Free Practice Question: Kid Trouble and the Social Work Exam

angry kid Here's something to help you get prepared to pass the social work licensing exam. It's part of our ongoing, intermittent, free question series. Put yourself in this social worker's shoes and figure out what you would do?

A woman tells a social worker that her son has been misbehaving wildly ever since starting kindergarten, over a month ago. He's angry and irritable, throwing frequent tantrums. He's defiant and argumentative over small things. And he's been exhibiting a troubling vindictive streak, cruelly evening the score with his younger sister, escalating petty squabbles into full-blown battles. "He's turned into a little monster," the woman says. What diagnosis is the BEST fit for the son, given the limited information the mother has provided?

A. No diagnosis is indicated

B. Oppositional Defiant Disorder

C. Intermittent Explosive Disorder

D. Conduct Disorder

What do you think?

Let's look at DSM criteria for the offered diagnoses and narrow our way down to an answer.

Conduct disorder is characterized by theft, destruction of property, and other serious rules violations. Not what's being described here.

Intermittent explosive disorder involves tantrums and a failure to control aggressive impulses over a year-long period. Closer, but not the best fit.

Oppositional defiant disorder looks good for this. It involves everything mentioned--anger and irritability, defiance, and vindictiveness. That's your best bet...but read the find print. To diagnose ODD, behaviors have to be present for six months. This month-long onset of symptoms looks to be connected to the start of a new school year--something many have first-hand experience with.

That leaves one answer: A, no diagnosis.

How best to help the distressed client and her son? That's a question for another vignette. But normalizing and assessing stressors from school seem like good places to start.

For lots more vignette practice covering the wide range of material that can appear on the social work exam, try our full-length practice tests. Get started here.

Happy studying!

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Vignette Prep Help

California Flag

This applies only to the CA vignette exam. The thing about the vignette exam is that it's complicated.  Long vignettes, groups of long, similar answers.  Typical result while studying:  dizziness, confusion, frustration.  Solution:  Slow down. You can try just winging it; not recommended.  Better to be extremely deliberate with this one.  

First, adopt a rating system (0-2 if you're AATBSing, checks, plus/minus, or other symbols if you're not).   Then apply--run practice questions and exams online, rate each answer in each answer set. Then comes the part you may be tempted to skip:  Look at the rationales given by the test-prep course for how they got to the right answer.  How did they rate each answer part?  Are your zeros (or checks or plus/minuses or whatever) the same as what they came up with?  If not, why not?  Checking against the test-prep course this way is laborious and not a lot of fun.  But it works.

You're not learning content for the second CA exam.  You already know the content--that's how you got through the first exam.  You also know how to get yourself through a long exam--this one's only half of the first--a mere two hours.  What you're learning this time is how to best approach this very peculiar test.  It's probably unlike any you've ever taken.  But it's very doable.  You can pass.  There are people passing every day.

So:  Rate, check ratings, repeat.  Result:  Less dizziness, more licensure. Good luck!

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Eva: Vignette Success Story

Congratulations to SWTP reader Eva, who passed the California Clinical Vignette exam earlier this week. Here, some emails that preceded exam time, and an explanation of how she made it happen: Hi, I was glad to find your site - it was helpful in preparing and passing the first exam. I'm planning to take the second exam tomorrow. I just got into the "hard" questions for AATBS. They seem absolutely ridiculous in terms of the language used to phrase potential answers: it is sooooooo incredibly confusing. I am considering not even taking them because it might erode whatever confidence I was feeling so far. Are there any questions on the exam that are like the "hard" questions? Or, do you think I'll be ok with reworking the medium questions and retaking the mock exams? Thanks in advance, Eva Eva, Those hard questions are impossible, nearly unanswerable, and nothing like the questions on the real exam, in my experience. Their only value is in helping you mega-hyper-concentrate on every word in each question and answer...which you're already doing if you're getting the medium questions right. Probably best to do with the exam tomorrow: quit studying. You're ready. Good luck! Let me (or the blog) know how it goes. Best, Will Thanks so much for your reply. Helps to know I was going in right direction when I decided to take a break and just focus back on mock exams. Geez, those hard questions are enough to make you really worry...taking a deep breath, eating and taking one more mock exam. Thanks again for your quick reply- I'll keep you posted re: tomorrow ;)

Mailbag: Practice v. Real Exam

MailbagFrom my inbox--email from a social work classmate reencountered at AATBS's vignette workshop:
Just read you passed the second exam....CONGRATS!!!
I STILL have not taken mine yet as I have been busy with my new [job]. 
So, I read that the HARD questions are not as hard as the actual exam? That is sooo comforting because I SUCK at the hard ones but get in the 80's for the mediums....what are your thoughts on that? What were you getting onthe medium ones?
I am so over studying! I just want to take the dang thing - how challenging did you think it was and what kind of advice do you have? I really appreciate your honest feedback as I felt much better after talking to you prior to my first exam.
My response:
Thanks. Congratulations on the job. Yeah, the exam is way easier than the hard AATBS questions. I broke 80% on a 2-hour retake of a practice exam just before going in. You're probably ready.  Good to run the complete practice exams to gauge speed, etc. But're ready. Good luck.
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ComputerRealistic online practice can help prepare you for the LCSW exam like nothing else.  Try Social Work Test Prep's free practice exam to get a sense of our program.  

Being ready to sit for the real, four-hour LCSW exam takes practice with complete, full-time practice exams.  Social Work Test Prep's exams offer detailed rationales for each question and links for suggested study to help you strengthen your grasp on concepts you never knew or have forgotten.  

More details about the SWTP program are here.


Californians:  For those who've cleared the first-exam hurdle and are one exam away from an LCSW, more free practice awaits.  (A more complete list is here.)

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