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Examination Development

For each level of the examination, ASWB maintains a stockpile of questions, or items, coded to specific content areas. These items are created by social work practitioners across the country who have been contracted to write and edit questions for the examinations. These writers are carefully selected by the association to ensure an accurate representation of practice, racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity, and are trained in the finer points of item writing.

Once written and edited, the items are sent to the ASWB Examination Committee for its review. The committee looks closely at each item to determine whether it meets the criteria for inclusion in the ASWB item pool.

Approved items are not automatically included as scored questions. First, items must be pretested as nonscored items on the examinations there are 20 pretest items on every ASWB examination. Psychometric experts use the responses as a way to judge just how well the item "performs." Only after a pretest item has demonstrated that it performs up to accepted testing standards is it included in the actual item pool.

The items in the item pool are coded for placement on the examinations according to the test blueprint. The "depth" of this pool allows the association to administer different versions, called "forms," of its examinations. Two test takers may very well take examinations that contain different questions, but both test-takers will be taking an examination that follows the same content outline, and tests the same knowledge.