holding forth isn't really "regular conversation." Which leaves one best answer: B. Accept and talk.

The actual, real-world response, according to the article:

The social worker is careful to avoid engaging in treatment-related conversation or disclosing too much personal information during the meal. Her goal is to engage with the residents informally and to talk about "safe" issues (for example, current events, sports, popular music, television shows) that do not involve deeply personal, sensitive, or confidential matters.

If you've worked an inpatient setting, you've likely joined clients in all kinds of activities. It's part of treatment-an important part. A question like this, given that experience, is a freebie.

So move on to the next Eye on Ethics column and come up with your own question. Does it seem like a real exam question? Send it in! Maybe we'll post it here. More free practice for your fellow exam-prepping social worker.

Happy reading, happy question writing, and good luck with the exam!

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Community Organizing and the Social Work Exam

1963_march_on_washingtonSocial workers are not permitted to talk about what they encountered on the ASWB exam and we never ask. Which is how it should be. The social work exam changes fairly regularly. You could (unethically and unscrupulously) get someone to tell you exactly what to study for the test they took, then arrive on exam day facing an entirely different version of the exam. So, better--for your conscience and for your chances--to study a broad array of questions covering the wide range of material includes in ASWB exam outlines. (We just happen to have practice tests that are designed to help you do just that!)

One topic you may gloss over--and one that may not have been thoroughly treated in your MSW program: community organizing. The outlines hit the topic several times. Like this:

• Community organizing and social planning methods

• Techniques for mobilizing community participation

Community organizing is worth knowing! Happily, others have done the work summarizing everything you might need to know for the social work licensing exam:

Community Organizing (Wikipedia)

7 Principles of Community Organizing (ICPJ.org)

What Does a Community Organizer Do? (Social Work Degree Guide)

5 Functions of a Community Organizer (Social Work Degree Guide)

TMI? Maybe just speed read--bullet points only. Here's a free practice question that grabs some knowledge from one of the above (not saying which one : ) ).

Which of the following is generally considered a vital role for a community organizer?

A. Activism

B. Social Movement Building

C. Coalition Building

D. Legal Action

Have an answer?

You probably don't need to read up to work your way to getting this question right. If you think it through, it might go something like this: Activism is for activists (individuals). Social movement building takes organizations working together-in and outside of any the community. Legal action is for attorneys. Which leaves one answer for you: a vital role for community organizers is…coalition building (within the community).

How'd you do?

Right or wrong on this one, there's so much more to know and to practice. A great to time to start? Right now. Sign up join the thousands of social workers who've used SWTP's complete, 170-question practice tests to pass the social work exam.  (We'll send you our free study guide when you create a free account!).

Good luck!

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Social Work Exam Practice–Client Fired for Missing Work

Haymarket AffairHere's a holiday-themed free practice question to help get you ready to pass the ASWB exam:

A client tells a social worker that he was fired after no-showing for work on Labor Day. He plans to sue his former employer for wrongful termination. What can the social worker tell the client about his legal standing?

A. The social worker should refrain from advising on legal matters and refer the client to a lawyer.

B. Suggest the client find an attorney on his own.

C. Discuss other issues that may have led to the client's getting fired.

D. Let the client know that, in most states, employers aren't required to give days off on federal holidays.

What's your answer?

Let's do what we always do--take the answers one at a time.

A. Refer to a lawyer. Law is out of the scope of practice for social workers, but knowing a little something about law can come in handy. Let's put a pin in this one. It's a maybe.

B. Suggest client find attorney. This is less helpful than the first answer, so probably not the right one. Strike it.

C. Discuss past issues. This is tempting. "Discuss" is almost always tempting. Let's mark this as maybe also.

D. Inform client about law. Hmm, is this right? Is this an overreach for a social worker? If you're a social worker, particularly if you've worked in a residential setting, you've probably been asked to work holidays, even the big federal ones like Labor Day. So it can't be that no one works on federal holidays. Come to think, plenty of businesses are open on holidays. So this could be right. Let's maybe this one too.

That leaves three maybes (more than the usual two): Refer, discuss, or inform. There's no acronymed guideline that will give you the right answer in this case. In some questions, each type of offered answer will be right. Refer will be correct in a scope of practice question. Discuss will be right in a rapport-building and therapy skills question. Inform will be right in a more fact-based question. So which one is this?

Well, if you already know that businesses are not required to give days off on federal holidays, you know there's no reason to refer to an attorney. There's also not a lot to be gained by discussing the client's past job performance. Which leaves a best answer: D) Inform the client--tell him the facts of his situation.

One additional clue that this might be the right choice: the question asks what the social worker can tell the client about his legal standing. D is the only offered answer that actually does that.

As ever, one answer doesn't rule out the other answers. It's just the best answer. Think of it this way: a social worker has time to give one answer and one answer only to a client. Which should the social worker choose?

Make sense?

Hope this helps as you tackle more and more practice questions, and, eventually, the real 170-question ASWB exam itself. Speaking of practice, we've got a ton here. Hit Sign Up to create an account and get started!

Happy studying and good luck on the exam!

(PS Some Labor Day history here. Good to know.)

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