Think Like the Test

Think Like the Test

Test-taking strategies for license exams in mental health care. Using sample questions from various tests and from Ben Caldwell Labs, learn about how to improve your speed and performance through simple test-taking skills.


October 22, 2023 22 mins

Exam developers work diligently to produce what they believe to be strong, accurate exams. But just like everyone else, they occasionally make mistakes. What should you do when you read a question and you think, none of these answers sound right?

This question comes from the current edition of the official California LPCC Law & Ethics Exam Plan, available here.

During an initial session, a client tells the counselor that she is...

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What's your moral framework? That can heavily influence your clinical and ethical decision-making -- but it might not line up well with the approach you're being tested on. This episode is especially true to our title: In deciding right and wrong, to Think Like the Test means to think from a much more rule-based approach than how many clinicians actually work.

This question comes from prior edition of our book Preparing for the 202...

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September 12, 2023 17 mins

Therapists and reality TV shows are often not a great mix. And yet, it turns out that both of your esteemed hosts have some history with Hollywood. Learn more about how to think about dual-relationship exam questions -- and Ben's dark secret.

This question comes from an older edition of one of our books.

A therapist is concluding short-term treatment with a casting director for a production company that is interested in developing ...

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What happens when an ethics question -- produced by the actual test developer -- doesn't actually line up with what the relevant code of ethics says? In today's episode, even the "correct" answer isn't entirely correct. We discuss why, and talk about who you should think of as "the therapist" on exam items.

This question comes from the current California BBS exam handbook for the LPCC Law and Ethics Exam.

Which of the...

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Logic is one of the most important test-taking skills. If you can rule out even one part of a response choice, you can rule out that entire response choice. In today's question, Carrie ties herself in knots, as many examinees do. Ben explains how to focus your attention to answer complex questions quickly and correctly. 

This question comes from the current BBS handbook for the California MFT Clinical Exam. 

A 25-year...

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May 15, 2023 18 mins

[Content advisory: This episode includes discussion of sexual assault. Listener discretion advised.]

Crisis management questions will often include multiple answers that are good things to do in the situation described. But there's often a key word in the question that can help you know which of those good options is the right answer.

And speaking of safety, Ben starts asking whether clinical licensing exams actually do the thing t...

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[Content advisory: This episode includes discussion of client suicidality. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call 988.]

Exams have been criticized for how they treat information about a client's culture. Resisting stereotyping is an important clinical and test-taking skill, but race weighs more heavily on mental health licensing exams than you might expect.

This question comes from Preparing for the 2019 California...

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Key words in a question can often help lead you to the correct answer. In this episode, we discuss some to attend to -- and some that you shouldn't give much weight to.

This question comes from the current California Board of Behavioral Sciences handbook for the LCSW Law & Ethics Exam.

A client discloses that he had a sexual relationship with a previous therapist. The client does not disclose the identity of the forme...

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May 1, 2023 19 mins

Remember the key lesson from childhood games like Simon Says and Mother May I -- always listen carefully to the instructions.

This question comes from Ben Caldwell Labs' program for the California LMFT Clinical Exam. (It's not from one of the full-length mocks, we wouldn't want to give the answer to one of those away.)

An MFT in a community mental health center receives a new client. The client reports that her family...

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Carrie Wiita and Ben Caldwell talk through a sample question to start our discussion of test-taking skills, and Carrie comes one step closer to an important life goal.

This question comes from an older version of the BBS California LMFT Law & Ethics Exam handbook. It would equally apply to the LPCC and LCSW Law & Ethics exams.

A client initiates therapy for depression following a failed marriage. The therapist finds t...

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