Before we begin I want to acknowledge that many individuals are not (or do not want to be) licensed. I believe that eventually many organizations are going to ensure all of their MSW’s are licensed. The main differences between an LMSW(Licensed Master Social Worker) and MSW (Master Social Worker) career wise is pay, flexibility, mobility and stability. Most individuals that focus on obtaining their liscensure want to use it to practice clinically. Check out my page dedicated to social workers for other resources!
I remember my heart racing as I hit submit….on the registration for the test on the LLR website. All I could think was: if I am panicking now what am I going to do when I am actually sitting for the test. I was fortunate to take the test and pass my FIRST time taking it. There are a few things you can do to ensure that you pass the Master Social Worker Level Liscensure exam.
Before The Exam
1. Give yourself enough time.
I think that everyone has reached the consensus of 3 months of actively studying. I can agree with this. I studied for four months as I had to wait alittle long to be approved for the test. Four days a week I studied for two hours. My study time included videos on YouTube, reading, practice test and quizzes from Quizlet.
2. Study the right things and the right way. I used the Dawn Apgar to study.
It was perfect! I studied heavily in Part one/Human Behavior portion and not as much in DSM related information. I ensured I didnt just study to memorize because that is not how the test is set up. I studied so that I knew what I would need to do first, next and last. In saying that I used the well known acronyms FAREAFI and AASPRIPINS.
3. Take practice test like it is the real thing. Purchase practice exam through Social Work Test Prep. I was conflicted on whether or not I should purchase this because it had mixed reviews but I was nervous and wanted to be as prepared as possible. This turned out to be one of the best things I did. I was able to take three practice exams online, it was timed and a lot of the questions on the exam were similar to the practice test I took. Once you purchase you can retake the exams multiple times.
4. Watch “Day To Day Social Work” I watched a video a day if not MORE! I would normally let it play as I drove to work, walked my dog or worked out! This channel will breakdown the DSM-5 disorders, Ethics, and the like. I also watched Medical Info‘s video’s for a breakdown on similarities and differences on all DSM-5 disorders.
5. Join Facebook groups like, “LMSW Study Group”, that will post questions each day and give the answer with explanation within a few hours. It is also motivating to see individuals passing their exam and what has worked for others.
6. PURCHASE THE POCKET PREP MSW APP! I stand by this 100%! It is well worth the money and they occasionally have deals or specials so that you can save some money when making the purchase. You can use it on the go or on your home computer! Once you answer questions it will explain why it is correct or not and give you the page number in the Dawn Apgar book for reference.
7. The last thing I did to prepare for the exam was practice my breathing techniques and master my test anxiety. I did not tell many people when I was taking my exam so that it took pressure off. I would take my practice exams at home and take a break mid-way through (keeping the clock going) and occasionally close my eyes and center myself. By practicing this I was able to reflect the same behaviors when I took the exam and it worked!
During The Exam
I only drank water the morning of and left the house early to ensure I would not be late due to traffic. I arrived 20 minutes early and meditated for 10 minutes using the Insight Timer app on my phone. I had 10 more minutes to sign in and use the bathroom.
When I sat in for the test I took a deep breath and hit START. I took three breaks and started having negative repetitive thoughts. Once I submitted the test and saw I passed I was not shocked to see I took a harder version of the test. (You know you had a hard version by the minimum amount of questions you needed to get correct).
I happily raised my arm and switched my way out of there confidently! I remember telling myself “I knew I would pass, I mean it is me after all”. I have no idea where this person was during the exam but it was nice to see her haha.
After The Exam
I excitedly turned my documents in to HR at my place of work and received a raised within a month. I was also able to secure a second job due to being licensed! I also practiced self care that night as I cut off all electronics and enjoyed the fact that I had nothing pressing to do. -Check out my recommendations for self care for social workers-
I now have to ensure I receive 40 CEU’s to re-certify every two years. I love that LLR holds LMSW’s accountable and ensures that we continue our education to be able to best serve the community we are in.
When do you take your exam? Need help preparing for it? Are you thinking of becoming a social worker? Tell me your thoughts!