New York massage therapy license applicants should soon see the letter in the mail that they have been waiting weeks for, their New York massage therapy exam results. Maybe that day was today. And maybe that applicant was you.
Obviously, there are two possible exam results. However, I suspect many of you did not click on this article because you passed. I am betting you are here because you did not pass the New York State massage exam. I know this is not the news you wanted, whether you had a feeling you did not pass, or if you were shocked by this outcome. You may feel a little alone right now and unsure of what to do next.
Failure is a Bruise, Not a Tattoo
First, if you get one of these letters, I want to tell you this feeling is not permanent. This is not the end of your massage career dreams. It is okay to be disappointed, cry, or take a day to binge-watch “The Office”. Eventually, you will need to dust yourself off and make a new plan for your retake exam. And that is what I am going to help you do today.
Over the years, I have talked to hundreds of people that have failed their exams (MBLEx, NYS, or Hawaii) and are looking for a new plan to pass. There are people who have missed by just one point and those that have failed multiple times. Whatever the case, here is something else you should know.
Failing your exam does not mean you are not intelligent, or will not go on to have an incredibly successful massage career.
I know thousands of massage therapists, many very successful ones. Some of those therapists failed their exams and are now successful licensed massage therapists. I have been a massage therapist for nearly twenty years. In those twenty years, not one client has asked me how many times I had to take my licensing exam or for my exam scores.
Making Your *New* Plan to Pass
Your old plan.
First, own this result and commit to retesting. Next, make the changes necessary to pass. Finally, study like your exam success depends on it. Because it does.
Let’s break each step of your new plan.
1. Own it.
It may be hard to say “I did not pass my exam”. But say it out loud and know that you are in complete control of your reaction to this result.
I did not pass my exam.
Next, ask yourself this, “Why didn’t I pass?”
This is not a question I can answer. Only you can answer this question. Whether it was being underprepared for the Eastern theory, ill-prepared in school, had unexpected life events, or struggled with exam anxiety, the key is to be honest with yourself.
- Put in enough study time?
- Neglect some subject areas that I struggle with?
- Spend too much time on my phone in the evenings, mornings, or afternoons?
- Decide that in the middle of exam preparation I should take on a big life event, like moving or getting married?
- Not focus on managing my exam anxiety?
Whatever kept you from passing, you are responsible for fixing it to the best of your abilities. If your teacher told you the wrong heart meridian points or the wrong insertion for brachialis, it is not your fault. However, it is your responsibility to fix it during your preparation.
I do not plan to practice shiatsu or Eastern techniques, why do I have to learn about the meridians?
Even though I do not understand why New York puts such an emphasis on this area, it is what it is. Whether you and I like it or not, there still will be twenty questions throughout the exam that include the subject of Eastern methods (Meridians, Asian theory, Ayurveda, etc) in some way.
2. Commit to Taking the Exam Again
You would be surprised how many people fail their exams once and decide not to take it again.
Again, this result is a tough pill to swallow after completing a thousand hours and spending thousands of dollars on training. This probably isn’t some sign that you are not destined to become a massage therapist. Most likely, it is just a sign you need to retest.
In my experience of helping people pass their licensing exams, I also receive a lot of emails from people who regret not taking their exam again soon after failing rather than putting it off for years. While people that take the exam years later are still quite successful on their retakes, most of them regret not retesting sooner.
3. Prepare for the Long Wait
I’ve written about failing the MBLEx before and the seeming long thirty days a person must wait before retesting. However, failing New York Massage Exam is different (and not just because it is still on paper and with immediate results). Unlike the MBLEx, which is offered a Pearson center every day, the New York State Massage Exam is only given twice a year, January and August. To me, the worst thing about failing the New York exam is the wait. It is easy for life to get sidetracked and go in different directions (away from massage) during this wait.
If you do not pass in January, then the wait to retest is a long seven months (and this does not include the six weeks it takes to obtain your results). And if you fail in August, the wait is shorter, but still five months (again, not including the wait for your exam results).
Can I still work with a limited permit if I fail?
Here is the response from the NYS Board website:
Your limited permit is valid for no more than one year from the date it is issued, or until the results of the first examination for which you are eligible are made known, whichever comes first. You may not be issued a limited permit if you have previously held a permit or have failed the New York State Massage Therapy Examination.
Because the wait is so long, you need to come up with a life plan for the next five to seven months. This may include a temporary job, studying, or applying for massage therapy positions for after you pass.
After you commit to retesting, it is time to schedule your exam.
4. Schedule Your Retake/Re-admit
There should be clear directions in your recent letter from the Board. This should include current information on the retake fee ($260) and how to contact Scantron or the Board to take the exam again.
Scantron Candidate Support Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
New York State Massage Board Email: email@example.com
5. Study (But Try a Different Plan Unique to Your Needs)
I get lots of emails every day. One common one that I get from people that have just failed an exam is, “I failed my last exam, what can I do to pass this time?”
Different study plans will lead to letters with different results.
Something didn’t work last time and it is time for a new plan. However, there is not a single plan that works for everyone. Exam preparation is not a one size fits all solution. Each person has different strengths and weaknesses. Some people need more time to focus on anatomy and others may finally see that they are going to actually have to learn Eastern theory.
This is why I believe a self-paced program that you can tailor to your own needs is best. That means finding your weaknesses (if you do not know them) and working to raise your low scores. It truly makes a bigger difference than anything else I have seen over the years of helping others pass their exam.
My Plan to Help You Pass
- Take a exam simulation
- Look at your weaknesses in the exam report
- Read the study guide in that area or section where you have the lowest score
- Take section quizzes concerning that content until you see your scores improve to a passing level (75%)
- Take another exam simulation
- Work on the next area of weakness
- Continue this cycle
This cycle has proven to be quite successful for Massage Exam Academy members taking or retaking their exams. It helps people with exam anxiety get a pace for the exam, a feel for the content, as well as boost weak scores. This is how I have seen hundreds pass their exam every year.
People are really, really good at procrastinating! Have you told yourself that you are going to take a month off and then study? Will you be one of these people?
I failed the NYS exam in January. Now my exam is in two weeks and I haven’t studied. What should I do?
Well, you should have started studying months ago.
Today is the day you take the next step to pass your exam and get your New York Massage Therapy license. You are going to set time aside each day to study, even if it is just a little time. The future you (in January or August) is going to thank you. Because that person is going to be the one that opens a letter with a different New York State massage exam result.
If you want to learn more about my self-paced New York massage exam prep program (including study guides and practice tests) that has worked for many others New York massage therapists, here are a few more details: