Let's look to the headlines again as a source of
a free social work exam practice question. The ASWB exam will
generally avoid fleeting topical questions, but the underlying
issues here are exactly like what you'll encounter on the real
exam. Really, just about any conflict you encounter at work--or in
life--might be shaped into a social work exam question. "A client
reports a difficulty with…" [insert your conflict details here]
"...What is the BEST way for the social worker to respond?" Right?
Something like this:
A social worker in a community clinic has a client who
is worried he will get fired from his job because he refuses to get
the COVID-19 vaccine. The client says he doesn't trust the vaccine
because "it's too experimental." He also refuses to wear a mask and
says that "people look at me funny" when he goes shopping maskless.
How should the social worker FIRST respond?
A. Explore the client's possible projection regarding
the vaccine and the funny looks he reports receiving.
B. Discuss the possibility of job loss due to vaccine
C. Discuss the health risks involved in foregoing the
D. Explore the client's understanding of the science
behind the COVID-19 vaccine.
How would you answer?
One way to get to the correct answer, ask yourself "How
would I respond in this situation?" Then add, "What would a 100%
by-the-book social worker do in this situation?" Where the two
overlap is usually your best answer.
You might be inclined to call in a nurse to administer a vaccine
on the spot (not an offered answer). But that wouldn't be
by-the-book--pushing the vaccine on a client doesn't respect client
self-determination. Or you might be inclined to agree with the
client about the danger of the vaccine. That wouldn't be
by-the-book either (and it's also not an offered answer
here)--social workers aren't doctors and shouldn't be giving
medical advice (especially advice that directly contradicts medical
Let's look at the answers that are offered:
First, explore projection. Is the client imagining persecution
at work and elsewhere due to his vaccine hesitancy? Maybe. It's an
interesting avenue, but not the all-caps FIRST priority.
Second, discuss possible job loss. That's more pressing, for
sure--let's put a pin in that one.
Third, discuss health risks. Also a good answer. Let's set this
one aside too.
Fourth, explore the client's rationale for his vaccine
hesitancy. Also an interesting conversation to have, and a tempting
answer. You might argue that discussing the science will get you to
the health risk and job loss issues. Maybe it will, but then again,
maybe it won't. Surely, job loss and health risks are the top
But which one is the very top priority? Which one--job
loss or health risk--is the most essential to address right away?
Answer: health risk. The COVID-19 pandemic has been many things,
but primarily it's been a public health problem. If the client gets
sick, he won't be able to work. The reverse isn't true. Health
Does the client understand health risks associated with
COVID-19? Maybe he believes he can't get the virus. Or maybe he
believes with Q-Anon that the pandemic is a manufactured fiction.
That'd be important to know. Does he understand the efficacy of the
vaccine? With these questions answered, then the social worker can
get the client to expand on his "too experimental" fears. Again,
health comes first.
Health and safety always come first. That's true in life and
it's especially true on the exam. Everything else can be addressed
later. That understanding gets you right to the correct answer.
Another good way to get to the correct answer: look back at the
question. What essentially is it about? The client's emotional
state? Employment? Possible paranoia? Those are all there, but it's
really the COVID vaccine that's at the heart of the question. The
vaccine is medical. The answer (re health risks) is medical. If
you're BEST/FIRST answer on the ASWB exam doesn't sync up with
what's essential about the question, you need to have a good reason
you're straying from the core quality of the question stem.
Got it? Great! Now you're even more ready to go pass the ASWB
To get really ready, check out SWTP's complete
170-question licensing exam practice tests (plus the two booster).
There's nothing like realistic practice to get you prepared for the
real thing. Get started (and receive our free study guide) by
signing up now.
Happy studying and good luck on the exam!