Social workers are all too often asked to tackle any range of tasks, from managing a caseload to responding to crises to consultation with other members of the care team. All the responsibilities you have while you are preparing to take your licensure exam do not slow down for you to study. It seems to be a perfect microcosm for the life of a social worker, does it not? In order to manage your day-to-day schedule, a natural solution can be to switch to “autopilot” for certain tasks. Everyday, we are on autopilot for the simpler tasks. Typically, we would expect to be on autopilot for basic tasks like brushing our teeth or making a grocery list. These are simple, over-practiced tasks that we can do without much of our mental space being taken up. However, when we are overloaded, our brains will switch to autopilot for some of the more important tasks. In the life of a social worker, becoming overloaded is very easy. After a long day, you barely have the mental space left to respond to emails without using autopilot, let alone study for the licensure exam! Although it is a very tempting situation, we are here to encourage you not to just go through the motions of studying or taking the exam!
Social Work Candidates
Unfortunately, it’s often not enough to be a good social worker when it comes to taking and passing the social work exams. While having a good handle on information relevant to social work practice is important, this may also not be enough. Even very good social workers sometimes have a tough time passing their exams. Why might this be? Two reasons: 1) anxiety management and 2) test-taking strategy. The latter can often be the cure for the former.
Anxiety is a huge factor for most people when facing the prospect of taking their social work exam. Anxiety can put you into a “fight or flight” adrenaline response. This response is great when facing a saber-toothed tiger, but not so great when you are trying to focus and answer test questions.
As social workers, we take on a variety of roles when working with our clients. As case managers, we help our clients access resources and make their appointments. As clinicians, we provide therapy and emotional support. And as outreach workers, we liaise with our client’s loved ones and support systems to help them get what they need.