Do any of these situations resonate with you?
Fear of Failure
You failed your licensing exam soon after attending school, got discouraged, and put your massage career on the back burner for a few years. Fear of failing again paralyzed you from moving forward with your massage career.
Maybe exam anxiety kept you from even attempting an initial licensing exam after massage training.
I graduated MT school in 2006 located in Illinois, took the NCETMB exam and did not pass. I missed by 2 points and then life happened. I see the NCETMB is not being given anymore and I had a friend that has mentioned the MBLEx to me. In being out of school for that length of time, would I need to go back to school? Can I still take the MBLEx?
Moving to a New State
You were previously licensed in a state that did not require an exam. Now have moved and find yourself in a situation where you must take an exam to keep practicing massage.
I’m considering moving to Florida. I’m currently in Pennsylvania and graduated from a 650-hour massage program in 2003. At that time Pennsylvania did not require being licensed so I just got my certificate and started practicing. About eight years ago when Pennsylvania changed and required licensure I submitted all my information and was grandfathered in. I see Florida still requires me to take an exam. I currently hold an active license in Pennsylvania and was wondering if I could still take the MBLEx listed to get my license in Florida?
Life Got in the Way
You had a baby, got married, moved, or had other family issues that kept you from taking the exam and practicing massage.
I graduated in 2005, got married, had kids, and here I am taking the MBLEx 10 years later. I paid my school loan off yesterday! Woohoo! It has been 10 years but my love/interest for massage has never left me :).
If any of these sound similar to your situation, I promise you are not alone. I talk to quite a few people each year that are in the position of taking the MBLEx years after graduating. I am going to answer some of the questions you may have and help you set up a plan to finally take and pass your exam.
The first question you may be asking is, “Am I still eligible to sit the MBLEx after this many years?”
Most likely, Yes.
Your graduation date does not affect your eligibility to sit for the MBLEx. But there are other things you need to check on to see if you still qualify to get a license, usually the educational requirement. Remember, taking the MBLEx is only one part of getting a massage license. Here are a few examples of situations that may affect your eligibility to sit for the MBLEx or get a state massage license.
Completion of Massage Training
The FSMTB, the developers of the MBLEx, now requires applicants to “attest they have both the education and training in the subject content areas.” If you have not completed massage training (examples: grandfathered into licensure without completing education, or practicing in an unregulated state) you may not be eligible to take the exam. Contact the FSMTB if you are in this situation.
Updated License Requirements
If the state where you went to school has changed the hours required to get a license since you graduated, you may not be able to obtain a license. For example, Texas previously required 300 hours for obtaining a massage license, but the law now requires 500 hours of education. If a person only completed 300 hours, they make not qualify for a license, but most likely could still sit for the MBLEx.
A Time Window for Licensure
In a few other healthcare professions, a State board may only allow an applicant a few years to take the state boards after completing the minimum education requirement. I am not aware of any state massage boards that have such a rule at this time. The only similar situation I am aware of is Louisiana. Their rules require applicants to apply for a massage license within two years of passing their licensing exam, or they must retest.
If you are eligible to take the MBLEx, let’s move on to the next string of questions that follow the eligibility question. These questions typically revolve around the anxiety of recalling all of the information you learned in massage school years ago.
Preparation Time and Methods
How do you prepare for the MBLEx when it has been 2, 5, 10, or 20+ years? Where do you start? And how much time do you need to prepare?
I have helped people pass the MBLEx before graduating, those that went to school 28 years ago, and everything in between. Even I took the MBLEx ten years after attending massage school and initially taking the NCETMB.
I am not saying this exam will be easy. In fact, it will be a very challenging exam. However, with focused study, I know it is possible to pass the MBLEx no matter how long it has been since you graduated. I see it all the time!
Once you have decided you are going to take the MBLEx, it is time to develop your study plan.
How Long Do I Need?
First, you will need to determine (roughly) how much time you need to prepare for the MBLEx. This not only helps you set a goal date, but will help you gauge how much time you need in an MBLEx preparation program.
It may not be as much time as you think you need. You do not need to learn all of that information for the first time. Your massage program was likely six months long, so you really just need to review all that information. Reviewing is different than learning something for the first time.
If you have not actively practiced or studied massage for years, but you are finally ready to get your license, 3 to 6 months seems to be the average time needed for preparation.
If you have been active in the massage field, practicing massage, then I would prepare for 1 to 3 months of studying and review.
How Do I Begin Studying?
I find prospective students are often overwhelmed by what they need to learn or review before they even begin studying for the MBLEx. The following is what I recommend for members of Massage Exam Academy.
To help with these overwhelming feelings, I break the study guide and practices quizzes down in the same eight content areas of the MBLEx. I recommend taking at least one of the simulation exams in the beginning. Based on the simulation results, you should be able to determine your weakest area(s) and begin reviewing these areas/subjects in the study guide and with practice quizzes.
Fix the Weak Spots First
I always recommend working on your weakest links first. This may be anatomy, physiology, or kinesiology. If kinesiology and anatomy were difficult for you previously, they likely will still be challenging. There are many resources available to help those who struggle with these subjects, including visual and hands-on learners.
Even if all the information seems unfamiliar at first, as you go through the study guide, you’ll start to recognize more and more terms. These small steps will add up quickly.
Prepare for the Current MBLEx
The current MBLEx is definitely not the same as the former MBLEx (pre-2014) or NCETMB. Too many people prepare for a quiz instead of a professional licensing exam.
The purpose of the MBLEx is to assess your competence to safely practice massage. Expect to have an exam with longer, complex questions and clinical situations. There are a number of ways to prepare for these questions.
- take shorter, quiz-style practice questions to learn terms and facts
- review how to break down longer questions
- learn multiple choice strategy
- take some exam simulations
Assess and Reassess
Just as you would do with a client, you will need to assess and then reassess your progress. Look at your quiz scores and evaluate how you are doing. This can help you determine if you are truly not ready for your exam date, or if it is just cold feet and anxiety before your exam.
You can fine-tune your exam date, if needed. This may be taking more time to prepare, or even moving your exam date up.