I have written about the danger of “overthinking” in earlier blog posts. “Overthinking” refers to going off on tangents when you really should be trying to identify what the question is about, what concept is being illustrated by the specific test question you are trying to answer. Several responses recently posted on our Facebook page, (Sample Question 8/5/15) beautifully illustrate this issue. ( I hope you all are familiar with the more than 100 sample questions posted on Passitpro’s Facebook page.)
That particular question concerned a non-custodial father’s request for medical information about his minor son. Social workers posting answers to that question shared their thinking, which revealed to me that they were casting a pretty wide net to capture the correct answer. Once you veer your attention away from what this specific question is asking you can get into trouble. First, you must rely on what information is given. There were lots of “well maybe if……” thinking diversions, concerning signed releases, mother’s permission, joint custody, etc. For example, you may have read this question and realize that you don’t know the rules about non-custodial parental rights. Expect that at times, you will be unsure or ignorant of some knowledge on the tests; no one knows it all. At this moment it is better to stay on track, and ask yourself the central question, “OK, what do I know about custody rules and rights” to see what you can figure out. Once you begin to load up on related but irrelevant facts, the likelihood of choosing the correct answer is reduced. If you don’t know the rule, then at least you can guess and move on, or you can flag the question to return to it later. Spending your time and brain power going down trails that lead you nowhere is never a good idea.
The process of “overthinking” may actually come naturally to social workers. When we listen to a client’s description of their problem or issue, our minds are like circulating fans going round and round sweeping in all kinds of possible connections. By contrast, the ASWB license exams require laser focus to identify the question being asked, a very different process. This takes practice, this is what we teach during the videoconference Study Group at Passitpro.