MBLEx Application Process, Registration Requirements and Cost

MBLEx Application Process, Registration Requirements and Cost

The journey of becoming a massage therapist requires completing several key steps, one of which is passing the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). The MBLEx is a licensing test administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) for prospective massage therapists in the United States. Currently, 46 out of 49 jurisdictions in the US that regulate massage therapy use this exam in their licensing process. 

Applying and preparing for the massage licensing exam can feel a bit overwhelming, but rest assured, it’s not as difficult as it might initially appear. This blog post provides an overview of the mblex application process, registration requirements, and cost of the MBLEx. We’ll also provide you with some tips on how to apply for the exam as well as answers to frequently asked questions about the application and testing process.

Here at MBLExGuide, our #1 goal is to equip you with the resources and expert advice you need to successfully achieve your goal of becoming a licensed massage or bodywork therapist.

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MBLEx Overview

Passing the MBLEx is a key requirement for licensure in most US states. This entry-level exam provides a measure of the applicant’s foundational knowledge and understanding of therapeutic massage. It also ensures the competence and clinical skills of massage therapists, in order to protect public health and safety. Remember that the MBLEx is a licensing exam, not a certification exam like the NCBTMB board certification exam.

The FSMTB Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination plays a crucial role in setting a standard of excellence for the field of massage therapy. By rigorously testing applicant’s understanding of massage and bodywork content areas, it sets a high bar for those entering this rewarding profession. This exam ensures that all qualified massage and bodywork therapists are well-versed in essential skills and critical thinking necessary for client health and safety. 

The MBLEx focuses on a wide range of topics, from anatomy and physiology, pathology for massage therapists, client assessment and treatment plans to physiological effects of techniques, ethics and massage laws. It assesses whether or not the candidate is ready to work with a wide variety of massage clients, including special populations. While it’s true that every state massage board might have unique requirements for licensing, the MBLEx is the most widely accepted standard.

Getting ready to take the MBLEx might feel a bit overwhelming at the start, but remember, each step you take towards becoming a licensed massage therapist brings you closer to a great career where you can make a meaningful impact on people’s lives.

  • Who Administers the Test? The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), an organization dedicated to regulating massage therapy and ensuring the quality of practitioners, manages the MBLEx. They work closely with state boards and agencies to maintain a high standard of practice across the country.
  • Purpose: The purpose of the MBLEx is not only to assess the applicant’s theoretical understanding of massage therapy and bodywork but also to gauge their practical skills and professional judgment. This holistic approach ensures that licensed therapists are ready to deliver safe and effective services.
  • Exam Content: The exam content is comprehensive, covering areas such as client assessment, ethics, laws, pathology, anatomy, kinesiology, massage terminology, business practices, the physiological effects of massage therapy, and massage documentation. This ensures therapists are prepared for all the tasks they may encounter in their practice.

MBLEx Registration Requirements

Before applying for the MBLEx exam, make sure that you meet all the eligibility requirements established by the FSMTB. You can download a PDF copy of the FSMTB Candidate Handbook from their website to find all the details about what you need to be eligible. Here’s a brief summary of what you’ll need to qualify to take the MBLEx:

  • Education: You must have either graduated or “received education and training in all subject areas of the MBLEx Content Outline from an approved massage therapy education program” that is recognized by the state board or agency where you intend to practice. This massage education typically includes both school coursework and practical training in a wide range of massage techniques. To confirm the specific educational requirements, you should directly contact the state licensing board. Your massage education program rep will need to verify your education directly with the FSMTB.
  • Agreement: All applicants need to acknowledge and agree to follow all FSMTB examination policies. This included signing a security and confidentiality agreement. 

Be sure to check out our other article on 10 things you should know about the MBLEx before applying.

MBLEx exam application concept

MBLEx Application Process

The MBLEx application process is straightforward and conducted online. You can apply to take the mblex by completing the following steps:

  1. Account Creation: If you haven’t done so, the first step is to go to the FSMTB website and create your personal FSMTB examination account. This account is where you will manage your application, pay the exam fee, check the status of your application, request transfer exam results, and communicate with the FSMTB. Once on the website, you’ll find more specific, step-by-step instructions for each step in the application process. 
  2. Application & Fees: Through your FSMTB examination account, your can access, complete and submit your MBLEx application. It is essential to ensure all the information provided is correct and current, as any inaccuracies could lead to delays or complications. The MBLEx applicant must pay the $265 exam fee before the application will be processed. This fee covers the costs of administering the exam and processing the application. Applications are typically processed within five business days.

What Happens After You Apply for the MBLEx?

Here’s what happens after applying for the MBLEx:

  1. Authorization to Test (ATT): Once your application and fee are received and approved by the FSMTB, they will send you an Authorization to Test (ATT). The ATT is your official permission to schedule and take the MBLEx. You must test within the dates shown on the ATT.
  2. Schedule Your Exam: Upon receipt of the ATT, you will need to schedule your exam online at the Pearson VUE testing center website. You can choose the testing location, date and time. The ATT will provide specific instructions on how to do this. Pearson VUE will email you a confirmation of your appointment. 
  3. Prepare: Use the time before your actual exam day to prepare thoroughly. MBLEx study guides, prep course materials, practice tests, and MBLEx flashcards are invaluable resources during this time.
  4. Test Day: You will take the actual exam either at a designated test center. Arrive at the test center on your exam day with the required identification (two forms including a photo id). Note that personal items are typically not allowed in the test center, so plan accordingly.
  5. Results: Your unofficial exam result will be given to you at the testing center immediately after completion of your test. The FSMTB will send you your official results within 5 days. 

MBLEx Cost

Understanding the MBLEx cost structure is important for budgeting for your massage therapy licensure process. The costs involved include:

  • MBLEx Fee: The current (2023) fee for the MBLEx in is $265. This is nonrefundable and must be paid during the application process.
  • Testing Center Fee: There is a $20 fee that the Pearson VUE testing center charges. There is also a fee if you need to change the test date.
  • Retake Fee: If you do not pass the MBLEx on your first attempt, you will need to complete a retake application form and pay the full exam fee again ($265). So it’s beneficial to be well prepared to pass on your first try.
Timing concept for MBLEx exam, hourglass and books

Preparation for the MBLEx exam

Preparing for the MBLEx, an essential step towards becoming a massage therapist, requires careful planning and dedication. Here are some tips to help you along the way:

  • Study: Make the MBLEx Prep Course and other learning resources your best friends. They’ll guide you through all the key topics you’ll encounter on the exam and highlight areas you might need extra work on. The study course is a complete package to help you understand and master every aspect of the test content.
  • Practice Tests: It’s not just about studying, you also need to test your knowledge. It is typically not enough to just take one MBLEx practice test. Taking several practice exams and quizzes will familiarize you with the structure of the exam, the types of questions you’ll face, and the pace you need to maintain. This practice is a good progress indicator and will help you reduce test anxiety and feel more confident on the day of the actual exam.
  • Rest: Remember, your brain and body need rest to function effectively. Prioritize getting a good night’s sleep before the exam day to ensure that fatigue doesn’t compromise your performance. Being well-rested will make you more alert and capable of recalling information more effectively.
  • Time Management: Begin your preparation well in advance. Create a study plan and schedule that covers all the topics you need to study and stick to it. Spacing out your study sessions will help prevent cramming and reduce stress. We’ve written a helpful article on time management that can give you some additional tips.
  • Healthy Habits: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and using self-care strategies will also aid your preparation process. Regular exercise can help clear your mind and reduce stress, while a balanced diet will provide the nutrients necessary for optimal brain function.

In summary, the MBLEx is a significant milestone on your path to becoming a massage therapist. Thorough and efficient preparation is your key to success. *Always remember to refer to your state massage board’s website and contact FSMTB directly for the most accurate and current information on the MBLEx, details about the application process, registration requirements, costs, and changes in state requirements. Best of luck with your preparations!

Common Questions About the MBLEx

Navigating the MBLEx process may seem daunting, but having answers to common questions can help. Here are some frequently asked questions about the MBLEx.

How do I apply for the MBLEx?

You can apply for the MBLEx by creating an FSMTB examination account online and completing your application there. You’ll be required to provide your education details, personal information, and pay the exam fee. Once the FSMTB approves your application, you’ll receive an Authorization to Test (ATT), which will allow you to schedule your exam with Pearson VUE. 

What is the best app to study for the MBLEx?

While the “best” app may vary depending on personal learning preferences, many candidates find the practice tests and complete MBLEx Prep Course offered here on MBLExGuide to be particularly helpful. While this is technically an online platform rather than an app, it offers a comprehensive review of all areas covered by the exam and includes practice questions to test your knowledge and help you assess your readiness to take the actual exam.

How many times can you fail the MBLEx?

FSMTB does not limit the number of times you can take the MBLEx, but keep in mind that you have to pay the full exam fee for each attempt. It is therefore much more cost effective to prepare thoroughly to pass the MBLEx the first time to avoid unnecessary expenses and time delays.

What is a passing score for the MBLEx?

There continues to be a lot of outdated and inaccurate information still circulating on the Internet about what a passing score is for the MBLEx. This is a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) which means that the test changes as the candidate answers a question correctly or incorrectly. For example, a correct answer will result in you being shown a more difficult question. Your answers determine whether the next questions presented will be easier or harder.

The FSMTB does not provide information about what the passing score is. Also, you will not see a score on your results form. It will only say PASS or FAIL, and provide basic feedback about how you performed in each of the seven content areas. 

What do you need to know to pass the MBLEx?

To pass the MBLEx, you need a thorough understanding of the topics covered in the exam. This includes knowledge of massage therapy techniques, client assessment, kinesiology, anatomy and physiology, massage contraindications, ethics, laws, and business practices.

You can start your review by taking a practice test to assess your weak areas and see which content areas you need to spend the most time on. Then, regular studying and taking practice tests are effective ways to prepare.

How long after graduating can I take the MBLEx?

There is no set time frame within which you must take the MBLEx after graduating. However, it’s generally recommended to take the exam as soon as possible after graduation while the information is still fresh in your mind.

If you currently live, or plan on working in a state that does not require the MBLEx, you may still want to consider going ahead and taking the exam. In the future, you may want to move to a state that does require it, and taking it several years after completing massage school can be even more challenging.

What percentage of people pass the MBLEx on the first try?

The percentage of people who pass the MBLEx on their first try varies from year to year and among different groups of test-takers. However, it’s estimated that approximately 70-75% of first-time test takers pass the exam. This rate fluctuates based on a variety of factors, including changes in the test, the educational background of the test-takers, and their level of preparation.

Is the MBLEx hard to pass?

Whether or not the MBLEx is hard to pass depends largely on the individual test-taker and their preparation. Some people find the test challenging, while others do not. Proper study strategies, understanding the test format, and good test-taking strategies can significantly improve your chances of passing. It’s not just about understanding massage techniques and learning muscles origins and insertions, but also about knowing the laws, ethics, business practices, and all other subjects that surround the practice of massage therapy. Thorough preparation is crucial for success!

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