Changes to the MBLEx: July 2018 Update
If you’re looking to become a professional massage therapist, one thing holds true in virtually every single state all across the country: you’ll need to first pass the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination, also known as the MBLEx test. It doesn’t matter where you went to school or what sort of practice you want to engage in. With the exception of just six states nationwide, you’ll need to sit for and pass the MBLEx exam before you can be considered for state licensure. And, without passing the exam, you won’t be able to practice massage in the vast majority of states. Here at Bamboo™, we offer the best resources you’ll find anywhere when it comes to passing the MBLEx. Practice testing is far and away the best method of preparing for a standardized test like the MBLEx, and that’s why we’ve created top of the line practice testing resources for massage students. Of course, preparing for a standardized exam like the MBLEx means knowing what’s going to be covered on the exam. Without a thorough understanding of the exam’s content, there’s no way to know whether you’re studying the correct material, or reviewing practice test questions that simulate what you’ll encounter on the actual exam. Bamboo works hard to stay on top of changes and updates and be accommodating the new MBLEx content. The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, or FSMTB — the organization which administers the MBLEx test — announced earlier this year that there would be changes to the content of the MBLEx effective July 2018.
Bamboo has been keeping up with this development, and we’re happy to say that we’re updating our practice test material accordingly. This will ensure that anyone who is registering to take the MBLEx after July 1, 2018 — when the new content changes will go into effect — is studying the correct material for the version of the exam that they’ll encounter on testing day. In order to ensure that our students are fully prepared, we’ve put together this guide to the upcoming changes to the MBLEx exam.
Here’s what you can expect to find:
- An overview of the MBLEx exam
- Where the exam is required for licensure
- Information about the exam’s content until July 2018
- A summary of changes to the exam effective July 2018
By the end of this blog post, you’ll have a firm grasp of what’s going to stay the same on the MBLEx, as well as what you can expect to see change. Many of the changes are minor and will only have a limited impact on you if you’ve already begun studying for the MBLEx using older study materials. Some of the changes are more significant, however, and it’s important to keep yourself up to date in order to ensure that you fully understand what information will be covered on the MBLEx after July 2018 (and what you can set aside in terms of personal study time).
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!
MBLEx Exam Overview
Before we dive into some of the details related to changes in the MBLEx, let’s take a minute to answer a couple of much more basic questions.
What is the MBLEx exam?
Simply put, the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (or MBLEx test) is a licensing exam used by 44 states across the U.S. in order to determine whether or not a massage therapist is eligible for licensing in that state. The MBLEx is administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), and was developed more than a decade ago as a means of providing a national standardized approach to evaluating the educational backgrounds of massage therapists all across the country.
The MBLEx consists of 100 questions, and you’ll have a two hour time limit to take it. The exam is a standardized test, meaning its format, structure, and content are predictable. If the phrase “standardized test” brings up feelings of dread and bad memories of the SAT, don’t panic! The fact that the MBLEx is standardized means that you can study for it in a highly effective way. Given the fact that it’s possible to know precisely what sort of content will (and won’t) be included on the exam, you can ensure that you use all of your study time in the most productive and effective way possible.
Where is the MBLEx Required?
The MBLEx is currently a required exam in 44 states (plus a number of territories) here in the U.S. The remaining six states either have their own proprietary massage licensing exams (for example, New York or Hawaii) or simply don’t regulate the practice of massage at all. That said, it is likely only a matter of time until massage is regulated in every state nationwide.
As of the time of writing, the following 44 states and additional territories require that a massage therapist pass the MBLEx before they can obtain licensure in that state:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- S. Virgin Islands
- West Virginia
MBLEx Content Until July 2018
At the time of writing, the content of the MBLEx has not yet been changed. If you were to take the MBLEx any time prior to July 2018, you’d be presented with what will soon be known as the exam’s “previous content.”
While we won’t go into a massive amount of detail here, let’s take a look at an overview of the content that is currently covered on the MBLEx exam. This will help you to understand the degree and scope of the changes that will be implemented in July 2018. For a more detailed review of the MBLEx material, take a look at our review courses.
The current version of the MBLEx is divided into 8 main categories or sections:
- Anatomy and physiology (12%)
- Kinesiology (11%)
- Special populations, pathology, contraindications, areas of caution (13%)
- Benefits and physiological effects of techniques that manipulate soft tissue (14%)
- Client assessment, reassessment, and treatment planning (17%)
- Overview of massage and bodywork modalities, history, and culture (5%)
- Ethics, boundaries, laws, and regulations (15%)
- Guidelines for Professional Practice (13%)
Each of these 8 sections is further divided into a number of subsections or subcategories. Some subcategories are further broken down into even more detail.
Here’s a look at each of the test’s main sections and the subcategories included as part of each.
Anatomy and physiology
- System structure and function
- Includes the circulatory, digestive, endocrine, integumentary, lymphatic, muscular, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, skeletal, special, and urinary systems
- Injury and repair of body tissues
- Concepts related to energetic anatomy
- Human muscular and its component and characteristics
- Contraction of muscles
- Muscle fiber directions, muscle location, attachment sites, origins of muscles, points of insertion, and muscular actions
- Function and structure of joints
- Range of motion in clients
- Includes active, passive, and resistant range of motion
Pathology, contraindications, special populations, and areas of caution
- Pathology overview
- Site specific, tools, special applications, special populations, and relation to pathology
- Classes of medication
- Areas of caution
- Special populations
Benefits and physiological effects of massage techniques which manipulate soft tissue
- Soft tissue massage techniques
- Sequence and types of massage strokes
- Using heat and cold in a massage therapy setting
- Physiological effects of soft tissue manipulation
- The psychological benefits of touch
- The benefits of soft tissue manipulation in specific client populations
History and culture of bodywork and massage methods
- History of bodywork and massage
- Overview of the skill sets used in contemporary massage and bodywork
- Overview of current massage and bodywork modalities
Client assessment, reassessment, and treatment plan formulation
- Organizing a massage or bodywork session
- Client evaluation and consultation
- Health history, verbal intake
- Written client data collection
- Assessing clients visually
- General and postural assessment
- Assessing clients using palpation
- Checking a client’s range of motion
- Clinical reasoning
- Ruling out contraindications, formulating treatment strategy, setting goals for client treatment, evaluating client’s response to treatment
Ethics, laws, and boundaries in massage therapy
- Foundations of ethical behavior
- Boundaries in the professional environment
- Code of ethics violations
- Massage therapy and bodywork laws and regulations
- Defining and understanding the therapeutic relationship
- Dual relationships
- Sexual misconduct
- How to communicate professionally
- Maintaining patient confidentiality
- Massage therapy: ethical principles
- Massage therapists and bodyworkers: scope of practice
Guidelines for professional practice
- Massage equipment and supplies: how to properly use and sanitize
- Maintaining hygienic conditions for massage
- Cleanliness and sanitation
- Safety practices
- Facilities, client safety, therapist personal safety
- Care for massage therapists
- Body mechanics, self-care, preventing injuries, using protective gear (gloves, masks, etc.)
- Technique for draping
- Communication, safety, being appropriate
- Massage therapy business practices
- Business and strategic planning, marketing, managing an office, interviewing and hiring, keeping records, documenting information
- Business and healthcare terminology
Changes to the MBLEx: Content Update
Now that you have a solid overview of the content that’s currently on the MBLEx test, we can answer the big question: what’s changing? What updates are being made to the MBLEx as of July 2018?
In 2017, the FSMTB conducted a Job Task Analysis (JTA) to ensure that the MBLEx was doing an adequate job of assessing the so-called “entry-level competence” of beginning massage therapists. After reviewing thousands of responses to the survey that they sent out to massage professional and other experts around the country, the FSMTB has decided to introduce several changes to the exam’s content.
As of July 1, 2018, the following changes will be made to the content of the MBLEx.
Removing the “Overview of Massage & Bodywork Modalities, Culture, and History” Section
The FSMTB has decided to completely remove the MBLEx section entitled “Overview of Massage and Bodywork Modalities, History, and Culture.” As you may have noticed when reviewing the current format of the MBLEx above, this section is by far the smallest of the 8 on the MBLEx: whereas other sections range in size from 11% (“Kinesiology”) to 17% (“Client Assessment, Reassessment, and Treatment Planning”), “Overview of Massage & Bodywork Modalities” comprises a mere 5% of the exam.
Considering that it makes up such a relatively small portion of the exam, the FSMTB has opted to merge some of the content from this section with another section of the exam.
Addition of “Overview of Massage & Bodywork Modalities” as Subcategory
Rather than completely scrapping this portion of the exam, the FSMTB is moving some of the content to another category. Specifically, the subcategory “Overview of Massage & Bodywork Modalities” will now appear as part of the “Benefits and Physiological Effects of Soft Tissue Techniques and Manipulation” section. This means that some of the content from the “Overview of Massage & Bodywork Modalities, Culture, and History” section will still be included on the MBLEx, but under a different section of the exam.
Removal of MBLEx Content
While the topic “Overview of Massage & Bodywork Modalities” will be preserved as a subcategory, “Massage Culture and History” are being removed from the exam. As of July 1, 2018, you shouldn’t expect to see any questions on the MBLEx related to the history or culture of massage therapy.
Changes to Content Allocation
The last change that will occur involves the amount of space devoted to each of the 7 (formerly 8) categories of the MBLEx. Here’s a breakdown of the changes:
- Anatomy & Physiology: this section will change from 12% to 11%
- Kinesiology: this section will change from 11% to 12%
- Pathology, Contraindications, Areas of Caution, Special Populations: this section will change from 13% to 14%
- Benefits and Physiological Effects of Techniques that Manipulate Soft Tissue: this section will change from 14% to 15%
- Client Assessment Reassessment & Treatment Planning: this section does not change, but continues to constitute 17% of the exam
- Ethics, Boundaries, Laws and Regulations: this section will change from 15% to 16%
- Guidelines for Professional Practice: this section will change from 13% to 15%
New MBLEx Content
As you can see, most of the changes to the MBLEx are relatively minor. However, it’s important to ensure that you spend your time studying the correct information. If you’re planning to take the exam after July 1, 2018, you’ll need to make some adjustments to which areas of the test you’re studying. Bamboo makes this easy: our content is up to date in adherence with these changes to the MBLEx exam, and our practice tests are customized to adapt to your specific learning needs. To find out more about what Bamboo has to offer, take a look at our price page.