ASWB Master’s Exam
The second level of ASWB exams is the Master’s exam. The Master’s examination is designed for social workers with a Master’s degree in Social Work and less than 2 years of experience.
- Human Development and Behavior in the Environment (18% of the exam; includes theories, concepts, and the application of knowledge);
- Diversity and Social/Economic Justice (7%; includes diversity, social/economic justice, and oppression);
- Assessment, Diagnosis, and Intervention Planning (11%; includes biopsychosocial history and collateral data; assessment methods and techniques; assessment indicators, components, and characteristics; indicators of abuse and neglect; and intervention planning);
- Direct and Indirect Practice (22%; includes intervention models and methods; the intervention process; intervention techniques; intervention with couples and families; intervention with groups; intervention with communities and larger systems; and consultation and interdisciplinary collaboration);
- Communication (7%; includes communication principles and techniques);
- Professional Relationships (5%; includes relationship concepts; social worker and client roles; and ethical issues within the relationship);
- Professional Values and Ethics (11%; includes professional values; legal and ethical issues; and confidentiality);
- Supervision, Administration, and Policy (8%; includes supervision and staff development; human resource management; and finance and administration);
- Practice Evaluation and the Utilization of Research (2%; includes data collection; data analysis; and utilization of research);
- Service Delivery (9%; includes service delivery systems; obtaining services; and the effects of policies and procedures on service delivery).
The exam consists of 170 multiple-choice questions, 20 of which are pretest questions that will be used to develop future versions of the exam and they do not contribute to the test score. The minimum passing score is established by the jurisdiction in which the candidate takes the exam. The ASWB examinations are administered at special testing centers throughout the year in locations around the United States.
ASWB Master’s Exam Practice Questions
1. You have been seeing a significantly depressed client for some months and have been carefully keeping records following each session. Recently the client became upset with you, as he felt you have been critical of his life and past decisions. During your last session, the client seemed overly suspicious and even a bit paranoid, despite your efforts to reassure him and regain rapport. The next day, the client shows up without an appointment and demands to see your clinical notes.
Your BEST response would be to:
a. Tell the client to make an appointment to review his records.
b. Tell the client his is not permitted to see your private notes.
c. Immediately give the client a photocopy of his records.
d. Give the client the original record, after you have made a copy.
2. Identify the difference between psychotherapy and counseling.
a. Psychotherapy is generally considered to be long-term in nature, and counseling to be more short-term.
b. Psychotherapy uses a specific systems approach, while counseling is less bound by theory.
c. There is no difference between the two terms.
d. The term psychotherapy may only be used properly when referring to psychoanalysis.
3. You have just had your first session with a 24-year-old college student. She is seeing you following the break-up of a two-year relationship, which occurred without warning about six weeks prior to this visit. As she explained it, “He met someone else and just moved on.” She has been having trouble sleeping and concentrating on her studies since that time. Today she presents as dysphoric and tearful, but is affectively expressive and responsive to humor and other interactive stimuli. The university she attends is a considerable distance from her family and friends, leaving her with limited support during this difficult time. The most appropriate diagnosis would be:
a. Primary insomnia.
b. Major depression.
c. Adjustment disorder with depressed mood.
d. Acute stress disorder.
4. You work for a major corporation as a counselor. The available services are broad, and include family therapy and couples counseling. You were sought out by a husband, experiencing significant marital discord. He is employed by the corporation, and he took the first steps to enter couples counseling. After a few sessions, it becomes clear that the wife has traits of a serious Axis II disorder, and over time you begin seeing her exclusively. It has been two months since your last contact with the husband. Please identify your primary client.
a. The husband.
b. The wife.
c. The corporation.
d. The couple.
5. What primary condition is treated by monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)?
a. Attention deficit disorders.
b. Eating disorders.
c. Sleep disorders.
d. Depressive disorders.
ASWB Master’s Exam Answer Key
1 – A: Tell the client to make an appointment to review his records. Although laws governing patient access to psychiatric records vary widely, most states do allow patients to view these records-although some limits are allowed in certain jurisdictions if the clinician has a compelling concern regarding the welfare of the patient. Regardless, all states allow these records to be obtained by a patient’s attorney under subpoena. While the clinician owns the psychiatric record, the information held within that record is generally viewed as belonging to the patient. Past research indicates that patients typically cope well with this information. Even so, some information may have a deleterious iatrogenic effect. At a minimum, the clinician should view the record in company with the patient, to explain, clarify, reassure, and otherwise guide the review process to a wholesome outcome. Become thoroughly informed of the laws in your area governing patient records access.
2 – A: Psychotherapy is generally considered to be more long-term (and complex) in nature, and potentially depending more on a specific theoretical orientation, while counseling is often seen as shorter in duration and oriented more toward immediate problem-solving. However, these terms are often used interchangeably. The term “counseling” has been attributed to Frank Parsons, who used it in his writings in 1908. The renowned psychologist Carl Rogers adopted the term when the psychiatric profession refused to allow him to call himself a psychotherapist. Some in the psychoanalytic field still feel the term should be reserved to those providing formal psychoanalysis, but this is not a widely shared view.
3 – C: Adjustment disorder with depressed mood. Criteria for this disorder includes a time-limited nature, usually beginning within three months of the stressful event, and lessening within six months-either with removal of the stressor or through new adaptation skills. Adjustment disorder is a “sub-threshold disorder,” allowing for early classification of a temporary condition when the clinical picture remains vague. While the patient does have insomnia, it arises from the stressful loss and not as an independent condition. Many of the essential criteria for a major depression are absent (weight loss, psychomotor agitation, blunted affect, etc), although without successful treatment this condition could emerge. The diagnosis of acute stress disorder is not appropriate as the precipitating event did not involve threatened or actual serious injury or death.
4 – B: The wife. Initially, your identified client would be the husband. Upon entry of the wife into the picture, your identified client would be the couple, given that you were working with them both and seeing them only jointly. After the passage of time, however, and upon identification of issues requiring primary work with the wife, your identified client would be the wife. Ideally, you would have come to closure with the husband more formally, identifying specifically that your focus had shifted from them as a couple to a primary endeavor with the wife. Regardless, the information now being entered in the clinical record is exclusively that related to the wife, and the husband should no longer be privy to that content. In keeping with this, your identified client has become the wife.
5 – D: Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are three classes of medications that are used primarily to treat depressive disorders.