Preparing for the MBLEx can be a daunting task, especially if you’ve been out of school for a while. With a broad range of topics to cover, from anatomy and kinesiology, to ethics and client assessment, it’s important to find the best study tools and learn how to use them effectively. Practice tests, with their structured approach and feedback, are among the most reliable study tools. These tests don’t just gauge your knowledge; they offer insights into your preparation, highlighting your strengths and any areas needing more attention.
In this blog post, I’ll briefly cover the advantages of using practice tests for the MBLEx, and then provide details about five practical strategies for using practice tests in your study plan. Feel free to use these strategies exactly as described or modify them to suit your individual needs. I’ve also included some tips to help you avoid some of the common mistakes people make when using practice tests. So, if taking the MBLEx is on your horizon, you’re sure to get some benefit from this step-by-step guide.
Benefits of Using Practice Tests for the MBLEx
Practice tests have long been a favorite study tool for candidates preparing for licensing and certification exams. And when it comes to the MBLEx practice tests & quizzes, they can serve as a great refresher for your memory. Let’s look at a few reasons why practice tests are so beneficial:
- Measure and Track Your Readiness: One of the main benefits of practice tests is that they let you see where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Every time you take a test, you get a snapshot of your current knowledge level. Over time, these snapshots can show you clear patterns of improvement as you close any knowledge gaps.
- Immediate Feedback: Right after you finish a MBLEx practice test, you’ll know which areas need more attention. This rapid feedback is invaluable, allowing you to adjust your study focus on topics where you might be struggling. It also keeps you from wasting time on areas where you are already proficient.
- Time Management: The MBLEx tests what you know as well as how efficiently you can demonstrate that knowledge. Practice tests give you a feel for the clock, teaching you to allocate time wisely for each question.
- Active Learning: Practice tests are a form of active learning, which has been shown to improve retention and understanding, making it a more effective study method than passive learning methods like reading a textbook or watching a lecture. Other active learning methods include solving problems, participating in discussion, critical thinking, and making your own study notes or flashcards, all of which force you to apply what you’ve learned and reinforce your memory and understanding of the topic. While passive learning is convenient and easy, it doesn’t help as much with information retention.
- Familiarity with the Test Format: By regularly taking practice tests, you’ll become more familiar with the structure and style of questions on the MBLEx. This familiarity reduces the chance of surprises on exam day, helping you approach the test with confidence. It will also help relieve any test anxiety.
- Mastering Test-Taking Strategies: Engaging regularly with practice tests allows you to develop and refine strategies that can optimize your performance. For instance, with the MBLEx being all multiple choice questions, you’ll learn techniques such as ruling out distractor options and spotting key words in questions. Over time, these strategies will become second nature, giving you an added advantage during the actual exam.
By incorporating MBLEx practice tests into your study routine, you’re not only reinforcing what you’ve learned but also setting yourself up for success on exam day. The key lies in using effective study strategies. And practice tests can be a key tool in your smart study arsenal.
5 Effective Strategies for Using Practice Tests
Successfully preparing for the MBLEx involves more than just taking practice tests and memorizing the answers. The secret is in how you utilize these practice exams and quizzes. Here are five easy and practical strategies presented step-by-step, that can enhance your study sessions and make your time taking practice tests more productive:
Strategy 1: Establishing Your Baseline
The initial step in any journey is understanding your starting point, and for MBLEx preparation, that means establishing your baseline. So before diving into study material, start by taking a practice test or two. No preparations, no reviews. This initial attempt provides a clear picture of your current understanding of the topics. Then as you progress along your MBLEx study plan and take follow-up practice tests, see how your new scores compare to your first one. The steps for this strategy are pretty straightforward:
- Simulate the Environment: Approach this initial practice test as you would the actual MBLEx. Schedule a set time, preferably when you’re fresh, like early morning or after a light lunch. Create a quiet, distraction-free zone so that there are no interruptions. Turn off unnecessary electronic devices, and if available, use a computer simulate the actual exam environment.
- Track Your Time: During your baseline test, keep an eye on the clock. Observe the total time taken to complete the entire test. Additionally, MBLExGuide members will get an exam report for each practice exam and quiz they complete. This report shows the time you spent on each question and the total time per content area. This can help you identify topics that take you longer and adjust your pacing strategy accordingly.
- Analyze the Results: After the test, review each incorrect answer. Determine if it was due to a careless mistake, lack of knowledge, or perhaps misreading or misinterpreting the question. Also review of any questions that you got right, but only because you guessed correctly.
- Document Your Findings: While our system automatically records scores and test details, it’s beneficial to maintain your own notes. In a journal or digital document, jot down personal observations such as specific topics that posed a challenge or any patterns you noticed in your mistakes. As you progress with your studies, these personalized notes, alongside the system records, will offer valuable insights to fine-tune your preparation strategy.
- Repeat and Compare: After covering specific milestones in your study plan, like completing a certain number of lessons in our MBLEx Prep Course, or a certain number of study sessions, schedule another practice test. Before re-testing, review the personal observations you noted from your baseline test, as well as the previous test statistics (accessible from your Dashboard). Once done, assess the differences in scores, time spent per category, and any new or recurring challenges. Use this comparison to make targeted adjustments to your study techniques or areas of focus.
By establishing your baseline, you set a clear foundation for your entire MBLEx preparation strategy. It provides a tangible way to measure improvement throughout your study journey.
Strategy 2: Targeted Review
A segmented approach to studying can be particularly effective when trying to master the wide variety of topics on the MBLEx. For this reason, MBLExGuide offers 10-question quizzes on in each of the seven content areas of the MBLEx, allowing for targeted reviews. Here’s a methodical way to apply this strategy:
- Set a Weekly Schedule: Dedicate specific days of the week to individual content areas. For instance, set aside Mondays for Anatomy & Physiology, Tuesdays for Kinesiology, and so on. This creates a routine, making it easier to manage your study time.
- Initial Quiz Attempt: At the start of your designated day, take one or more 10-question quizzes for the assigned content area. This will highlight sub-sections of this subject that need additional study time.
- Utilize Feedback: Our platform provides feedback on your quiz performance. Review the correct answer rationales on the results page, as they can shed light on why the correct answer was the best choice.
- Deep Study Session: After the initial quizzes, spend time (15 minutes to 1 hour) studying the content area for the day. Use various resources, such as textbooks, notes from massage school, muscle flashcards, or lessons from our comprehensive MBLEx Course.
- Retake and Compare: At the end of your study session, retake any quizzes where you scored less than 100%. Compare your scores from the two attempts. Noticeable improvement between the scores can serve as a motivator, while any persisting errors indicate areas needing further attention.
- Personal Reflection and Notes: Beyond the scores, make notes on how you felt during the quiz. Were there questions that made you hesitate or you had to guess? Any topics that still seem fuzzy? These personal observations can help guide your next study session.
By applying this targeted review process for each content area, you can be sure that you don’t overlook any content area of the MBLEx. This focused approach turns an intimidating study plan into manageable, bite-sized tasks.
Strategy 3: Mini-Exam Pacing Practice
Developing a steady exam pace ensures you don’t leave any questions unanswered due to time constraints. This is important because not completing all questions on the MBLEx results in an automatic failure. The 25-question mini-exams on our platform are the perfect tool to hone this skill. Here’s a strategic approach to make the most of these exams:
- Set and Practice Your Pace: Determine an average time-per-question, then consistently aim to stick to this timing in each mini-exam. Use your initial attempt to see where you currently stand. *Note: the exam is 120 minutes, minus 5 min to review the exam security and confidentiality agreement, and 5 minutes for a brief survey. So you will have 110 minutes to complete 100 questions = 1.1 minutes per question (or 1 minute, 6 seconds per question). So for this 25-question mini exam, set your timer for 27 minutes.
- Review and Refine: After each mini-exam, use the results page to identify topics that took longer than expected, or where you selected the wrong answer option. Revisit study materials for these areas to solidify your understanding.
- Iterative Practice: Continually challenge yourself with mini-exams to improve pacing. Use a tool like the stopwatch function on your phone to stay on track, and adjust your approach based on performance feedback.
By focusing on these steps, you’ll be well-prepared to manage your time effectively during the MBLEx.
Strategy 4: Simulated Exam Days
Designate a specific day each week, such as Saturday, your “MBLEx Day”, that you reserve to complete one or two full 100-question exams. By doing this, you create a routine that mentally prepares you for the intensity of the actual MBLEx. Here’s how to make the most of these sessions:
- Set the Stage: Clear your testing space of any distractions. Ensure you have a comfortable chair, proper lighting, and a quiet environment. Keep all the essentials, like water or a clock, nearby so you won’t need to interrupt your test.
- Time It Right: Start the simulated exam at the same time you’re scheduled for the actual MBLEx. This aligns your mental peak performance with your exam schedule.
- Stay Disciplined: Just like during the real test, take only 1-2 brief rest breaks (keep the timer running). Resist the urge to pause the timer or extend your break time.
- Review and Reflect: Once completed, don’t just look at your score. Review every question, especially the ones you got wrong or had to guess. Take notes on the content areas where you struggled and plan to review those areas during the upcoming week.
Committing to these full simulation days will give you the confidence of knowing exactly what to expect on the day of the actual MBLEx and help reduce test day anxiety.
Strategy 5: Stress-Test Practice
While you will take the real MBLEx in a controlled environment at a Pearson VUE testing center, training yourself in less-than-ideal situations is still beneficial. It strengthens your ability to focus and get back on task quickly if you do happen to get distracted. This way, you’ll be prepared to handle unexpected disturbances on the actual exam day, like nearby coughs, chairs creaking, or other test-takers entering or leaving the testing room. Here’s how to do it:
- Pick a Noisy Environment: Choose a location with background noise or potential distractions – maybe a busy coffee shop or a main area of a library.
- Test Focus: Challenge yourself to stay immersed in a practice test despite distractions. You can use the 25-question or 100-question practice exams. This trains your concentration and adaptability. Use a timer and give yourself about 1 minute per question.
- Reflection: After completing the exam, evaluate not just your scores, but also your concentration levels. Were certain distractions too overwhelming? Did a particular noise repeatedly break your concentration? Did you discover any tricks that help you get back into the zone quickly? Recognizing these factors can help you remain focused on test day.
This approach not only prepares you for the main exam but also ensures you’re adaptable to unexpected disturbances on the real test day.
Alternate Strategy: Modular to Integrated Approach
An alternative approach is to study the different topics individually at first, and then merge them once you have a solid foundation. Often referred to as Modular Learning or Compartmentalized Learning in educational psychology, this learning approach allows you to focus on one module or compartment (in this case, a specific content area of the MBLEx like Anatomy & Physiology, Kinesiology, etc.) at a time. The idea is to gain a deep understanding of each individual topic before attempting to integrate this knowledge in a more complex or holistic manner.
This strategy can be particularly effective when you’re dealing with a broad range of topics that don’t necessarily build on each other but will eventually need to be understood collectively for a comprehensive exam. Modular Learning allows for targeted study sessions and can make the learning process feel less overwhelming, as you can concentrate on mastering one “module” at a time.
For example, in the initial stages of learning a new language, the modular approach involves focusing on individual elements like vocabulary words, sentence structures, and basic conversational phrases. Once these foundational skills are solid, you integrate them by engaging in more complex conversations, and reading and writing longer texts, applying all the individual components and forming fluent communication.
Each of the phases below can last from 1 to 4 weeks (or longer), depending on your timetable and needs. Here’s how to apply this study strategy:
Phase 1 – Focused Content Area Quizzes: Kick off your MBLEx test prep by concentrating on the 10-question content area quizzes. This allows you to zoom in on specific topics, reinforcing your understanding. With seven content areas in the MBLEx, you can allocate one area per day, making your study plan both comprehensive and organized.
Phase 2 – Introducing Mini-Exams: Now that you’ve brushed up on individual content areas, it’s time to see how well you can handle mixed topics. The 25-question mini-exams blend questions from all content areas, giving you a taste of the broader exam experience. By integrating these into your second week, you get to test the waters, gauging how well you transition between different topics under time constraints.
Phase 3 – The Full Simulation Experience: By this time, you should be feeling more confident in your knowledge. This is the perfect time to start incorporating the 100-question simulated exams. However, don’t abandon the mini-exams or content area quizzes. On days when you feel like revisiting specific areas or when you’re pressed for time, these shorter tests can be quite handy.
Sprinkle in Some Open Book Exams: Every once in a while, consider taking an exam with your study notes by your side. You won’t need to look up every answer, but it will add some variety to your practice tests.
By taking this alternate, progressive approach, you ensure that you’re consistently challenging yourself. As the weeks go by, you’ll find that you’re not only recalling information more quickly but also gaining the confidence and stamina needed for the MBLEx.
Avoiding Common Practice Tests Mistakes
The following is a list of common mistakes that people make when using practice tests as part of their study plan, and some tips on how to avoid them so that they don’t undermine your exam prep.
- Starting Late: Procrastination on studying for the MBLEx will increase stress and decrease your chances of performing well on the exam. Waiting until the last minute to start using practice tests results in not getting the full benefits out of using them. So initiate your preparation early and incorporate tests into your routine. This ensures ample time for review, making necessary adjustments, and building confidence.
- Over-reliance on Practice Tests: While practice tests are valuable, they shouldn’t be your only study method. Diversify your study materials by adding a comprehensive prep course, revisiting your massage school notes, and using MBLEx flashcards. A balanced approach gives you a well-rounded grasp of the material.
- Memorizing Questions & Answers: This is a tricky one. It might feel productive to remember exact questions and their corresponding answers, but the wording of questions and answer choices will be different on the actual MBLEx exam. There are literally thousands of questions that could be on this comprehensive exam, and infinite ways they could be worded. So instead of rote memorization, focus on understanding the underlying concepts. This ensures you can tackle any variation of the question that you encounter.
- Not Setting Benchmarks: Goals are essential. Set a passing score goal for yourself when taking practice tests. While the actual MBLEx score isn’t disclosed, aiming for a high mark like 80%, ensures you’re over-prepared rather than under-prepared.
- Overlooking Analysis: Achieving a high score on a MBLEx practice test is great, but don’t stop there. Be sure to examine your results and understand any errors. This analysis is where the real learning happens, offering insights into areas of confusion. Don’t forget to review any questions that you answered correctly only because you made a lucky guess.
- Letting Low Scores Discourage You: Initial low scores can feel disheartening. But remember, they’re just a starting point. Use them as motivation. See them as opportunities to identify areas for improvement and then act on them.
By being aware of these potential pitfalls and actively working to avoid them, you set yourself up for a smoother, more effective MBLEx test prep process.
In summary, we’ve covered a lot of ground on how to make the most out of your practice tests for the MBLEx exam. We started by highlighting the numerous benefits of using them, such as identifying your strengths and weaknesses and getting a feel for the exam format. We then presented five specific strategies like establishing a baseline with an initial practice test, using content area quizzes for targeted review, practicing pacing with mini-exams, and even taking tests in less-than-ideal settings to build resilience against distractions.
We also discussed the modular approach, which focuses on thoroughly understanding each topic on its own before combining them for a well-rounded review. But remember, practice tests are only as good as how you use them, so be mindful of common mistakes like not reviewing your errors or waiting until the last minute to start using them. All in all, practice tests are a versatile and effective tool that, when used correctly, can significantly boost your chances of exam success.
How often should I take practice tests while preparing for the MBLEx?
Aiming for at least one full-length practice test per week is a good start, in addition to 5-10 shorter quizzes. As your test date nears, consider increasing this frequency. Regular assessments help reinforce your learning and highlight areas needing more focus.
Are the questions on practice tests similar to those on the actual MBLEx?
While the practice tests here on MBLExGuide aim to mimic the format and style of the MBLEx, they are not the exact same questions. They are designed to cover the same topics and give you a feel for the type of questions you can expect on the actual exam. *No MBLEx test prep provider uses the actual exam questions. Even the practice test from the FSMTB does not use the actual exam questions.
When should I start taking practice tests (how long before my test date)?
Begin taking practice tests at least 2-3 months before your MBLEx date. This gives you ample time to identify and strengthen any weak areas, adjust your study strategy, and build confidence for the FSMTB exam. If you are not in a hurry or have limited time per week to study, you may want to begin even earlier.
Can practice tests help if I’ve failed the MBLEx before and am retaking it?
Absolutely. Practice tests can pinpoint areas you struggled with in your previous attempt. They’ll also help you get used to the test format, potentially reducing anxiety and improving your performance the second time around. We’ve had many members preparing to retake the MBLEx, who reported that they wish they found MBLExGuide the first time around.
How do I balance between practice tests and other study methods, like flashcards or studying my notes?
There are several ways that you could divvy up your study time. One way is to allocate specific days or sessions for each study method. For instance, Mondays for flashcards, Wednesdays for note reviews, and Fridays for practice tests. Alternatively, you could block off some time for each study method on each day. For example, 30 minutes reviewing notes, 30 minutes using flashcards, 30 minutes taking practice tests, and 30 minutes reviewing anything you missed on the practice tests. This structured approach ensures you’re getting the benefits of each method.