“How do I know when I’m ready to take the MBLEx?”
That’s the question that goes through the mind of every new massage therapist after finishing their massage training program.
Massage therapy school can be exciting. You’re learning the skills to start an awesome new career. But after spending 6-12 months in massage school, studying for tests, getting your clinical hours, giving up your evenings or weekends, and working another job, it’s time to start your new career.
The only hurdle left is passing the MBLEx.
For most massage therapists, it’s impossible to know and remember everything that could be on the MBLEx. Fortunately with adequate preparation, therapists can remember enough to pass the exam. And that’s really all you need to do to start your new massage therapy career.
This post should help you decide if you are ready to take the MBLEx in 2021.
Consistently pass MBLEx practice tests
The number one way to know that you’re ready to take the MBLEx is consistent passing scores on practice tests and quizzes. This is also the fastest and most efficient way to review for a comprehensive exam like the MBLEx.
The FSMTB does not say what score you need to pass the MBLEx. And after the exam, you will receive a score report that only indicates PASS or FAIL (no numeric score).
This is partially due to the fact the MBLEx uses a Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT) platform. This testing method calculates not only how many questions you answer correctly, but also how difficult these questions were.
One sign that you may be ready to take the MBLEx is when you can consistently score 80% or higher on full-length simulated exams (without referring to your notes).
The practice exams here on MBLExGuide randomly draw from a large pool of questions so that each test is unique. You can take an infinite number of simulated exams. Plus, each simulated exam will have the correct number (percentage) of questions from each content area, just like the real MBLEx.
You should also take practice quizzes for each individual content area. This will ensure that you don’t have any weak areas.
If you do find a content area of the MBLEx that you are weak in, then focus on that area rather than continuing to review your strong subjects.
It is also critical that you study the questions that you miss on the practice tests so that you understand the rationale behind them.
Try a free MBLEx practice quiz.
Take between 1-3 months to review
Reviewing the information for the MBLEx takes time. Not because the material is all that complicated, but because there is a large amount of information that could be on the test.
There’s no point in rushing into taking a test that you simply are not prepared for. Especially when the MBLEx application fee is $265, plus you must pay a $20 testing fee (2021).
Massage therapists who fail the MBLEx will have to wait 30 days before they can retake the test. Having to take the MBLEx again will cost you another $265 re-application fee plus the $20 testing fee.
Allowing yourself adequate time to prepare for the MBLEx will reduce test anxiety and increase your confidence.
So you don’t want to take the MBLEx before you’re ready. On the other hand, you also don’t want to wait so long to take it that you start forgetting what you learned in school.
If you went to a good massage school and did well on exams there, you can probably prepare adequately in about 1 month. For students who want to start working sooner, there’s no reason you can’t start preparing for the MBLEx while still in massage school.
The point isn’t just elapsed time you spend studying, but the time engaged in active learning. That means focused reading, thinking about the material without distractions, participating with study groups, taking MBLEx practice tests and reviewing your results.
When you can explain the concepts to anyone
The MBLEx was designed to test a massage therapist’s ability to provide safe and effective massage therapy and bodywork for clients. To do this, the practitioner must know how to apply the information learned in the classroom.
In other words, you must understand the content of each section of the exam so well that you can apply it to practical situations.
The questions you see on the actual exam will be worded differently than the practice questions you see on this website and all other review programs. The answer choices will be different too.
No review program has access to the actual MBLEx questions!
So, when you have studied a topic thoroughly and can easily explain it to a client or other non-clinical person, that’s a good sign that you have a sufficient understanding of the material.
If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.Albert Einstein
To reach this level of understanding, it helps to use different study formats. For example, use flashcards that show the definition so you have to recall the term that it defines. Then go back through the flashcards in the reverse order, so that you see the word and have to come up with the correct definition.
Participating in study groups can also deepen your understanding of certain topics, especially if the members of the group have different strengths and weaknesses. Figuring out how to teach or explain a concept to each other will help you to understand it better.
While we teach, we learn.Seneca
When you confidently know the material forwards and backwards
In addition to consistently passing all sections of practice tests, take some time to reflect on whether or not you feel ready to take the MBLEx. An honest self-reflection will help you assess your confidence level.
If you feel more excited than apprehensive, then you might be ready.
Another sign that you might be ready is when you feel confident and ready to start working with new clients.
You should also ask yourself if you have put in the time and effort that you need to prepare for the MBLEx. Did you stick to your MBLEx study plan?
The MBLEx is a multiple-choice exam, which means that it only requires being able to recognize the correct answer. But try to learn the test material so well that you cannot only recognize the right answer when you see it, but can recall the right answer.
Being able to recall an answer means that you know the answer to a question without having to look at some answer choices to remember it. When you can do this, it won’t matter how the questions on the test are phrased, or what answer choices are given.
Remember, don’t try to simply memorize specific questions and answers on this website or in any MBLEx review program. The actual questions on the MBLEx are closely guarded to protect the integrity of the exam, and subject to change.
Instead, memorize the actual facts regarding anatomy and physiology, techniques, kinesiology, ethics, etc.
Repetition builds confidence and understanding. Once you’ve gone over every single multiple-choice question and understand any that you missed, you should be ready to take the MBLEx.
Some indicators that you may NOT be ready to take the MBLEx
Let’s look at this from another angle. You probably are NOT ready to take the MBLEx if:
- If you haven’t spent a minimum of 1-month reviewing for the MBLEx.
- You haven’t been over each subject again and again (and again).
- If you don’t score at least 70% consistently on at least 5 full-length simulated exams.
- You struggled through your massage school exams, and haven’t completed an MBLEx study plan of at least 1-2 months of focused study.
- It has been a few years since massage school, and you haven’t spent at least 1-2 months reviewing for the MBLEx.
- You do not feel confident and ready to take the MBLEx. Especially if any of the previous indicators are true for you too.
When you’re finally ready to take the MBLEx
When you are ready to take the MBLEx, don’t delay. Putting it off could cause more stress, and you may start forgetting things.
If you feel about 95% ready, go ahead and schedule yourself to take the MBLEx.
The good news is that when you apply to take the MBLEx, you have 90 days from receiving your Authorization to Test (ATT) to take the test. Virtually anyone who has completed an accredited massage program and has a solid study plan can prepare for the test in 90 days.
Often times having a deadline like this is enough to light a fire under your feet and stay motivated.
You will never know 100%, and you don’t need to. The MBLEx only requires entry-level competency.
Remember, no matter how prepared you are, you will see a few questions on the MBLEx that aren’t worded as precisely as they should be, which makes selecting the best answer difficult. But those won’t faze you because you are ready and confident about the rest of the MBLEx.