Pass NCBTMB Test | Therapeutic Massage


NCBTMB (National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork) exam covers the concepts of anatomy, massage & bodywork etc.

NCBTMB: How You'll Pass

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) is the accreditation facility of therapeutic massage professionals and the administrator of the National Certification Exam (NCE) for licensure and certification to practice massage and other body therapies. In order to even qualify to take one of the examinations, candidates must meet a set of very specific requirements. The qualifications include:

  • At least 125 hours of Anatomy and Physiology;
  • At least 40 hours of Pathology;
  • At least 200 hours of massage and/or bodywork theory and application;
  • At least 10 hours of business and ethics; and
  • At least 125 hours of related coursework

Once these obligations have been fulfilled, applicants for the exam are encouraged to find NCBTMB sample test questions so that they are familiar with the structure of the examination. If any one of these requirements is lacking, the candidate is not eligible for the exams and must complete further coursework. There is an NCBTMB online ethics course that can assist in completing the required prerequisites, and this is probably the area in which most candidates are lacking the proper credits. What more can be done to help prepare for such a rigorous examination as those administered by the NCBTMB?

The National Certification Examination Candidate Handbook and the free NCBTMB examination study guide are both available at no cost through the NCB upon completion of the other qualifications mentioned above and can be quite helpful in covering material that will be tested through the NCBTMB. A study guide provided by the testing source will definitely include information that is necessary to pass an examination, though looking elsewhere for additional study resources is certainly not a bad idea.

While the NCBTMB exam does certify that you have the ability to work anywhere in the United States, it does not provide licensure for particular states and cities. This is additional requirement by most jurisdictions in order to practice any type of body work or massage. In order to learn more about the local requirements, candidates should contact the local board of licensing and practices. Application to take the exam can take some time to process, and that process cannot be "rushed"; therefore, to avoid delays in the application and registry procedures, candidates should be certain that they include all the appropriate documentation to be cleared to sit for the exam. The application should be accompanied by a copy of the candidate's driver's license, a passport style photo, and a notarized copy of diploma, as well as payment, and transcripts should be sent directly from the massage therapy school attended. Processing of applications generally takes about four weeks.

Unlike many professional certification exams, the NCBTMB exam is offered year-round, five to six days a week, depending on the hours of the testing center. Upon approval of the application to take the exam, candidates will also receive updated information on testing centers in the area. Test questions are pooled together from items written by experts on subject matter covered in the test and are reviewed for approval by notable references in the professional field. Since school owners and instructors recommend review of the content outline for the exam, for those who are working through courses of home study massage, NCBTMB exam content outlines can be of even greater assistance.

It should be noted that the NCBTMB does not endorse or recommend any particular text, publication, or training strategies in relation to the certification exam and suggests that instructors and owners of massage and body therapy schools choose the most appropriate tools for their students. The same can be said for developers of home study courses.

The NCBTMB exam will consist of a total of 160 questions, with a passing scaled score of 300 from a range of 100 to 600 points. The scaled score does not reflect a percentage, the number of questions answered correctly, or a point value directly correlated to the number of correct responses. Scaled scores use a uniform frame of reference to convert raw scores. The passing score was determined by the NCBTMB Board of Directors.

The test is offered in multiple forms to assure that there is no chance of an individual taking the exact same test a second time upon an original failure. However, all tests are developed from the same set of questions and, because of a slight variation in difficulty from one to the next, the scaling of scores equates one test with another. In other words, should the raw score be used to determine a passing grade, it would vary from one form of the test to another, depending upon the difficulty level of the questions. For this reason, the scaled score is used by rating various questions as to difficulty levels and compensating for this through the translated scoring method.

Upon receipt of a score report, no numeric value will be given to the candidate who passes; those who achieve a score of 300 or higher will merely get a "PASS" scoring. For those who fail the exam, the score report will contain a scaled score (allowing individuals to see how far they were from their achievement), as well as the level achieved in each subject area. Such diagnostic material will prepare for study for future attempts at passing the test. The subject areas tested on the NCBTMB are:

  • General knowledge of the body (25 questions)
  • Anatomy, physiology,a nd kinesiology (42 questions)
  • Pathology (18 questions)
  • Massage and bodywork assessment (30 questions)
  • Massage and bodywork application (35 questions)
  • Professional standards, ethics, business, and legal practices (10 questions)

Each exam costs $225, so candidates will want to be as prepared as possible prior to applying so that no unnecessary money is spent.


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