If you were to (for some strange reason) study only one topic to prepare for the ASWB exams, it would have to be social work ethics. Understanding the NASW Code of Ethics is essential to passing the exam. Every exam will include ethics questions. But even non-ethics-specific questions will often draw on ethical decision making to get you to the correct answer. 

As you prepare for the test, be sure to review the NASW Code of Ethics thoroughly. And then do it again. Then put your knowledge to practice. (SWTP has an all-ethics booster test–plus loads of ethics questions in each full-length exam to help you do just that.) On the exam, ethics questions are almost entirely scenario questions–short vignettes drawing on your Code of Ethics knowledge. But here’s a mock question (not a vignette) to help get you ready to start your ethics prep:

What is the first step in ethical decision-making according to the NASW Code of Ethics?

A) Consider the possible consequences of each option.
B) Identify the ethical issue.
C) Consult with colleagues.
D) Choose the option that aligns with personal values.

What’s your answer? Let’s take them one by one:

Considering the possible consequences is probably not a first step. That will come later in the process. But let’s keep it unscratched.

Option B looks good. Let’s put a pin in it and see if it holds up as the best offered answer. You can scratch Option A now.

Option C isn’t it. While consulting with colleagues can be helpful, it’s also not the first step in ethical decision-making. 

Personal values should not be the sole basis for ethical decision-making in social work practice. That’s why there’s a code of ethics! Strike Option D.

That leaves one, best answer standing: The correct answer is B) Identify the ethical issue.

Did you get it? If so, great! If not, also great–now you have identified a topic to focus more attention on.

Ready to get started? The NASW Code of Ethics is here. SWTP’s practice tests are here.

Happy studying and good luck on the exam!

April 10, 2023
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