Social work can be stressful. Preparing for the ASWB exam can be stressful. Put the two together and, for many (for most!), test anxiety is the result. It's a common problem, and one that's worth confronting to optimize exam performance. Happily, there are lots of approaches to help reduce test anxiety. Several are included here. Find what's best for you and put it to work.
Understand the Issue: The first step in overcoming test anxiety is to understand what it is and how it affects you. Test anxiety is a type of performance anxiety that can cause physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, and shortness of breath. Once you've got it properly ID'd you can start tackling it.
Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a powerful tool for managing anxiety of many stripes. Mindfulness involves focusing your attention on the present moment--often through breath--and becoming aware of your thoughts and emotions without judgment. Practicing mindfulness can help you stay calm and centered during the exam, and reduce the impact of negative thoughts and emotions
Take Care of Yourself: Self-care is essential during the exam preparation process, and can help reduce test anxiety. Eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly can all help to reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Taking breaks and engaging in activities that you enjoy can also help to reduce stress and anxiety.
Build Confidence: Part of what stirs anxiety in test-prepping social workers is not knowing what they're getting into. Learning what to expect helps build confidence and reduce test anxiety and improve exam performance. The best approach to this that we know is taking practice exams, ideally under test-like conditions (on the computer, all at once, timed). Taking practice exams can help you become familiar with the types of questions you will encounter on the licensure exam, help identify where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and build confidence in your ability to perform well.
Seek Support: Finally, it's important to seek support when dealing with test anxiety. Talking to a friend, family member, or mental health professional can provide valuable support and guidance during the exam preparation process. Seeking support can also help to reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety. You're not alone in this!
Everyone's anxious to one degree or another going into the ASWB exam. Don't just shake off or ignore the feelings. Managing test anxiety is an important part of good social work licensing exam test prep.
Happy breathing, happy studying, and good luck on the exam!
May 12, 2023