Social Worker Exam

Social Worker Exam
Licensure and Social Worker Exam

Social worker licensure is important. Licensing creates an easy method for governments and employers to verify that a social worker has the necessary skills and knowledge to practice safely and effectively.

The state of Kentucky requires that all social workers obtain licensure in order to practice. To acquire a social work license, candidates must first possess a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) or a Master of Social Work (MSW). Graduates then apply to the Kentucky Board of Social Work (KBSW) for licensure. If their application is approved, social workers must then pass the appropriate Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam.

The process required to apply for licensure and sit the social work exam is not difficult. However, failure to familiarize yourself with the steps involved could delay your testing date or license issuance.

Kentucky Board of Social Work Application

Prior to sitting the ASWB exam, Kentucky social workers must first submit an application to the Kentucky Board of Social Work. Students who have earned their BSW online through Brescia University must include the completed application, an official transcript and a $25 application fee paid through check or money order.

Once the KBSW has reviewed and approved your application, the board will contact you by mail with instructions on how to reach the ASWB to schedule your exam. It is each individual’s responsibility to contact the ASWB and register for the exam. Approval of your application for licensure does not automatically register you for the social worker exam.

The KBSW application for licensure can be downloaded here.

Temporary Social Worker Permits

Kentucky currently offers non-clinical and clinical temporary social worker permits for social workers who have met all licensure requirements with the exception of passing the ASWB. Students who hold a BSW may apply for the non-clinical temporary permit by downloading the form here.

ASWB Social Worker Exam

The ASWB offers three exams in Kentucky: the bachelor’s, master’s and clinical. Students who hold a BSW should register for the bachelor’s exam to attain the licensed social worker title. The master’s exam is for students who have earned an MSW but have not completed the required post-master’s field experience. The master’s exam confers the certified social worker title. The clinical exam is the test for social workers who want the designation of licensed clinical social worker. You must hold an MSW and have 200-plus hours of supervised experience to sit the clinical exam.

Registering for the Exam

After receiving approval from the KBSW, social workers must contact the ASWB to register for the exam. When registering for the exam, it is important to select the proper test for you. Refunds will not be issued to those who register for the wrong exam.

Exam fees

MasterCard, Visa and Discover are accepted. Mail-in registration may also be paid by certified check or money order. Personal checks are not accepted.

  • Bachelor’s and master’s exam: $230
  • Clinical exam: $260
  • Registration change: $30

There are three ways to register for the exam:


Call the ASWB Candidate Register Center at 1 (888) 579-3926, Monday to Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST, or Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST.


Register online here. Only credit card payments are accepted with online registration.

Mail or Fax

Complete an examination registration form and fax it to (540) 829-0142 or mail to ASWB Candidate Registration Center, P.O. Box 1508, Culpeper, VA 22701. Certified checks or money orders should be payable to ASWB.

Scheduling the Exam

After the ASWB has received your registration and payment, information on scheduling your exam will be sent to you via email. If you did not provide an email address, this information will be mailed out. Your authorization to test is valid for one exam only and is valid for up to one year. If you fail to schedule and take the exam before the authorization expires, exam fees will be forfeited.

All scheduling for the ASWB exams is handled by Pearson VUE. You may schedule your exam online at the Pearson VUE website. Those taking the exam in the U.S., Canada or U.S. territories can also schedule by calling 1 (877) 884-9537.

Taking the Exam

Pearson VUE administers all testing for the ASWB. Within 24 hours of scheduling your exam, you will receive confirmation from Pearson VUE with detailed directions to your testing center. It is your responsibility to locate and arrive at your testing center. Late arrivals will be treated as no shows and exam fees will be forfeited. It is advised that you arrive 30 minutes early for the exam.

Candidates for the ASWB examination must bring with them:

  • Two forms of ID
  • ASWB Authorization Letter

If you fail to bring these items, you will not be permitted to sit the exam and all fees paid will be forfeited.

Exam Content

The exam is intended to test minimum practice competencies and reflects what social workers are expected to know. Most candidates find it useful to review areas of practice they do not frequently use, rather than learn new information or cram for the test.

The ASWB exams are administered through a computer and have a four-hour time limit. Technical prowess is not required to successfully sit the exam. Prior to beginning the exam, testers will see a short on-screen tutorial on how to use the testing software. The tutorial does not count against the four-hour time limit. Testers are permitted to take short breaks during the exam, but time does not stop for breaks.

The bachelor’s examination content is broken down as follows:

Content Area Composition
Human development, diversity and behavior in the environment 27 percent
Assessment 28
Direct and indirect practice 26
Professional relationships, values and ethics 19

After the Exam

You will receive an unofficial score report on the day of the exam. This is the only document you will receive regarding your score. Once you receive this report, social workers in Kentucky must submit the report along with a licensing fee to the KBSW. License fees are as follows:

Licensed social worker (LSW) $               75
Certified social worker (CSW)                   125
Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW)                   200

For more detailed information on the exam, or to download and print registration forms, applications for disability accommodations and more, see the ASWB Examination Candidate Handbook.