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30% can’t pass the test. What’s going on?

mblex, mblex practice exam, mblex study guideAccording to the ABMP, 30% of the test takers who attempt the MBLEx fail.

Sitting in my car, nervous as a freshman going to high school, I made a little video right before I went into the testing center. Of course I sounded confident, but I was wondering, ‘Am I gonna be able to pass this test?’ I was taking the MBLEX because I couldn’t figure out why so many people failing the MBLEx?

Is it because massage school it too short? Many massage schools have moved to a 6 month program. Is 6 months long enough to produce a competent massage therapist? I’m just sayin’, that wouldn’t have been long enough for me. In fact, I went to Pasadena California to the AMTA’s Teachers Summit to learn best practices in massage school. The amazing Whitney Lowe shared that less competent massage therapists are showing up consistently in his continuing education courses. Completing 500 hours in 6 months is a full time commitment. So, maybe students need to spend more time in school?

Maybe massage school instructors are they winging it? Look, I get it. When I taught at massage school, I was dumbfounded with the lack of standardized curriculum. I was given a book; I was given a timeline and I knew my objective. We got it done, but it wasn’t because I followed the E.L.A.P. recommendations. (Entry Level Analysis Project for the massage profession) No one checked in on my classroom. My Program Director had too much going on. I had to depend on my own enthusiasm, experience and resources to transfer the knowledge and training. Without standard curriculum and very little teacher training…is that reason students can’t pass the test?

Wait a minute- here’s my big pet peave: how do massage schools recruit new students? Remember when you became a massage therapist? For me, it was a calling. Something deep inside longed to create that space in the treatment room. I wanted to send my friends, family and anyone who would lay still to la-la land. Fast forward>>>welcome to the internet. Today, a person who has never even gotten a massage, never mind considered being a massage therapist, may simply fill out an online form. Next thing they know, they get a call with an invitation to a school tour. SHAZAM! One week later, they are enrolled in massage school. To me, that’s scary! Is that why 30% of massage school graduates are failing the MBLEx? I don’t know, but it may be one of the reasons why we are losing our ‘sacred space’.

Okay, it is was time to go into the Pearson Vue Testing Center and figure it out. I wanted to know, is the test fair? A colleague from massage school asked me, “Don’t you think there is something inherently wrong with an entry level exam that those of us with decades of experience in the industry can’t ace?” Uh, she makes a good point.
I’ll write more about taking the test another time. Long story short, I scored a 720. 630 passes. Yes, I passed the test. Yes, the test is difficult. But honestly, the test needs to be difficult. Public safety is at risk. The question remains, is the MBLEx too difficult? Well, probably. And at least 30% of the time, others would agree with me.

What would be your solution? Increase duration of the program, standardize E.L.A.P. curriculum, provide teacher training or create authentic recruiting? All play a part in improving the competency of our massage school graduates. But hey, let’s focus on the positive: 70% of the time graduates DO PASS the MBLEx !  And that’s a good thing. By the way, if you have a friend who needs some help with the MBLEx, send me them my way 703-220-5375. I’ll get them on track to nail it.
Namaste…love and respect you.

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