The ASWB Exam: Scoring Explained

The ASWB Exam: Scoring Explained

Becoming a Social Worker is a journey. It’s a path of determination, compassion, and a relentless pursuit of enhancing the well-being of others. But, before one can step onto this impactful road, there’s a gatekeeper that must be navigated – The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Exam.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain the ASWB Exam scoring system. We’ll sift through the complexities, provide insights into the exam’s structure, and shed light on what scores you need to pass. So strap yourself in, Social Workers, and let’s unravel this together!

1) The Basics: ASWB Exam Structure

What to Expect: The ASWB Exam

The ASWB Exam (Bachelors, Masters, Advanced Generalist, or Clinical) includes 150 scored multiple-choice questions and 20 non-scored “pretest” questions. That’s a grand total of 170 questions you’ll encounter on exam day!

  • The scored questions contribute to your final score.
  • The pretest questions are a form of trial by the ASWB for potential future questions. They are not marked or identifiable – they blend into the exam but don’t affect your score!

The Scoring Basics: How ASWB Scores Your Exam

The ASWB Exam uses a scaled scoring system. But what’s a scaled score, right? It’s a method used by many standardized tests to ensure fairness and consistency across different test versions.

  • Your raw score – the number of questions you answer correctly – is converted into a scaled score.
  • This method allows for slight variations in difficulty among different forms of the exam.

By implementing the scaled scoring system, the ASWB is acknowledging that not all versions of the exam will have the exact same degree of difficulty. For instance, a certain exam form may unintentionally have more complex questions than another, or cover topics that some test takers find more challenging.

Scaled scoring is used to balance these variations. It ensures that a specific scaled score represents the same level of proficiency, regardless of which version of the exam was taken.

To calculate this, statistical techniques are employed that take into account the difficulty of each question on the test. This way, a candidate who answers a larger number of difficult questions correctly might end up with a similar scaled score to a candidate who correctly answers a larger number of easier questions.

The goal is to create an equitable scoring system that appropriately measures each candidate’s competence in the field of Social Work.

2) Getting Down to Details: ASWB Exam Scoring Explained

Scaled Scores: The Key to Fairness

Each version of the ASWB Exam aims to assess the same knowledge and skills, but there might be slight variations in difficulty. The scaled scoring system helps level the playing field.

The Magic Number: What Score Do You Need to Pass?

The million-dollar question! What’s the magic number that will need to pass?

The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) does not disclose the specific raw score (i.e., the actual number of correct questions) required to pass their exams. They employ a scaled scoring system, which means the raw score required to pass can fluctuate depending on the version of the test and its level of difficulty.

However, it is generally understood that you need to answer between 60% to 70% of the 150 scored questions correctly to pass, depending on the exam’s difficulty level.

To break it down, this could mean:

  • For the Bachelors and Advanced Generalist Exams, where the passing scaled score is 70, a candidate might need to correctly answer somewhere between 90 and 105 questions out of 150.
  • For the Masters and Clinical Exams, where the passing scaled score is 75, a candidate might need to correctly answer around 94 to 105 questions out of 150.

These are approximations based on the passing scaled scores and the general consensus regarding the exam’s difficulty. The exact number may vary for different versions of the exam, which is why a specific range is not officially provided by the ASWB.

Therefore, the best strategy is to aim for as high a raw score as possible, while focusing on mastering the knowledge and skills needed in the field of Social Work.

3) Your ASWB Exam Results: What Happens After You Click ‘Submit’?

Right Away: Pass/Fail Results, Your Score, and Breakdown

Right after you submit your exam, you’ll receive your results and a Pass or Fail. You’ll also learn how many questions you answered correctly and how you performed on each section of the Exam.

The Waiting Game: License Issued By Your Jurisdiction

If you passed your exam, your license will be issued by your jurisdiction’s Social Work board and typically will arrive within two weeks of your exam date.

4) FAQs on ASWB Exam Scoring

Q: Is there a penalty for wrong answers on the ASWB Exam?
A: No, there isn’t! It’s always better to take a guess than to leave a question unanswered.

Q: How often can I retake the ASWB Exam if I don’t pass?
A: You can retake the exam 90 days after your last attempt, up to three times in a calendar year. But let’s aim for passing on the first go! Agents of Change can help!

Q: Do the 20 pretest questions on the ASWB Exam look different from the scored ones?
A: Not at all. They’re dispersed throughout the exam and look identical to the scored questions.

Q: How long is the ASWB Exam?
A: The ASWB Exam takes 4 hours to complete. It might seem like a long time, but with 170 questions to answer, you’ll appreciate every minute. Plan your time wisely to ensure you can thoughtfully answer each question. We recommend taking at least 1 full-length practice exam with a timer so you are ready for test day. Agents of Change offers 2 full-length practice tests here.

4) Conclusion

Decoding the ASWB Exam scoring can feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Once you get a grip on the structure of the exam and the scaled scoring system, you’re well on your way to acing the exam.

Remember, each question is a step closer to your dream of becoming a licensed Social Worker. So study hard, understand the scoring, and keep your eye on the prize – a rewarding career making a difference in others’ lives.

You’re on your way to mastering the ASWB exam, Social Workers. Good luck! You’ve got this and Agents of Change is here to help!


► Learn more about the Agents of Change course here:

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!

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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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