Mindset resources to be offered to all ASWB test-takers

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Cover page of a report reading "A Test Mastery Inclusion Resource for ASWB Test-Takers: Needs Analysis and Self-Coaching ResourcesIn January 2023, ASWB began partnering with FifthTheory, a minority-owned firm with expertise in high-stakes testing and occupational assessment. As part of this collaboration, ASWB and FifthTheory launched a pilot initiative that offered access to the Test Mastery Inclusion (TMI) program to every test-taker who was unsuccessful on a licensing exam. The program includes a research-based assessment and resources designed to help individuals taking a high-stakes exam to reflect on and develop essential mindset competencies.

Due to the demonstrated value of the program and based on survey findings from an assessment questionnaire sent to participants, ASWB has decided to expand the offering to all registered candidates.

Piloting the collaboration

At the end of the yearlong pilot period, FifthTheory researchers reported on findings describing the test mastery characteristics of ASWB test-takers. In addition, ASWB surveyed the participants about the usefulness of the program, receiving responses from 11% of participants. A large majority (72.5%) reported a positive experience with the self-assessment, choosing neutral, agree, or strongly agree. Most (60.3%) also chose neutral, agree, or strongly agree when asked if the self-assessment report helped them understand their test mastery mindset. In addition, 45% of respondents chose neutral, agree, or strongly agree when asked if they felt better prepared to retake the exam.

According to the report from FifthTheory, “This initiative benefits both test-takers preparing to retake the licensing exam and ASWB in its work to better understand the test-taking mindset and provide test-takers with evidence-based resources on their licensure journeys.”

Download the full report

Test mastery findings

Of the 8,866 ASWB test-takers who completed the TMI assessment questionnaire, 83% had scores that indicated a need to further develop their test preparation and/or readiness. According to the TMI framework, the test preparation and test readiness dimensions each have specific competencies that contribute to an overall test mastery mindset. Per FifthTheory’s research, a test-prepped individual demonstrates motivation and responsibility leading up to exam day. A test-ready individual exhibits confidence and resiliency during testing.



Test Preparation Mindset


  • Committed
  • Studious
  • Productive
  • Energetic


  • Organized
  • Time-efficient
  • Self-disciplined
  • Assertive

Test Readiness Mindset


  • Mentally tough
  • Self-assured
  • Internally controlled
  • Attentive


  • Optimistic
  • Centered
  • Composed
  • Quality-oriented

The report reveals that ASWB test-takers tended to be stronger in test preparation than in test readiness. Both dimensions, however, tended to be stronger the more the candidate’s social work educational program discussed the exam. Significantly, only about one-third of candidates said their program provided a fair amount or a lot of discussion of the licensing exam. Higher test mastery mindset scores were also observed for test-takers who used more methods of examination study.

Also included in the report is a sampling of strategies excerpted from the customized resources provided to participants in the TMI program. Self-coaching interventions such as increasing self-awareness, meditation, and positive self-talk may help improve mindset and increase the likelihood of success on the social work licensing exam.

Investing in test-taker mindset development

“We were not surprised to learn that individuals who do not succeed on an ASWB exam may benefit from improving their mindset competencies,” said Lavina Harless, ASWB senior director of examination services. “The findings confirm what candidates have shared: stressful situations like taking a high-stakes exam require confidence and resilience — elements of a strong test readiness mindset. We are proud that ASWB is able to begin providing these valuable resources to all test-takers.”

Starting on July 1, every licensing exam candidate will receive access to the TMI program via the Authorization to Test email they receive after registering for the exam with ASWB.