What are the Similarities and Differences Between the Masters (LMSW) and Clinical (LCSW) ASWB Exams?

What are the Similarities and Differences Between the Masters (LMSW) and Clinical (LCSW) ASWB Exams?

Obtaining a degree such as a Master of Social Work (MSW) is a major accomplishment and shows that an individual is competent in the field of social work. But licensure requirements are also an essential aspect of succeeding in the social work profession.

There are several types of licenses an individual may want to obtain. More details on these licenses and the levels they are offered by state can be found in this post: Social Work Licensing Requirements By State

Many people are also interested in learning about the Masters and Clinical ASWB exam differences. The following explains the similarities and differences between the Masters (LMSW) and Clinical (LCSW) ASWB exams.

What is the Masters ASWB Exam?

This particular ASWB exam is for students who have finished a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. Every state has specific requirements for receiving a social work license.

The Masters exam contains 170 multiple-choice questions. Randomly spread throughout the exam are twenty questions that won’t be graded or counted. These questions are used for data purposes and are potential questions that will be put on future exams. The Masters test contains the following sections:

  • Human Development, Diversity, and Behavior / 27% – This is the largest section of the Masters Exam. It focuses on human growth, social and economic justice, and concepts regarding neglect and abuse.
  • Professional Relationships, Values, and Ethics / 25% – This part of the exam will test knowledge in the areas of relational matters, ethical situations, and legal aspects.
  • Interventions with Clients and Client Systems / 24% – This part is about how social workers interact with clients in existing systems such as healthcare and the criminal justice system.
  • Assessment and Intervention Planning / 24% – This focuses on assessment methods and best practices for intervention.

What is the Clinical ASWB Exam?

The Clinical level ASWB exam is also given by the Association of Social Work Board (ASWB). States may give different titles to professionals who pass the ASWB Clinical exam. Most states use the title LCSW or LICSW. The purpose of the test is to assess knowledge in the field of clinical social work. For example, a student will likely have questions based on diagnoses that a social worker would likely encounter in everyday practice.

The Clinical test consists of 170 questions, like all ASWB exams. Students will have four hours to complete the exam, and there are also twenty questions that won’t be scored. Each of the multiple-choice questions has four potential answers. According to the ASWB, the exam contains the following sections:

  • Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment Planning / 30% – This section includes questions regarding techniques and instruments to evaluate clients, and knowledge of the 5th edition of the DSM.
  • Psychotherapy, Clinical Interventions, and Case Management / 27% – This part covers case management issues, intervention models, and client/counselor relationships.
  • Human Development, Diversity, and Behavior / 24% – This will cover elements of social development, personality theories, and different parts of the human lifecycle.
  • Professional Values and Ethics / 19% – This section covers confidentiality, ethical issues, and professional development.

What are the Similarities Between Each Exam?

Masters and Clinical ASWB exam similarities include the following:

  • The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) creates each social work exam and also administers them. The exams are completed on a computer and are made up of multiple-choice questions.
  • Both the Masters and Clinical ASWB exams have 170 questions and 20 uncounted, tester questions.
  • Both exams are four hours long.
  • Both have vignette questions regarding realistic situations social workers would face on a daily basis.
  • Overall, a large amount of the content is the same or similar in both exams.

What are the Differences Between Each Exam?

When considering the differences between Masters and Clinical ASWB exams, the following are important points to know.

  • A primary difference between Masters and Clinical exams is that the Clinical ASWB exam is the most challenging and the final exam offered.
  • The Assessment section includes diagnosis on the Clinical ASWB exam.
  • Those who pass the Masters ASWB Exam need to work under the supervision of a psychiatrist, licensed psychologist, or LCSW to provide mental health services or clinical therapy.
  • Those with an LCSW license can independently provide mental health services or clinical therapy.

How Can You Prepare For Each Exam?

There are several tips that will help you prepare whether you’re taking the Masters ASWB exam or the Clinical ASWB exam.

  • If you’re still pursuing your degree, you’ll want to save some of your study materials as they will likely help you prepare for the exam.
  • Carefully check each state’s requirements so you’ll be sure to prepare for the right test.
  • You’ll definitely want to take several practice tests. Agents of Change provides a variety of masters exam resources.
  • There are also practice tests and other resources available for the clinical exam.  Agents of Change offers packages that include different combinations of study resources, so you can find what’s perfect for you.
  • Implement a variety of methods when preparing for your exam. Besides test preps, consider working with a study group.

After a student completes the exam, the ASWB will grade the test and send the results to the correct state licensure board. Making sure you’re prepared for either exam won’t be too difficult if you start early by prepping with the best resources available!

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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