Taking the social work licensure exam can seem a daunting task. It is a 170 question, 4 hour, $260 comprehensive exam that every social work must pass in order to get their full license. In 2013, there were less than 200 social workers that took the advanced generalist exam out of over 11,000. Because of this I soon realized there were very few specific study materials for macro practitioners. Currently, there are 22 states that use the advanced generalist exam. Of these 18 states use the exam solely for the macro level license and four allow it for both the macro and/or clinical level license..
I knew wanted to get my exam out of the way as quickly possible and I am happy to say that on September 18th I passed! After finishing the exam myself I thought it would be valuable to share some of my experiences and tips with you.
- Get licensed. A license may not be vital to your career right now, but for your long-term career it is a great idea to have one. You never know when a new job may present itself to you and you may be unqualified without the license.
- Talk with friends. There is no more valuable information then the experiences of those who have already taken the exam. Get pointers from them. Find out what helped them study (you might even be able to get some free study materials).
- Give yourself time to study. Check with the school you graduated from to see if they offer a free practice exam. Many schools do and this can be a great first gauge to how much further studying you need to do. I recommend taking a practice test 3 months out from your scheduled exam. This gives you plenty of time for further studying if you need it.
- Know the KSAs. ASWB breaks down the licensure exam into distinct knowledge, skills and abilities. This may help you determine specific areas where you need further study. A full breakdown can be found at www.aswb.org.
- Take a prep course. A preparation course can be a very useful tool in giving you the resourced you need to pass the exam. There are many prep materials out there, from workbooks, to in person courses (NASW Members get a discount if they take the MSU course), to online courses. Find the course or materials that will work best for you… you know your own study habits.
- Technology can be your friend. There are several free or inexpensive apps for smart phones that I found helpful (and there are even specific macro apps) . Simply go to your app store and search “social work exam”. Also, make sure to ‘like’ the NASW Michigan Facebook page, as there are sample questions posted every week.
- Read and re-read the Code of Ethics. There will be specific questions regarding the Code of Ethics, so make sure if you don’t have a copy you get one ASAP. You can find it digitally at www.socialworkers.org.
- Schedule your test now. Many people wait until they are finishing their hours and supervision to take the exam. Scheduling your exam pushes you to begin the studying process and halt any procrastination that might be occurring. Trust me when I say you will feel much better with the test behind you.
- All you have to do is pass. Remember that you are not aiming to get perfect score; you just want to see that “Congratulations” pop up on the computer screen. With proper preparation you will do fine!
NASW Michigan has put together some pretty fantastic resources that will both help you get your license and clarify some of your immediate questions about the exam. Go to www.nasw-michigan.org to find powerpoints, clecklists, voicethreads and more.
Duane Breijak, LLMSW – Macro