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.

ASWB embraces the social work profession’s values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in every step of creating the social work licensing examinations.

  • The practicing social workers who serve as item writers are selected to represent the diversity of the profession. They are trained to avoid words, assumptions, and stereotyping that can make an item unfair for some groups.
  • Item development consultants and the Examination Committee review every item. The Examination Committee members have all been successful item writers and are also selected to represent the diversity of the profession. Their reviews include an analysis to ensure that the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion are upheld in every test item, even when the item does not directly test that knowledge.
  • Every question approved by the Examination Committee is included as a nonscored pretest item alongside scored items on a live exam. Only items that don’t give an advantage to any subgroup of test-takers become scored items.
  • ASWB works with testing experts to make sure the exams meet and exceed industry standards for high-stakes licensing exams. Scored items continue to be monitored for fairness every time they appear on an exam.
  • The social work exam program is guided by testing industry standards set by the American Psychological Association, the Joint Commission on Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, the American Educational Research Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education.

Examination program yearbook

ASWB’s exams are built with input from dozens of highly qualified social workers who reflect the diversity of the profession.

Browse the 2021 Examination Program Yearbook 2020 yearbook 2019 Yearbook 2018 Yearbook 2017 Yearbook 2016 Yearbook
ASWB's Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Putting Social Work Values to the Test

The role of the Association of Social Work Boards is to maintain the high quality and rigor of social work licensing exams, but it is also tasked with ensuring that social work’s mission, values, and ethics are reflected in the exams.

Read the full article in Social Work Today


  • Practice analysis

    The process of creating the exam begins with a practice analysis, a major survey of the tasks of thousands of practicing social workers.