When encountering first and next questions on the ASWB exam, it's important to approach them strategically to increase your chances of selecting the correct answer. Here are some tips on how to handle each.

First Questions

The emphasis in “what should the social worker do FIRST” questions is on prioritizing the initial step or action--often times to ensure client safety. Here are some steps to help you navigate these types of questions effectively.

  • Read the question carefully. Understand the scenario or situation described in the question. Pay attention to any crucial details or factors that may influence your decision.
  • Identify the immediate concern. Determine the most pressing issue or the aspect that requires immediate attention. This could be a safety concern, a crisis situation, or an urgent need for intervention.
  • Consider the ethical and legal aspects. Reflect on the ethical principles and legal obligations of social work practice and on the limits of social work practice (the answer may be to refer out). Identify any ethical or legal mandates that may impact the prioritization of actions.
  • Evaluate potential consequences. Assess the potential outcomes of each available action. Consider the short-term and long-term implications for the client or individuals involved.
  • Apply knowledge and professional judgment. Draw upon your social work knowledge, skills, and professional judgment to select the most appropriate initial step. Consider the values, theories, and intervention strategies commonly used in social work practice.
  • Eliminate incorrect choices. Analyze each answer choice and eliminate those that are inconsistent with social work values, ethics, or professional standards. Remove any options that do not address the immediate concern or would be more suitable as subsequent steps.
  • Choose the most immediate action. Select the answer choice that reflects the initial action or step that best addresses the immediate concern or need identified in the question.

Remember that these questions are designed to test your ability to prioritize and make informed decisions as a social worker. To develop your skills answering FIRST questions, try SWTP’s full-length practice tests.

Next Questions

"What should the social worker do NEXT" questions share a lot of the above, with some important differences. Here are steps to take as you answer NEXT question on the social work licensing exam.

  • Read the question and scenario carefully. Understand the context and any relevant information provided in the scenario. Identify the action or intervention that has already been taken.
  • Assess the current situation. Evaluate the impact of the initial step or intervention. Consider the progress made, any changes in the client's circumstances, and the emergence of new issues or concerns.
  • Identify the remaining or unresolved problems. Determine the key issues that still need to be addressed or require further attention. Look for any gaps or areas that were not fully addressed by the initial intervention.
  • Prioritize the next steps. Consider the urgency and significance of each remaining issue. Determine which one should be tackled first based on the potential impact on the client's well-being or progress.
  • Consider the available resources. Assess the resources, services, or supports that can be utilized to address the identified issues. Consider the client's strengths, community resources, and professional networks that can be leveraged.
  • Apply professional knowledge and skills. Draw upon your social work knowledge, theories, and intervention strategies to identify the most appropriate course of action. Consider evidence-based practices, ethical considerations, and the client's unique needs and preferences.
  • Evaluate potential consequences. Analyze the potential outcomes and consequences of each available action. Consider the short-term and long-term implications for the client's well-being and progress.
  • Select the most appropriate next step. Choose the answer choice that reflects the next logical and effective action to address the remaining issues or concerns in the given scenario. Ensure that the selected option aligns with social work values, ethics, and professional standards.

Remember to approach these questions with critical thinking and a client-centered perspective. Practice with sample questions and review case studies to enhance your ability to prioritize and determine the appropriate next steps. Additionally, stay familiar with social work theories, intervention models, and the NASW Code of Ethics to prepare to answer NEXT questions on the ASWB exam.

Remember, when approaching any question on the ASWB exam, it's crucial to rely on your knowledge, critical thinking skills, and understanding of social work principles and ethics.

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Happy studying and good luck on the exam!

July 10, 2023
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