Quick* Study Guide for the LCSW & MFT Exams

By Amanda Rowan on August 31, 2011

Many people I coach for these tests don’t realize that HOW you study for your licensing exams is just as important as WHAT you study.

Overwhelmed with a lot of content that people think they have to stuff into their heads, many people I talk to report “studying all day” on their weekends.  Some even take the whole week off before the exam to study!

What’s wrong with this picture?  Research shows that our brains stop learning after 90 minutes — so if you study more than that in any one sitting, you are essentially wasting your time.  (The one exception to this rule is when you are sitting to take a mock exam. In this case you could sit for the alloted test time, but do not do any reviewing of the exam that day.) So here is a Quick* Study Guide:

Plan to study 90 minutes a day for the LCSW or MFT Exam , 4-5 days a week. It is important to give yourself 2-3 days off during the week for your brain to soak in material and to keep you from burning out.

Set your timer for 40 minutes.  In the first 10 minutes make a plan for the times you’d like to review.  For example, Mood Disorders or Ethical Issues.

For the next 30 minutes, study that topic and take notes.  Think about clinical applications of the information you’re reading.

After the 30 minutes, take a 5 minute break.  Stand up, walk around, drink a small glass of juice (brain fuel).

Come back and study for 30 more minutes.

In the final 15 minutes, talk through all your notes for the session.  Teach the information to yourself.

If you want to spend more than 90 minutes studying on a given day, it would be better to have 2 different 90 minute sessions, than one long one.

Also, 6o minutes is plenty of time to get some good studying in.  Just modify the above plan and remove the break.

Finally, remember that your study environment matters.  You must be able to focus.  So turn off your phone, TV, radio.  Find a quiet place where you can focus. When you aren’t studying, be sure to enjoy your life!  Don’t let the exam process consume you!  

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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