If you are graduating from massage school, moving to a state that requires you to take a licensing exam, or jumping back into the massage profession after hiatus- you might find yourself in the position of taking the MBLEX this year (Remember, the NCETMB is no longer an option).
July 1st, 2014, the FSMTB implemented a few changes to the MBLEX. Many test takers were not prepared for these changes. Massage schools were also not prepared to help students adjust to the new format and changes.
According to the FSMTB Annual Report, 23,647 people took the MBLEX between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015. Of those, 15,038 (or 64%) passed.
From July 1st, 2015 to June 30th, 2016 there were 32,079 MBLEx attempts with a pass rate of 66.3%. The first time pass rate was 72% and the retake pass rate was 42.9%.
The pass rate report from July 1st, 2016 to June 30th, 2017 will be released in October of 2017.
So in order to be the most prepared for the MBLEx, let’s review the changes from 2014 and upcoming changes for 2017 and early 2018.
These changes will remain in place for 2017 and beyond, until the FSMTB announces any other changes. Basically, the 2017 exam will look the same as the late 2014 and 2015 exams.
The only change the FSMTB has posted for 2017 will not concern content on the actual exam. Currently, the FSMTB does not have education requirements for MBLEx applicants. This will change July 1st, 2017. The FSMTB website states:
“Effective July 1, 2017, candidates seeking access to the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) will be required to substantiate enrollment in or having received their education from a massage therapy educational program that is approved or recognized by the state board or agency authorized to regulate massage therapy in the state in which the school is located. In the event the massage therapy board/agency does not approve or recognize education programs, approval or recognition from the relevant state department of education or like agency, in the state which the school is located, shall apply. In the event of a conflict between the state board/agency and department of education, the approval or recognition of the massage therapy board/agency shall prevail.”
The second change is that the FSMTB will no longer post recommended/reference reading list for the MBLEx content.
There is one more change I want you to be aware of in 2017. There is no longer a numeric score given at the end of the exam, such as 630. The exam now is PASS/FAIL. The report will show pass/fail and how the candidate performed in each of the exam content areas (good, borderline, or poor).
How can you prepare for the MBLEX in 2017?
Give yourself time to study and prepare.
This is not a high school anatomy exam. This is a professional licensing exam and you should not start studying for two days or two weeks before your scheduled date. Before you schedule your exam, come up with a strategy and study schedule.
Give yourself enough time to study each of the eight areas you will be tested on, and time for a general review right before the exam.
Bonus: How to Avoid the #1 MBLEx Study Mistake – Free Lesson and Practice Quiz
Review your texts.
Check out the FSMTB recommended reading list and see which ones you have in your collection. Dust them off if necessary, and get a feel for how much information you have retained. These books will not only be useful as you study, but you will use them as references in your massage practice.
Develop your critical and clinical thinking skills.
This seems to be one of the most frequent struggles I hear from people that have not passed the MBLEx. They were not prepared for questions where they would need to use clinical reasoning skills.
Massage therapists are health care professionals, so be prepared for the clinical reasoning-type questions every other health care profession is tested on during their boards.
You will probably not see a lot of questions like this: Which muscle or muscles adduct the arm?
You are more likely to encounter some questions involving clinical assessment with a dash of kinesiology. Such as:
A 16 year old girl with comes in after seeing her doctor after experiencing an arm injury after falling during horseback riding lessons a few weeks ago. A range of motion examination indicates that she cannot adduct her arm without pain. Which of the following muscle(s) is likely involved with this adduction pain and dysfunction?
A. Teres minor and Pectoralis minor
B. Teres major
C. Latissimus dorsi and Teres major
D. Infraspinatus and Deltoid
The correct answer is: C
Both Latissimus dorsi and Teres major adduct the arm.
Review multiple choice strategy.
In the above question, option B was also true. But, was it the most true? I have a separate post on helping you work through the multiple choice structure of the MBLEx.
Take practice quizzes and exam simulations.
Exam simulators are a great way to reduce test anxiety, because they allow you to get a feel for the length and pace of the exam. While exam simulators do not offer the exact questions that are on the MBLEx, removing doubt about how quickly you should be answering questions.
Practice quizzes are a great way to target weak spots in your topical knowledge. If you’re scoring very well in Anatomy, Physiology and Kinesiology, but struggling in Client Assessment, it only makes sense to focus your efforts on strengthening that area.
If you would like to learn more about the Massage Exam Academy, which includes MBLEx simulations and practice quizzes, you can do that here.