ASWB Master’s Exam

All Social Work licensing boards in the United States, its territories, and some Canadian provinces, recognize and require the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Masters examination for licensure. Successful completion of the exam is one step in the licensing process. For more information on what your area requires for licensure, check with your area’s licensing board.

How to register for the ASWB Masters examination

The ASWB Masters examination is one of five examinations offered by the ASWB for social work licensure. Before you can register for the Masters exam, you have to apply to your social work registry board. There may be fees associated with your license application which are separate from the exam fee. Your board will determine your eligibility status and approve testing. When you receive authorization to test, you will register for the exam through ASWB.

Test design

The Masters examination is a computer-delivered, four-hour test with 170 multiple-choice questions designed to measure your competence in four categories of practice. Only 150 questions are scored with 20 questions included to test validity for possible inclusion in future exams.

The test is divided into four content areas (categories of practice) with each content area assessing your competencies and knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) within each category of practice. A competency tests your understanding of important sets of knowledge that are important to the role of a Social Worker. KSAs are components used to measure the competency within the content area.

The examination consists of the following content areas:

  • Human development, diversity, and behavior in the environment – 27%

A competent social care worker understands the current theories widely used in understanding human growth, development, and relationships to identify methods that best serve their clients. Your knowledge and understanding of the effects of abuse, neglect, diversity, social/economic justice, and oppression on individuals are tested in this content area as well.

  • Assessment and intervention planning – 24%

This content area will assess your knowledge of assessment methods and techniques, collections of biopsychosocial history and collateral data, and intervention planning.

  • Interventions with clients/client systems – 24%

Your knowledge and understanding of intervention processes and techniques used across systems or in a larger system are examined in this content area.

  • Professional relationships, values, and ethics – 25%

This content area examines your knowledge of the professional values expected of social workers and the ethical issues that you may face. Additionally, your understanding of client confidentiality, professional boundaries, research ethics, financial responsibility, professional development, and self-care are assessed.

Registration, cost, and location

After your social worker board permits you to sit for the exam, you can register for the Masters examination. You can register online, by fax, or by mail to the ASWB. Regardless of your registration method, payment is expected when you register. The registration fee is $260.00 and can be paid via credit card (MasterCard, Visa, or Discover), debit card, cashier’s check, or money order. Within two business days of payment, your authorization to test is emailed to you.

Your authorization includes information on how to register for the exam and available testing centers. Your authorization is valid for one year. Testing appointments are generally available Monday through Friday, and some testing centers have Saturday times available. Centers are located worldwide.

Test Day

Arrive 30 minutes before your test time. Arriving early allows you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the area and complete the pre-test paperwork. When you check in, your identification is verified, your photograph and palm vein are taken, and you are escorted to your testing station.

Included in your four-hour time limit is a brief tutorial of the exam delivery on the computer. Everything you need to complete the exam is provided, and you are not allowed to bring any items into the center with you. You may take breaks as needed but your time does not stop.

Take the time to review your answers before submitting your answers for review and scoring.

Exam scoring and results

At the conclusion of your exam, an unofficial score report is provided. The report will indicate your pass or fail status, and this is the only notification you will receive. Your official report is forwarded to the ASWB and the social work board in the jurisdiction you are applying for licensing. It may take up to two weeks for your board to receive your report.

You receive one point for each correct answer, and incorrect or unanswered questions do not have a penalty. The required passing score varies depending upon the version of the test you take. Passing scores range from 93 to 107.

If you fail the exam, ASWB will supply you a diagnostic report to help you identify areas for improvement. You may retake the exam after a 90-day waiting period.

How Can I Prepare for the ASWB Masters Test?

We believe that different learning styles require different tools for success. We have compiled a list of the best study guides, flashcards, and practice tests that we’ve found on the market. Some of these guides have review videos, for you visual learners out there. Others have practice tests, which have been proven to increase student scores by a whole letter grade (in some cases more than that)!

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Last Updated: July 31, 2019