Message from the Registrar – Entry-to-Practice Exams

The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the College) is aware of concerns circulating over the College’s decision to implement entry-to-practice exams for all applicants. We would like to take this opportunity to respond and provide some important clarification.

ASWB Exam Pass Rate Analysis

In August 2022, the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) published an Exam Pass Rate Analysis, which included data indicating that racialized candidates have historically had lower exam pass rates. We were deeply concerned and saddened by this evidence of the burdens that have been borne disproportionately by racialized exam candidates. Moving forward, identifying disparities is a necessary first step in developing and implementing appropriate solutions across the profession and measuring progress in relation to this complex issue.

The exam pass rate data provides an important benchmark; it also highlights a structural and systemic issue that extends far beyond the exam, the College and the ASWB. Meaningful solutions will require efforts on the part of many stakeholders – including regulators, associations, social work and social service work programs, accreditation bodies, employers and others. More information about the ASWB’s Exam Pass Rate Analysis as well as a call to collaboration video from the ASWB’s CEO, Stacey Hardy-Chandler can be found on the ASWB website.

Eventual implementation of entry-to-practice exams in Ontario

I want to emphasize that the exams that are currently in place, to which the data relates, are not the versions that the College will be using. The ASWB is currently preparing for an in-depth practice analysis, which will create the blueprint for the French and English versions of the social work exams that we will use when the exams are implemented in 2027. A similar practice analysis will take place to develop the social service work exam which will also be available in French.  

A siloed decision on the part of the College to reverse its decision with respect to the ASWB exams would not support our mandate to protect clients and communities from harm, nor would it address the larger societal issues that impact candidates long before they take an entry-to-practice exam.

Protecting the public interest

It is well understood by regulators in Ontario, Canada and internationally that educational qualifications alone are insufficient to measure readiness to practise and to protect the public from harm.

It is reasonable for Ontarians to expect that social workers and social service workers (like nurses, physicians and other health professionals) have passed entry-to-practice exams in order to practise. No one registration requirement is adequate to protect the public, and while entry-to-practice exams are not perfect, they will provide an essential additional tool to ensure that the clients and communities served by our registrants are protected from harm.

More information

For more information on the College’s eventual implementation of entry-to-practice exams – including frequently asked questions – please visit our website. Please contact the Communications Department at for further information.

Lise Betteridge, MSW, RSW
Registrar and CEO