On September 10, 2021, College Council passed a motion to approve, in accordance with the ASWB’s timeline, entry-to-practice exams for social work and social service work applicants to the College. This decision is in line with the College’s Strategic Plan 2020-23, which includes an objective to “review registration processes and consider entry-to-practice exam for new social workers and social service workers.”
Entry-to-practice exams are an additional tool that help measure applicants’ readiness to practise, ensuring that only those with specific qualifications are eligible for registration. In keeping with regulatory practice in most professions, including health practitioners, the College must take all necessary measures to be in a position to assure the public (including service users) that successful applicants entering the professions will practise safely and ethically, without causing harm.
Registration requirements which include both educational qualifications and successful completion of an entry-to-practice exam are standard across all health professions in Ontario; together, these measures provide a system of checks and balances which ensures that applicants are ready for practice. Neither a degree in social work nor a diploma in social service work alone is sufficient to measure readiness to practise.
Most other Canadian social work regulators now either use, or intend to move toward, use of the ASWB exams.
Updates on the implementation plan and timeline will be posted on this webpage as they become available. Please contact the Communications Department at email@example.com for inquiries related to the entry-to-practice exams.
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Development and implementation
The ASWB is responsible for developing and implementing the entry-to-practice exams. There are a number of initiatives that will be developed in accordance with the ASWB’s timeline prior to implementation of the exams. These include:
- adopting entry-to-practice exams for both social work and social service work, and French versions of both exams;
- supporting the execution of a practice analysis for social service work and the development of a social service work exam; and
- developing an implementation plan.
The development and implementation of the exams will take several years. It is anticipated that the exam requirement will not be fully implemented until 2027.
During the development and implementation of the exams, the ASWB will carefully consider matters related to accessibility and inclusivity, including (but not limited to) the following:
- Ensuring that each question is written and reviewed by practising social workers and social service workers and reflects diversity in practice setting, ethnicity, race and geography. All questions will be reviewed and approved before ever being used on an exam.
- Considering the geographical locations of testing centres to ensure accessibility in all areas of the province.
- Making every effort to reduce barriers for applicants through ongoing communication and collaboration with social work and social service work educators, and the provision of resources for their students.
For more information on the development of exam questions, including the ASWB’s practice analysis, visit the ASWB website.
ASWB Exam Pass Rate Analysis
In August 2022, the ASWB published its Exam Pass Rate Analysis which found that racialized candidates have historically had lower exam pass rates than white candidates. The publication of this data is a necessary first step toward identifying the current systemic issues that extend beyond entry-to-practice exams and allowing for an intentional emphasis on making changes and measuring progress.
The ASWB 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 a broad practice analysis across Canada and the United States which will create the blueprint of the version of the social work exam that the College will use in 2027; a similar practice analysis will take place for the development of the social service work exam.
For more information: