Measuring social work competence
The social work licensing exams are an important element of public protection because they assess whether an applicant for a social work license has the minimum competence to practice safely and ethically.
Associate: Candidates who do not hold a baccalaureate degree in social work
Bachelors: Candidates who have completed a baccalaureate degree in social work, typically a BSW
Masters: Candidates who hold a master’s degree in social work, typically an MSW, with no post-degree experience
Advanced Generalist: Candidates who hold a master’s degree in social work, typically an MSW, with two years of experience in a nonclinical setting
Clinical: Candidates who hold a master’s degree in social work, typically an MSW, with two years of experience in a clinical setting
Examination Program Yearbook
Learn more about the social workers involved in exam development.
Measuring competence fairly
The social work licensing exams follow strict test development standards that ensure fairness. Every question, called an item, is reviewed at each step in the process for signs of potential bias.
Exams for the future of social work
As the field of social work evolves, the social work licensing exams must remain relevant. ASWB is expanding its research-driven exam development process to update the licensing exams to continue to reflect current practices.
The process of creating the exam begins with a practice analysis, a major survey of the tasks of thousands of practicing social workers.
The content outlines for the social work licensing exams were developed using the 2017 Analysis of the Practice of Social Work, a survey of licensed social workers selected to reflect diversity in demographics, geography, and practice areas.
The Examination Committee reviews each exam question before it is included as a pretest item on the licensing exams. Committee members are selected from among the item writers trained to write questions for the exams.
In any pass/fail exam, there is a ”pass point,“ the number of questions a candidate must answer correctly in order to pass the exam. All jurisdictions that use the ASWB exams recognize the same pass point.
Item writer program
Every question, or item, on the social work licensing exams is written by a practicing social worker and depends on verifiable social work knowledge.
Exam resources for educators
ASWB is offering a new suite of free resources to help social work educators prepare students for the exams.