I know I normally post the week's blog entry earlier in the day, but today I was busy... taking the LMSW test. And I passed.
So, while it may take me some time to change business cards, replace the nameplates on my office door and desk, and to get used to my new signature, I thought I'd share a few tips for those who are preparing for their own test date.
1. The practice test is seriously crucial; it prepares you to understand how it works and several of the questions are almost identical to the practice test, so seeing their reasoning behind the answer (and knowing whether you can correctly answer the question) is huge… and very reassuring to find a question you already know when you’re mid-test.
I took it a week before I was going to test to get a good feel of whether I was ready, almost ready, or nowhere near ready and needed to spend the $30 to reschedule. For me, it was better to use as a measuring tool than as a study guide.
2. Study guides recommend that a test-taker be prepared for questions that deal with what you should do first or next, given a specific scenario. The key word (first or next) is written in capitalized, bolded letters. Pay attention. Most of the time, it comes down to 2 totally wrong and 2 maybe right answers. Of the 2 that might be correct, they’re probably both things you’d do but because it asks for an order, you can normally figure out which of the 2 makes sense to do 1st vs. 2nd, which gives you your answer.
3. Pay attention to the depression commercials, there are expected to be a few questions on what drug is used to treat what illness, but they’re meant to be basic so you’ll likely know the answer if you’ve seen the commercials for Paxil and such.
4. Some of the questions have wordy scenarios (“a social worker at another agency where you used to work works now with a supervisor of your colleague at an agency where you are applying…”) It helps to give the people names to keep track of who’s whom (“Jen who works at ABC Corp. now works with Stacey, who supervises Amy at XYZ. I am applying to work at XYZ.”)
5. There may be a few questions where the answer choices contain words or diagnoses you might not recognize at all. Rather than freaking out, narrow it down based on eliminating the answer options that you do know and words you have heard of that are clearly not correct. If the only answer remaining is the mystery word, it's likely that you can trust it because it couldn’t be the other choices.
6. The strategy that worked for me was to go through the test and mark anything I wasn’t sure about and just move on. I didn’t waste any time on those or worry about whether I should know the answer or whatnot. I went through and answered the ones I was certain of and marked anything I wasn’t completely sure of. That way, I could knock out what I knew and feel like a rockstar as I went because I knew. It also lowered my stress about the marathon that is 170 questions. From there, I went through each of the marked questions, which accounted for about 30. It was far easier for me to answer these now since a) I’d gotten used to the way questions were worded on the ones I did know well and b) tackling 30ish questions felt far less daunting than 170. Then I repeated this over and over, leaving me with fewer questions each time and spending more time on each. That way, for the last few, instead of feeling frustrated, I could focus on how much time I had left and knowing that it was the last bit before I was totally done.
7. At the end, you have to answer a survey about your test center before they tell you whether you passed. The feeling in your stomach that makes you kind of want to vomit right before you click to find out is, I’m pretty sure, normal.
8. Make sure to read the print out that the test center gives you as you leave, it has important info on it about what you need to do next and it’s a record to keep until you have your license in a frame on your wall.
PS Another great tip or two? Check out the preparation chat sessions at socialworkchat.org so you can have a review/learning session in your own home and, if you're lucky enough to live near Susan Mankita in South FL, take her prep class! (Thanks to all who studied with me during chat sessions and to Susan for all of her prep assistance -among a million other things)
Welcome to The New Social Worker's Blog
The New Social Worker is the quarterly magazine for social work students and recent graduates, focusing on social work careers for those new to the profession. This blog is a companion to the free online magazine at http://www.socialworker.com.
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