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Types of Multiple-Choice Questions

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The challenges that social workers face is not being able to identify the types of questions that are presented on the exam, how the content applies to the question, and how to identify the focus of what the question is asking. In this blog, I will be focusing on identifying the types of questions that are presented on the exam.

Remember, the exam is structured to test your cognitive skills and your ability to reason through the question and identify the correct answer. The questions consist of recall, application, and reasoning questions. Below you will find examples of each type of questions that can be found on the ASWB exam.

Recall Questions

The recall questions are based on facts and are information that you can recognize or remember from readings. For instance:

Methylphenidate is a stimulant used for the treatment of ADHD. The brand name for Methylphenidate is:

  1. Depakote
  2. Ritalin
  3. Adderall
  4. Parnate

The question requires you to recall both the generic and brand name of a stimulant medication that is used for the treatment of ADHD. The answer here is B.

Application Questions

The key to answering application questions is to place what you learned from reading materials (recalls) and apply it to the case scenario. So before choosing your answer, you are recalling the facts and analyzing the case scenario. These questions are asking what the social worker should do in a situation. For instance:

A teacher brought a 10-year-old boy to the school social worker after noticing the boy’s inability to sit still, often disruptive in class, and finds it difficult to stay focus and maintain attention on his work. The teacher stated that the parents are aware of the child’s behavior. What should the social worker do NEXT?

A. Meet with the parents and discuss these concerns
B. Refer the child for an evaluation
C. Inform the teacher that this is a normal age appropriate behavior.
D. Discuss the option of medication management

This question requires you to know the signs and symptoms of a specific mental disorder. In this case, the child is showing signs of ADHD however, the question requires you to refer out for further evaluation. The answer here is B.

Reasoning Questions

Reasoning questions require critical thinking and are case based. Some are often lengthy and may include information that is irrelevant to finding the answer. These questions require you to think about, what is the best approach to a situation presented in the case scenario. For instance:

A social worker at a family treatment agency is working with a mother and her two sons. The family has been residing in a shelter for the past 3 years. The mother who has a history of incarceration is unemployed and is diagnosed with depression but is not receiving treatment. The mother has a desire to work but has no one to watch her 6-year-old and 3-year-old sons. After completing a psychosocial assessment what should the social worker do NEXT?

  1. Assist the family identify service needs
  2. Refer the mother for medication management
  3. Assist the mother with childcare
  4. Ask the mother about her history of incarceration

This question requires you to reason through and think critically of the most appropriate step the social worker should take. Think about what the social worker had already done with the client (psychosocial assessment) and what is the next step. Look for keywords and remember to meet the client where they are at. The answer here is A.

Remember, the exam consists of qualifiers such as best, most, most likely, first, next, etc. that are found in the stem of the question. They often give you a hint to the answers and can be used to eliminate options in multiple choice questions.

Excerpt from “Tackling the Social Work Licensing Exam Practice Test Guide” – Taniesha Delph

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3 responses to “Types of Multiple-Choice Questions”

  1. The sample questions seem straight forward, OMG! Wish that’s how the exam was. I understood two of them very fast.

  2. I disagree with the answer for application question. If the social Worker is going to make the referral for evaluation they should first meet with the parents to discuss the concerns. The teacher referencing that the parents are aware of the child’s behavior is inadequate for making a referral absent of first hand contact with the family. The teacher, typically, is not qualified to assess and/or interpret the comments of the parents as it relate to a multitude of other variables that could be impacting the child’s behavior. Also when making a referral for an evaluation, the parents, beforehand, should be made aware of the referral process, timeline and potential outcome.

    • I do understand your views about the question. The question wants you to address the child’s presenting concerns. “inability to sit still, often disruptive in class, and finds it difficult to stay focus and maintain attention on his work.” Providing an evaluation will address the concerns as this will determine the reason for the child’s behavior. Your answer must address the concerns presented in the case scenario. We appreciate your posting, it is great to share your views/opinions. It also allows us to improve the work we do. Thank you.

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