You’ve probably heard a lot about the changes coming to the Social Work licensing exams. The good news is that there is no need to panic. At AATBS, we have you covered. Our team of experts and coaches are available to guide you through these changes and to provide you with the resources you need for passing the Social Work licensing exams.
Beginning January 2, 2018, changes are coming to to the Social Work licensing exams. These changes reflect findings in the sixth analysis conducted by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), which decided to update the exam content in light of professional practice.
The good news is that these changes do not need to affect your studying at all. This is because the content has remained the same, with the changes being in the area of how each domain is weighted (see pie charts below for a specific breakdown).
Bottom line: No need to panic. If you're already studying and planning to test before January 1, just keep studying as you have been.
The content areas of the exams are being renamed and reordered to “touch up and refine the details” of the examination categories, “with only a few specific topics receiving more extensive adjustments.”
In the 2018 Exam Blueprints, the ASWB described these changes as “minor structural and editorial modifications.” The key word here is minor.
The 2017 Analysis of the Practice of Social Work Final Report confirmed this, showing that the minor structural changes refer to how various content areas are weighted, while the minor editorial modifications refer to changes in how different items are described in the blueprints. These new descriptions are being introduced with an emphasis “on ensuring that the statements are easy for candidates to understand.” The key word here is easy—ASWB wants to make their descriptions easier to understand, which is good news for those preparing for licensure!
As part of this process of trying to make things easier to understand, the ASWB have expanded on items that were previously in outline. For example, where the current blueprints refer to “The impact of the environment (e.g., social, physical, cultural, political, economic) on individuals”, this is being changed to, “The impact of the environment (e.g., social, physical, cultural, political, economic) on individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.”
Changes like this are nothing new for us. AATBS has been transitioning through exam changes, big and small, for over 40 years. In fact, right now our team of experts are in the process of developing study materials that reflect the current changes. Our new Social Work materials should be available this Fall.
If you're planning to purchase a Social Work licensing exam Study Package before our materials have been updated, we have you covered! To give our customers peace of mind, our Social Work Package Protection Guarantee offers free revisions of our study materials up to 8 months from your purchase date. This means that if you purchase a Study Package from us in August or September (which teaches to the current exam), and then sit for the current exam and do not pass, you can get the 2018 exam materials for free to study and take the new version of the exam. (Want to learn more? Give our exam experts a call: 800-472-1931!)
In their Details of the Blueprint Changes, the ASWB explains that for the Bachelor's Examination Category:
[T]he new weights for a given content area changed by no more than two percentage points from the 2008-09 weights.
Content Area I. Human Development, Diversity, and Behavior in the Environment decreased slightly, from 27% to 25%.
Content Area I.C. Diversity and I.D. Effects of the Environment on Client System Behavior were merged due to overlapping content.
In Content Area II. Assessment, competency areas covering assessment techniques were combined and named Assessment Methods and Techniques. The overall weight for this content area rose by one percentage point.
Content Area III. Direct and Indirect Practice was renamed Interventions with Clients/Client Systems, and overlap among the competency areas was reduced by grouping similar knowledge areas together. The weight for this content area did not change.
The weight for Content Area IV. Professional Relationships, Values, and Ethics, however, increased by 1%, reflecting the importance of demonstrating competence in this area for safe and effective practice.
Here is a diagram showing these changes compared to the weights in the current exam.
(Image source: ASWB.org)
In their Details of the Blueprint Changes, the ASWB writes as follows about changes in the Master's Exam Category:
[T]he new weights for a given content area changed by no more than three percentage points from the 2011 weights.
Content Area I. Human Development, Diversity, and Behavior in the Environment decreased by 1%.
Content Area II. Assessment and Intervention Planning remained constant at 24%.
Content Area III. Direct and Indirect Practice was renamed Interventions with Clients/Client Systems, and the weight for this area increased by 3%. The competencies in this content area were also renamed to more accurately reflect the practice of social work with diverse clients and client systems.
The weight for Content Area IV. Professional Relationships, Values, and Ethics increased by two percentage points, reflecting the importance of demonstrating competence in relationship-building, values, and ethics for safe and effective practice.
Again it may be helpful to see these changes laid out in a pie chart.
The least significant changes are occurring in the Clinical exam. In their DetailsEdit Link of the Blueprint Changes, the ASWB writes:
Structurally, the updated Clinical blueprint remained quite similar to the previous iteration. However, changes to the distribution of content weight were noticeable for some of the content areas.
The weight for Content Area I. Human Development, Diversity, and Behavior in the Environment decreased by seven percentage points to 24% and Content Area II. Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment Planning increased by four percentage points to 30%.
Content Area III. Psychotherapy, Clinical Interventions, and Case Management was viewed as slightly more important, garnering 27% of the exam (up from 25% in 2011), and
Content Area IV. Professional Values and Ethics gained one additional percentage point, reflecting the continued importance of knowledge of values and ethics within the social work profession.
The most significant changes are occurring in the Advanced Generalist category. The ASWB writes:
[T]he Advanced Generalist exam blueprint was restructured from five content areas to four. Competencies in Content Area II. Micro Assessment and Planning, Content Area III. Micro Practice and Social Work Relationships, and Content Area IV. Macro Practice were reassigned to two new sections: Content Area II. Intervention Processes and Techniques for Use across Systems and Content Area III. Intervention Processes and Techniques for Use with Larger Systems.
Within the newly assigned content areas, some areas containing overlapping or redundant statements were merged to eliminate overly narrow ranges of practice. For example, Supervision and Consultation was combined with Administration and Management. As a result, the total number of competencies on the Advanced Generalist blueprint was reduced by half, from 28 to 14.
Content area weights were then redistributed to reflect the relative importance of the updated organization of knowledge: Content Area I. Human Development, Diversity, and Behavior in the Environment increased to 23% (from 18%);
[T]he newly created Content Area II. Intervention Processes and Techniques for Use across Systems was assigned a weight of 32%;
[T]he new Content Area III. Intervention Processes and Techniques for Use with Larger Systems was assigned a weight of 18%;
[A]nd Content Area IV. Professional Relationships, Values, and Ethics (formerly Content Area V. Professional Values and Ethics) increased by three percentage points to 27%.
If you're concerned about the exams, have questions about the changes, or you're just not sure where to begin your study process, give us a call or email us! We're here to support you. We've been transitioning through licensing exam changes for over 40 years. The good news is, you're not alone. We're here to help! Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us: 800- 472-1931