To Switch or Not to Switch: Should You Change Your Answers on the ASWB Exam?

To Switch or Not to Switch: Should You Change Your Answers on the ASWB Exam?

Imagine this: you’re in the testing center, clicking through the questions on your ASWB (Association of Social Work Boards) exam. Suddenly, you’re gripped by an unwelcome sense of uncertainty. Should you revisit and possibly change some of your initial answers?

Does this sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone! This dilemma of whether or not to change answers when taking the ASWB exam has rattled many test-takers over the years.

1) To Change or Not to Change: The Psychology

Before diving into the heart of the matter, it’s worth acknowledging the psychological reasons why we question our initial responses. This is due to what psychologists call “response change anxiety”—the fear that changing an answer might lead to a mistake rather than a correct response.

Misgivings and Myths

Often, this anxiety stems from a widely held belief that our first instincts are usually right. After all, hasn’t someone told us at some point in our lives to “trust our gut” or “go with our first instinct”? Well, it’s time to separate the facts from fiction.

2) Deciphering the Dilemma: Should You Change Your Answers on the ASWB Exam?

The Evidence Speaks

Interestingly, research contradicts the common belief that first instincts are generally correct. A study by Justin Kruger, Derrick Wirtz, and Dale Miller found that most changes from an initial response on a test tend to be from incorrect to correct, rather than the other way around.

So, the evidence generally seems to tilt towards answer-changing being a beneficial strategy!

However, before you take this as a blanket endorsement for answer-changing, remember that it’s essential to understand why and when to change an answer.

Blindly following a “change is good” mantra could lead to disastrous results.

Criteria for Change

  • Doubt: If you’re unsure about an answer and a review of the question sparks a revelation, it might be a good idea to change your response.
  • Misread Questions: Often, in the heat of the moment, we may misread or misunderstand a question. During your review, if you find that you’ve done this, don’t hesitate to change your answer.
  • Foundational Knowledge: If, upon review, your foundational knowledge tells you that your initial answer doesn’t make sense, trust your training and experience.

When Not to Change

  • Guesswork: If your plan is to change an answer based purely on a hunch or guesswork, it’s probably better to stick with your original choice.
  • Overthinking: Be wary of overthinking. If you find yourself stuck in a cycle of endless doubt, it may be more beneficial to trust your initial instinct.

3) Your Guide to Mastering the ASWB Exam

Given this, how can you better navigate the tricky terrain of the ASWB exam and be confident about when to change an answer and when not to?

Know the Material

First and foremost, nothing can replace a solid understanding of the course material. The more comfortable you are with the material, the less you’ll second-guess your answers. So, dive into your study materials, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if something isn’t clear! Agents of Change programs cover 30+ topics, include hundreds of practice questions, and provide 2 live study groups per month.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The more you familiarize yourself with the format and types of questions asked in the ASWB exam, the less likely you are to misinterpret or misunderstand a question. Mock tests are your friends here, so use them to your advantage!

We strongly recommend taking our practice exams and the official ASWB practice exam.

Keep a Clear Mind

Remember that stress can cloud judgment and lead to second-guessing. Find stress management techniques that work for you and employ them before and during the exam. Read our blog post on managing test anxiety here.

4) FAQs on Changing ASWB Answers

Q: Should I always change an answer if I’m in doubt?
A: Not necessarily. If your doubt is just due to test anxiety and not because of a misread question or newfound revelation, it might be best to stick with your original choice. Agents of Change offers comprehensive study packages and practice exams to help you pass your ASWB exam: Learn more about Agents of Change here.

Q: What if I don’t have time to review my answers on the ASWB exam?
A: If you find yourself running short on time, focus on answering all questions to the best of your ability initially. Any answer, even if uncertain, is better than leaving a question blank.

Q: What if my gut feeling strongly tells me to change the answer?
A: Your gut feeling can sometimes be an unconscious recognition of a pattern or a fact that you’ve studied. If you feel strongly about a change and can justify it with your foundational knowledge, then it might be a good idea to consider it. However, a gut feeling based on stress or uncertainty may not be as reliable.

Q: Can the strategy of changing answers be applied to any section of the ASWB exam?
A: Yes, the strategy of changing answers can be applied across the board, regardless of the section. However, it’s important to remember the criteria for change: doubt based on solid reasoning, misread questions, and a contradiction with foundational knowledge. Stick to these guidelines and you should be in good shape.

4) Conclusion

So, should you change your answers when taking the ASWB exam? The evidence suggests that, when done strategically and not haphazardly, changing an answer can be beneficial.

Trust your preparation, your understanding of the material, and your ability to reason through difficult questions. Above all, remember, test-taking is a skill that can be improved with practice and experience.

You’ve got this and Agents of Change is here to help!

Want even more detail? Check out our video on the topic!


► 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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