Getting Back on Track

Preparing for the MBLEx ... Round 2

By Anne Williams
[Classroom to Client]

Oh, no! You failed the test. This unexpected result probably feels a little overwhelming and you may be filled with self-blame, frustration, and even heartbreak. But try not to panic. You will be OK. In fact, about 29 percent of those who take the MBLEx don’t pass on the first try.1
What can you do to make your next attempt a success? ABMP will give you the tools to help you get there. Here are eight quick tips to get you started!

1. Make It Your Priority
Commit right now to passing the MBLEx and make it your first priority. Tell your friends and family you need their help. Ask them to support you by picking up extra responsibilities at home or by giving you the time and space you need to study quietly and consistently. Have them help you with study sessions. Put everything else on the back burner and focus, focus, focus.

2. Reapply for the Exam
To retake the MBLEx, you must submit a new application online or by mail, along with a new application fee. Reapply now to ensure you stay motivated and focused on passing the exam. You will not be issued a new “Authorization to Test” until 30 days has elapsed from the date of the failed examination attempt. When you receive it, schedule your testing date. Don’t put it off! Reapply now while the content is still fresh in your mind.

3. Identify Areas of Weakness
When you received your score for the MBLEx, you were given a numerical-scaled score total, as well as information indicating your performance in each content area. Review this information and determine your areas of weakness. Focus the majority of your study on these topic areas.

4. Get ABMP Exam Coach
ABMP Exam Coach is a new online exam preparation product developed to help you pass the MBLEx. It saves you study time because it has definitions and audio pronunciations of approximately 2,400 terms, automated flash cards, quizzes, and full-length practice examinations that mimic the MBLEx. And, when you purchase ABMP Exam Coach, you are also able to receive your first year of professional membership with ABMP at the great rate of $75. ABMP membership includes liability insurance, which you will need to protect yourself and your practice, and which is required by many employers. ABMP Exam Coach is perhaps the most efficient way you can study for the MBLEx. Try out the free demo at

5. Make a Study Plan
A study plan is an organized schedule you create that outlines study times and learning goals. Write a four-week study plan focused on the areas of weakness identified by the information provided on your MBLEx score, then stick to it.

6. Learn the Language
One of the primary reasons people fail the MBLEx is that they haven’t mastered health-care and anatomical terminology. If you don’t have ABMP Exam Coach to help you with this process, use your textbook and identify topics that appear similar to the MBLEx topics where you performed poorly. Mark the pages related to this content with paperclips. Now skim through a chapter and highlight every key word or unknown word you encounter with a highlighter pen. Make flash cards for these terms by writing the word on the front of an index card and the definition of the term on the back. Learn the terms and then carefully read the chapter. You’ll find your comprehension of content has increased dramatically.

7. Get a Tutor
Approach your school and ask if there is someone who can tutor you for the MBLEx. You might also contact former classmates and ask someone who passed the test if they would be willing to meet with you for a few study sessions to support your study process. Sometimes having someone to discuss content with can greatly improve your retention. Thank them with lunch or a trade in massage sessions.

8. Press On
Everyone experiences failure. Winston Churchill said, “Success is moving from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Stay positive and get down to work! Your new career is calling you forward—you can do this. Press on!

Use active learning methods in every study session; reading the text and looking over lecture notes is not sufficient. Instead, make flash cards, recite term definitions out loud, and write practice quizzes to predict what type of information you might see on the MBLEx. If you haven’t developed good study habits during school, you may want to invest in a program like ABMP Exam Coach to prepare. This carefully designed web-based program has thoughtfully organized and prepared study materials to save you time.

• What do I need to take with me? Remember, you must bring two forms of acceptable identification to the test site. The primary identification must include a photograph and signature and not be expired. Common forms of primary identification include a US driver’s license, US state ID, US passport or US Certificate of Naturalization, military ID, or alien registration card (green card or permanent resident visa). A temporary driver’s license, learner’s permit, or expired driver’s license with renewal paperwork are not acceptable. The secondary form of identification must include a signature and not be expired. Common forms of secondary identification include any ID on the primary list, US social security card, school ID, employee ID or work badge, or bank-issued credit card, ATM, or debit card.
• When should I arrive? Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your reporting time. If you arrive after your scheduled reporting time, you will not be admitted to the test site and will forfeit all fees and have to begin the application process again.  
• Will I get a break during the test? You have two hours to complete a 100-question exam, 10 minutes of which is used to complete the necessary security and confidentially agreements. In the event you need to take a break to run to the restroom or to eat a snack, the clock will not stop. You must take these breaks as part of the two hours allotted to your examination. In most cases, you should be able to take one break if you need it and still complete the exam on time.
• When will I know if I passed? You will receive your official score report at the test center when you finish the examination. The results will be reported as a PASS with your numerical score or a FAIL with your numerical score. The numerical-scaled scoring system ranges from 300 (the lowest score anyone can get) to 900 (the highest score anyone can get). To pass, you need a score of 630 or higher.

ABMP Exam Coach Study Plan
The newest test prep program on the market, ABMP Exam Coach, has broken subjects into bite-size chunks to help you study effectively for the MBLEx. For each topic, complete these same tasks:
Terms: Review the terms for the topic by saying the term out loud (use the audio pronunciation guide if you don’t know how to say the term) and read the term definition/explanation. Review all of the terms for a topic before you use the flash cards.

Flash Cards: Work through all of the flash cards for a topic at least once (twice is suggested). You can remove cards you know so that you only work with terms and content you need to practice.  

Quiz: Take a quiz. If you pass the quiz, take a second quiz. If you pass the second quiz, take a third quiz. If you fail a quiz, go back through the flash cards and then retake a quiz. Keep working until you can pass three or four 10-question quizzes in a row.

Do it All: Work through every topic (with the exception of Research Literacy, which is not currently being tested on the MBLEx) in this manner. Be persistent and study every day using the ABMP Exam Coach tools.

Take a Practice Exam: When you have worked through all of the topic areas and then gone back and reviewed areas in which you know you need more study, you are ready to take a practice exam. Take the exam and use the progress section to determine where additional study will support your learning.

Review Areas of Weakness: Based on your practice exam results, review areas of weakness and then take a second practice exam (save the final two practice exams for study in the week leading up to your actual testing date).

Avoid cramming.
Study the day before the test, but don’t cram overnight and exchange last-minute study for sleep. Instead, make sure to get a full 7–8 hours of sleep so you feel rested and mentally refreshed on test day.

1. 2014, Federation of State Massage Therapy Borads, Annual Report.