Our Best LMSW Exam Prep Advice


LMSW Exam prep can be key to achieving your goals as a Social Worker. Learn strategies and discover tools that will help you pass the LMSW exam.

Now that you have completed a Master of Social Work degree from an accredited program, it’s time to take the Licensed Social Workers (LMSW) exam. You have many choices for LMSW exam prep. We recommend you look for a program that includes a robust LMSW exam study guide and accompanying materials that can be tailored to your learning style. Quick jump to our step by step study schedule.

Smiling woman uses a laptop to prepare for her LMSW using Social Work Exam Strategies, LLC online tools
Prepare for your LMSW exam with Social Work Exam Strategies, LLC

After completing your Master’s degree, you must register with the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), the national board that oversees and grants permission to take the LMSW exam. In addition, each state has its own set of guidelines and certification requirements for becoming an LMSW, therefore it is important to have an understanding of the rules and regulations that govern your state. Please check here for guidance regarding state requirements. We also recommend you contact your local social work regulatory board for accurate information regarding becoming a LMSW in your specific state.

Why choose LMSW exam prep?

Once you have completed a Master of Social Work degree from an accredited program your next step is to find a study program that will help you prepare for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) licensing exam. Since you have completed your Master’s degree and may already have fieldwork experience, you may be asking yourself why you need to extensively study for the LMSW exam. For the same reasons we study differently for the SAT’s than we do for our high school coursework: the exam presents information in a different manner than you may have experienced during your degree program and subsequent fieldwork. Using study materials that accurately mimic the information on the actual exam is the best way to achieve high marks.

Many people find that simply taking practice exams or conducting cursory review of materials is not enough to pass the ASWB exam. To be successful on exam day a social worker needs to have a deep understanding of both the materials and test strategies. Fortunately, you have affordable and comprehensive LMSW exam prep options available online from tutoring companies like Social Work Exam Strategies, LLC

Social Work Exam Strategies provides an innovative approach to studying for the ASWB exam including teaching strategies for taking the exams, as well as offering material in various formats and presentation styles so that studying is more productive. A comprehensive study program should both familiarize you with the material and help you to become comfortable with the exam format. Social Work Exam Strategies does just that and will prepare you to approach the exam with the confidence you need to pass and become licensed.

When to start preparing for the LMSW exam?

Our experience shows that most people who pass the ASWB licensing exam start studying 8-12 weeks before the exam date, so start preparing early. Once you have authorization from AWSB, you have up to one year to take the exam (although your state board may dictate a shorter time frame), so use that time well! Everybody has their own “ideal study plan.” Consider your situation: Have you recently completed a degree program? Has it been several years since you took a standardized test? Determine where you need the most work, and then plan accordingly.

Next, take a practice test. There are many available online. Taking a practice test will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and create a study plan. Please be sure to dedicate an adequate amount of time to studying for the exam each week to prevent cramming. You are much more likely to stick with a balanced study schedule built around your normal activities. Listen to this TED Talk for some great insights into successful study habits.

Creating a study schedule for the LMSW exam

Everyone has different learning styles and study methods so be sure to create a plan that works for you. The following is a suggested schedule for LMSW exam prep. Use these guidelines to create a plan that is best suited to you.

A sample study schedule for LMSW exam prep

Week 1Read the ASWB Exam Guidebook, and Candidate Rules Agreement thoroughly. Then, choose and purchase a Study Guide and practice tests. Many Study Guides include practice questions and tests; look over your options before you make a choice.
Week 2Take a practice test and review your score. Next, determine the areas where you need the most work. Then, choose and schedule workshops and tutoring sessions.
Week 3Read the complete study guide. This does not have to be an in-depth reading, but you should mark sections where you plan to spend more time. This is an opportunity to create a study plan that uses your time most effectively.
Week 4 – 7Attend the workshops and tutoring sessions. Use these sessions to identify additional areas you need to work on and discuss your problem areas with your coach and peers. Choose one area for each session and limit your study sessions to 90 minutes. (Remember to take a short break every 30 minutes. For example, stand up, walk around, and get a drink of water.)
Week 8Take another practice test. Score your test and create a review plan for the last week based on your assessment results.
Test WeekReview information, including areas of weakness, topics that make you anxious, and areas of strength to help you build confidence. Practice self-care by eating well and getting plenty of sleep.

Develop strategies for LMSW exam questions

Social Work Exam Strategies offers a variety of study materials and interactive learning tools that can be tailored to all learning styles. For example, independent learners who respond well to written information may benefit from using a well-organized study guide, like our Social Work Exam Prep Comprehensive ASWB® Study Guide, offered in both Kindle and paperback formats, or the Social Work Exam PREP Online Program, with a comprehensive study guide and over 900 practice questions.

As Social Workers, we know the value of people helping people, especially when we are all working toward a shared goal. With this in mind, you may benefit from a more interactive setting where you can learn from other students and a classroom instructor. In that case, you will find Social Work Exam Strategies Live Workshops fun and informative. Workshops are divided into two sections: Introductory and Advanced. When paired with the LMSW Study Guide, this option lets you prepare, participate in a class, and review information at your own pace.

Another option for interactive learning is to take advantage of studying with other students by joining and participating in study groups like those on the Social Work Exam Strategies Facebook page. Having a study partner is a proven method of improving your test score; having a partner can help motivate you to become more active in your studies and help you stick to a study schedule.

LMSW exam tutoring options

Test-taking is an acquired skill. In addition to reviewing material, Social Work Exam Strategies provides the SIGNATURE approach to learning exam content and breaking down questions. If you need a more tailored approach to studying for the ASWB exam, then our one-on-one individual tutoring may be right for you. Each one-on-one individual tutoring session is scheduled for one-hour. During that hour, you and the tutor identify problem areas and strengths, and develop a personalized plan to meet your study needs. These tutoring sessions will teach you how to analyze questions and apply the material you have learned. This process will help build your confidence and decrease test-taking anxiety.

Your preparation for taking the LMSW exam should be as unique as you. Choose the elements that best fit your learning style from the choices Social Work Exam Strategies offers. Whether you choose individual tutoring, classroom review or independent study, it is important to create and stick to an exam prep plan.

Using tools and resources on social media for LMSW exam prep

Join the Social Work Exam Strategies Facebook group to get advice and collaborate with others who have already taken the LMSW exam. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and get free tips and strategies. Social Workers also have other great resources such as professional organizations that provide support and direction for those in our profession. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) is the organization that administers the licensure exams, and they offer many tools and supporting information for social workers. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is a vibrant professional organization that exists to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies. Membership in NASW unlocks opportunities to meet and converse with fellow Social Workers. While studying for the LMSW exam, conversations among working Social Workers can help contextualize what you are learning – join the conversation!

Make your life habits part of your study habits

It’s a rare person who doesn’t feel stressed when preparing for a major exam. Your brain responds to how you treat your body, so here are some helpful tips for staying focused and overcoming test-taking anxiety.

  1. Eat well. Foods such as milk, nuts, seeds, rice, and oats help your study efforts by releasing tryptophan, choline, and phenylalanine, which enhance the neurotransmitters associated with memory. Before studying, try a light, protein-rich meal of eggs, turkey, and fish – the better the memory connections, the more you comprehend and retain. Likewise, before you take a test, stick to a light snack of energy-boosting and relaxing foods. For example, a glass of milk, a piece of fruit, or some peanuts all release various memory-boosting chemicals and help you relax and focus on the subject.
  2. Exercise regularly. Take walks, runs, bicycle rides, whatever makes you feel positive and relaxed.
  3. Take “destress” breaks. If you don’t already have an anxiety reduction technique, this is an excellent time to explore relaxation and meditation techniques.

As the exam approaches

  • Read the ASWB Exam Guidebook, and the Candidate Rules Agreement thoroughly before your exam date. These sources contain detailed information about testing procedures and requirements.
  • Keep track of your Authorization to Test email from ASWB and your confirmation email from Pearson VUE.
  • Check your email as your testing appointment approaches. Any notifications from ASWB or Pearson VUE will be sent by email.

On the day of the LMSW exam

  • Bring two forms of identification to the test center. See the Exam Guidebook for details on what IDs are required.
  • Arrive at least 30 minutes before your appointment. Late arrivals are treated as no-shows, and their exam fee is forfeited.
  • Be ready to have your photo taken and the palm of your hand(s) scanned by test center staff for identification purposes.
  • Sign the Candidate Rules Agreement before testing.
  • Retain your unofficial test results after you complete the exam; you cannot get another copy.

Helpful hints

  • Familiarize yourself with the location of your test center before your exam day.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Resist the urge to cram for the exam the night before. During your study journey, you might want to research anti-anxiety and sleep aids. There are numerous videos and podcasts that help with these problems.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and dress in layers.
  • Consider leaving most personal items at home. For example, you may be asked to remove large jewelry, watches, etc.
  • Request earplugs from test center staff, if needed, to minimize distractions.

Remember, you have worked hard, and you know this material. So take your time and answer with confidence. You’ve got this!

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