Passing the social work exam not only gets you a nice new set of letters after your name, it can also open up all sorts of unanticipated avenues in your career. It helps to get licensed. But…easier said than done. First, you’ve got to get past the exam. A good way to figure out how to structure your exam prep time is to talk to people who’ve successfully navigated the exam process, to hear their stories, to get their words of wisdom.
Here’s one such social work exam narrative with a simple take-home message: “Don’t overdo it!”
“I was really freaked out by having to take the social work licensing exam. I wanted that license! What if I didn’t pass? I’d probably have to stay in the same job, at the same salary, with the same responsibilities. After getting all those hours for licensure, I was ready for a change and passing the exam was the way to get it.
So I took it seriously. Probably, in retrospect, too seriously. I studied books and books full of social work facts. I listened to CDs and podcasts as I drove to work. I stole time at work to take every practice question I could get my hands on. I worried a lot.
Wasn’t necessary. I’m pretty sure that some basic review and a practice exam or two would’ve done the trick. This was driven home when a friend from my MSW program asked me for some advice about how to pass. He was taking the exam in a couple of days and thought he should study a little bit first. Study a little bit first?! Two days before the exam?! Yep. He studied a little bit, taking a couple of practice exams, and sure enough, two days later, he passed
I’d overdone it. I’d overstudied. My friend may have been a little bolder than I could have imagined being, but it worked. Somewhere in between his two casual days of preparation and my months of overstudying would’ve been better.
Of course, everyone has their own studying style, their own way of learning. But please, don’t overdo it. This exam is based primarily on common sense. It’s designed to protect the profession and the public. That means, whatever answer would do the least harm is almost always the right one. Whatever answer closely reflects the Code of Ethics is the right one. Whatever people encounter in real social work situations–at a community mental health office, say–is what vignettes will cover. So, more than likely, when you were getting your hours, you were getting your social work exam preparation done at the same time…just by doing your job.
I hope this helps!”
Photo Courtesy of Time Magazine