The Changes to the California LCSW and MFT Exams: How to Prepare

By Amanda Rowan on June 4, 2015

In January of 2016, California will switch its LCSW and MFT licensing exams.

LCSW Exams – LCSW applicants will be required to pass two new exams that replace the existing exams:

  • A California Law and Ethics Exam will replace the Standard Written Exam. It is designed to assess the applicant’s knowledge of and ability to apply legal and ethical standards relating to clinical practice.
  • The National Clinical ASWB Exam will replace the Clinical Vignette Exam. It is designed to assess an applicant’s knowledge of psychosocial principles and methods in treatment and their application, and the ability to make judgments about appropriate techniques, methods and objectives as applicable to the profession’s scope of practice.

LMFT Exams – LMFT applicants will be required to pass two new exams that replace the existing exams:

  • A California Law and Ethics Exam will replace the Standard Written Exam. It is designed to assess the applicant’s knowledge of and ability to apply legal and ethical standards relating to clinical practice.
  • A California Clinical Exam will replace the Clinical Vignette Exam. It designed to assess an applicant’s knowledge of psychotherapeutic principles and methods in treatment and their application, and the ability to make judgments about appropriate techniques, methods and objectives as applicable to the profession’s scope of practice.

Here are some questions people are asking about TDC’s program for people caught in this transition.

1) Will the people on the cusp of the exams be automatically rolled over to the National LCSW program or the Clinical MFT Program?
If you purchased the COMBO package you will be automatically covered and be given an upgrade to whichever exam prep you need based on where you are in the process.   If you passed the SWE (current first exam) you would not need to take the Law and Ethics – only the National Clinical if you are a social worker or the Clinical Exam if you are an MFT.
2) Will there be any additional fees to transfer to the National program?
No.  However, if you paid only for the first exam program and already passed that exam, you will still need to purchase the program for the National Clinical if you are a social worker or the Clinical Exam if you are an MFT.
3) Is the Law and Ethics exam T/F format?
No.  It will be 100 question multiple choice.
4) If you take and fail the Law and Ethics exam, how long before you can attempt it again? 
The BBS has not announced this yet but we think it will be either 3 or 6 months.
5) Must people take and pass both exams prior to Jan 2016? 
No.  If you don’t pass the current exams you will have to take either one or both of the new exams depending on whether you have passed the first exam.  So if you pass the first exam you don’t have to take the Law and Ethics exam.  If you fail the current first exam, you will have to take the Law and Ethics before you take the new Clinical exam.
6) After taking and passing the Law/Ethics exam is there a waiting period to take the next exam?
A little one —  You can take the next exam once the BBS processes your exam paperwork, which takes 2-4 weeks.

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16 Responses to “The Changes to the California LCSW and MFT Exams: How to Prepare”

  1. Sarah

    I just passed the California standard written LCSW with the help of your fabulous study system. I am thinking about waiting until 2016 to take the second exam. I understand that the first test I just passed will count as me having passed the Law/Ethics exam. I will then be writing the national ASWB exam as my second exam in 2016 which I imagine will have some advantages to me in the long run if I want to relocate yes?

    Reply
  2. nazila amighi

    I called camft yesterday and spoke to one of their lawyer, David. He told me that there is a two year grace period, so people who are in the process will not b affected by the new exams. He mentioned that BBs has to offer the SWE and SVE next year for people who are in the process, since those of us who bought exam preps and studying… I want to belive him, and you are saying it differently. I am so confuse!! This is not helping me with my studying either!! Thanks in advance for your response.

    Reply
    • Sara lippman

      i really want to know the answer to this question!

      Reply
    • Grazel Garcia

      I would call the Board and ask. They are very nice people and will give you the right answer. I suggest calling in the morning. I will do this on Monday and ask the question and will post the answer on here.

      Reply
  3. Lisa Espinoza

    The BBS website addresses FAQs for the Examination Restructure for Registrants:
    http://www.bbs.ca.gov/pdf/publications/exam_restructure_faq_registrants.pdf

    Hope this helps!

    Reply
  4. Elaine Pritchard

    I didn't pass the SWE and will be cleared by late Nov 2015 to retake it. Should I wait till Jan to do the new exam. Or if intake it can I then just take the Clinical ex. And how will that affect the study material. Will I have to pay more. I am using TDC and was told to reach out in adept to restart the study material.

    Reply
  5. Kristen

    I recently received permission to take the California Standard Written Exam. I would like to relocate to another state within the next few months but ultimately return to California in another few years. If I apply for licensure with another state and take the national ASWB exam now, will California accept it in 2016? Would I just then send in my ASWB exam score to them and take the California ethics exam? Or will that not be an option since I already have permission to test? I don't want to delay my move or getting a license but also don't want to study, test, and pay for both the California and national exams if I can avoid it.

    Reply
    • Reshma Manjiyani

      Hi Kristen, I’m in the same boat as you and I’m wondering if you got any response back on your question… Thanks in advance

      Reply
  6. Lauren Hyman

    Amanda,coaches.I was close but not close enough to pass(discouraging for sure) when I took the last April 2015 LCSW standard exam.Still struggling but am rebooting mentally.
    I was planning on taking h e exam again in December but looks like maybe I have to in November,2015(have no choice with date) and then ,the big exam changes.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.Can not belive it will all change,the exam structure that is.
    Thanks !
    Sincerely,
    LCSW Calif. (want to be be badly)
    Lauren Levin Hyman,msw, acsw, osw-c
    Berkeley,ca.
    Laurenhym@gmail.com

    Reply
  7. Karen wall

    I checked the BBS site. If you are already in the cycle to take or retake the written or vignette exams, you have to take/retake them by 30 Nov 2015. There will be a blackout period after that, so if you have not completed these tests by then you will be required to take the new exams after January 1st. If you took and passed the written exam already, and have not taken the vignette exam by November 30th, you will have to take the new Clinical exam After January, but will not have to take the new Law and Ethics exam.

    Reply
  8. Helen Sprague

    When will the new study materials be updated for the new exam starting in Jan 2016?

    Reply
    • Holly Argott

      Hi Helen,
      I am wondering the same thing! I purchased the combo materials and then the test changed before I was able to get my hours submitted and approved. I would like to start studying the new materials asap while Im waiting for approval. I have sent two emails inquiring about this but have recieved no response. Please let me know if you have heard anything! Thanks

      Reply
  9. cynthia casey

    Will new insurance requirements to the ICD-10 codes effect the new exams or the exam continue to focus on the DSM criteria

    Reply
    • gianna heatherly

      I am also wondering this, as my company just informed me that our agency will be moving forward in using the ICD-10 codes and not DSM. Please post if you find out an answer. thanks.

      Reply
  10. Kimberly Miller

    I really need help with the login mess. I had an account under the old site and now I can’t tell what is new from old and it has me with a new account that is kamiller4811_36480.
    It is forcing to keep changing my password. Any remedy to getting to the new material I bought recently. I am getting exasperated by not getting to the site as needed and I think there is confusing on the usernames and my emails. I need to get this straightened out. I don’t want to lose my money’s worth. I am currently locked out.

    Reply
  11. Bonnie Cardell

    what is the benefit of a California licensed LMFT to taking the National MFT exam? Will it allow us to work in other states without having to take their licensing exam? And if so what is the process of registering for this national exam?
    Thanks!

    Reply

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