dinnertimeWhere do social work exam question come from? They come from social workers like you-or maybe like you a few years from now. Exam writers are licensed social workers who, for a fee, agree to help generate new content for the ASWB exam. Where do they get their ideas for new exam content? Well, where would you get it from? From experience probably. And, if you ran out of experience to draw upon, where would you turn? Probably past questions, textbooks, articles…

Which is why we recommend studying as if you were an exam writer. When you're reviewing exam content, think to yourself, "How might this material be formed into a licensing exam question?"

Here's some practice. Take a look at this Eye on Ethics column, Boundary Challenges Outside of the Office - Home-Based Services. There's material there for several solid social work exam questions. Real world, ethics-based, tricky situations. Here's one we came up with:

A social worker in a group home for adolescents who do not have stable families. The social worker's clients gather routinely for meals in the group home's dining room. They invite the social worker to join them. The social worker should:

A. Refuse the invitation to avoid boundary crossing.

B. Accept the invitation and join in regular conversation.

C. Accept the invitation but refrain from overly engaging in dinner table conversation.

D. Politely refuse the invitation and return to other work.

How would you answer?

The article includes more info:

The program model includes having the social worker, who serves all of the group home's residents, join in meals occasionally to enhance relationships.

So, if you've read that, you can quickly strike A & D (refuse and politely refuse). That leaves joining the dinner and talking and joining the dinner and talking only a little.

Sure, social workers are generally  better off listening than holding forth. But holding forth isn't really "regular conversation." Which leaves one best answer: B. Accept and talk.

The actual, real-world response, according to the article:

The social worker is careful to avoid engaging in treatment-related conversation or disclosing too much personal information during the meal. Her goal is to engage with the residents informally and to talk about "safe" issues (for example, current events, sports, popular music, television shows) that do not involve deeply personal, sensitive, or confidential matters.

If you've worked an inpatient setting, you've likely joined clients in all kinds of activities. It's part of treatment-an important part. A question like this, given that experience, is a freebie.

So move on to the next Eye on Ethics column and come up with your own question. Does it seem like a real exam question? Send it in! Maybe we'll post it here. More free practice for your fellow exam-prepping social worker.

Happy reading, happy question writing, and good luck with the exam!

October 11, 2021
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