As of July 1st, 2017, the answer to this question is more complicated.
We first need to review the goals of the MBLEx, recount a little history about exam scoring, and then cover the latest changes to the exam scoring reports. This way you will know exactly what to expect to best prepare for your exam day.
The goal of the MBLEx is not to measure different levels of competence between test-takers, or to see who can get the highest score in a massage class. A better score does not indicate a person will be a better massage therapist. The aim of the exam is to distinguish whether a candidate meets the minimum level of competence required to practice as an entry-level massage professional. The MBLEx is used by nearly every state, along with minimum education requirements, to determine if a person can safely practice massage and be issued a massage license by the state.
How the exam was scored in recent years
When the MBLEx first began being used as an entry level massage exam in 2008, the exam was scored/ scaled out of a possible 900. Any score 630 or above was a passing score and determined a candidate had met the minimum standards and was competent to practice massage at an entry level. Candidates that scored below 630 were instructed to retake the exam.
2014 CAT Testing Implementation
In 2014, major changes were made to the MBLEx format when the FSMTB introduced computer adaptive testing (CAT). The number of exam questions was reduced from 125 to 100. This is because CAT adjusts test question difficulty to the candidate’s ability level in order to achieve faster and more accurate test results. Each question reveals a little more about the true competency level of the candidate by determining the difficulty level of question a candidate can consistently answer correctly.
630 remained the passing score.
2017 Changes to Exam Reports
In July of 2017, the FSMTB announced they would no longer use a numeric score. Only a PASS/ FAIL designation would be printed on the candidate’s handout after their exam. That means candidates will no longer know how many points away from passing they were, or if they answered all 100 questions correctly.
However, the score report will provide some very beneficial information to those that do not pass. If a candidate does not pass their exam, they will still be informed how they performed in each of the eight subjects on the MBLEx on their printout. Candidates that pass their exam will not be provided with a breakdown of how they performed in each subject.
Each of the below subject areas will be determined as Good, Borderline, or Low.
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Benefits and Physiological effects of Techniques
- Pathology with Contraindications, areas of Caution, and Special Populations
- Client Assessment, Reassessment, and Treatment Plans
- Ethics, Boundaries, Laws & Regulations
- Guidelines for Professional Practice
- Massage and Bodywork Modalities/ Culture/ History
What to do with this information if you did not pass your exam
This information is incredibly useful for those that do not pass. Candidates can use this information for making their new study plan and determine where they need to focus their efforts in preparing for their next attempt.
If you haven’t taken the MBLEx yet
For members of Massage Exam Academy, I suggest using practice quizzes determine if more time and focus is needed in a particular subject where you are low or borderline. Failing to comprehend one subject can make passing the MBLEx difficult.
Our exam simulator breaks down each simulation by subject area to tell members how they performed in the individual areas of the exam simulator so they can make needed adjustments to their study plan. From my experience, category scores under 70% need attention and review.
After helping many members see “PASS” on their MBLEx report, I know that targeted focus on troubled content areas can really make a difference on exam performance. In addition, the exam simulations will help build confidence and reduce exam anxiety for your exam date.
So what do you think of the changes? Will it change how you prepare for your exam? Let me know in the comments below.