How to Pass the Social Work Licensing Exam (LMSW)

While I was studying for my LMSW exam, I often searched the internet for advice from recent graduates who had just passed their Social Work Licensing exam. I kind of felt alone in my situation although I knew others were studying too! The Master’s level and Clinical Social Work Licensing exams (LMSW/LCSW) are 170 question multiple choice tests, with only 150 questions counting toward the score. Also, the ASWB changed the exam in 2011 to reflect current Social Work practice. I had no idea if this was a good or a bad thing, but I was worried because the pass rate for the 2010 ASWB Master exam is 74.3% plus I also heard about social workers failing many times.Oh no! I have to pass TWO standardized exams to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 3 years of Clinical Supervision after I take the LMSW (3,000 hours)! There was so much material to study and the pile of books I had from my upcoming study course was overwhelming. I had no idea where to begin, so I waited until I started the study course offered by Adelphi University. The instructor suggested that we take a practice exam to determine what areas we need to concentrate on based on a percentage breakdown of the number of questions answered correctly on each topic. I was freaking out! I only got a 51~~I knew I had a lot of work to do!The study course ultimately taught me to analyze each question by deciding if it was a situational or factual question. The next steps are to decide who the client is and what the clinician should do in the given scenario. Nearly all questions on the actual Master’s level Social Work Licensing exam (in New York) were: what happens FIRST, what happens NEXT, or what is the BEST choice to make (by the clinician). They all had factual information built into the question.How to pass the Social Work licensing exam:Don’t over think the questions. They are not meant to trick you, and sometimes the right answer is obvious.Ask yourself at every question – what is in the best interest of the client? No matter how reasonable other answers are, most questions focus on the client, not their family, doctor, or others needs and wishes.Take a lot of practice exams. When I was ready to sit for the exam, I noticed a pattern in the questions and I began to understand what type of answer the “test makers” wanted. It is certainly not always what we would do in social work practice!Don’t rush the process. I studied for a few months which was long enough to understand the information without memorizing every minute detail. For instance, compare the problem solving model (acknowledge problem, define problem, brainstorm solutions, evaluate options, implement intervention strategies, and evaluate outcome) to program development (problem statement, goal/plan, resources, objectives, decide on program operation – evaluation tools, cost, usefulness of program, implementation, and evaluation). In my opinion, the steps are so similar that if I had a question related to either one, I would know what was involved in the process. I placed each similar topic on an index card and kept them paper clipped together. Of course, there are plenty of instances where memorization is necessary.I passed the exam on the first try – and actually did pretty well! After three years of supervision and clinical practice, I took my Clinical Social Work exam. The information provided was helpful for the LCSW exam; however, of course, there were more assessment and diagnosis questions. I am currently a LCSW-R, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Private Practice, in Garden City NY. Don’t give up… you can do it!#Psychotherapist #StayStrong #Licensed Clinical Social Worker #Goals #Mental Health #Therapist #MindOverMatter #Anxiety
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