Mastering the MBLEx: What to Expect from Your Massage Licensing Exam


massage-therapy-school-new-jerseyThere are many steps to complete to become a massage therapist, and one of the biggest is taking and passing the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx).

Many massage therapy students become curious and even nervous about the MBLEx early on. Some students are apprehensive about the idea of standardized testing in general, and many students are eager to be familiar with the “big picture” of the test content in order to be best prepared to pass the MBLEx.

At ITM, our curriculum and our instructors are prepared to prepare you to pass the MBLEx with flying colors. With that said, the sooner massage therapy students become familiarized with the MBLEx Content Outline, the more time they will have to ensure preparation in all areas and particularly to identify and work on areas of weakness.

Further, being familiar with the application and testing process for the MBLEx well in advance can also help minimize test anxiety to help ensure your success on the big day. Knowing the general timeline for taking the test and completing the other steps necessary for licensure will put you on a speedy track from moving from a massage therapy student to a licensed and practicing massage therapist.

The Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam

The Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) is a nationally recognized exam for massage therapy licensure that is administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, or FSMTB. Currently, 49 states in the United States regulate the practice of massage therapy, and the MBLEx is utilized in 46 of the 49 states for licensure.

State law dictates the scope of practice and requirements for licensure. Before applying for the MBLEx, one should be sure to understand state requirements. For example, in New Jersey, the MBLEx, and passing the MBLEx allows an individual to apply for licensure. In New York, a state-specific licensing exam is used.

If you are a current massage therapy student – or if you are thinking about becoming one – you may be curious about the process that the licensing exam entails.

How does one become eligible for the MBLEx? What can you expect from the exam? What are some resources to help you prepare and pass! Below, we will overview the steps from applying for the MBLEx to how to report your exam results to your state licensing board.

We will also discuss the content to expect on the MBLEx as well as some suggested study resources.

1. Applying for the MBLEx

In New Jersey, an individual may apply to take the MBLEx while enrolled or upon graduation from a massage therapy school.

To be deemed eligible to take the MBLEx, an applicant must submit the MBLEx application form, a $195 fee payment and a record of their education. The applicant must request that his/her school provide transcripts to FSMTB (records sent by applicants are not accepted).

By submitting a completed MBLEx application, the applicant also acknowledges that he/she has reviewed the MBLEx Content Outline and attests he/she has both the education and training in the subject content areas. Applicants must substantiate either enrollment in and having received education and training in all subject areas of the MBLEx Content outline from an approved massage therapy education program or graduation from an approved massage therapy education program.

The applicant also agrees to abide by the policies and procedures established in the MBLEx Candidate Handbook. Physical copies of the handbook are available free of charge; you may order one by emailing mblex@fsmtb.org and include the address and number of copies needed.

Once you are ready, you will be able to apply for the MBLEx here.

2. Processing, Authorization, Scheduling & Confirmation

After you apply for the MBLEx, FSMTB will receive your application, payment and records and process this completed application within five business days. The FSMTB will send an Authorization to Test (ATT) by email. The candidate must schedule the test within 90 days of the ATT being sent. The candidate can then schedule to take the MBLEx online or by phone by selecting the date and testing location and time. An appointment confirmation will be sent to the candidate by email.

3. Taking the MBLEx

Candidates are given 100 questions through a computer adaptive test and two-hours to complete the examination. Here is an informational video that explains the testing experience. You must bring two forms of identification with you to the test center on your exam date (a primary and secondary form). Cell phones and other personal items, including good luck charms, bags, headphones, and electronics, will be prohibited. For those with disabilities, accommodations can be made in conformance with the MBLEx Testing Accommodations Handbook. Lastly, all exam candidates must adhere to a non-disclosure agreement such that they agree not to share copyrighted information on the exam.

The candidate will receive the unofficial result at the testing center. FSMTB will send the result to the designated state board or agency within 24 hours. If a candidate fails, they will be given diagnostic information indicating their performance in each content area to assist in future study efforts. To reapply for the MBLEx, the candidate must submit a new application online or by mail, including the fee, although a new ATT will not be issued until 30 days has elapsed since the previous exam appointment, though the candidate’s education records may not need to be resubmitted.

While each state may impose a limit on the times a candidate may take the exam, FSMTB does not. In New Jersey, there is no limit on how many times an individual may take the MBLEx.

Candidates may request an additional copy of their exam to be reported to the state licensing board or employer by completing the MBLEx result transfer form.

Reporting MBLEx results to State Licensing Boards

Candidates must indicate on their MBLEx application the state to which they want their official exam result sent. The first result report request is fulfilled at no additional cost to the candidate. A second state may be chosen on the application for an additional fee.

It is important to remember that successfully passing the MBLEx is not the only step required for licensure. For other steps that are necessary in New Jersey, refer to the New Jersey Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy website. For a list of common questions, you may also refer to this FAQ page by FSMTB.

Study Resources

At ITM, our curriculum is designed to help ensure our students pass the MBLEx, and our educators are prepared to help students attain competency in all areas covered by the licensing exam. Our instructors will work with students to identify strengths and weaknesses in the areas covered by the massage therapy licensing exam to help ensure our graduates pass the MBLEx.

However, there are many study guides and tools available for students who wish to practice with quizzes, practice tests, flash cards, pronunciation guides and more.

The MBLEx Study Guide, published by the FSMTB and available for $29.95 on the FSMTB website, is the only MBLEx preparatory material created and endorsed by the organization that maintains the exam. This includes a breakdown of all the major content areas covered on the MBLEx, examples of content that will not be included on the exam, a 100-question practice test, and tips for a successful examination experience.

ABMP provides an Exam Coach that ITM students have access to. If you are curious, you can try a free practice quiz demo here. Further, ITM provides tools through AMTA’s exam, Massage Buddy, and also MBLEx exam booklet. Current students may reach out to their instructors if they have questions about these resources.

Conclusion: Be Prepared!

Passing the MBLEx may seem like a daunting step for attaining massage licensure. Knowing what to study by familiarizing yourself with the MBLEx Content Outline early on is a key for success. Massage therapy students who can recognize their areas of weakness early on will be able to reach out to instructors and also identify and utilize other resources in a timely way in order to be best prepared for the licensing exam.

Being familiar with the application and testing process for the MBLEx well in advance will also help minimize test anxiety to help ensure your success on the big test day. And lastly, knowing the general timeline for taking the test and completing the other steps necessary for licensure will put you on a speedy track from moving from a massage therapy student to a licensed and practicing massage therapist.

For a general overview of the MBLEx, you may watch this video below.

About The Institute for Therapeutic Massage

At The Institute for Therapeutic Massage, we understand that starting a new career is both exciting and overwhelming. We have helped thousands of men and women just like yourself to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to have a successful career in massage therapy. In as little as seven months, our flexible programs can provide students with the in-depth training they need to begin the next stage of their lives. Our program protocols also fit all the criteria for proper licensing in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, helping graduates get started in their new careers right away. If you would like more information regarding a career in massage therapy, please contact our friendly admissions team for further assistance.