How Repetition and Practice Tests Boost Memory Retention to Pass the MBLEx

How Repetition and Practice Tests Boost Memory Retention to Pass the MBLEx

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the large volume of material you need to memorize for the MBLEx? If so, fear not, because there is a scientifically proven method to boost your memory and ability to retain information – Repetition. There’s a simple reason why this underappreciated study strategy has been around for so long… it works! This test prep technique not only works for memorizing random facts, but for learning crucial information you need to pass the MBLEx exam.

How does using repetition as a study strategy help when preparing for exams? Repetition is a key study strategy that helps in reinforcing information in our memory, making it easier to retrieve when needed, such as during exams. It involves reviewing material multiple times, which strengthens the neural pathways in the brain associated with the information, thereby enhancing our ability to recall it. Additionally, repetition using flashcards and practice tests also helps in identifying any gaps in our knowledge or understanding, allowing us to focus on those areas in study sessions.

In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of using practice tests to prepare for the massage licensing exam. We’ll look at how the cognitive science behind repetition, specifically repetitive testing, can be harnessed to optimize your study routine for the MBLEx. Additionally, we will explore various study tools, and touch on other repetition strategies such as flashcards that can be integrated into your study plan. With a well-structured and strategic approach, you can maximize your memory retention and head into the MBLEx with confidence and a solid understanding of all content areas.

Science Behind Repetition and Memory Retention

Understanding how our brain stores and retrieves information is helpful when developing an effective study strategy. Research indicates that our brains encode information into long-term memory through a process called consolidation. This involves the repeated firing of neurons, which strengthens the connections between them (Lechner, Squire, & Byrne, 1999).

So, the more frequently information is retrieved and reviewed, the stronger these neural connections become, making it easier to recall the information later. Think of it like a trail through a forest. The more often the trail is used, the more clear it becomes and easier it is to walk through it (and not get lost).

Now consider the role of retrieval practice in enhancing memory retention. Retrieval practice, or the act of recalling information from memory, has been shown to be a powerful tool for strengthening memory. A study by Karpicke and Roediger (2008) found that students who engaged in repeated retrieval practice had significantly higher recall performance than those who merely reviewed the material. This suggests that actively recalling information, rather than just reviewing it, can lead to better memory retention.

A practical way to apply retrieval practice when preparing for the MBLEx is using flashcards or practice tests with the answer options concealed at first, forcing you to actively recall the information before revealing the correct answer. This method not only strengthens your memory recall but also mimics the conditions of the actual exam, where you’ll need to produce answers from memory rather than relying on recognition.

The Forgetting Curve

Let’s look a little deeper into the cognitive science behind repetition and its importance in memory retention and recall. Repetition strengthens the neural pathways associated with the recalled information. Cognitive psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus, demonstrated this with his ‘Forgetting Curve’, which showed that information is lost over time when there is no attempt to retain it.

However, each time the information is revisited, the rate of forgetting decreases (Ebbinghaus, 1885). This implies that regular repetition is crucial for moving information from short-term to long-term memory.

It’s important to note that several studies support the effectiveness of practice testing and repetitive testing test prep. While there are no studies specifically focused on preparing for the FSMTB MBLEx exam, research on similar comprehensive exams indicates that repeated testing is a proven method for improving performance. For instance, a study by Dunlosky et al. (2013) identified practice testing as one of the most effective study techniques across different domains.

In summary, the science behind memory retention underscores the importance of regular repetition and retrieval practice. By incorporating practice tests and repetitive testing into your MBLEx study routine, you can strengthen your neural pathways, enhance your memory retention, and ultimately, improve your performance on the exam day.

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“Just wanted to say I appreciate I just passed the MBLEx yesterday on my first try and I really only used this site to study. I took practice test after practice test for about two months and I know it
was the key to my success! Thank You!”
Amber R.

Learning and Memory Theories Related to Repetition

In this section, we’ll highlight several relevant learning and memory theories related to repetition. This can give some insight into the cognitive science behind effective study techniques. Integrating one of more of these into your study process should help you learn more efficiently and save time.

Spacing Effect

The spacing effect is a phenomenon where information is better remembered when studied a few times spaced over a longer time span rather than repeatedly in a short span of time (Cepeda et al., 2008). It emphasizes the importance of spreading out your studies over time. For example, you could apply the spacing effect by spreading out review of the muscle OINA, over several days or weeks, rather than cramming all the information into one or two marathon study sessions.


Chunking is the process of grouping individual pieces of information into larger units or ‘chunks’ (Miller, 1956). This method can make information easier to remember by reducing cognitive load. Cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental effort being used in an individual’s working memory. For example, you can break down the the muscles (e.g., muscles of the lower leg) into group rather than trying to memorize everything as one big list.

Levels of Processing Theory

This learning theory suggests that the deeper and more meaningfully information is processed, the better it is remembered (Craik & Lockhart, 1972). Therefore, repeating information in different ways, such as visually, auditorily, or semantically, can lead to deeper processing and better memory retention.

To apply the levels of processing theory in your study plan, focus on understanding and analyzing the meaning of the material rather than just memorizing the words. For instance, rather than just memorizing the names of muscles and attachment points, also understand their functions, locations, and position relative to other structures of the body.

Dual Coding Theory

The dual coding theory presumes that verbal and non-verbal (visual) information is processed and stored in separate, related systems (Paivio, 1986). Using both verbal and visual repetition, such as reading aloud while visualizing, can lead to better memory retention. This method reinforces repetition by engaging both verbal and visual memory pathways, helping to reinforce the material and make it more memorable with each review.

To utilize dual coding theory in your study plan, try combining verbal and visual information by creating visual aids like diagrams, mind maps, concept maps, or flashcards with images and text that represent key concepts you need to remember for the massage licensing exam.

Elaborative Rehearsal

Elaborative Rehearsal involves repeating information while also associating it with other information in long-term memory (Craik & Lockhart, 1972). This is contrasted with maintenance rehearsal, which involves simple rote repetition of information. To apply this strategy in your study plan for the massage exam, try to link new information with existing knowledge or memories, such as associating a muscle’s function with an activity you do daily, which will help in creating a more robust memory trace.

Schema Theory

Schema Theory suggests that all knowledge is organized into units called schemas, which are frameworks for understanding the world (Bartlett, 1932). Repeating information in a way that integrates it into existing schemas can lead to better memory retention. To incorporate schema theory into your studies, organize the information into related groups or categories. Here are a few examples:

  • Studying muscles: organize all the muscles involved in a specific movement, which will help you understand and remember the material in a structured way. For example, muscles that abduct the hip.
  • Studying pathology: relate different pathologies to the body systems they affect, for example, categorize all respiratory pathologies like asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia together, helping you to understand their similarities and differences.
  • Studying ethics: create a mental framework of different ethical scenarios that you might encounter during your massage therapy practice, such as confidentiality breaches or boundary violations, and associate the correct ethical response or guideline to each scenario. This will not only help you in recalling the ethics guidelines but also in applying them in real-life situations.

Interleaved Practice

Interleaved Practice is a study method where different topics or subjects are studied in parallel rather than in a series (Rohrer & Taylor, 2007). This kind of repetition, contrasted with blocked practice (repeating one topic until mastered before moving on to the next), has been shown to improve learning in some contexts.

For example, instead of focusing on just one topic, like anatomy, for an extended period, mix up your study sessions by alternating between different subjects such as anatomy, kinesiology, and pathology, which will help you to improve your ability to differentiate between topics and enhance your overall understanding of the material.

Context-Dependent Memory

Context-dependent memory theory suggests that memory retrieval is most efficient when the context at retrieval is similar to the context at encoding (Godden & Baddeley, 1975). Repeating information in different contexts can lead to more robust and flexible memory representations.

To apply this learning theory, try to mimic the conditions of the actual MBLEx exam as closely as possible during your study sessions, for example, sit at a quiet desk, time yourself, and use the same type of materials you’ll use on exam day, as this will help your brain to retrieve information more easily in the actual exam context.

These theories highlight the importance of varied and thoughtful repetition in learning. By incorporating these strategies into your MBLEx study routine, you can improve your memory retention and ultimately, your performance on exam day. Our complete MBLEx Course was purposefully built to integrate these learning strategies.

Benefits of using practice tests to study for the MBLEx

Benefits of Practice Tests and Repetitive Testing

Let’s briefly explore how practice tests and repetitive testing can be particularly beneficial for your MBLEx exam preparation.

  • Mimics the Actual MBLEx Test Environment. Taking practice tests simulates the real MBLEx test environment, which is crucial for enhancing exam performance. Familiarity with the test format and question types reduces the ‘surprise’ element on the actual exam day, making you feel more prepared and confident.
  • Helps in Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses in the MBLEx Syllabus Areas. Regular practice tests help you identify your strong areas and the ones that need more focus. Tailoring your study plan to address these areas ensures that you spend your study time efficiently and effectively.
  • Enhances Confidence and Reduces Anxiety. The more you practice, the more confident you become. Repetitive testing reduces test anxiety, a common issue that can significantly affect your performance on the actual exam.
  • Facilitates Better Time Management During the Actual MBLEx Exam. Practicing under timed conditions helps develop effective time management skills, essential for completing the MBLEx exam within the allotted time. It helps you gauge the average time you take per question, allowing you to adjust your pace accordingly during the actual exam.
  • Promotes Active Engagement with the MBLEx Material. Engaging in practice tests promotes active learning, which leads to better retention of the material. Active engagement, as opposed to passive reading or listening, improves learning outcomes and ensures that the knowledge stays with you long after the exam.

Incorporating practice tests and repetitive testing into your study routine offers numerous benefits that can lead to improved performance on the actual MBLEx exam. It’s not just about repetition; it’s about smart, active, and strategic engagement with the material.

MBLEx practice tests for the massage exam

MBLEx Practice Exams

Massage therapists and students who use our MBLEx practice tests have a much greater chance of passing the massage licensing exam the first time. Our quizzes and simulated exams cover of all seven content areas of the MBLEx.

Strategies for Using Practice Tests Effectively

Implementing practice testing and repetition into your study routine is essential, but doing it effectively is key. In this section, we will outline strategies that will maximize the benefits of these techniques for your MBLEx preparation.

1. Start using practice tests early

Don’t wait until the last minute to start taking practice tests. Incorporating practice tests and repetitive testing early in your study plan allows you to assess your knowledge, identify areas for improvement, and monitor your progress over time.

2. Use a variety of quiz formats and repeat at intervals

Variety is key to effective learning. Utilize different formats of practice tests, such as multiple-choice questions, true/false questions, and matching questions. Additionally, repeat these tests at spaced intervals to reinforce your memory and ensure better retention of the material.

3. Simulate the testing environment

Try to recreate the actual test environment while taking practice tests. This includes simulating the timing, the setting, and even the seating arrangement. The more familiar you are with the test environment, the less anxiety you will experience on the exam day.

4. Analyze your performance after each practice test

After each practice test, take time to analyze your performance. Identify the questions you got wrong, understand why, and review the relevant material. Our practice tests include an answer rationale that explains why the correct answer is correct. Repeating the tests after this analysis will help reinforce the material and improve your performance.

5. Strategies for Utilizing Repetitive Practice Tests in MBLEx Preparation

Incorporating repetition strategically into your MBLEx preparation can make a big difference. Here are some strategies (recapped from the previous section):

  • Spacing Effect: Instead of cramming, spread out your study sessions and practice tests over time. This utilizes the ‘spacing effect,’ which has been shown to improve long-term retention of information.
  • Interleaved Practice: Mix different topics or subjects in a single study session or practice test. This contrasts with blocked practice, where you study one topic at a time. Interleaved practice promotes better transfer of learning across different contexts.
  • Retrieval Practice: Actively recall information from memory during your study sessions, instead of just passively reading or listening. Retrieval practice is a powerful tool for enhancing long-term retention.

Incorporating these strategies into your MBLEx preparation will not only help you make the most out of your practice tests and repetitions but will also lead to better performance on the actual exam. Remember, it’s not just about how much you study, but how you study that matters.

Other Related Study Techniques

Consider applying these the following study hacks to supercharge your study sessions!

Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method that involves alternating between focused study sessions and short breaks. Here’s how to do it:

  • Set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on studying without any interruptions.
  • After 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break to clear your mind.
  • Repeat the process, and after completing four ‘pomodoros’, take a longer break (15-30 minutes).

Practical applications: Divide your study material into small sections, each of which can be covered in 25 minutes. For example, you could focus on muscle anatomy in one pomodoro, and then switch to massage techniques in the next. This will help keep your mind fresh and engaged.

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a visual tool that helps organize information in a way that is easy to understand and remember. To create a mind map, start with a central concept in the middle of the page, and then branch out into related subtopics and ideas.

Practical applications: Create a mind map for each major topic covered in the MBLEx, such as anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, or pathology. Use images, colors, and keywords to help reinforce the material.

Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices are memory aids that help you remember information by creating associations between new material and something you already know. Examples of mnemonic devices include acronyms, visual imagery, or rhymes.

Practical applications: Create mnemonics for key concepts or terms that you need to remember. For example, to remember the order of the layers of the skin from most superficial to deepest (Epidermis, Dermis, Subcutaneous), you could use the acronym ‘EDS’.

Active Recall

Active recall involves actively testing yourself on the material you are studying, rather than just passively re-reading the text. This could involve using flashcards, taking practice quizzes, or teaching the material to someone else.

Practical applications: Create flashcards with questions on one side and answers on the other. Regularly test yourself with these flashcards to reinforce your memory and recall abilities. Also, try teaching the material to a friend or family member, as this will help solidify your understanding.

By incorporating these techniques into your study routine, you will optimize your memory retention, comprehension, and ability to recall information on exam day. Remember, the key to success on the MBLEx, or any exam, is consistent, focused practice.

Common Misconceptions about Practice Exams

A common misconception about practice testing and repetitive testing is that they are only for assessing knowledge, not for the learning process itself. However, numerous studies have shown that the act of retrieving information during a practice test actually helps to reinforce that information in your memory, making it a powerful learning tool.

Another misconception is that taking too many MBLEx practice tests or repeating tests too often will lead to burnout. While it is important to avoid marathon study sessions, regular and spaced practice testing is actually a proven method for enhancing memory retention and improving performance.

Lastly, some individuals believe that they don’t need to take practice tests because they are confident in their knowledge. Confidence is important, but overconfidence or a false sense of confidence can be detrimental. Practice tests not only help to reinforce knowledge but also highlight areas of weakness that might have been overlooked.

Ultimately, integrating practice testing and repetitive testing into your study routine can significantly enhance your MBLEx preparation.

Wrapping Up & Key Takeaways

Alright, let’s take a breather and reflect on what we’ve covered. The power of practice tests and repetition in prepping for the MBLEx exam cannot be overstated. We’ve dug deep into the science of why repetition is your best ally in cementing knowledge. Practice tests offer more than mere familiarity; they highlight areas you’re strong in and areas needing a bit more attention. They build confidence, hone your time management, and ensure you’re actively engaging with your study material. The MBLEx isn’t just a test of what you know—it’s a test of how effectively you can pull that knowledge to the surface when it counts.

Now, a word of advice: Make these practice sessions a cornerstone of your study plan. Start your prep early, diversify your study materials, practice in conditions similar to the actual test, and when you stumble on a mock test, take a moment to understand why. Throw in some of the other study techniques we’ve discussed, and you’re setting yourself up for success. With commitment, smart planning, and ongoing effort, the MBLEx is entirely conquerable. Here’s to your success and the bright career ahead! Best of luck!

Key Takeaways

  1. Start Early: Begin practice testing and repetitive testing early in your MBLEx study plan to identify and improve on your strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Variety is Key: Use a variety of MBLEx practice test formats and repeat them at intervals to engage with the material in different ways.
  3. Simulate the Test Environment: Mimic the actual MBLEx test environment during practice to reduce anxiety and improve performance on the exam day.
  4. Analyze and Learn: After each practice test, analyze your performance and learn from your mistakes to enhance your performance in the actual exam.


How many practice tests should I take when preparing for the MBLEx?

The number of practice tests you should take when preparing for the MBLEx (and how often you should take them) can vary based on your individual study plan. A good rule of thumb is to take at least one practice test every week or two during the months leading up to your exam, and then increase the frequency to 2-3 tests per week starting 1 month before your exam. This will allow you to gauge your progress, identify areas for improvement, give you time to strengthen those areas, and get comfortable with the test format and pacing.

What are some other effective repetition strategies besides practice tests?

Beyond practice tests, effective repetition strategies include using flashcards with the spaced repetition technique, actively summarizing and teaching the material to peers, and employing mnemonic devices or memory palaces to enhance recall of complex concepts. These techniques leverage the brain’s ability to strengthen neural connections through repeated exposure and varied engagement with the content.

How can I simulate the MBLEx test environment during practice?

To simulate the MBLEx test environment during practice, create a quiet and distraction-free space, use a timer to mimic the actual test duration (which is 2 hours), and attempt a full-length practice test that covers all content areas and has the same number of questions (100) as the actual MBLEx exam. Additionally, turn off all notifications on your devices, use only the allowed materials (e.g., a pencil and scrap paper), and take short breaks, if needed, just as you would during the actual exam.

Is it necessary to analyze performance after each practice test?

Yes, it is essential to analyze your performance after each practice test. A thorough analysis will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, uncover any patterns in your mistakes, adjust your study plan accordingly, and ultimately improve your performance in the subsequent tests and the actual MBLEx exam.

Can the Pomodoro Technique be combined with MBLEx practice testing?

Absolutely, the Pomodoro Technique can be integrated seamlessly with MBLEx practice testing, especially with our 25-question mini exams. By answering approximately one question per minute, you’ll be able to complete a mini exam in one 25-minute Pomodoro session, followed by a 5-minute break before reviewing your answers or moving on to another task. This approach helps to maintain concentration and energy levels during your study sessions, making them more effective and productive.

How does repetitive testing help with time management during the actual exam?

Repeated practice is key for time management in the actual MBLEx exam. The MBLEx combines all 100 multiple-choice questions from the seven content areas, so pacing can be challenging. Regular practice tests help you get a sense of how much time to allocate to each question without running out of time at the end. This way, you won’t be left hastily guessing answers as the clock winds down!

What are some common mistakes to avoid when using MBLEx practice tests?

A common mistake when using MBLEx practice tests is not simulating the actual test environment; for example, by not timing yourself or allowing distractions.

Additionally, many individuals make the mistake of not thoroughly reviewing and understanding the questions they got wrong, missing out on a valuable opportunity to learn and improve their knowledge in those areas.

Another significant mistake is trying to memorize the questions and answers rather than truly understanding the subject matter. This approach is counterproductive because it doesn’t prepare you for variations of questions or deeper understanding required during the actual exam.

What is the spacing effect and how can it be incorporated into my study routine?

The spacing effect is a psychological phenomenon where learning is greater when studying is spread out over time, as opposed to studying the same amount of content in a single session. To incorporate this into your study routine, you could break your study material into smaller chunks and review them at increasing intervals over time, for example, reviewing a topic one hour after initially studying it, then again after 24 hours, then a few days later, and so on, rather than cramming all the information at once. This approach helps to reinforce the material in your long-term memory.


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Cepeda, N. J., Pashler, H., Vul, E., Wixted, J. T., & Rohrer, D. (2008). Spacing effects in learning: A temporal ridgeline of optimal retention. Psychological Science, 19(11), 1095–1102.

Craik, F. I. M., & Lockhart, R. S. (1972). Levels of processing: A framework for memory research. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 11(6), 671–684.

Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14(1), 4-58.

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Godden, D. R., & Baddeley, A. D. (1975). Context‐dependent memory in two natural environments: On land and underwater. British Journal of Psychology, 66(3), 325–331.

Karpicke, J. D., & Roediger, H. L. (2007). Repeated retrieval during learning is the key to long-term retention. Journal of Memory and Language, 57(2), 151-162.

Karpicke, J. D., & Roediger, H. L. (2008). The Critical Importance of Retrieval for Learning. Science, 319(5865), 966–968.

Kornell, N. (2009). Optimising learning using flashcards: Spacing is more effective than cramming. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23(9), 1297-1317.

Lechner, H. A., Squire, L. R., & Byrne, J. H. (1999). 100 Years of Consolidation – Remembering Müller and Pilzecker. Learning & Memory, 6(2), 77–87.

Miller, G. A. (1956). The magical number seven, plus or minus two: some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological Review, 63(2), 81–97.

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Rohrer, D., & Taylor, K. (2007). The shuffling of mathematics problems improves learning. Instructional Science, 35(6), 481–498.

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