You Can Get It Done
Overwhelmed by the studying you have to do? Yes, there's
an enormous amount of information
that could show up on the social work exam (just
look at the ASWB and
BBS content outlines). But
what actually shows up on the exam is likely to
be narrower, simpler, and easier to prepare for.
The people putting together social work licensing exams want to
make sure that licensed social workers are compassionate, ethical,
law-abiding professionals. They commission questions designed to
test for those qualities. (The ASWB says as much in
their writer's screening.) That means exam questions
will tend to present real-world, close-call, social work
situations. You may be able to answer many of them without
preparing at all. Just go with your social work gut.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't study. The best way to
prepare is to practice. Practice gets you familiar with the
rhythms of the test and gives you a chance to begin burning off
test anxiety. So, if you've purchased an SWTP Online Practice Test, you're off to a
Keep in mind: You've made it this far; this exam won't be the
hardest thing you've ever faced or ever will face. You can
get it done!
With each SWTP exam you purchase, you get three runs through the
exam in timed exam mode and unlimited review in
untimed study mode. We suggest getting underway on SWTP with a four
hour, timed exam to gauge your readiness. Then, in study
mode, review rationales and suggested study links
for all answers, whether or not you got them right on the
Since your account expires after 60 days, it makes sense to take
the first of the three timed tests you get early on (day 1), the
second halfway through (around day 20). Take the exam a third time
toward the end of the 60 days, while still allowing time to review
answers (around day 55).
Rules of Thumb
It's helpful to have some rules of thumb when attacking each new
exam question. Remembering that doing no harm and operating
within scope of practice is essential. Asking yourself, "What
would the by-the-book perfect social worker do in this situation?"
can often help shake loose a correct answer.
For more social-work-exam-specific test prep strategies, try these
More general study skills wisdom is collected around the
web--most university web sites have space dedicated to the topic.
Here are a few helpful links:
Managing Test Anxiety
The test is a big deal and everyone gets anxious about it to
some degree. Test anxiety is like any other anxiety you might
have experienced and will respond to the same tried-and-true
anxiety reduction efforts that have worked for you in the past.
How do you calm yourself when worried?
relaxation...or maybe just letting the anxiety flow and focusing on
the task at hand. Put them to use! Here, some collected tricks and
For free anxiety reduction tools--including lots of
If there's something you need to know for the exam that can't be
found on the web, we have yet to discover it. Here are links
to some essentials:
- The Social
Work Code of Ethics. There's nothing more important to
have a good grasp on. Will this be on the test?
- ASWB and BBS post basics about what to
expect on the test--browse for candidate handbooks on each.
Standards of Practice. Freshen up on the basics of social
- The DSM-IV is online at AllPsych , Wikipedia ,
and elsewhere on the web. If looking to save time, we suggest
focusing on the standard diagnoses found in a front-line social
work setting (e.g., depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD,
ADHD, personality disorders...). Close-call differentials
(e.g., schizoaffective disorder versus schizophrenia) are also
worth attention. For more in-depth information, try
the National Institute for
Your MSW program textbooks are also a great resource.
Board question writers are required to cite published sources
for each item they submit. What are they likely to use?
Their MSW program textbooks.
Got the essentials down? The Suggested Study links that
accompany each question in the SWTP practice exams are a great next
step toward deeper review. For additional exposure to
exam-related content, try browsing these sites:
And of course, SWTP's long-running blog--test-taking research,
success stories, and even some additional practice there:
There's still more help, including tutoring, on SWTP's Resources page.
Don't be shy about Googling to find more about areas you feel
uncertain about. If you discover sites that you think should
be included here, please send them in.
Congratulations on getting underway in your exam
preparation. Good luck! Let us know how you