Central San Joaquin Valley Chapter

Test taking for the Associate Marriage & Family Therapist

01/20/2020 11:05 AM | Michael Crile (Administrator)

It has been a while since I have posted a blog. Now that the holidays are over, and life appears to kick back into normal pace, (I actually wonder what that is), as an Associate Marriage & Family Therapist, I wanted to provide some points for taking your Law & Ethics Exam and your Clinical Exam. The following information is from Utah State University Academic Success Program on their web-age,  https://www.usu.edu/asp/studysmart/pdf/TestTakingTips.pdf

Before the Test Tips

1. Get a good night’s sleep and eat a high protein breakfast. Drink plenty of water.

2. Practice guided imagery, visualizations of succeeding on the test, mentally “going where the information is stored in your brain”, or breathing techniques.

3. Don’t study right before the test. Concentrate on being calm and mentally accessing the information you have already studied. Best practice and insight that has been presented by test prep programs, state that you should stop studying five to seven days prior to your exam.

4. Get to the test site early. The current test sites say that the exam starts at 9:00, and to be there no later than 8:30 to sign in.

5. Don’t engage in negative talk with ANYONE before the test, such as “I’m so nervous – I don’t know if I studied enough.” YOU'VE GOT THIS.

6. Eliminate negative thoughts or self-talk by replacing them with a positive affirmation, like “I am prepared for the test and I will do well” or “I am smart – I can do this.”

7. You will not be able to take ANYTHING into the exam room with you. In the past, the test sites have provided a piece of paper and a pencil at your test station.  Use the paper for “brain dumping” or “mind mapping” during the exam.

8. Make a decision to ignore students who finish their test before you. PSI offered a variety of tests, and what I have seen with Pearson VUE, they offer a variety of exams as well. The people around you may not even be working on the MFT clinical exam. You have four hours. Use every minute that you can. If you finish 25 minutes early, review what you felt you might have been stumped on. Research shows that students who leave early usually don’t score as well as those who take more time.

Multiple Choice Test Tips

1. Read the directions carefully. You should receive a booklet from the BBS about the exam and testing program. Review it, don't just sit it aside. There may be vital information in there on the exam that you are never informed of.

2. Read the ENTIRE sentence stem, do not skip a single word, think of the answer, and then find it in the choices.

3. Pay careful attention to negative words (underline them) in the stem and these are distracter's. THIS MAY NOT BE IN THE EXAM, BUT THE BBS HAS BEEN KNOWN TO THROW IN WORDS TO CHALLENGE YOUR THINKING PROCESS.

4. Read all the options, before choosing.

5. Don’t dwell on the ones you don’t know. Close your eyes and tell yourself, “the answer will come,” mark the question, (read the instructions carefully when you start to know how to mark your question, and write the question number on your page, then move on to questions you know. Go back to the one(s) you marked and try again – the answer has probably come to you.

6. Go back to the questions you were unsure of. If the answer hasn’t come to you, use one of the strategies below to help you answer the question. 

True/False Test Tips 

1. 100% qualifiers are usually false statements. no, never, none, every, always, all, only, entirely

2. Qualifiers that fall between extremes are usually true: seldom, sometimes, often, frequently, most, many, few, some, usually, generally, ordinarily. 

3. Remember, if any part of the statement is false, then the entire statement is false.

4. Pay attention to conjunctions and phrases: such as, therefore, thus, because, consequently, so, as a result.

5. Pay attention to negative words in the statement. Not, cannot, can’t, won’t, don’t, no.

Melting “Brain-freeze” Techniques

1. Recreate the testing scene. Take the practice tests from whichever study program you have utilized, and take the test in the same time frame you are given with the same kind of distractions. The best options to practice are to have a quiet space at home without everyone disrupting you. Turn off your cell-phone and putting it away so you are not tempted to check messages, voicemails, social media. While taking your practice exam, DO NOT LISTEN TO MUSIC, you will not be able to do this during the real exam and this will interfere with your brains thinking process, telling you during the exam that because you do not have your music, you will fail.

2. Focus your attention on breathing. Concentrate on the air going in and out of your lungs – long, deep breaths will calm you and send oxygen to your brain. Do this for two minutes.

3. Hear your negative thoughts and mentally yell: “Stop!” Then, mentally repeat an affirmation such as, “The answers will come” or “I am smart – I can do this”, several times.

4. Discover where the tension is in your body. Tense and release the muscles in this area and become aware when relaxation occurs during the release. Focus on the relaxation and recreate the sensation whenever you choose during the exam.

5. Use guided imagery. This works best if you practice before the test. Close your eyes and see yourself in your favorite, most relaxing place – a beach or forest are good examples. Feel everything about this place, including sights, sounds, and smells. Once you are proficient, you can take this quick fantasy trip right during the test. When you are there, mentally tell yourself “Go to the place where the answers are.” Take a deep breath, open your eyes and begin writing. 


While studying for the exam, do not study every single day. Take time to relax and take time to exercise.

Find the best snacks that will help you in your studying and practice exams. These will help you find what is best to take the day of the exam.

Take a high sugar and protein snack, such as a granola bar and orange juice, with you to snack approximately midway through your exam.

If you have difficulty doing your own guided imagery, utilize You-Tube. There are many different ones out there. Find the one that is closest to your heart and memorize the key components of it in order to have it ready the day of the test. Utilize this in your practice exams as well.


Michael Crile, MA, MA, is a registered associate marriage & family therapist and organizational leader. He currently works as a Student Assistance Program Counselor with Comprehensive Youth Services, under the supervision of Lisa Brott. He takes the challenges and experiences from life to assist the clients he works with, to provide the best therapy for each client. He enjoys a variety of therapeutic techniques, being extremely eclectic in the therapy room. He has worked in forensic environments working with individuals who had been in the state mental hospitals and with sex offenders on parole and probation.

Michael is scheduled to take his Clinical MFT Exam in February.

Michael serves as secretary for CAMFT-CSJV Chapter and Visalia Toastmasters.

Michael enjoys trips with his husband of 17 years, a plethora of music, card, dice, and board games, meditative coloring, and guided imagery. His favorite places are the mountains, the beach, and Disneyland. 

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Central San Joaquin Valley Chapter- California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists 


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