Social Work ASWB Advanced Generalist Exam Guide, Second Edition

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Social Work ASWB Advanced Generalist Exam Guide, Second Edition

SKU# 9780826147172

A Comprehensive Study Guide for Success

Author: Dawn Apgar PhD, LSW, ACSW


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Updated to reflect ASWB’s revised 2018 test blueprint used for test construction.

Now with a free mobile & web app!

Written by a renowned social work educator rather than an unknown at a test preparation company, this thoroughly updated guide helps readers identify their weak areas so they know what to focus on to pass the ASWB® Advanced Generalist licensure exam! Reviewers applaud the book’s unique test-taking tips and strategies, which are based on the author’s extensive knowledge of the exam. A thorough review of the four content areas of the updated Advanced Generalist exam is provided. The 170-question practice test with explanations of the correct answers mirrors the actual exam in length and structure. This invaluable guide has been praised by social workers across the country as essential to passing the ASWB® Advanced Generalist Exam on the first attempt!


  • Updated to reflect ASWB’s revised 2018 test blueprint used for test construction.
  • Written by a renowned social work educator who has helped thousands of test takers pass the exam through her invaluable workshops.
  • Provides a thorough content review of the four core areas of the updated Advanced Generalist examination: human development, diversity, and behavior in the environment; intervention processes and techniques for use across systems; intervention processes and techniques for use with larger systems; and professional relationships, values, and ethics.
  • Readers applaud the invaluable tips for how to read the questions, overcome test anxiety, avoid common pitfalls, and assess one’s learning style, all of which help foster exam confidence.
  • Begins with a self-assessment to help identify areas of strength and weakness.
  • A full practice test with 170 questions that mirrors the actual ASWB® Advanced Generalist Exam in length, structure, and content, with detailed explanations of the correct answers.
  • Identifies the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities statements (KSAs) for each question so test-takers can easily locate relevant source materials for further study.
  • Questions are distinct from those in the author’s Social Work ASWB® Advanced Generalist Practice Test.

Product Details 

  • Publication Date December 05, 2017
  • Page Count 502
  • Product Form Paperback / softback
  • ISBN 13 9780826147172

About The Author(s) 

Dawn Apgar, PhD, LSW, ACSW, has helped thousands of social workers across the country pass the ASWB examinations associated with all levels of licensure. In recent years, she has consulted in numerous states to assist with establishing licensure test preparation programs.

Dr. Apgar has done research on licensure funded by the American Foundation for Research and Consumer Education in Social Work Regulation and is currently chairperson of her state’s social work licensing board. She is a past President of the New Jersey Chapter of NASW and has been on its National Board of Directors. In 2014, the Chapter presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Apgar has taught in both undergraduate and graduate social work programs and has extensive direct practice, policy, and management experience in the social work field.

Table of Contents 


New in the Second Edition


About the Examination

10 Things That You Should Know About the ASWB Examinations

Test-Taking Strategies and Tips

10 Essential Strategies for Study Success

20 Tips You Need to Use to Answer Questions Correctly

Assessing Examination Difficulties

Dealing With Test Anxiety

Examination Content

Visual Learners

Auditory Learners

Kinesthetic or Hands-On Learners


Unit I: Human Development, Diversity, and Behavior in the Environment (23%)

1. Human Growth and Development

Theories of Human Development Throughout the Lifespan (e.g., Physical, Social, Emotional, Cognitive, Behavioral)

Social Development

Emotional Development

Cognitive Development

Behavioral Development


The Indicators of Normal and Abnormal Physical, Cognitive, Emotional, and Sexual Development Throughout the Lifespan

Child Development

Adolescent Development

Adult Development

Theories of Sexual Development Throughout the Lifespan

Theories of Spiritual Development Throughout the Lifespan

Theories of Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Development Throughout the Lifespan

The Effects of Physical, Mental, and Cognitive Disabilities Throughout the Lifespan

Basic Human Needs

The Principles of Attachment and Bonding

The Effect of Aging on Biopsychosocial Functioning

The Impact of Aging Parents on Adult Children


Personality Theories






Theories of Conflict

Factors Influencing Self-Image (e.g., Culture, Race, Religion/Spirituality, Age, Disability, Trauma)

Parenting Skills and Capacities

Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritative Parenting

Permissive Parenting

Uninvolved Parenting

Feminist Theory

Addiction Theories and Concepts

Substance Use Disorder

Non-Substance-Related Disorders

Goals of Treatment

Stages of Treatment

Treatment Approaches

Systems and Ecological Perspectives and Theories

Applications to Social Work

Some System Theory Terms

Strengths-Based and Resilience Theories

Crisis Intervention Theories

Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic Approaches

Psychoanalytic Theory

Psychosexual Stages of Development

Individual Psychology


Self Psychology

Ego Psychology

Object Relations Theory

Indicators and Dynamics of Abuse and Neglect Throughout the Lifespan

Indicators and Dynamics of Sexual Abuse

Indicators and Dynamics of Psychological Abuse and Neglect

Indicators and Dynamics of Physical Abuse and Neglect

2. Functioning of Various Systems

The Family Life Cycle

Family Dynamics and Functioning and the Effects on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Models of Family Life Education in Social Work Practice

Theories of Couples Development

Theories of Group Development and Functioning

Key Concepts

3. Effects of the Environment on Systems’ Behavior

Person-in-Environment (PIE) Theory

The Interplay of Biological, Psychological, Social, and Spiritual Factors

The Dynamics of Interpersonal Relationships

Psychological Defense Mechanisms and Their Effects on Behavior and Relationships

The Indicators of Psychosocial Stress

The Effect of Poverty on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

The Impact of The Environment (e.g., Social, Physical, Cultural, Political, Economic) on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Role Theories

Social and Economic Justice

The Impact of Globalization on Clients/Client Systems (e.g., Interrelatedness of Systems, International Integration, Technology, Environmental or Financial Crises, Epidemics)

4. Diversity, Discrimination, and Stereotypes

The Effect of Disability on Biopsychosocial Functioning Throughout the Lifespan

The Effect of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity on Behaviors, Attitudes, and Identity

White American

American Indian/Alaska Native


African American

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander



The Effects of Discrimination and Stereotypes on Behaviors, Attitudes, and Identity

The Influence of Sexual Orientation on Behaviors, Attitudes, and Identity

The Impact of Transgender and Transitioning Process on Behaviors, Attitudes, Identity, and Relationships

Systemic (Institutionalized) Discrimination (e.g., Racism, Sexism, Ageism)

The Principles of Culturally Competent Social Work Practice

Sexual Orientation Concepts

Gender and Gender Identity Concepts

Unit II: Intervention Processes and Techniques for Use Across Systems (32%)

5. Biopsychosocial History and Collateral Data

The Components of a Biopsychosocial Assessment

The Components and Function of the Mental Status Examination

Biopsychosocial Responses to Illness and Disability

Biopsychosocial Factors Related to Mental Health

Biological Factors

Psychological Factors

Social Factors

Basic Medical Terminology

The Indicators of Mental and Emotional Illness Throughout the Lifespan

Co-Occurring Disorders and Conditions

Symptoms of Neurologic and Organic Disorders

The Types of Information Available From Other Sources (e.g., Agency, Employment, Medical, Psychological, Legal, or School Records)

The Impact of Caregiving on Families

The Dynamics and Effects of Loss, Separation, and Grief

The Impact of Physical and Mental Illness on Family Dynamics

The Indicators of Behavioral Dysfunction

The Indicators of Feigning Illness

The Indicators of Somatization

Body Image and Its Impact (e.g., Identity, Self-Esteem, Relationships, Habits)

The Indicators of Traumatic Stress and Violence

The Effects of Life Events, Stressors, and Crises on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

The Impact of Out-of-Home Placement (e.g., Hospitalization, Foster Care, Residential Care, Criminal Justice System) on Clients/Client Systems


The Impact of Out-of-Home Displacement (e.g., Natural Disaster, Homelessness, Immigration) on Clients/Client Systems

The Indicators and Risk Factors of the Client’s/Client System’s Danger to Self and Others

Danger to Self: Suicide

Danger to Others: Violence

The Impact of Stress, Trauma, and Violence

The Effects of Physical, Sexual, and Psychological Abuse on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

The Indicators, Dynamics, and Impact of Exploitation Across the Lifespan (e.g., Financial, Immigration Status, Sexual Trafficking)

The Characteristics of Perpetrators of Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation

The Indicators of Addiction and Substance Abuse

Signs of Drug Use

The Effects of Addiction and Substance Abuse on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Criminal Justice Systems

Common Psychotropic and Non-Psychotropic Prescriptions and Over-the-Counter Medications and Their Side Effects


Antimanic Agents (Mood Stabilizers)


Antianxiety Drugs


Common Prescription Medications

6. Assessment Methods and Techniques

The Factors and Processes Used in Problem Formulation

Methods of Involving Clients/Client Systems in Problem Identification (e.g., Gathering Collateral Information)

Use of Collateral Sources

Techniques and Instruments Used to Assess Clients/Client Systems

Beck Depression Inventory

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory

Myers–Briggs Type Indicator

Rorschach Inkblot Test

Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scale

Thematic Apperception Test

Wechsler Intelligence Scale

Methods to Incorporate the Results of Psychological and Educational Tests Into Assessment

Methods to Assess Ego Strengths


Methods to Assess Organizational Functioning (e.g., Agency Assessments)

Methods to Obtain Sensitive Information (e.g., Substance Abuse, Sexual Abuse)

Communication Theories and Styles

Risk Assessment Methods

Methods to Assess the Client’s/Client System’s Strengths, Resources, and Challenges (e.g., Individual, Family, Group, Organization, Community)

The Indicators of Motivation, Resistance, and Readiness to Change

Methods to Assess Motivation, Resistance, and Readiness to Change

Methods to Assess the Client’s/Client System’s Communication Skills

Methods to Assess the Client’s/Client System’s Coping Abilities

The Indicators of Client’s/Client System’s Strengths and Challenges

Methods Used to Assess Trauma

Placement Options Based on Assessed Level of Care

The Use of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association

7. Intervention Planning and Implementation

The Principles and Techniques of Interviewing (e.g., Supporting, Clarifying, Focusing, Confronting, Validating, Feedback, Reflecting, Language Differences, Use of Interpreters, Redirecting)

Methods to Involve Clients/Client Systems in Intervention Planning

Cultural Considerations in the Creation of an Intervention Plan

The Criteria Used in the Selection of Intervention/Treatment Modalities (e.g., Client/Client System Abilities, Culture, Life Stage)

The Components of Intervention, Treatment, and Service Plans


The Impact of Immigration, Refugee, or Undocumented Status on Service Delivery

Discharge, Aftercare, and Follow-Up Planning

The Phases of Intervention and Treatment




The Client’s/Client System’s Role in the Problem-Solving Process

Problem-Solving Models and Approaches (e.g., Brief, Solution-Focused Methods or Techniques)

Short-Term Interventions

Methods to Engage and Motivate Clients/Client Systems

Methods to Engage and Work With Involuntary Clients/Client Systems

Methods to Obtain and Provide Feedback

One-on-One Feedback

Intragroup Feedback

Group-to-Group Feedback


Consultative Feedback

360° Feedback

The Principles of Active Listening and Observation

Verbal and Nonverbal Communication Techniques

The Concept of Congruence in Communication

Limit Setting Techniques

The Technique of Role Play

Role Modeling Techniques

Techniques for Harm Reduction for Self and Others

Methods to Teach Coping and Other Self-Care Skills to Clients/Client Systems

Client/Client System Self-Monitoring Techniques

Methods of Conflict Resolution

Crisis Intervention and Treatment Approaches

Theories of Trauma-Informed Care

Methods and Approaches to Trauma-Informed Care

Phase 1: Safety and Stabilization

Phase 2: Mourning and Remembrance

Phase 3: Reconnection and Reintegration

Anger Management Techniques

Relaxation Exercises

Cognitive Techniques

Communication Skills

Environmental Change

Stress Management Techniques

Cognitive and Behavioral Interventions

Steps in Cognitive Restructuring

Strengths-Based and Empowerment Strategies and Interventions

Client/Client System Contracting and Goal-Setting Techniques

Change Strategies

Partializing Techniques

Assertiveness Training

Task-Centered Approaches

Psychoeducation Methods (e.g., Acknowledging, Supporting, Normalizing)

Group Work Techniques and Approaches (e.g., Developing and Managing Group Processes and Cohesion)

Family Therapy Models, Interventions, and Approaches

Recognition of Functional Roles in Family Dynamics

Roles in Healthy Families

Strategic Family Planning

Structural Family Therapy

Bowenian Family Therapy

Couples Interventions and Treatment Approaches

Permanency Planning

Mindfulness and Complementary Therapeutic Approaches


Techniques Used for Follow-Up

Techniques Used to Evaluate a Client’s/Client System’s Progress

The Indicators of Client/Client System Readiness for Termination

Consultation Approaches (e.g., Referrals to Specialists)

Methods to Assess the Availability of Community Resources

Unit III: Intervention Processes and Techniques for Use With Larger Systems (18%)

8. Program Development and Research

Methods to Establish Program Objectives and Outcomes

Methods of Service Delivery

Methods to Establish Service Networks or Community Resources

Methods of Conducting a Needs Assessment

The Effects of Program Evaluation Findings on Services

Methods to Evaluate Agency Programs (e.g., Needs Assessment, Formative/Summative Assessment, Cost-Effectiveness, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Outcomes Assessment)

The Principles and Features of Objective and Subjective Data

Basic and Applied Research Design and Methods

Types of Research

Single-Subject Research

Data Collection and Analysis Methods

Methods to Assess Reliability and Validity in Social Work Research

Methods to Develop and Evaluate Measurable Objectives for Client/Client System Intervention, Treatment, and/or Service Plans

Methods, Techniques, and Instruments Used to Evaluate Social Work Practice

Evidence-Based Practice

9. Methods for Social Change

Theories of Social Change and Community Development

Community Organizing and Social Planning Methods

Techniques for Mobilizing Community Participation

The Impact of Social Institutions on Society






The Impact of the Political Environment on Policy-Making

Concepts of Social Policy Development and Analysis

Techniques to Inform and Influence Organizational and Social Policy


Social, Political, and Economic Conditions/Resources

Legal Issues/Laws

Institutional Influences


External Influences

Theories and Methods of Advocacy for Policies, Services, and Resources to Meet Clients’/Client Systems’ Needs

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Prevention Strategies

Primary Prevention

Secondary Prevention

Tertiary Prevention

10. Supervision and Administration

Governance Structures

Theories of Organizational Development and Structure

Classical Organizational Theories

Neoclassical Theories

Modern Organizational Approaches

Organizational Structure

The Effects of Policies, Procedures, Regulations, and Legislation on Social Work Practice and Service Delivery

Leadership and Management Techniques

Fiscal Management Techniques

The Budgetary Process

Fund-Raising and Development

Advocacy for Resources to Meet Client Needs

Asset-Building Approaches (e.g., Collaborative Relationships, Human Capital, Resources)

Impact of Economic Changes on Individuals, Families, Organizations, and Communities

The Relationship Between Formal and Informal Power Structures in the Decision-Making Process

Formal Power

Informal Power

Educational Components, Techniques, and Methods of Supervision

Methods to Identify Learning Needs and Develop Learning Objectives for Supervisees

Case Recording for Practice Evaluation or Supervision

Methods to Create, Implement, and Evaluate Policies and Procedures for Social Worker Safety

Models of Supervision and Consultation (e.g., Individual, Peer, Group)


Peer Group

Facilitated Group

The Supervisee’s Role in Supervision (e.g., Identifying Learning Needs, Self-Assessment, Prioritizing, etc.)

Employee Recruitment, Training, Retention, Performance Appraisal, Evaluation, and Discipline


The Impact of Transference and Countertransference Within Supervisory Relationships

The Components of a Safe and Positive Work Environment

The Components of Case Management

The Elements of a Case Presentation

Time Management Approaches

Methods of Networking

The Process of Interdisciplinary and Intradisciplinary Team Collaboration

The Basic Terminology of Professions Other Than Social Work (e.g., Legal, Educational)

Methods to Create, Implement, and Evaluate Policies and Procedures That Minimize Risk for Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Methods to Develop, Review, and Implement Crisis Plans

Quality Assurance, Including Program Reviews and Audits by External Sources

Accreditation and/or Licensing Requirements

Professional Development Activities to Improve Practice and Maintain Current Professional Knowledge (e.g., In-Service Training, Licensing Requirements, Reviews of Literature, Workshops)

11. Record-Keeping and Reporting

The Principles of Case Recording, Documentation, and Management of Practice Records

The Elements of Client/Client System Reports

The Principles and Processes for Developing Formal Documents (e.g., Proposals, Letters, Brochures, Pamphlets, Reports, Evaluations)

Unit IV: Professional Relationships, Values, and Ethics (27%)

12. Professional Values and Ethical Issues

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Related to the Practice of Social Work, Including Responsibility to Clients/Client Systems, Colleagues, the Profession, and Society

Professional Values and Principles (e.g., Competence, Social Justice, Integrity, and Dignity and Worth of the Person)

Techniques to Identify and Resolve Ethical Dilemmas

Essential Steps in Ethical Problem Solving

Client/Client System Competence and Self-Determination (e.g., Financial Decisions, Treatment Decisions, Emancipation, Age of Consent, Permanency Planning)

Emancipation and Age of Consent


Techniques for Protecting and Enhancing Client/Client System Self-Determination

The Client’s/Client System’s Right to Refuse Services (e.g., Medication, Medical Treatment, Counseling, Placement, etc.)

Professional Boundaries in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship (e.g., Power Differences, Conflicts of Interest, etc.)

Ethical Issues Related to Dual Relationships

Professional Objectivity in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

Self-Disclosure Principles and Applications

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Regarding Documentation

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Regarding Termination

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Related to Death and Dying

Research Ethics (e.g., Institutional Review Boards, Use of Human Subjects, Informed Consent)

Ethical Issues in Supervision and Management

13. Confidentiality

The Principles and Processes of Obtaining Informed Consent

The Use of Client/Client System Records

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Regarding Confidentiality, Including Electronic Information Security

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Regarding Mandatory Reporting (e.g., Abuse, Threat of Harm, Impaired Professionals, etc.)

14. Professional Development and Use of Self

The Components of the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

The Social Worker’s Role in the Problem-Solving Process



Change Agent



Methods to Clarify the Roles and Responsibilities of the Social Worker and Client/Client System in the Intervention Process

The Principles and Techniques for Building and Maintaining a Helping Relationship

Process of Engagement in Social Work Practice

The Concept of Acceptance and Empathy in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

The Dynamics of Power and Transparency in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship


The Impact of Transference and Countertransference in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

The Impact of Domestic, Intimate Partner, and Other Violence on the Helping Relationship

Cycle of Violence

Guidelines for Interventions

The Dynamics of Diversity in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

Impact of Diversity in Styles of Communicating

The Effect of the Client’s Developmental Level on the Social Worker–Client Relationship

Social Worker Self-Care Principles and Techniques

Burnout, Secondary Trauma, and Compassion Fatigue

The Influence of the Social Worker’s Own Values and Beliefs on the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

The Influence of the Social Worker’s Own Values and Beliefs on Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Practice Test

170-Question Practice Test


Evaluation of Results