What Do I Do When I Fail the Social Work Exam?

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Sad passing rates, sad profession

For a profession that has such low pay and such a high need in society, I am shocked at the 70% pass rate of the ASWB. Why bother with social work and these kind of stats when you can go become a doctor, lawyer or teacher? Sad. My experience of social workers and the social work profession is one of low self-esteem. the NASW really should advocate for its people more.

Nikki more than 1 year ago

Sad profession

Yes - I have a PhD and dual licensure (psychologist and social worker) and have observed stark differences in the advocacy for psychologists and social workers. Psychologists have autonomy and a voice. The local chapter of the APA lobbies extensively for its members. Social workers are told what to do by people outside the profession, some without bachelors' degrees, and the majority of social workers outside county systems have supervisors outside of our field. As a result, when social workers stand up for our ethics and knowledge base, we are disciplined and considered insubordinate. The local chapter of NASW advocates extensively on social justice issues but almost not at all for the professionals in the field.

In many settings, supervisors for social workers are not in our profession at all. How could they possibly understand our ethics and professional orientation and culture?

In nearly 40 years in the field, I have seen steadily diminishing respect for social work. At the same time, the educational requirements have diminished as well. GREs are no longer needed. Research and statistics courses, which distinguished us from BSWs, have little rigor in some schools of social work. These issues complicate the picture and allow other professions to dominate.

Unless NASW takes a much stronger stand to support the profession, we will no longer be able to function as social workers and our role will be limited to clerk and paraprofessional functions. When leaving my last position, I was asked by non-social work staff "But who will answer the phone for us?" I cannot imagine the same question being asked of my psychologist colleagues. I have written to NASW about the loss of respect and autonomy in our profession and received a reply that the issue was interesting, but I have not observed any change. Sad profession, indeed.

Jane more than 1 year ago

I failed twice

I’m feeling so discouraged and frustrated because I failed the LCSW test twice. The first time by 5 points and this time by one point. I was so devastated when I saw FAIL again only me exam and it’s making we wonder if I should even be a social worker if I can’t pass this test. I’ve been a social worker for 5 years but I can’t pass. I also don’t want to spend any more money on this test and I’m tired of studying honestly. I thought I was prepared and I studied for months. I’m just frustrated and feeling defeated. I plan to take it again but I keep wondering how many times is this going to happen.

Chantel more than 3 years ago


Me too! You’re living in my shoes with the same test results. I feel defeated. I took the practice exam and passed by a point but the actual exam itself was much more difficult at least the second time around. I’m not sure what to study off of to improve my score.I wish the ASWB offers more than 1 practice exam per year or had a more in depth study guide to practice similar to SAT/ACT/regents exams but they don’t.

Dave more than 3 years ago

I failed 4 times

I am reading this late. However, I hope you take the test again not for yourself but for those you want to help. You will pass.

Eva more than 3 years ago

Struggling and Strong

I am going to take my exam for the 6th time. I will pass eventually because of the support of my friends family and tutor. I go through so many feels and emotions but I also taking actions through the guidance of my tutor and friends. Some of these actions were getting accomodations because my tutor discovered some difficulties I was having following my attempts with the tests. Some of the failures was my own lack of preparation with struggling to balance my family, work and studying. I won't give up. I didn't work this hard to give up and I tell my children that all the time. I always say what kind of example would I set for them if I gave up. I will be taking my clinical exam in August 2019

Jennifer more than 3 years ago

LSW Exam

Good luck! did you take it yet? I just took my first LSW exam yesterday and failed. I am so distraught about it as I have been studying room the Dawn Apgar text that should have been similar questions to the test but the first half of the test where of questions I had no clue about. I also had two practice tests that my school gave me in which I scored 84 the first time then I studied and scored 134 the second time and that's when I thought okay I should be ready to take the exam but I was so surprised when 70% of my test were no where near what I studied. I am beating myself up so bad behind this

Cristina more than 3 years ago


You just encouraged me, I pray all goes well. you know 7 is a number of completion so hey you got this, be blessed.

Ann more than 3 years ago

passing test

Hi. my daughter has failed the test twice. I'm wondering what kind of tutoring you got and what accomodations you got? My daughter does have a learning disability. I hope you passed when you took it last August! any help is much appreciated

Jane Farrell more than 2 years ago

Failed my BACHELORS!!

So, I failed the licencing exam for the first time and I'm so disappointed. I made a study book from the practice materials and just knew I was going to pass. Now, I have to wait 90 days. I want to start my career already.

Nya Stanly more than 5 years ago


Did you finally pass?

Amy more than 1 year ago

Alternative licensing program (AMEC)

Anyone that is struggling or has struggled with taking the license exam. Here's some information that may have not been shared in school. If you have failed the exam at least twice within one year by less than 5 points, the Texas board offers an alternative program for licensure.


Lauren more than 6 years ago

Thank you

Thank you for this information. Please note: this applies to licensing applicants in Texas. Check with your state's licensing board to find out if there is an alternate method in your state.

SocialWorker.com more than 6 years ago

not all smart people can be measured by a standardized test

this article is somewhat helpful and somewhat demoralizing. In effect, what Dr's Marson, Kersting and Ms DeAngelis are saying is, "if you can't pass this test, you are most certainly not able to prove you have the minimum competence that assures the licensing board and the public that you can hold a license that proves you are competent and fit to practice." Therefore, if a person can't pass the standardized test which measure various, and some irrelevant to the good work some Social Workers can provide, that members of ASWB have created, that person is neither competent nor fit to provide services in their eyes.
Something about this article which presents itself as a supposed helpful means for those who are struggling to pass this very difficult and myopic exam is very condescending and passive aggressive.

Meraxes more than 7 years ago

Failed twice

I agree with this article, I just took the exam yesterday for the second time and failed it again. I purchased the study guide and practice test from the ASWB cite and reviewed the material and studied for at least three months everyday. I felt more prepared this time than I did two years ago. However, after taking the survey and hinting the submit button was devastating to find out that I failed the exam again. I do not want to put myself under that stress again, and yes, I felt like maybe I am not competent to continue working in the field that I have worked in for the last five years.

Linda more than 7 years ago

Failed twice also

Linda, what test did you take, the LMSW or LCSW? I failed my LCSW test for the second time and that was yesterday by three points. I really don't know what to do. I plan on taking the test for the third time and I hope to pass. but my self esteem and confidence has taken a beating. I too feel like I'm not competent it's quite frustrating. I don't think I'm a good test taker. Sorry to hear about your struggle.

Renee more than 7 years ago

Just failed again

I am struggling with failing again and I felt so prepared but now I dread taking it a third time because the fear of failing. I really love being a social worker and want to be a LCSW. This article was helpful and hopefully the "third time" will be the charm.

Jacqui more than 5 years ago

Failed twice

Hello, I am so disappointed, after spending money in materials which included www.socialworkexam.com, the book of Down Apgar and the ASWB material, I got that my score was lower than the first time. I focused 8 hours a day for two months. I just can say that some of the questions were confusing. Even though I knew the topic, the options provided did not make any sense or were estranged. I do not what to do.

Yahaira more than 5 years ago


Sorry to hear you failed. I failed as well. I was wondering, what are the steps to retake exam. What information do you need to submit to take exam again. Thanks.

Prem more than 5 years ago

Failed Once

I understand how you feel but don't get discouraged. I thought the answers I had on my test didn't make any sense either. I wanted to mark NEITHER for many of my questions. I refused to allow this test to measure my ability to be an effective social worker. I have people thanking me daily for helping them in some aspect of their lives. This test is a money maker...PERIOD! I'm not being bitter but real. The people that I know that have passed barely passed and to read these many blogs I see that this is universal not just in my town or my state. My sister is a nurse and they dedicated a whole semester preparing them for their exam with no tricks and it was included in their tuition. Social workers make less and we don't get that. I'm sick of this and something has to be done. We advocate for others but now we need to stand up to this ridiculous test.

Fenea more than 5 years ago

I have taken the LCSW test for the thied time and failed

I agree somerhing needs to be done regarding this. I have inquired about the stats on the pass rate for this exam and there is little information on it anywhere! You are able to find information on the Bar exam nursing, accounting exam for their cpa license but not on this why is that. I have taken the LSW exam in NJ twice before passing it and that took a year out of my life now having to take this LCSW exam for the 4th time is nerve racking. And to make matters worse i may have to wait a whole year before a can retest again
So yet again my life ans family are put on hold for a year
Is this what NASW wants social workers to deal with
We help ans advocate for our clients advocate and lobby for better treatment and more services for our client but no one mentions any thing about the stress of obtaining licensing wonder why???

Darrel more than 5 years ago

Pass rates

The ASWB exam pass rates are posted on their website. See: https://www.aswb.org/exam-candidates/about-the-exams/pass-rates/

SocialWorker.com more than 5 years ago


After reading this post, I TOTALLY agreed with you. First this is MONEY maker and this profession so burnout and underpaid. I recently took the exam and I failed again after studied for 3 months. I felt so prepared and BOOM failed. The worse thing is we have to wait 90 ridicule days to retake the exam REALLY!!. Yes, in nursing, they prepare you for the test from the beginning and they are better pay with an AAS degree. This is a shame.

Jose Vasquez more than 5 years ago


It really hearts to hear that a Nurse with an AAS degree earns better salary than a social worker with a master's degree.

Dean john more than 3 years ago

more help needed

Thank you for your valuable information.
I am a new Immigrant .I need exam prepration guidance and study materials for LMSW exam..if any one can please help me too.
Thank you.

shyjumon varghese more than 9 years ago

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