10 Things You Should Know About the MBLEx Before Applying

10 Things You Should Know About the MBLEx Before Applying

Are you nearing the end of your massage training program and starting to think about taking the MBLEx? If so, you’re in the right place. This post distills 10 essential things you need to know about the FSMTB Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination, a critical step on your path to becoming a licensed massage therapist.

From learning the key eligibility and application requirements for the MBLEx, to discovering the exam structure, contents, scoring, cost, and post-exam procedures, this guide presents a thorough overview of the MBLEx exam. We’ll also discuss what happens if you need to retake the exam. Now let’s take a look at what you really need to know before applying for the MBLEx.

1. What is the MBLEx?

The MBLEx, short for Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination, is an entry-level licensure exam that massage therapy students need to pass in order to complete an application to become a licensed massage therapist (LMT), at least in most U.S. states. Practicing therapists may also need to take the test when seeking licensure in a different state if they have not yet passed the exam.

Created and maintained by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), the MBLEx is a nationally recognized test that evaluates a candidate’s comprehension and application of key concepts related to therapeutic massage and bodywork. One thing about the MBLEx is that it’s a one-time exam – once you pass it, you won’t need to retake it for license renewal purposes, even if you move to a new state.

While the MBLEx is widely accepted, it’s essential to note that massage license requirements in the can vary by state. Some states may have specific additional criteria or tests that go beyond the MBLEx. Therefore, candidates should research the specific requirements of their state licensing board or contact their state massage therapy board directly for current requirements. Being aware of these variations ensures that you are fully prepared for the licensing process in your chosen state.

2. Eligibility Criteria and Application Process

To be eligible to sit for the MBLEx exam, candidates must meet specific criteria. The primary criteria is that applicants must have received education and training in all content areas of the MBLEx, from a massage therapy education program that meets the FSMTB massage education policy requirements. Be sure to check the most recent MBLEx Candidate Handbook or their website for up-to-date eligibility criteria.

The MBLEx application process involves a few straightforward steps. Begin by creating an FSMTB examination account online and then complete the application form. During this process, you’ll be required to pay the examination fee ($265) and provide supporting documentation, such as proof of your massage therapy education. 

Once your application has been processed and approved (within five business days), you’ll receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) letter. From the time you receive your ATT letter, you must schedule and take your exam at a Pearson VUE testing center within the timeframe listed on your ATT (this used to be 90 days however the current handbook does not specify the timeframe). It’s recommended to schedule your exam online at your earliest convenience to secure your preferred date and testing location. *Scheduling, rescheduling or canceling is done directly through Pearson VUE.

3. MBLEx Content and Structure

The MBLEx is a computer adaptive test (CAT), which means the exam adjusts its level of difficulty based on your previous answers. As you answer exam questions correctly, the system presents you with more difficult questions to test the limits of your knowledge. We have a full article on computer adaptive testing which explains how this works in detail. 

The MBLEx has 100 multiple-choice questions, and candidates are given a total of two hours to complete it. This means you should practice pacing yourself to answer each question accurately in about a minute. There is only one correct answer per question. Most questions have four possible answers, however there have been some recent changes in which some questions have three answer choices. You will not be able to skip a question or go back and change an answer on a previous question.

The FSMTB bases the content of these questions on a job task analysis to ensure that the MBLEx reflects the most current practice of massage therapy.

It’s important to have a solid understanding of the MBLEx content outline as the test covers a broad range of topics: 

  • Anatomy & Physiology (11%)
  • Kinesiology (12%)
  • Pathology, Contraindications, Areas of Caution, Special Populations (14%)
  • Benefits & Physiological Effects of Soft Tissue Techniques (15%)
  • Client Assessment, Reassessment, and Treatment Planning (17%)
  • Ethics, Boundaries, Laws, Regulations (16%)
  • Guidelines for Professional Practice (15%)

Understanding how each subject is weighted can help you allocate your study time more efficiently, ensuring that you are adequately prepared for all topics, especially those that carry more weight on the test.

4. MBLEx Scoring Criteria

The MBLEx is graded on a pass/fail basis, meaning your final results will simply be a Pass or Fail rather than a numerical score. The FSMTB does not disclose the exact passing score, as it is not a meaningful number due to the computer-adaptive nature of the test. However, it’s essential to aim for the highest performance possible to increase your chances of passing.

Once you complete your exam, your score report will be available immediately. Pearson VUE staff will give you your unofficial test results before you leave. Test takers who don’t pass will receive additional information on their report indicating how they did in each of the seven exam content areas (Good, Borderline, Poor). If you don’t pass, you will have the opportunity to retake the test after 30 days. However, you’ll need to pay the examination fee again. 

Failing the MBLEx can delay your ability to practice as a licensed massage therapist, as you must pass the MBLEx to get licensed in most states. Therefore, it’s crucial to prepare thoroughly for the exam to avoid any setbacks in getting your license.

5. Creating a Study Plan

Creating an effective study plan is key to passing the exam. Your MBLEx study plan should be tailored to your learning style and schedule. Start by taking a practice test or two in order to see which area(s) of the exam you should spend the most time studying. Typically, a committed 1-3 month study timeline should be enough to get a good handle on all exam content. 

Consider dedicating specific days and hours each week to study. This consistency will pay off. For instance, starting three months before the test, aim for around 10-15 hours of study per week. This can be split into manageable 2-3 hour sessions throughout the week. Mix up your study routine with a blend of reading, taking notes, and answering practice tests. There are many time management strategies you can use to help.

Our online course can fit seamlessly into this routine, providing a structured learning journey that covers all the essential topics. Regularly taking practice tests can help you assess your progress and pinpoint the areas that need more attention. 

6. Handling Test Anxiety

Test anxiety can hinder even the most prepared test-takers. It’s completely normal to feel nervous before an exam, especially one as critical as the MBLEx. The key is to channel that anxiety into productive preparation using stress management techniques. Here are a few strategies that can help manage test anxiety:

  1. Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity is known to reduce stress. Incorporate a workout routine into your study schedule. It could be as simple as a daily walk or a few stretches in between study sessions.
  2. Mindfulness and Breathing Exercises: Mindfulness practices, like deep breathing exercises or meditation, can help you stay calm and focused. Practice this regularly, and especially on the day of your test.
  3. Practice under Exam Conditions: Get comfortable with the test format by doing practice tests under conditions similar to the actual exam. This will not only make you familiar with the test but will also help to reduce anxiety on the actual test day.
  4. Positive Visualization: Visualize success. It may sound cliché, but positive mental imagery can genuinely help improve your mood and decrease anxiety.
  5. Healthy Eating and Sleeping Habits: Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep and a balanced diet. Your brain performs best when it’s well-rested and nourished. This form of self-care will benefit all aspects of your life.
  6. Trade massages: If you’re still in massage school or have other therapists you can do trades with, this will not only relieve stress, but you can get some extra practice and get feedback to keep improving you hands-on skills.

Remember, it’s not about completely eradicating anxiety, but learning how to manage it effectively. With the right strategies and a solid study plan, you can turn test anxiety into a motivating force that drives you towards success on the MBLEx.

7. Preparing for the MBLEx

Preparing for the MBLEx is a crucial step towards becoming a licensed massage therapist. And that’s where our comprehensive MBLEx prep course can help. Designed with your needs in mind, this course is not just about saving your time but also about making your study time more effective. We’ve organized the course content to align with the MBLEx content outline, making sure you’re spending time only on the topics that matter. 

But preparation doesn’t end with just understanding the topics. Practice tests are your best friend when it comes to boosting information retention and understanding the exam format. Our online practice tests are designed to mimic the actual MBLEx conditions, helping you familiarize yourself with the question format and time constraints. These tests give you insights into your strengths and highlight the areas you need to focus on more. 

Also, don’t forget to make use of our free MBLEx flashcards – a quick, easy way to review key concepts anytime, anywhere. Members also get access to our muscle flashcards to help with memorizing origins, insertions and actions. All these resources combined, you will not just be studying for the MBLEx, but mastering it.

8. Exam Testing Center

So, you’ve prepared diligently, and the test day is here. It can be a little nerve-wracking, but understanding what to expect can help keep the jitters at bay and avoid common MBLEx mistakes. As mentioned above, the MBLEx is administered at a Pearson VUE testing center. The folks at Pearson VUE are quite strict when it comes to exam security and maintaining the integrity of the test. 

To ensure this, there are certain rules in place. For instance, you’ll need two forms of ID (with one being a photo ID). Personal items should be kept in your car or in a locker provided, so don’t worry about your belongings while you’re taking the test. You will also be asked to sign a security and confidentiality agreement before starting the test. Be aware of any rules about breaks or notes, and follow them as instructed.

Getting to the test center on time is important, and latecomers may not be allowed to take the test. Therefore, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the location beforehand and plan your route accordingly. If you need to make any travel arrangements, do so well in advance. 

For test takers with a disability, Pearson VUE provides accommodations. It could range from extra time, a separate room, or specialized equipment. It’s best to reach out to them beforehand and make the necessary arrangements. Being familiar with these aspects can help to reduce stress on test day and ensure a smooth testing experience.

9. Post-Exam Procedure

The moment you finish your exam might bring a sense of relief, but you’re probably also eager to know your results. Don’t worry, you won’t have to wait too long! After you complete the MBLEx, your scores are usually available almost immediately. This rapid turnaround allows you to quickly plan for your next steps, whether it’s celebrating a passing score or formulating a strategy for retaking the test.

Now, let’s assume you’ve successfully passed the MBLEx. Congratulations! But the process isn’t over just yet. Your next step is to get your license to practice. This generally involves having your scores sent to your state licensing board (you will have selected which state during the MBLEx application process). Each state has its own specific guidelines, so it’s crucial to check with your state board to understand what further actions may be necessary. Once that’s done, you’re well on your way to starting your career as a licensed massage therapist!

10. Retaking the MBLEx

Unfortunately, not everyone passes the MBLEx exam on their first try. The pass rate varies, but is usually between 70-75% for first-time test takers. If you find yourself in this position, don’t panic. The good news is you can retake the exam. However, keep in mind that there’s a 30-day waiting period before you can sit for the test again. This break provides a beneficial window of opportunity to review areas where you struggled and refresh your knowledge base.

It’s also important to note that you will need to pay the full examination fee ($265) each time you retake the MBLEx. While there is no limit imposed by FSMTB as to the number of times you can attempt the exam, some state massage therapy boards may have restrictions on the number of attempts allowed. Be sure to check with your state’s board to understand its specific regulations. With the right study strategy and a determined mindset, you can conquer the MBLEx on your next attempt.

Final Thoughts

There you have it – the 10 vital things you need to know about the MBLEx before you apply. You’re now equipped with the knowledge you need to navigate your way through the massage licensing exam and into your promising career in massage therapy. Remember, preparation is your best friend, and our comprehensive MBLEx prep course is here to help you every step of the way. Don’t delay, kickstart your journey towards becoming a licensed massage therapist today by enrolling in our course. We’re excited to be a part of your success story!

FAQ About the MBLEx

Now that we’ve covered the main points to know for the MBLEx, let’s address a few specific questions that commonly arise regarding the massage exam. Visit out MBLEx FAQ page for answers to pretty much anything you could need to know about the exam.

Can I take the MBLEx before completing massage school?

Yes, you can take the MBLEx before finishing massage school. However, you will need to have received at least training in each content area of the exam. See the MBLEx Candidate Handbook for details. It’s important to note that while the FSMTB doesn’t require completion of your massage therapy program to sit for the exam, most states will require proof of education completion for licensure.

Can I reschedule my MBLEx exam if I cannot make it on my scheduled date?

Yes, you can reschedule your exam with Pearson VUE, but make sure to do this at least 24 hours before your original appointment. Keep in mind that rescheduling may incur additional fees.

How long does it take to get my MBLEx results?

You will receive your unofficial test results before you leave the test center. However, your official MBLEx results will be sent to your selected state within five business days. 

Can I take the MBLEx exam if I was educated abroad?

Yes, you can. However, FSMTB will need to review your education to ensure it’s equivalent to the requirements in the U.S. You may have to provide translated copies of your educational documents.

Can I take the MBLEx in Spanish?

Yes, The MBLEx is offered in English and Spanish.

Are there any restrictions on when I can schedule my MBLEx?

The MBLEx can be scheduled year-round at Pearson VUE testing centers. However, the exact availability might vary based on the specific testing location and available appointment times.

Is the MBLEx available to take online?

No, the MBLEx is administered at Pearson VUE testing centers to ensure the integrity of the exam. Online testing is currently not an option.

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