What is the LCSW exam?
The Licensed Clinical Social Work (LCSW) exam is
administered by Association of Social Work Board (ASWB). The
Clinical exam is the final, and most challenging, of the exams
offered by the ASWB. Different states grant different titles for
social workers who pass the ASWB Clinical exam. In most places,
LCSW or LICSW are used.
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What's on the LCSW exam?
The LCSW exam, like all ASWB licensing exams,
consists of 170 questions which are to be completed over a timed,
four hour period. Of those questions, twenty are
"testers"--questions being tested out by the ASWB for possible
inclusion in future editions of the exam. Tester questions do not
count toward or against your final score.
The ASWB publishes an exam content outline,
covering the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that may be
tested for on the exam. The Clinical exam breaks down this
DIVERSITY, AND BEHAVIOR IN THE ENVIRONMENT (24%)
DIAGNOSIS, AND TREATMENT PLANNING (30%)
CLINICAL INTERVENTIONS, AND CASE MANAGEMENT (27%)
AND ETHICS (19%)
The exam is designed to assess beginning
clinical social work knowledge, skills, and abilities. So while the
assessment, for example, could draw from anywhere in the DSM, it is
far more likely that you will face questions based upon the common
diagnoses that social workers encounter in day-to-day practice.
Take care not to overstudy.
What are the questions like on the LCSW
ASWB licensing exams are all multiple choice,
with four choices offered. The majority of questions tend to be in
vignette form, laying out a client situation and asking for the
BEST or NEXT step a social worker might take in that situation.
There are no "all of the above" or "none of the above" answer
choices. Trick questions are also not a feature of ASWB
A question might look something like
female client who appears noticeably underweight reports frequently
forcing herself to vomit after meals in order to "stay thin and
pretty." The MOST likely DSM diagnosis for this client is a
B. Body dysmorphic
As with many questions on the LCSW exam, you may
be able to rule out a couple of answers and narrow down to two best
choices. For this item, bulimia and anorexia both seem like they
could be right. To make a final choice, you'll have to draw on your
DSM knowledge, which hopefully includes this: Forced
vomiting is regularly associated with bulimia. In this case,
anorexia nervosa, binge-eating/purging type, is more appropriate
given the client's focus on weight and her underweight appearance.
Those with bulimia often maintain an appropriate BMI. A less
than 85% expected body weight is a DSM criteria for anorexia. The
correct answer is D, anorexia nervosa.
What's the best way to prepare for the LCSW exam?
Practice exams are hands down the best way to
prepare for the LCSW exam. Testing your knowledge and directing
your studying through real time (four hours), full-length (170
question) practice tests is essential.
Good practice tests, like those offered by SWTP,
offer repeat exposure to the exam-taking process and exam content
simultaneously. Will you need breaks or a snack? Do you get worn
out after the first 50 questions? It's ideal to know the answer to
those questions before sitting down for the real thing. Having
those basics answered ahead of time allows you to focus on the
question right in front of you and make the right pick, A, B, C, or
SWTP has five complete, 170-question practice
tests, plus two booster tests, one all ethics, and one all
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