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 who reflect diversity in demographics, geography, and practice areas.
Each content outline is organized into content areas, competencies, and knowledge, skills, and abilities statements (KSAs).
Content areas are the broad areas of knowledge measured by each exam. The content areas organize the content for exam construction and score reporting. When receiving exam scores, test-takers who do not pass get feedback on their performance on each content area of the exam.
Competencies describe meaningful sets of knowledge, skills, and abilities within each content area that are important to social work practice.
Knowledge, skills, and abilities statements structure the content of the exam for item development. The KSAs provide further details about the nature and range of exam content that is included in the competencies. Each KSA describes a single knowledge component that is the basis for individual exam questions used to measure competency.
Exams for the future of social work
ASWB is collaborating with the social work community to bring more perspectives, including those of individuals representing diverse racial, social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds, into the exam development process. The association is launching these initiatives to build on current practices.
The following example illustrates the relationship of an ASWB exam question to the content area, competency, and KSA to which it corresponds.
Exam: Clinical examination
Content area: I. Human Development, Diversity, and Behavior in the Environment
Competency: IB. Human Behavior in the Social Environment
KSA: The effects of addiction and substance abuse on individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
A six-year-old child lives with a foster family. One biological parent is in prison, and the other is in residential treatment for alcohol dependence. The child is small for his age, often has temper outbursts, and has difficulty completing schoolwork. The social worker notes that his speech is immature. What should the social worker do FIRST?
A) Work with the foster parents on a behavior modification plan
B) Suggest that the child’s teacher refer him for special education placement
C) Refer the child for assessment for fetal alcohol syndrome
D) Work with the child’s biological parents toward reunification