Social Work Programs

September 22, 2010

What Is ASWB

If you are new to social work, you may have wondered what is the ASWB? The Association of Social Work Boards or ASWB social work licensing exams are multiple choice examinations. These exams offer test-takers four different options which are taken on a computer at a designated testing facility. The tests have 170 questions, but only 150 are counted toward your final score.


You are given four hours to finish the test. You may be given additional time if you have an eligible disability within the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the candidate handbook there is information on how to arrange for this special consideration. The majority of candidates are able to finish the test within the time allotted.

The tests are taken by appointment at testing facilities. You don’t just drop in. There are no set dates to take the test; you will need to schedule a time to come in. These appointments are first-come, first-serve for registered applicants who have been given prior authorization to test. Be aware that candidates often change appointment dates, so trying to determine availability prior to receiving authorization will not help you that much. Once you receive this authorization you should determine the best available date for you to take the test.

In 2008, the national passing rates for those taking the test for the first time were approximately 77 percent for bachelors; 74 percent for masters; 58 percent for advanced generalist; and 75 percent for clinical. In the same year, the board gave over 30,000 exams. In general, the passing scores averaged 109 correct out of 150 scored items. The remaining 20 questions are “pretest” items that are mixed in with the scored questions.

The differences in the various tests are based on the groups of people the tests are geared towards. The bachelors exam is a basic test for candidates with a Bachelor of Social Work but without any post-degree experience. The masters exam is a generalist test for candidates with an Masters of Social Work but also no post-degree experience. Then the advanced generalist exam is a more advanced test for candidates with a Masters of Social Work and two or more years of post-degree experience but in non-clinical settings. Finally, the clinical exam is an advanced test for candidates with a Masters of Social Work and two or more years of post-degree experience in a clinical setting. Each of the ASWB exam levels have their own classification of test questions designed for that level only.

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