What's the California LCSW Exam Passing Score?

By Amanda Rowan on August 2, 2013

If you are studying for the California LCSW exams, you are probably wondering, "What score do I need to get to pass?".California LCSW Exam

The answer is: it varies.  There are two California LCSW exams: the Standard Written Exam and the Clinical Vignette Exam.  Both exams change every 6 months so the passing score also changes every 6 months.  The California LCSW exam cycles are December 1-May 31 and June 1-November 30. This is the reason you have to wait 6 months to retake the exam -- waiting six months ensures that you will take a different test the one you just took.

The California Standard Written Exam is taken first.  It is comprised of 200 questions. You get 4 hours.  Of the 200 questions, only 175 counts toward your score. That means 25 do not count.  Unfortunately, you don't know which ones those are. For the current test cycle of June 1, 2013 - November 30, 2013 the passing score on the California LCSW Standard Written Exam is 116 out of 175 which is 66%.

After you pass the first exam, you have to tackle the California LCSW Clinical Vignette exam. There are only 40 questions and you get 2 hours.  But there is a reason you get more than double the time per question that you got for the first exam -- the test is much more complex.  Of the 40 questions, only 30 counts; 10 are experimental.  For the current test cycle of June 1, 2013 - November 30, 2013 the passing score on the California LCSW Clinical Vignette Exam is 19 out of 30 which is 63%.

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How much do the passing scores change on the California LCSW exams? Usually just a point to two. But a point higher or a point lower doesn't mean very much.  Because it is a "standardized" test, the BBS has data on how hard each individual question is, so when the put more "hard" questions on the exam the total points you need to pass will be lower.  If there are more "easy" questions, you will need more to pass.

The one factor that can throw this off is the experimental questions. But why should they matter if they don't count?  Well, remember you don't know which ones they are.  If the experimental questions happen to be extremely hard and you don't have the right strategies to deal with them, you can easily panic and your brain's cortisol gates open up and flood it with the stress hormone.  When your brain has a high level of cortisol it loses it's capacity for more complex thinking which will impact your ability to think clearly on the other questions that actually do count toward your score.

The last thing I want to mention is while you are taking the California LCSW exams, especially the Standard Written, you are not going to have an awareness that you are passing. So knowing the passing score isn't really going to help much.  Your best tool for passing is having clear test-taking strategies so you know how to reason through the questions.



Commenter Name
July 31, 2017

What is passion get score for clinical LCSW exam??? I have mine tmrw. I got 71 on practice test.

Commenter Name
July 16, 2017

What is the current perecentafe to pass the Law and ethics exam

Commenter Name
August 30, 2015

What is the needed percentage to pass for the current (or last) exam cycle for the M.F.T. Standard Written Exam?

Commenter Name
August 18, 2014

Could you share what the passing score is for the MFT exams, as well? I cannot find it anywhere on the internet. I have heard it is around 70% for the written, but that is significantly higher than what is needed for the LCSW exam. If you know what it is for 2014, that would be great.

Commenter Name
July 9, 2014

What is the current passing scores for the LCSW written exam?

Commenter Name
January 2, 2014

I have been looking all over the internet, but I can't find an updated pass/fail score requirement. Have the passing scores changed?

Commenter Name
July 13, 2015

as of July 10 2015 it was 21 points

Commenter Name
June 21, 2015

The "passing score" for the first part of the Cali LCSW exam is 67.8%. The exam had been controversial and debated andcevenb litigated over the years. Fast-forward to Cali being finally forced to change to the ASWB national exam.

Commenter Name
March 10, 2018

What's the passing score for the 2018 LCSW?

Commenter Name
April 10, 2018

I would really like to know the answer to this, as well!

Commenter Name
June 8, 2018

Hi there! I could have sworn I've been to your blog before but after going through many
of the posts I realized it's new to me. Nonetheless,
I'm certainly pleased I came across it and I'll be bookmarking it and checking back often!

Commenter Name
August 27, 2018

As of 8/27/18
How many questions do I need to answer right to pass the exam?
This varies, depending on the category of exam you’re taking, and which form (version) of the exam you get. Generally, passing scores range from 93 to 107 or more correct of the 150 {out of 170} scored items. Remember, the test also includes 20 non-scored pretest items mixed in with the scored items.

Commenter Name
February 13, 2019

Hi, I am a current user of your program for ACSW's.
Are there two exams?
One four hours and the other two hours?
This information was posted in 2013 so I'm hoping it is incorrect.
I look forward to hearing from anyone about this as I am in (almost) shock.
Thank you

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