What are the Similarities and Differences Between the Bachelors (BSW) and Masters (LMSW) ASWB Exams?

What are the Similarities and Differences Between the Bachelors (BSW) and Masters (LMSW) ASWB Exams?

There are several Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exams that those hoping to obtain licensure can take. Each level of the ASWB exams is specific to different levels of education and practice. There are tests at the bachelors, masters, advanced generalist, and clinical levels. Those pursuing a career in social work must obtain a state license, no matter what level they’re hoping to work at.

To receive each type of license, a student needs to take and pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam. The particular requirements to obtain a license will vary by state. Each test, however, will cover similar topics and categories. The level of education a student has will determine which exam needs to be taken. LMSW is the Licensed Master Social Worker credential for those who have passed the Masters ASWB exam. BSW is the Bachelor of Social Worker credential for those who have passed the Bachelor ASWB exam

Each particular licensing exam will cover an extensive range of subjects that are relevant to what social workers will encounter in their professional practice. The goal of the different examinations is to determine if the students have the knowledge to work effectively in the field. Before understanding BSW vs LMSW, the similarities and the differences, it’s important to know exactly what is in each exam.

What is in Each Exam?

1. Bachelors Exam ASWB

The basic topics covered in the BSW exam include the following:

  • Assessment / 29% of Exam – This section includes questions regarding concepts of abuse and neglect, assessment methods and techniques, and biopsychosocial components.
  • Intervention with Clients and Client Systems / 26% of Exam – This part includes questions about crisis situations and intervention processes and techniques.
  • Human Development, Behavior in the Environment, and Diversity / 25% of Exam – This area involves questions about all areas of human development such as physical, sexual, and spiritual. It also includes social and economic justice issues.
  • Professional Relationships, Values, and Ethics / 20% of Exam – This part involves legal, ethical, and confidentiality issues.

2. Masters Exam ASWB

The topics covered in the masters exam are as follows:

  • Human Development, Behavior in the Environment, and Diversity / 27% of Exam – For the masters exam, this part is about concepts of neglect and abuse, human growth and development, couples development, family dynamics, addiction, and social and economic justice.
  • Professional Relationships, Values, and Ethics / 25% of Exam – This segment focuses on how a social worker handles relational matters both legally and ethically.
  • Interventions with Clients and Client Systems / 24% of Exam – This section involves social work practices working in systems such as healthcare or criminal justice. This part of the test is about how social workers interact with different clients in these different contexts.
  • Assessment and Intervention Planning / 24% of Exam – This part of the test includes best practices regarding assessment methods and intervention. It also includes biopsychosocial aspects.

What are the Similarities Between the Exams?

Bachelors and masters ASWB exam similarities include the following:

  • Both exams have the same general categories.
  • Each exam has the same format, the same number of questions, and the same amount of time to complete.
  • Each exam has 170 multiple-choice questions.
  • Each student is given 4 hours to complete the exam.
  • Students are allowed to take a brief restroom break, but the clock won’t stop during this time.
  • Out of 170 questions, 20 will not be scored. These 20 are used for data collection.
  • Only 150 questions determine whether an individual passes the test.
  • Test takers won’t know which 20 are not scored, so it’s important to carefully answer all 170 questions.
  • If an individual does not pass the test, the same questions won’t be repeated on any future tests.

What are the Differences Between the Exams?

Bachelors and masters ASWB exam differences include the following:

  • The primary difference between BSW and LMSW is that the BSW is for those who have completed a bachelors degree, while the LMSW is for those with a masters degree.
  • The pass rate for the bachelors exam was 67.6% in 2021. The first time pass rate for the masters exam was 74.5%.
  • Even though the masters exam is not a clinical exam, some of the questions may be about diagnostics.
  • The purpose of the bachelors exam is for basic generalist practice for the baccalaureate in social work.
  • The purpose of the masters exam is the practice of masters social work that includes applying advanced practice skills and specialized knowledge.

What is the Best Way to Prepare for Each Exam?

A practical tip for both tests includes narrowing down from the four potential answers to the three best. Then narrow these down to the two best, and finally select the best answer. There are 170 questions and a person will need to get 70 to 75% of the questions right to pass.

When preparing for the ASWB Bachelor’s Exam, you’ll want to find the best prep materials available. Agents of Change provides a bachelors exam ASWB prep course that will help you prepare to pass the test. You’ll want to engage in a variety of pre-test study methods to ensure you have the best chance possible of passing your test. This includes taking part in interactive study groups and taking several practice tests.

When preparing for the ASWB Masters Exam, it’s advised to study using supplemental materials as well. Agents of Change offers masters-level preparation to help you pass your state examination. Giving yourself plenty of time to prepare and using the best practice materials available will help increase your chance of passing your test!

Agents of Change can help you prepare for and pass social work exams. They provide a variety of great resources, including video tutorials and free practice questions. Visit Agents of Change today for more information.


► Learn more about the course here: https://agentsofchangeprep.com/

About the Instructor, Meagan Mitchell: Meagan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been providing individualized and group test prep for the ASWB for over five years. From all of this experience helping others pass their exams, she created the Agents of Change course to help you prepare for and pass the ASWB exam!

Find more from Agents of Change here:

► Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/aswbtestprep

► Podcast: https://anchor.fm/agents-of-change-sw

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Disclaimer: This content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment


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