Have you ever read a test question and found yourself confused as to which one is right? For all you know, all the answers seem “reasonable” and it’s a matter of determining the most reasonable one, right? Wrong. In fact, questions on the ASWB exam are strategically set up to be situational. Often, my students find themselves stuck between two answers and can’t determine which one is right.
“So, how do I tell which one is right?” Here’s a useful strategy:
Ask yourself what the question is about.
Seems simple, right? However, we all get flustered with time limits, complex content, anxiety, distractions, etc. Sometimes, our focus on answering the questions overcomes our understanding of the question content. Asking yourself what the question is about puts into perspective the content you need to recall for this question. This will allow you to keep in mind the key concept as you go through answers.
Here’s an example:
Mrs. Smith is meeting with a social worker to learn better ways to parent. She describes her three boys as “wild and unruly”, mentioning that her husband was the one who they listened to. Since their separation three months ago, she describes getting easily frustrated with her boys, feeling unsure about what to do to manage their behavior. To best help the family, the social worker should first:
A) Assess Mrs. Smith for depression.
B) Suggest she join a “Women In Transition" group .
C) Schedule a home visit to observe the interactions between her client and the children.
D) Schedule a meeting with both parents.
Now, ask yourself: What is this Question About?
Some possible answers that may come to mind:
1 – Indicators of depression?
2 – Help with the emotional/practical impact of separation?
3 – How to teach child management techniques?
4 – Who should be involved to solve the presenting problem?
The question clearly states her goal in the very first sentence: is to improve her parenting skills.. At the same time it describes the recent parental separation, and her problematic reactions to manage the boys on her own.. Therefore “A” is the first step toward assessing the situation. You are meeting with her and can then ask her questions to assess her mood and mental state in private. Then, if home visits are permitted you may further assess. the behaviors in the natural setting that will be the target of change.. The central concept here is the importance of doing a thorough assessment before proceeding to intervene. Identifying the concept being illustrated by the question can be a very useful tool to keep you positioned on the path to the correct answer. Try this technique on other practice questions to see if it helps!
Idelle Datlof, LISW-S is the founder of Passitpro which offers Online preparation tools for social workers across the U.S. You can learn more and read more blog posts like this one at: passitpro.com