The MBLEx can be a massive hurdle for future massage therapists to pass over before they start practicing on their own. While the test is extensive and takes quite a while to prepare for and take, it is worth taking some time to fully understand the test, as this might make it seem more manageable.
Understanding how a test is designed and the intended goal of the test publisher can be beneficial when trying to structure your studying. Similarly, how the MBLEx is scored is crucial information that all future test-takers should know. In this article, we’ll be discussing the history of how the exam is scored as well as what the current scoring system means for you.
How is the MBLEx Scored?
In order to understand how the MBLEx is scored and thus how to pass the MBLEx exam, we first have to take a trip through the history of the exam. The MBLEx scoring has changed a few times throughout the exam’s life, but, in its current form, the test is simply a pass or fail exam.
2008: In 2008, the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) started utilizing the massage and bodywork licensing examination (MBLEx) to create a standard exam to determine if someone is ready to become a practicing massage therapist. The exam consisted of 125 questions and was worth a total of 900 points. A passing score was considered to be anything greater than or equal to a 630.
2014: In 2014, the FSMTB lowered the number of questions on the MBLEx from 125 to its current number of 100. They also switched over to a computer adaptive testing (CAT) format for the MBLEx. In a CAT system, the exam changes as you answer questions, either getting easier or more challenging depending on how you are doing. CAT is designed to be a more precise form of testing and has been growing in popularity. The MBLEx passing score was kept at 630 at this time.
2017: In 2017, the current form of the exam was adopted. Instead of using numeric scores, the FSMTB switched over to a pass or fail system. They now have 100 questions on a CAT system which must be answered in under 110 minutes. The main goal of this switch was to align better with the overall goal of the MBLEx.
The overall goal of the MBLEx has always been to determine if a massage therapist has the minimum level of competency that the FSMTB deems necessary. They found that students were more likely to compete for the highest test score by having a numeric score. Since a good test score is not always indicative of being the best massage therapist, they decided to change the exam to better align their goals.
Since 2017, the MBLEx has been scored by a computer algorithm and still uses a CAT system. There are no longer any numeric scores. If you do fail the exam, your scorecard will tell you if you did good, borderline, or low on each of the seven sections, but that is the only indication of how well you did that you will get. You will not get this information if you pass the exam.
What is the Passing MBLEx Score?
Ultimately, there is no minimum score you need to achieve to pass the MBLEx, so asking what the minimum score to pass the MBLEx is won’t really get you any information. It can be frustrating for many new test-takers that the MBLEx test scores are simply non-existent in any numeric form. There are a few reasons for this.
First, it is essential to understand that when the FSMTB says they will only give you a pass or a fail and not a score, they really mean it. While some significant tests will provide you with a pass or fail on the testing day but a more detailed numeric score later, that is not the case here. You will only ever see pass or fail and a few word indicators of how you did on different sections.
Second, it is important to understand how CAT works. The general premise of CAT is that the test will adapt to you. This means that if someone is doing well on the test, the questions that they are asked will get more complex, while if someone is not doing well on the test, the questions they are asked will get easier. This leads to a type of question weighting.
Since different questions will be weighted differently, there is no way to determine how many questions you can miss and still pass. For example, if you are doing well on the MBLEx and are being given more challenging questions, you might be able to miss more questions and still pass than someone who ends up with mostly simple questions. This allows the test to adapt to you and better understand if you truly meet the minimum standard for a massage therapist.
How Much Time Do You Have to Complete the MBLEx?
In its current form, you will have 110 minutes to complete the 100 questions on the MBLEx. You will be required to be in the room for 120 minutes total since there is a pre-test form you must sign and a post-test survey they ask you to complete.
Since you only have 110 minutes to answer all 100 questions, time management is one of the most important test-taking skills for someone looking to take the MBLEx. If you are unable to answer the 100 questions during the time available, you will receive an automatic fail, so not managing your time well will lead to you failing.
The key to getting through that many questions under a time restraint is efficiency. We know that answering 100 questions in 110 minutes can feel like an overwhelming task, but since the questions are multiple-choice, there are lots of ways to work efficiently. Make sure you practice strategies to help you breeze through multiple choice questions, as that will give you more time to work on the challenging questions on the exam.
How Many Times Can You Take the MBLEx?
The short answer to this question is that you can take the MBLEx as many times as you want. There is a little more nuanced than you should understand, though. After you take the MBLEx and find out that you did not pass, you will need to wait 30 days before you can reapply for an ATT or authorization to test.
Once you have received your new ATT, you are able to register for the exam. As with the first time you took the exam, you will need to pay all fees associated with the exam. Your ATT will also only be valid for 90 days, so make sure you schedule your next test date during that time.
The major challenge with retaking the MBLEx is significantly dropping the average passing rate. Amongst first-time test-takers, about 72% of all students will pass. Amongst retakers, the passing rate drops to around 40%, so you have a much better chance of passing the MBLEx the first time around. Just make sure you are prepared.
3 Tips to Help You Pass the MBLex Test
Passing the MBLEx doesn’t have to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done; you just need to make sure that you are prepared. With so many tips and tricks out there, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are our top three favorite tips and tricks to help you out:
Practice tests are essential
Practice tests are one of the best tools you have at your disposal when it comes to preparing for the MBLEx. They are an invaluable resource for test-takers. Not only do practice tests allow you to test yourself on the material, but they also get you prepared to sit still and focus for the entire 110 minutes.
There are lots of places where you can get practice tests, but one of the best is through the FSMTB itself. They have lots of resources available, including practice tests. You can also find practice tests online or in your purchase study guides. Just make sure they come from a reputable source.
Work on time management
If there is one test-taking-related skill that is the most important when it comes to the MBLEx, it is time management. If you cannot get through the 100 questions in 110 minutes, even if you know the material, you will fail the MBLEx. Time management is an essential skill to practice.
Working on your time management skills will be vital to your success on the MBLEx. It can be challenging, but try pacing your practice tests so you know how long you should spend on each question. You can practice on shorter tests at first and work your way up to a full-length practice test.
Utilize all the resources at your disposal (not all cost money!)
As we mentioned before, the FSMTB has some fantastic online resources at your disposal, but they are not the only ones. There are lots of free resources available online that you can use to help you prepare. Even if it is just people sharing their own study tips or giving advice about the exam, it will all be helpful.
If you have the means, investing in a good study guide or even paying for extra online resources or help is a good idea. There are lots of trusted study guide publishers that make excellent study guides for the MBLEx. Make sure you get a study guide with practice tests since those will be crucial tools for your studying.
Wrapping Things Up: What’s the Minimum Score to Pass the MBLEx?
Taking the MBLEx doesn’t have to be scary, as long as you are well prepared. It might seem like a lot to have to study all of the seven sections that the exam covers and general test-taking strategies, but bypassing the MBLEx on the first try will save both money and time. Understanding the test is the first step to crushing the test.
We hope that you have a better grasp of how the FSMTB came to the current scoring system for the MBLEx. Knowing why something is the way it is can make it easier to understand and work around as you prepare for your upcoming test. With the tips and tricks that we’ve provided, we hope you feel ready to get to work conquering the MBLEx!