Thursday, February 21, 2013

Maybe the ASWB exam is easier than you think

A provocative post--How to Prepare for the LCSW Exam--points to a different, potentially anxiety-reducing approach to the test:  Skip the questions! 
[T]wo sample questions provided in ASWB’s Candidate Handbook...brought to mind some research by Albright and Thyer (2010). Albright and Thyer gave the Clinical practice test (from the $30 Study Guide) to 59 first-year MSW students. More precisely, they gave the answers only, without the questions. In other words, the MSW students were looking at something like this:
(A) Work with the foster parents on a behavior modification plan
(B) Suggest that the child’s teacher refer him for special education placement
(C) Refer the child for assessment for fetal alcohol syndrome
(D) Work with the child’s biological mother toward reunification
and that’s all. There was no question; just the four possible answers to choose from. These 59 MSW students had to guess what the question was about, or just forget that and try to imagine which answer would be most favored by ASWB. Logically, these MSW students should have been right about 25% of the time: they would guess one out of four at random, making them wrong, on average, for three out of every four questions they answered. Ah, but that’s not what happened. According to Albright and Thyer, these 59 MSW students averaged a score of 52%. Not bad, considering that ASWB said that states tend to require correct answers on between 94 and 107 (i.e., between 63% and 71%) of the 150 scored questions on the exam. Mere guessing, without anything other than the wording of the possible answer, could apparently be almost enough to put a person over the line.

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