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

Posted by Amanda Rowan

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June 4, 2015 at 2:38 PM

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.