California MFT Law & Ethics Exam: Frequently Asked Questions

Startup Stock Photos / Pexels / Used under license We're big believers in efficiency around here, and we find ourselves often answering the same questions about the California MFT Law & Ethics Exam. So we've compiled a list here with some easy answers for quick reference. Standard caveats: Stuff changes, and while we'll do our best to keep this updated, it's ultimately your job to make sure you know what the current requirements for the exam are. We're not lawyers around here, so none of this is legal advice. And if you have a question you would like to see answered that isn't covered here, you can always send us an email and let us know. Let's dive in!

Question List

Click on any of these specific questions to jump down to its answer.
 
What is the current passing score?
How many questions are on the test?
How many questions are scored? How many are experimental?
When do I take the exam?
How long should I prepare for the exam?
What test prep program should I use?
How can I save money on test prep?
When will I receive my results?
When will the BBS receive my results?
How can I apply for disability accommodations?
How can I apply for ESL accommodations?
How many times can I attempt the exam? Is there a limit?

Answers

What is the current passing score?

The BBS stopped publishing the current passing score for the exam in 2018. However, previous test cycles had consistently generated passing scores around 35 out of 50 scored questions (so, 70%). The passing score for your test cycle may be a bit higher if that test is considered easier than prior versions. The passing score might also be lower if your cycle has a harder test. The whole idea behind changing the passing score for different cycles is to keep the bar for passing roughly the same across cycles.

How many questions are on the test?

The test consists of 75 questions in four-option, multiple-choice format.

How many questions are scored? How many are experimental?

Of those 75 questions, 50 are scored. The other 25 questions are not scored. Those are considered "experimental" items and are being tested for possible inclusion as scored items in future cycles of the test. The experimental items are randomly distributed throughout the exam, so you have no way of knowing which exam items on your exam are scored and which are experimental. You should do your best on every item.

When do I take the exam?

You must attempt the exam in your first year of registration as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. We believe strongly in getting it done quickly; there's no benefit, and there is some potential risk, in waiting until the very end of that year. We wrote a whole article about it.

How long should I prepare for the exam?

There's no hard and fast rule about this. Some people have said that they passed with minimal studying -- no more than a couple of days' worth. Others have said they needed weeks or months to feel comfortable and confident.

What test prep program should I use?

Naturally, we'd vote for ours. We have an online program that is less than half the cost of competing programs, if you learn well from video and case examples. We also offer a study guide and practice tests if you prefer books. But the truth is, all the major prep companies produce good, useful products that are likely to help you prepare. Much comes down to how you learn best, and how much you're willing to spend. A couple of things to bear in mind: 1, A higher price doesn't necessarily mean better quality, it just means that company chose to charge more. And 2, You don't necessarily need any prep program in order to pass. The test covers a limited scope of knowledge. If you still feel confident in your Law and Ethics knowledge from your graduate program, you might just need to review your textbooks and the current code of ethics. Alternately, you might do best just by preparing with a couple of practice tests, rather than a full prep program. As we wrote about here, lots of people value what the prep companies (including us) offer. But what we mainly do is organize knowledge for the sake of test preparation, and offer practice tests. There's no secret knowledge that the prep companies have that others don't.

How can I save money on test prep?

We wrote previously about what to do with exam prep material after you pass, and it helps with this question too. You can get our books for very little money, and might even be able to get them used. What you shouldn't do, though, is share a login for an online program. That violates their terms of service, and makes the programs more expensive for everyone else.

When will I receive my results?

Unless something unusual is happening, you should receive your results immediately. You may see your result on the screen, or you may need to go to the front desk of the testing facility to receive a printout of your results. Note that if you are taking a paper-and-pencil version of the exam as part of accommodations for disability, your results will be mailed to you in about 8 weeks.

When will the BBS receive my results?

The testing company (currently PSI) transmits exam results to the BBS every business day. However, it may take an additional day or two for the BBS's own systems to update and integrate that PSI data.

How can I apply for disability accommodations?

The form to apply for disability accommodations is here. Common accommodations include extra time, or a quiet room. More rare accommodations include tests in paper-and-pencil format.

How can I apply for ESL accommodations?

The form to apply for extra time based on English being your second language is here. Note that the requirements are fairly strict, so the simple fact that English is your second language is not, by itself, enough to qualify.

How many times can I attempt the exam? Is there a limit?

You can attempt the exam as many times as you like. You must wait at least 90 days following a failed attempt before you can retake the exam, allowing for approximately four attempts per year. (The reality is a little less, since you can't take the exam the day you become eligible again; you have to reapply for eligibility and schedule your test.) As a practical matter, since the BBS will not issue a second registration number to someone who has not passed the Law and Ethics Exam, if you attempt once per year you will need to pass by the sixth attempt.