Getting (your brain) in Shape to Pass the LCSW and MFT Exam

By Amanda Rowan on December 10, 2011

Preparing to take the clinical exam is a daunting process.  Many people spend a few weeks paralyzed by the prospect of just getting started.  They have logged and logged their hours, only to be faced with the reality that they have to start studying.

Getting organized is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.  I like to think of the California Standard Written Exam and the National LCSW Exam as a Mental Marathon because it is a 4 hour exam!  That is a long time to be thinking!

When someone is training for a marathon, they don't just go outside and start running.  They have a very organized training schedule.  You should think the same way about getting your brain in shape for this exam. So how do you get organized?

Make a list of everything you need to know.  If you don't want to make your own list -- sign up for our Top 50 Topics workshop that lays it all out for you.

Make a calendar for yourself with plans to study 4-5 days a week.  Map out what you will be reviewing each night including time to take and review practice exams.  Here's a sample week:

Monday: 100 questions on mock exam

Tuesday: 100 questions on mock exam. Score.

Wednesday: Review missed and marked answers

Thursday: Review mood and anxiety disorders: differentials, treatment, medications

Friday: Break

Saturday: Review Code of Ethics and Legal Issues regarding Consent for Treatment and Releases

Sunday: Go on a hike

This is just a snapshot of a week.  With the Top 50 topics as a guide you should be able to spend 90 minutes mapping out your study assignments for 8-10 weeks prior to the exam.  Remember -- you should limit your study sessions to 90-120 minutes because that is the most you brain can handle, then it needs time to rest and assimilate the information.

Things to AVOID: Full-day 8hr long workshops!  Why, because that is way too long to be trying to learn.  Your brain is going to burn out about 90 minutes in and your buns are going to start getting sore a few hours later. There is a myth out there that you can shove all the info in your head via powerpoint in a full weekend.  This just isn't so.  So save your money and your brain muscle and study smart -- 90-12ominutes at a time.  

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your social work or MFT exam? If you're preparing for a social work exam, check out our Social Work Study Materials. If you're preparing for an MFT exam, check out our MFT Study Materials. Learn more about our offerings at The Therapist Development Center.

Looking for more practice questions and some study tips? Check out our new Social Work Exam Study Guide:

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