This is the big question most people are asking as they get ready to start their test preparation. Believe it or not, researchers have spent a lot of time studying this -- well not specifically LCSW/MFT prep, but the learning/testing process. But, before we look at this question, try a mental experiment. Imagine for a moment that you are told you needed to pass a physical fitness test to get your license.  You haven't worked out in a while, so you sign up for a program that has you train by running and running and running.  You train really hard and you get in shape. But the problem is, when you show up for the real exam it turns out it isn't a running test -- it's a swimming test!  Sure, you're in really good shape, but you trained for the wrong activity. All of a sudden you freak out -- and think "I can't do this!"  This is what happens to people when they prepare in the wrong way for the LCSW and MFT exams.

So what does the research say about the best study programs?

First, the review material should be conveyed in the way that it will be tested. So if you are going to be tested with short answer essays, flash cards are a great tool. If you are going to be tested on reasoning questions, then the focus should be on providing scenarios that allow people to practice that reasoning.

Second, the material should be engaging and meaningful.  Staring at power points for 8 hours is not engaging, and in fact is one of the worst ways to learn anything. (I sat through a couple of those prep classes and I was convinced that brain cells actually died from boredom and frustration there. RIP brain cells.) Our brain is motivated to learn when it sees a connection to real life practice.

Last, the content should be limited to what is actually going to be tested.  In my opinion, this is where a lot of companies go terribly wrong.  They overwhelm you with content that will never be tested on the exam.  Unfortunately, most people don't realize this until they show up on test day and find that only 10% of what they studied was actually on the exam!  Instead of learning the essential content, people try to stuff massive amounts of material into their brains only to feel confused and lost on the real exam.

Here at the Therapist Development Center, we understand the science of learning.  All of our materials are conveyed in a way to maximize performance on the actual exam you are going to take.  Every moment you study with our materials you will feel yourself learning.  Neurons in your brain will be making new connections and throwing a big "you're going to pass this test" party in your head.  And not only will you pass, you'll actually learn a lot in the process!  


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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