Social Work ASWB Masters Exam Guide, Second Edition: A Comprehensive Study Guide for Success

Social Work ASWB Masters Exam Guide, Second Edition: A Comprehensive Study Guide for Success

by Dawn Apgar PhD, LSW, ACSW

Paperback(Study Guid)

View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Friday, September 20


Note to Readers: Publisher does not guarantee quality or access to any included digital components if book is purchased through a third-party seller.

Updated to reflect ASWB’s revised 2018 test blueprint used for test construction.

Now with a free mobile & web app with print purchase!

Written by a renowned social work educator rather than an unknown at a test preparation company, this thoroughly updated guide helps readers identify their weak areas so they know what to focus on to pass the ASWB® Masters licensure exam! Reviewers applaud the book’s unique test-taking tips and strategies, which are based on the author’s extensive knowledge of the exam. A thorough review of the four content areas of the updated Masters exam is provided. The 170-question practice test with explanations of the correct answers mirrors the actual exam in length and structure. This invaluable guide has been praised by social workers across the country as essential to passing the ASWB® Masters Exam on the first attempt!


• Updated to reflect ASWB’s revised 2018 test blueprint used for test construction.
• Content available via an app in addition to the print version so test takers can study using multiple mediums.
• Written by a renowned social work educator who has helped thousands of test takers pass the exam through her invaluable workshops.
• Provides a thorough content review of the four core areas of the updated Masters examination: human development, diversity, and behavior in the environment; assessment and intervention planning; interventions with clients/client systems; and professional relationships, values and ethics.
• Readers applaud the invaluable tips for how to read the questions, overcome test anxiety, avoid common pitfalls, and assess one’s learning style, all of which help foster exam confidence.
• Begins with a self-assessment to help identify areas of strength and weakness.
• A full practice test with 170 questions that mirrors the actual ASWB® Masters Exam in length, structure, and content, with detailed explanations of the correct answers.
• Identifies the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities statements (KSAs) for each question so test-takers can easily locate relevant source materials for further study.
• Questions are distinct from those in the author’s second edition Social Work ASWB® Masters Practice Test.

App included!

• Includes all the high-quality content from the book!
• Information at your fingertips anytime, anywhere.
• Available on iOS, Android, and the web, with a powerful, simple-to-use interface.
• 335+ board-style questions and answers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826147110
Publisher: Springer Publishing Company
Publication date: 10/20/2017
Edition description: Study Guid
Pages: 446
Sales rank: 50,629
Product dimensions: 8.40(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Dawn Apgar, PhD, LSW, ACSW, has helped thousands of social workers across the country pass the ASWB examinations associated with all levels of licensure. In recent years, she has consulted in numerous states to assist with establishing licensure test preparation programs.

Dr. Apgar has done research on licensure funded by the American Foundation for Research and Consumer Education in Social Work Regulation and was chairperson of her state's social work licensing board. She is a past President of the New Jersey Chapter of NASW and has been on its National Board of Directors. In 2014, the Chapter presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Apgar has taught in both undergraduate and graduate social work programs and has extensive direct practice, policy, and management experience in the social work field.

Table of Contents


New in the Second Edition


About the Examination

10 Things That You Should Know About the ASWB Examinations

Test-Taking Strategies and Tips

10 Essential Strategies for Study Success

20 Tips You Need to Use to Answer Questions Correctly

Assessing Examination Difficulties

Dealing With Test Anxiety

Examination Content

Visual Learners

Auditory Learners

Kinesthetic or Hands-On Learners


Unit I: Human Development, Diversity, and Behavior in the Environment (27%)

1. Human Growth and Development

Theories of Human Development Throughout the Lifespan (e.g., Physical, Social, Emotional, Cognitive, Behavioral)

Social Development

Emotional Development

Cognitive Development

Behavioral Development

The Indicators of Normal and Abnormal Physical, Cognitive, Emotional, and Sexual Development Throughout the Lifespan

Child Development

Adolescent Development

Adult Development

Theories of Sexual Development Throughout the Lifespan

Theories of Spiritual Development Throughout the Lifespan

Theories of Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Development Throughout the Lifespan

The Effects of Physical, Mental, and Cognitive Disabilities Throughout the Lifespan

The Interplay of Biological, Psychological, Social, and Spiritual Factors

Basic Human Needs

The Principles of Attachment and Bonding

The Effect of Aging on Biopsychosocial Functioning

The Impact of Aging Parents on Adult Children


Personality Theories






Theories of Conflict

Factors Influencing Self-Image (e.g., Culture, Race, Religion/Spirituality, Age, Disability, Trauma)

Body Image and Its Impact (e.g., Identity, Self-Esteem, Relationships, Habits)

Parenting Skills and Capacities

Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritative Parenting

Permissive Parenting

Uninvolved Parenting

The Effects of Addiction and Substance Abuse on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Feminist Theory

The Impact of Out-of-Home Placement (e.g., Hospitalization, Foster Care, Residential Care, Criminal Justice System) on Clients/Client Systems

Basic Principles of Human Genetics

The Family Life Cycle

Family Dynamics and Functioning and the Effects on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Theories of Couples Development

The Impact of Physical and Mental Illness on Family Dynamics

Psychological Defense Mechanisms and Their Effects on Behavior and Relationships

Addiction Theories and Concepts

Substance Use Disorder

Non-Substance-Related Disorders

Goals of Treatment

Stages of Treatment

Treatment Approaches

Systems and Ecological Perspectives and Theories

Applications to Social Work

Some System Theory Terms

Role Theories

Theories of Group Development and Functioning

Key Concepts

Theories of Social Change and Community Development

The Dynamics of Interpersonal Relationships

Models of Family Life Education in Social Work Practice

Strengths-Based and Resilience Theories

The Impact of Stress, Trauma, and Violence

Crisis Intervention Theories

Theories of Trauma-Informed Care

The Impact of the Environment (e.g., Social, Physical, Cultural, Political, Economic) on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

The Effects of Life Events, Stressors, and Crises on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Person-in-Environment (PIE) Theory

Communication Theories and Styles

Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic Approaches

Psychoanalytic Theory

Psychosexual Stages of Development

Individual Psychology

Self Psychology

Ego Psychology

Object Relations Theory

The Impact of Caregiving on Families

The Dynamics and Effects of Loss, Separation, and Grief

2. Concepts of Abuse and Neglect

Indicators and Dynamics of Abuse and Neglect Throughout the Lifespan

Indicators and Dynamics of Sexual Abuse

Indicators and Dynamics of Psychological Abuse and Neglect

Indicators and Dynamics of Physical Abuse and Neglect

The Effects of Physical, Sexual, and Psychological Abuse on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

The Indicators, Dynamics, and Impact of Exploitation Across the Lifespan (e.g., Financial, Immigration Status, Sexual Trafficking)

The Characteristics of Perpetrators of Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation

3. Diversity, Social/Economic Justice, and Oppression

The Effect of Disability on Biopsychosocial Functioning Throughout the Lifespan

The Effect of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity on Behaviors, Attitudes, and Identity

White American

American Indian/Alaska Native


African American

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander


The Effects of Discrimination and Stereotypes on Behaviors, Attitudes, and Identity

The Influence of Sexual Orientation on Behaviors, Attitudes, and Identity

The Impact of Transgender and Transitioning Process on Behaviors, Attitudes, Identity, and Relationships

Systemic (Institutionalized) Discrimination (e.g., Racism, Sexism, Ageism)

The Principles of Culturally Competent Social Work Practice

Sexual Orientation Concepts

Gender and Gender Identity Concepts

Social and Economic Justice

The Effect of Poverty on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

The Impact of Social Institutions on Society






Criminal Justice Systems

The Impact of Globalization on Clients/Client Systems (e.g., Interrelatedness of Systems, International Integration, Technology, Environmental or Financial Crises, Epidemics)

Unit II: Assessment and Intervention Planning (24%)

4. Biopsychosocial History and Collateral Data

The Components of a Biopsychosocial Assessment

The Components and Function of the Mental Status Examination

Biopsychosocial Responses to Illness and Disability

Biopsychosocial Factors Related to Mental Health

Biological Factors

Psychological Factors

Social Factors

The Indicators of Psychosocial Stress

Basic Medical Terminology

The Indicators of Mental and Emotional Illness Throughout the Lifespan

The Types of Information Available From Other Sources (e.g., Agency, Employment, Medical, Psychological, Legal, or School Records)

Components of a Sexual History

Components of a Family History

Methods to Obtain Sensitive Information (e.g., Substance Abuse, Sexual Abuse)

The Indicators of Addiction and Substance Abuse

Signs of Drug Use

The Indicators of Somatization

Co-Occurring Disorders and Conditions

Symptoms of Neurologic and Organic Disorders

The Indicators of Sexual Dysfunction

Methods Used to Assess Trauma

The Indicators of Traumatic Stress and Violence

Common Psychotropic and Non-Psychotropic Prescriptions and Over-the-Counter Medications and Their Side Effects


Antimanic Agents (Mood Stabilizers)


Antianxiety Drugs


Common Prescription Medications

5. Assessment Methods and Techniques

The Factors and Processes Used in Problem Formulation

Methods of Involving Clients/Client Systems in Problem Identification (e.g., Gathering Collateral Information)

Use of Collateral Sources

Techniques and Instruments Used to Assess Clients/Client Systems

Beck Depression Inventory

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory

Myers–Briggs Type Indicator

Rorschach Inkblot Test

Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scale

Thematic Apperception Test

Wechsler Intelligence Scale

Methods to Incorporate the Results of Psychological and Educational Tests Into Assessment

Risk Assessment Methods

The Indicators and Risk Factors of the Client’s/Client System’s Danger to Self and Others

Danger to Self: Suicide

Danger to Others: Violence

Methods to Assess the Client’s/Client System’s Strengths, Resources, and Challenges (e.g., Individual, Family, Group, Organization, Community)

Methods to Assess Motivation, Resistance, and Readiness to Change

Methods to Assess the Client’s/Client System’s Communication Skills

Methods to Assess the Client’s/Client System’s Coping Abilities

The Indicators of Client’s/Client System’s Strengths and Challenges

Methods to Assess Ego Strengths

Placement Options Based on Assessed Level of Care

The Use of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association

The Indicators of Behavioral Dysfunction

Methods to Develop, Review, and Implement Crisis Plans

The Principles and Features of Objective and Subjective Data

Basic and Applied Research Design and Methods

Types of Research

Single-Subject Research

Data Collection and Analysis Methods

Methods to Assess Reliability and Validity in Social Work Research

6. Intervention Planning

Methods to Involve Clients/Client Systems in Intervention Planning

The Indicators of Motivation, Resistance, and Readiness to Change

Cultural Considerations in the Creation of an Intervention Plan

The Criteria Used in the Selection of Intervention/Treatment Modalities (e.g., Client/Client System Abilities, Culture, Life Stage)

The Components of Intervention, Treatment, and Service Plans


The Impact of Immigration, Refugee, or Undocumented Status on Service Delivery

Discharge, Aftercare, and Follow-Up Planning

Unit III: Interventions With Clients/Client Systems (24%)

7. Intervention Processes and Techniques for Use Across Systems

The Principles and Techniques of Interviewing (e.g., Supporting, Clarifying, Focusing, Confronting, Validating, Feedback, Reflecting Language Differences, Use of Interpreters, Redirecting)

The Phases of Intervention and Treatment

Problem-Solving Models and Approaches (e.g., Brief, Solution-Focused Methods or Techniques)

Short-Term Interventions

Methods to Engage and Motivate Clients/Client Systems

Methods to Engage and Work With Involuntary Clients/Client Systems

Methods to Obtain and Provide Feedback

The Principles of Active Listening and Observation

Verbal and Nonverbal Communication Techniques

The Concept of Congruence in Communication

Limit Setting Techniques

The Technique of Role Play

Role Modeling Techniques

Techniques for Harm Reduction for Self and Others

Methods to Teach Coping and Other Self-Care Skills to Clients/Client Systems

Client/Client System Self-Monitoring Techniques

Methods of Conflict Resolution

Crisis Intervention and Treatment Approaches

Methods and Approaches to Trauma-Informed Care

Anger Management Techniques

Relaxation Exercises

Cognitive Techniques

Communication Skills

Environmental Change

Stress Management Techniques

Cognitive and Behavioral Interventions

Steps in Cognitive Restructuring

Strengths-Based and Empowerment Strategies and Interventions

Client/Client System Contracting and Goal-Setting Techniques

Change Strategies

Partializing Techniques

Assertiveness Training

Task-Centered Approaches

Psychoeducation Methods (e.g., Acknowledging, Supporting, Normalizing)

Group Work Techniques and Approaches (e.g., Developing and Managing Group Processes and Cohesion)

Family Therapy Models, Interventions, and Approaches

Strategic Family Therapy

Structural Family Therapy

Bowenian Family Therapy

Couples Interventions and Treatment Approaches

The Impact of Out-of-Home Displacement (e.g., Natural Disaster, Homelessness, Immigration) on Clients/Client Systems

Permanency Planning

Mindfulness and Complementary Therapeutic Approaches

The Components of Case Management

Techniques Used for Follow-Up

The Elements of a Case Presentation

Methods to Develop and Evaluate Measurable Objectives for Client/Client System Intervention, Treatment, and/or Service Plans

Techniques Used to Evaluate a Client’s/Client System’s Progress

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Prevention Strategies

Primary Prevention

Secondary Prevention

Tertiary Prevention

The Indicators of Client/Client System Readiness for Termination

Methods, Techniques, and Instruments Used to Evaluate Social Work Practice

Evidence-Based Practice

Case Recording for Practice Evaluation or Supervision

Consultation Approaches (e.g., Referrals to Specialists)

The Process of Interdisciplinary and Intradisciplinary Team Collaboration

The Basic Terminology of Professions Other Than Social Work (e.g., Legal, Educational)

The Principles of Case Recording, Documentation, and Management of Practice Records

8. Intervention Processes and Techniques for Use With Larger Systems

Methods to Establish Program Objectives and Outcomes

Methods to Assess the Availability of Community Resources

Methods of Service Delivery

Theories and Methods of Advocacy for Policies, Services, and Resources to Meet Clients’/Client Systems’ Needs

Methods to Create, Implement, and Evaluate Policies and Procedures That Minimize Risk for Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Concepts of Social Policy Development and Analysis

Techniques to Inform and Influence Organizational and Social Policy


Social, Political, and Economic Conditions/Resources

Legal Issues/Laws

Institutional Influences

External Influences

The Principles and Processes for Developing Formal Documents (e.g., Proposals, Letters, Brochures, Pamphlets, Reports, Evaluations)

Methods to Establish Service Networks or Community Resources

Community Organizing and Social Planning Methods

Methods of Networking

Techniques for Mobilizing Community Participation

Governance Structures

Theories of Organizational Development and Structure

Classical Organizational Theories

Neoclassical Theories

Modern Organizational Approaches

The Effects of Policies, Procedures, Regulations, and Legislation on Social Work Practice and Service Delivery

Quality Assurance, Including Program Reviews and Audits by External Sources

The Impact of the Political Environment on Policy-Making

Leadership and Management Techniques

Fiscal Management Techniques

Educational Components, Techniques, and Methods of Supervision

Methods to Identify Learning Needs and Develop Learning Objectives for Supervisees

The Effects of Program Evaluation Findings on Services

Methods to Evaluate Agency Programs (e.g., Needs Assessment, Formative/Summative Assessment, Cost Effectiveness, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Outcomes Assessment)

Unit IV: Professional Relationships, Values, and Ethics (25%)

9. Professional Values and Ethical Issues

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Related to the Practice of Social Work, Including Responsibility to Clients/Client Systems, Colleagues, the Profession, and Society

Professional Values and Principles (e.g., Competence, Social Justice, Integrity, and Dignity and Worth of the Person)

Techniques to Identify and Resolve Ethical Dilemmas

Essential Steps in Ethical Problem Solving

Client/Client System Competence and Self-Determination (e.g., Financial Decisions, Treatment Decisions, Emancipation, Age of Consent, Permanency Planning)

Emancipation and Age of Consent

Techniques for Protecting and Enhancing Client/Client System Self-Determination

The Client’s/Client System’s Right to Refuse Services (e.g., Medication, Medical Treatment, Counseling, Placement, etc.)

Professional Boundaries in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship (e.g., Power Differences, Conflicts of Interest, etc.)

Self-Disclosure Principles and Applications

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Regarding Documentation

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Regarding Termination

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Related to Death and Dying

Research Ethics (e.g., Institutional Review Boards, Use of Human Subjects, Informed Consent)

Models of Supervision and Consultation (e.g., Individual, Peer, Group)


Peer Group

Facilitated Group

Ethical Issues in Supervision and Management

Methods to Create, Implement, and Evaluate Policies and Procedures for Social Worker Safety

The Supervisee’s Role in Supervision (e.g., Identifying Learning Needs, Self-Assessment, Prioritizing, etc.)

Accreditation and/or Licensing Requirements

Professional Development Activities to Improve Practice and Maintain Current Professional Knowledge (e.g., In-Service Training, Licensing Requirements, Reviews of Literature, Workshops)

10. Confidentiality

The Elements of Client/Client System Reports

The Principles and Processes of Obtaining Informed Consent

The Use of Client/Client System Records

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Regarding Confidentiality, Including Electronic Information Security

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Regarding Mandatory Reporting (e.g., Abuse, Threat of Harm, Impaired Professionals, etc.)

11. Professional Development and Use of Self

The Components of the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

The Client’s/Client System’s Role in the Problem-Solving Process

The Social Worker’s Role in the Problem-Solving Process



Change Agent



Methods to Clarify the Roles and Responsibilities of the Social Worker and Client/Client System in the Intervention Process

The Principles and Techniques for Building and Maintaining a Helping Relationship

Process of Engagement in Social Work Practice

The Concept of Acceptance and Empathy in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

The Dynamics of Power and Transparency in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

Ethical Issues Related to Dual Relationships

The Impact of Transference and Countertransference in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

The Impact of Domestic, Intimate Partner, and Other Violence on the Helping Relationship

Cycle of Violence

Guidelines for Interventions

The Dynamics of Diversity in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

The Effect of the Client’s Developmental Level on the Social Worker–Client Relationship

Social Worker Self-Care Principles and Techniques

Burnout, Secondary Trauma, and Compassion Fatigue

The Components of a Safe and Positive Work Environment

Professional Objectivity in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

The Influence of the Social Worker’s Own Values and Beliefs on the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

Time Management Approaches

The Impact of Transference and Countertransference Within Supervisory Relationships

The Influence of the Social Worker’s Own Values and Beliefs on Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Practice Test

170-Question Practice Test


Evaluation of Results


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews