ASWB Practice Question: Preoperational Stage Answer and Rationale

By Heidi Tobe on March 13, 2018

Yesterday we discussed Piaget’s Preoperational stage of development, including a FREE ASWB practice question to help you get prepared for your LMSW and LCSW exams. Did you get it right?

ASWB Practice Question:

Each of the following is characteristic of the preoperational stage of development EXCEPT:


A. The child develops object permanence

B. The child uses symbolic function 

C. The child can solve problems mentally

D. The child engages in symbolic play


The correct answer is A. By the time children reach the Preoperational stage, they have already developed permanence.

  • Children develop object permanence (A) during the Sensorimotor stage, so it is already well developed by the Preoperational stage. Object permanence is what allows the child to recognize that objects continue to exist even when the child cannot see them. For example, if you hide a toy behind your back, the child understands that the toy hasn't disappeared; rather, the toy is behind your back.
  • Children develop and use symbolic function (B) during the Preoperational stage, learning to use and represent objects through the use of words and language.
  • Children in the Preoperational stage of development develop the ability to solve problems mentally (C).
  • During the Preoperational stage of development, children engage in symbolic play (D). For example, children “play pretend” during this stage of development. Children begin pretending to be people they aren't, such as teachers, mommies or daddies, superheroes, etc. They also begin to use objects as props that symbolize real life objects. While playing, for example, a child may pretend they are a teacher and use their stuffed animals and dolls as the students they are teaching.

ASWB Exam Preparation

Did you get this question on the preoperational stage of development right? If so, you are on your way to mastering the developmental theory needed to get a passing score on your ASWB exam! If you didn’t, know that our master’s and clinical level ASWB exam study guides are here to help get you ready to PASS your ASWB exam! We have coaches ready to answer your questions all along the way.

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Commenter Name
March 16, 2018

I need assistance with this question?

Commenter Name
March 16, 2018

Hi Zena, You are welcome to send me your questions to

Let me know why you chose the answer you did and what you are not understanding about the rationale!

Commenter Name
April 5, 2018

do you offer tutoring sessions for members of the therapist development study sessions/test prep? If so my contact number is 9103664137 Ellen McMillian. Testing in 3 weeks.

Commenter Name
April 6, 2018

Hi Ellen, Emailing you now!

Commenter Name
April 28, 2018

Having a difficult time with Piaget. I need help. Let me know when you’re free

Commenter Name
April 30, 2018

Emailing you now, Zulema!

Commenter Name
May 1, 2018

I also picked answer C; please help me understand why my answer is wrong.

Commenter Name
May 1, 2018

Hi Angelica, The key in this question is it is asking "EXCEPT." Children *can* solve problems mentally in the pre operational stage (see developmental stages quick study), and this question (because it is an EXCEPT question) is asking which of the following characteristics is NOT seen in the preoperational stage of development. The only characteristic listed NOT characteristic of the pre operational stage is object permanence, which is developed earlier during the sensorimotor stage.

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