Retaking the MBLEx - Strategies for Success the Second Time Around

Retaking the MBLEx: Strategies for Success the Second Time Around

Is taking the MBLEx on your horizon once again? Failing the MBLEx can be a mix of emotions, from shock and disappointment to a bit of self-doubt. If this is your current situation, you’re not alone. Even the most dedicated and prepared students can face unexpected results. So if you’re gearing up to retake the MBLEx exam, be encouraged that there are strategies to make your next attempt a successful one.

When thinking of retaking the MBLEx, it’s not about starting all over again. It’s more about filling in the gaps and fine-tuning what you already know so that you have a complete understanding of the exam material. It’s about focusing on the right topics, studying smarter, and keeping a positive mindset.

In this blog post, you’ll learn how to tackle the MBLEx exam a second time with better strategies, understand where you might have gone wrong the first time, and boost your confidence for the next try. We’ll cover study tips, ways to stay motivated, and techniques to help you succeed.

Emotional Resilience: Overcoming the Initial Setback

Dealing with Disappointment

It’s completely normal to feel down after not passing an important test like the MBLEx. But remember, one setback doesn’t define your entire journey. It’s merely a hiccup in your path to becoming a licensed massage and bodywork professional. Feel those emotions, then set them aside, create a new study plan, and focus on moving forward.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.

Winston Churchill

Learning from Mistakes

Every experience, especially the challenging ones, teaches us something. Think about the areas where you felt unsure during the exam. Instead of seeing those as weaknesses, consider them as opportunities for growth. They’re like clues, guiding you on where to direct your study energy for the next attempt.

FAIL - First Attempt In Learning

Bouncing Back with Determination

Just think of the most successful people you know. They’ve faced obstacles, and instead of giving up, they used those hurdles as stepping stones. You’ve got the same strength in you. In the context of the MBLEx, every challenge is a chance to understand the content better, refine your study methods, and build your test-taking confidence. Embracing feedback and seeking support can turn this moment into a crucial turning point in your journey.

Stay Connected

Talk to others who’ve been in your shoes. Join study groups or online forums where you can share your experience, get advice, and learn from those who’ve successfully passed after a setback. There’s strength in numbers, and you’re definitely not alone on this journey.

Massage Therapist Studying to Retake the MBLEx Exam

Reevaluating Your Study Techniques

Spotting the Knowledge Gaps

Before diving back into your books, take a step back and assess where you might have tripped up in the previous attempt. Maybe there were topics that consistently threw you off or types of questions that seemed tricky. Recognizing these gaps is the first step to filling them. Additionally, use your test results report as a roadmap; your performance in content areas labeled as ‘Low’ or ‘Borderline’, guide you on where to focus your efforts. Remember, it’s not about covering everything again, but about deepening your understanding where it’s most needed.

Active vs. Passive Learning

Simply reading through your massage books and class notes might not cut it. Active learning methods, like summarizing information in your own words, taking practice tests and quizzes, teaching concepts to someone else (AKA the Feynman Technique), or using flashcards, can be more effective. They not only reinforce what you’ve learned but also make it stick.

Practice Makes Perfect

Taking MBLEx mock tests can simulate the real experience. Remember, the actual exam is 100 multiple-choice questions with a 110-minute timer. So, try timing yourself while doing practice tests. This way, you’ll get used to the pace and can manage your time better on the big day.

In addition, practice tests provide immediate feedback, allowing you to identify and work on weak areas right away. Incorporate them into your study plan at regular intervals to track your progress. As you see improvements in your scores, it’ll boost your confidence and reaffirm that you’re on the right path.

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.


Study Environment Matters

Where you study can be just as important as how you study. Find a quiet, comfortable space free from distractions. Whether it’s a peaceful corner in your home or a local library study room, the right environment can boost your focus and productivity. 90% of your study time should be done here. In contrast, some candidates may benefit from spending a small amount of time studying or taking practice tests in a place that does have distractions, to learn how to tune them out.

Seek Support

If certain topics still seem daunting, consider getting a tutor, joining a study group, or finding a study buddy. Sometimes, a different perspective or teaching style can make complex concepts clearer. Plus, discussing topics with others can reveal insights you might have missed studying alone.

Exam Retake: Mastering Your Weak Spots

Taking a Closer Look

After an exam, it’s easy to remember the questions or topics that seemed especially challenging. Instead of avoiding them, make a list of these topics. By identifying them, you’re already a step closer to turning them into strengths.

Break it Down

Complex topics become more manageable when broken down into smaller chunks. Think of it like understanding the human body. Instead of trying to grasp the entire circulatory system at once, first study the heart, then move to the different types of vessels and components of blood. Then look at how these parts function and interconnect, and how this system interacts with other body systems. By dissecting subjects into these manageable components, your comprehension deepens, allowing you to better grasp the larger picture.

Use Varied Resources

While textbooks and massage school notes are a solid foundation, they shouldn’t be your only study tool. Incorporating other learning tools like visual aids, videos, and topic-specific online resources can offer fresh perspectives and unique explanations that might better align with your learning style.

For those looking for a thorough preparation, our MBLEx Prep Course stands out as one of the most comprehensive options available. By diversifying your study materials, you give yourself the best chance to grasp challenging concepts. Consider broadening your horizons and adding the MBLEx Course to your study plan.

Practice with Purpose

It’s not enough to just practice; you need to practice with intention and repetition. Every study session should have a clear goal. For example, if you’re struggling with specific massage techniques or anatomical terms, dedicate a day to only those topics. As you enhance targeted areas, you’re not only mastering specific content but also building a more holistic understanding of the MBLEx. Familiarity with the multiple choice question format is vital, but coupling that with strategic, intentional practice will significantly boost your confidence and proficiency.

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.

Henry Ford

Feedback is Gold

Share your challenges with peers, tutors, or mentors. They might offer insights or resources you hadn’t considered. By understanding different viewpoints, you can build a more comprehensive grasp of your weak spots.

MBLEx practice tests for the massage exam

MBLEx Practice Exams

MBLEx candidates who use our practice tests have a much greater chance of passing the FSMTB massage licensing exam. Content area quizzes and simulated exams review of all content areas covered on the real MBLEx.

The Power of Mock MBLEx Exams

Mimicking the Real Deal

Mock exams play a pivotal role in demystifying the MBLEx environment. While you’re already acquainted with the exam’s format, these simulated tests can help fine-tune your mental stamina and focus. Over time, consistently taking these practice exams will help hone your decision-making skills under time constraints and improve your ability to navigate difficult questions with ease. Remember, familiarity breeds confidence, and by replicating the exam conditions, you’re not just preparing academically, but mentally and emotionally too.

Identify Patterns

Over time and with multiple mock exams, you may start to see patterns in the types of questions you answer incorrectly. This is invaluable information. You may find that are consistently missing certain types of multiple choice questions (MCQs) such as negative questions (Except/Not), or case-based questions designed to test practical application of knowledge. Recognizing these patterns can guide your new study strategy and let you zero in on areas that need more attention.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Albert Einstein

Time Management

While knowledge is crucial, managing your time effectively during the exam is equally vital. With mock exams, you can practice pacing yourself. Remember, the MBLEx gives you just a bit over a minute per question. Perfecting your pace can make a significant difference in your performance. For those still in massage school, refining your time management skills early on can be beneficial. Be sure to check out our dedicated article on time management to further hone this essential skill.

Boosting Confidence

Each time you take a practice exam, you’re not just testing your knowledge; you’re building confidence. As you see improvements in your scores, it can be a morale booster. And on the day of the MBLEx, having confidence in your abilities can play a huge role in your success.

Review and Reflect

After each mock test, don’t just check your score and move on. Go through each mistake, understand why you got it wrong, and make notes. Moreover, our practice exams come with detailed rationales for each correct answer. By studying these explanations, you can deepen your understanding of complex topics, ensuring you’re not only identifying where you went wrong but truly grasping the nuances behind each question.

This reflective practice ensures that you learn from each error and reduce the chances of making the same mistakes again, paving the way for a more confident retake of the MBLEx.

MBLEx Study Group, Tutoring & Feedback

Study Group, Feedback and Tutoring

The Value of Another’s Perspective

Sometimes, no matter how much we study, there are concepts or topics that just don’t click. This is where feedback becomes crucial. Discussing with peers or mentors can provide a fresh perspective, highlighting something you might’ve missed or not considered. A mentor, tutor, or study buddy can also serve as an accountability partner, ensuring you stay on track with your study goals and providing guidance when challenges arise.

Why Tutoring Might Be Right for You

Tutors, especially those familiar with the subjects on MBLEx, bring a wealth of experience. They’ve seen common pitfalls and have techniques to explain complex topics in simpler terms. If you’ve consistently struggled with certain areas, a tutor or exam coach might be the key to unlocking your understanding.

Study Groups: Collective Brainpower

Joining or forming a study group can be another great way to seek feedback. Discussing and debating topics can lead to deeper understanding. Plus, teaching a concept to a peer can be the best way to solidify your own grasp of the topic.

Constructive Criticism is Key

While it’s great to hear what you’re doing right, constructive criticism is where growth happens. Be open to feedback, even if it points out areas of weakness. Remember, the goal isn’t to feel good but to pass the MBLEx with flying colors.

Continuous Improvement

Whether it’s through tutoring, study groups, or individual feedback, always aim for improvement. Use the insights and advice you gain to refine your study techniques, broaden your knowledge, and enhance your test-taking strategies.

Staying Updated: The Evolving MBLEx

Understanding the CAT System

The MBLEx operates as a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT). In simple terms, this means that the difficulty of the questions you receive may change based on your previous answers. Doing well might lead to harder questions, while struggling can result in receiving simpler ones. This unique format is designed to gauge your competence level accurately, making preparation and a wide understanding of topics essential.

The Importance of Staying Current

While the core principles of massage and bodywork may remain constant, the MBLEx and its structure can evolve. Being informed about the latest format, rules, and guidelines is important. If it has been a while since your first attempt at taking the FSMTB MBLEx, make sure you check their website for any updates or changes that you need to know.

Decoding the Unofficial Results Report

After completing the MBLEx, you’ll receive an unofficial results report at the Pearson VUE testing center. While it won’t provide an actual score or grade, it will indicate a pass or fail status. For those who don’t pass, this report also provides information about your performance in each of the seven content areas. By examining feedback about these content areas—labeled as “Good“, “Borderline“, or “Low“—you can identify your strengths and the areas needing more focus for your next attempt.

Preparing for Changes

Just as with any professional field, staying updated with the MBLEx means being prepared for potential shifts in the industry, including new industry practices, emerging research, and even evolving licensing regulations. Consider subscribing to reputable massage and bodywork journals, joining professional organizations, or participating in online massage forums.

MBLEx Test Day Strategy

Perfecting Your MBLEx Test Day Strategy

A Solid Morning Routine

The day of the MBLEx can feel intense, but starting with a consistent morning routine can help set a positive tone. Wake up early, allowing yourself plenty of time to get ready. Opt for a balanced breakfast, even if you’re feeling nervous. Food fuels your brain, and you’ll need all the energy you can get.

Mental Rehearsal

Mental rehearsal is a powerful technique where you vividly imagine and “experience” the situation you’re preparing for, in this case, the MBLEx exam day. By visualizing the process, from walking into the testing center to answering questions with calm precision, you’re essentially training your mind for success. Athletes often use this technique before a competition, and musicians and other performers use it before a performance to calm their nerves and get in the zone.

This technique not only familiarizes you with the experience, reducing test anxiety, but also bolsters your confidence. When individuals visualize themselves successfully completing a task or navigating a challenging situation, it can help reinforce a positive self-concept and build self-efficacy. By repeatedly imagining a positive outcome, individuals can foster a more optimistic mindset and reduce anticipatory anxiety. It’s a simple yet transformative strategy to add to your MBLEx test prep toolkit.

Knowing the Venue

If you will be retesting in a new city, consider researching the Pearson VUE testing center location ahead of time. If possible, consider doing a test-run to the venue a day or two before, so you know exactly where you’re going and how long the commute will take. On test day, aim to arrive at least 30 minutes early, giving yourself time to relax and mentally prepare.

Dress Comfortably

While it may seem minor, wearing comfortable clothes can make a significant difference. Choose attire that you feel relaxed in and consider layers. Testing centers can vary in temperature, and you want to ensure you’re not distracted by being too hot or cold.

Pacing Yourself

Approaching the MBLEx with a clear strategy for time management can significantly enhance your performance. Given its format as a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT), every question is essential, and pacing becomes even more critical. While some questions might be more challenging and carry more weight, it’s vital to understand that you can’t skip any or return to them later. This means you’ll need to balance thoroughness with efficiency on each question.

Remember, failing to answer all 100 questions will lead to an automatic failure, so be sure that you respond to each question within the allocated time. It’s all about optimizing your focus and making the most of each minute.

Stay Calm and Breathe

It’s natural to feel a mix of anxiety and anticipation. But remember, you’ve prepared for this. When you start to feel overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths, refocus, and carry on. Confidence in your preparation and staying calm under pressure are keys to avoiding mistakes on test day and passing the MBLEx.

Physical and Mental Well-being

The Role of Physical and Mental Well-being

Balanced Nutrition

The brain thrives on good nutrition. In the lead-up to your MBLEx, prioritize a balanced diet filled with whole foods. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish or flaxseeds, and those high in antioxidants, such as berries and nuts, can boost cognitive function. Staying hydrated is equally vital, as even slight dehydration can impact your concentration.

Regular Exercise

Physical activity isn’t just for the body; it’s for the brain too. Incorporate regular exercise into your study plan, whether it’s a brisk walk, yoga, or a more intense workout. Exercise enhances blood flow to the brain, increasing oxygen and nutrient supply, which can sharpen your focus and memory retention.

Adequate Sleep

Sleep isn’t merely a luxury; it’s a necessity. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep, especially in the days leading up to your test. During sleep, your brain consolidates what you’ve learned, moving information from short-term to long-term memory. A rested brain is more alert, making it easier to recall information during the MBLEx.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Stress can be a barrier to optimal performance. Implement relaxation techniques such as meditation, receiving massage, or deep breathing exercises. These tools can help manage anxiety and maintain a clear head, ensuring you’re at your best mentally when taking the MBLEx.

Breaks and Downtime

While studying is essential, so are breaks. They give your mind a chance to relax and reset. Set a study schedule that includes short breaks every hour. And occasionally, take a day off to rest and recharge completely. This balance between work and rest can enhance your overall well-being and productivity.

Finding Your Motivation: Key Takeaways for MBLEx Success

Retaking the MBLEx journey requires more than just knowledge; it also demands confidence and inspiration. Here are some motivational takeaways to fuel your determination and drive:

  • Believe in Your Growth: Every study session, mock exam, and group discussion is a step forward. Celebrate the progress you make each day, not just the final outcome.
  • Embrace Mistakes: Errors aren’t setbacks; they’re learning opportunities. When you stumble upon a challenging topic or question, view it as a chance to grow stronger.
  • Stay Adaptable: If one study method isn’t working, it’s okay to switch things up. Your adaptability can be your biggest asset.
  • Lean on Your Community: Remember, you’re not alone. Seek support from peers, mentors, or tutors. Shared experiences can provide new insights and encouragement.
  • Visualize Your Success: Picture yourself passing the MBLEx and how it’ll feel. Let that vision drive your daily efforts.
  • Stay Balanced: While studying is crucial, self-care is equally vital. The best results often come from a balanced mix of hard work and relaxation.
  • Rejection is Not Defeat: Not passing the first time isn’t a reflection of your worth or potential. Use it as a motivator to come back even stronger.


Retaking the MBLEx isn’t just about revisiting the content; it’s a journey of self-improvement, resilience, and determination. You’ve gathered new strategies, absorbed some encouragement, and learned about the nuances of the MBLEx. Every step you take, whether it’s adjusting your study habits or seeking feedback, brings you closer to your goal.

In this post, you’ve learned essential tactics to make your next attempt a successful one. From refining study techniques to embracing emotional resilience, each section offers tools to boost your confidence and preparation.

As you gear up for another attempt at the MBLEx, remember that you have what it takes. With the right approach and mindset, your path to becoming a licensed massage therapist is well within reach. Best of luck, and believe in your journey!

MBLEx Exam Resources

MBLEx Exam Resources

There are several reliable resources to guide you, offer insights, and provide the support you need. Here’s a collection of helpful tools and platforms for your MBLEx preparation:

  1. FSMTB Official Website: This is your starting point for current MBLEx-related information. From application process details to exam updates, it’s all there to ensure you’re well-informed. Visit the FSMTB website.
  2. MBLEx Practice Exams: Mock exams that simulate the real MBLEx experience (like those found here on MBLExGuide) are a great way to assess your readiness and get a feel for the test format.
  3. Muscle Flashcards: If memorizing all the muscle origins, insertions and actions was something that held you back on your last MBLEx attempt, consider enrolling in our Learn Muscles in 60 Days for a guided review. MBLEx Guide members also get access to our online muscle flashcards.
  4. Local Study Groups: Connect with peers in your area preparing for the MBLEx. Sharing experiences and mutual encouragement can make a big difference.
  5. MBLEx Study Guides: There are various comprehensive study guides available online and in bookstores. They often come with detailed content reviews, practice questions, and test-taking strategies.
  6. Meditation and Stress-Relief Apps: Remember the importance of mental well-being. Apps like Calm or Headspace can help manage stress and keep you focused during your preparation.

Remember, while these resources can be incredibly beneficial, always ensure they are up-to-date and align with the current MBLEx content. Equip yourself with the best tools, and you’ll be better positioned for success on test day.

FAQ: Retaking the MBLEx

What happens if you fail the MBLEx?

If you fail the MBLEx, you will receive an unofficial results report before leaving the Pearson VUE testing center. This report will indicate a fail status and provide insights into your performance in each of the 7 content areas, categorized as “Good”, “Borderline”, or “Low”.

How much does it cost to retake the MBLEx exam?

It costs $265 each time you take the MBLEx in 2023 (plus the testing center fee of about $20).

How long do I have to wait before I can retake the MBLEx?

After a failed attempt, you must wait at least 30 days from your last exam date before you can retake the MBLEx. You can reapply through your FSMTB Examination Account login during this period. For more in-depth insights on the massage licensing exam, check out our other article on essential details you should know the MBLEx before applying.

How long should I study before retaking the MBLEx exam?

The recommended study duration varies based on individual needs and how much time you have available to study. Most candidates take between 1-3 months before retaking the exam. If the reason for failing was not knowing the information well enough (as opposed to something like being sick on test day), then it is important to not try to retake the test until you know the content better and are ready to take the MBLEx. Otherwise you will just waste another $265. During this time it’s essential to review your study materials, focus on weak areas, and take practice exams.

When I retake the MBLEx, will it be the same test?

No, the MBLEx uses a computer adaptive test (CAT) system, which means each test is generated based on the candidate’s responses to previous questions. It’s unlikely you’ll see the exact same questions on a retake.

How many times can I retake the MBLEx?

The FSMTB does not impose a limit on the number of times you can take the MBLEx. However, certain state licensing boards or agencies might have such limitations. Always check with your state’s regulations.

Will potential employers know how many times I’ve taken the MBLEx?

While your MBLEx result status (pass or fail) will be known, the number of attempts is typically not shared with employers. What’s more crucial for employers is that you’re licensed and in good standing.

Are there any courses specifically designed for individuals retaking the MBLEx?

While there aren’t any courses designed specifically for individuals retaking the MBLEx, the comprehensive MBLEx Course is highly recommended for both first-time takers and those looking to retake the exam. This course provides in-depth material, structured review, and strategies to help candidates thoroughly prepare and bolster their chances of success.

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