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Changes in the 2024 BBS Law & Ethics Exam Plans

Changes in the 2024 BBS Law & Ethics Exam Plans

In November, the California BBS announced changes to the Law & Ethics Exams for future LMFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs. These changes took effect January 1, 2024 for the MFT and clinical social work exams. They took effect February 1, 2024 for the clinical counselor exam.

What's changing

Every few years, the BBS updates the Exam Plan for each of its exams. The Exam Plan is a document outlining what information can be covered on the test. Not everything included on the Exam Plan is actually included in each version of the exam, but everything on the Exam Plan could be included on the real thing.

Some of our colleagues in the exam prep world have described the exam plan changes as trivial. We disagree. While we wouldn't describe the changes as a major overhaul, the differences are real and consequential. A program that hasn't been meaningfully updated to the new Exam Plan may not help you as much as a program that has been updated -- like ours.

Content changes

The biggest changes are in the content areas that can be covered on the test. The new Exam Plan expands its coverage of telehealth (no surprise there), and includes a number of content areas that had not previously been in the Exam Plan.

Here are some examples of "Knowledge Statements" in the new Exam Plan that had not been directly addressed on all of the Law & Ethics Exams previously. (In some cases, items were previously included in one exam plan but not all three; all of these are now included in all three.)

  • Knowledge of laws regarding geographic limitations for providing telehealth
  • Knowledge of laws regarding client rights in situations requiring involuntary hospitalization
  • Knowledge of laws regarding breaking confidentiality to address psychiatric crises
  • Knowledge of laws prohibiting collusion
  • Knowledge of methods for demonstrating cultural humility and cultural awareness
  • Knowledge of ethical standards regarding [non-sexual] physical contact with clients
  • Knowledge of ethical standards regarding sexual harassment and use of derogatory language with or about clients and others
  • Knowledge of ethical standards regarding clients’ right to withdraw consent
  • Knowledge of methods for ensuring clients understand informed consent information and their rights
  • Knowledge of ethical standards regarding accepting incentives for withholding or limiting client care
  • Knowledge of methods for managing breaches of confidentiality
  • Knowledge of ethical standards for participating as a member of interdisciplinary teams
  • Knowledge of methods for assisting clients in understanding information in treatment records 

...and that's not even a complete list. Suffice to say, there's a meaningful amount of knowledge that can newly be covered on the exam. This is the main reason why, if you're considering another program, it's worth asking what specifically they did to address the changes. 

Balance of content

In addition to the content changes above, the BBS is also changing the balance of content on the exam -- that is, how many of the scored items come from each content category. These are more minor changes, but they're still worth knowing:

Content Category (2024 name) 2023 Scored Items (%) 2024 Scored Items (%)

1 - Law

20 (40%)

22 (44%)

1A - Consent, Confidentiality, and Privilege

7 (14%)

8 (16%)

1B - Limits to Confidentiality and Mandated Reporting

8 (16%)

8 (16%)

1C - Legal Standards for Professional Practice

5 (10%)

6 (12%)

2 - Ethics

30 (60%)

28 (56%)

2A - Professional Competence and Integrity

9 (18%)

8 (16%)

2B - Responsibility to Clients and Therapeutic Relationships

13-14 (27%)

12 (24%)

2C - Practice Policies and Professional Responsibilities

7-8 (15%)

8 (16%)


One component that can be sometimes overlooked is that some existing knowledge areas were moved to a different content category in the new Exam Plan. For example, issues of diversity and cultural competence were previously included in 2B; now they're in 2A. For prep programs that haven't made corresponding adjustments to the subscale scoring of their practice exams, those subscale scores will now be less accurate as reflections of your knowledge of the specific content categories.

How We've Adapted Our Programs

To adjust for these changes, we've produced new video addressing the new and expanded topics in each course.  

We've also adjusted the content balance of the mock exams, and reclassified questions whose content areas were moved from one category to another. This ensures that your subscale scores remain accurate under the new exam plan.

Finally, where the new exam plan moved topics into a different content category, we've reorganized video content within our program. Our programs follow the organization of the new exam plan. 

We work hard to keep our programs current. It's one more way we fight for you.

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