Plain & Simple Guide to Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork Examinations$45.99
Short Clear Explainations of Complex Processes4.5/5
Covers Additional MBLEx Topics (like Ethics and Eastern Medicine)5.0/5
- Quick Read: Deep Overview of Information
- Quizes at the End of Each Chapter
- Really Well Organized
- Includes HUGE amount of Vocabulary
- Need Deeper Physiology Explainations to Pass MBLEx
- Version Discrepancies - See Article for Details
- Weak Online Features - Not Really Interactive
This review is part of a series about how I organize my studies to prepare for the MBLEx exam.
My last post discussed starting the studying process with flashcards using rote memorization techniques and organizing such techniques with the Leitner Technique to drill down the information you are not strong at by minimizing the use of cards that you have already memorized.
After you are solid on thousands of terms, you can then move on to what I think of as the phase of ‘connecting the dots’ and building a holistic understanding of the material you learned with flashcards in an in-depth way.
I have two books that I selected for this phase of my MBLEx exam prep.
The first one is Plain & Simple Guide to Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork Examinations and the second is Massage Therapy Principles and Practice
Today I will be reviewing Plain & Simple Guide to Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork Examinations.
Before I get started, it is important to mention that I own the Second Edition of Plain & Simple Guide to Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork Examinations so that is what I will be reviewing but there may be differences between editions.
Why I Chose This Study Guide
As I have mentioned before, weaving together a study plan for the MBLEx can be very challenging.
There are SO MANY resources online ranging from books to flashcards to digital example exams to video courses that it can make a future massage professional’s head spin.
Which ones should you choose?
Having graduated from massage school long before the MBLEx was used for licensing, I no longer have my instructors to give me a “paint-by-numbers” MBLEx exam prep plan.
So I made one myself.
And if you are like me, you know Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Energy Systems (maybe, if your school covered it), Ethics, etc and because it was covered in the courses in massage school that you needed to take to get your certificate.
You just need that information to be organized in your brain in a way that will help you to pass the MBLEx.
That’s where this book comes in.
If there is a drawback of using this “Plain and Simple” guide, it is that it often presents too much of a summary for complex systems of the body, and one could incorrectly infer that the information contained in this book is everything you need to pass the MBLEx.
It is not.
Yes, it covers all of the necessary vocabulary words within each chapter. The sentences are constructed in a similar way to how marketers will cram sentences full of keywords to get them all in there in a sentence in a way that makes sense but is also clearly trying to cover a bunch of keywords, too.
But that is not a huge criticism.
I did not buy this book to go deep into the concepts.
I bought this book to read chapter by chapter and see where my weak points are.
And that is how I suggest you use it.
For example, there is a whole section on medical suffixes and prefixes in a few charts that I went through easily and made me realize, “Wow, I am missing a lot of these prefixes. I should add this to my vocabulary study.”
Another example of covering everything but lacking required depth might be looking at the chapter on endocrine systems and realizing that while you know most of the vocabulary words and glands, the activity and interaction of those glands with each other and with the body are compressed into three pages.
Don’t be fooled that if you know those three pages you know everything you need to know for the MBLEx test.
You must find additional materials to know the endocrine system (and all of the chapters of this book) properly.
(That is why I have a second book for “step 2” (the book studying step) of studying for the MBLEx that I will cover in another review.)
My reason for choosing the “Plain & Simple Guide” is I have not lost the knowledge I learned in massage school.
All of these years as a professional massage therapist has given me the opportunity to go deeper into the healing areas that I am most interested in, reinforcing the basic framework I gained in massage school.
I am still reading medical material, white papers, medical journals, the effects of nutrition on the body and body systems, Massage Magazine and other materials that require me to know how the body works.
This reinforces the framework material and solidifies it in my memory to use in the MBLEx exam.
This book is to make sure I have it all, as required for the exam, and that the information is organized in my brain in a way that is optimal for the MBLEx.
For example, I may know the physiological effects of red light therapy on various human body systems, but that framing of these processes may not help me in the context of the MBLEx exam, which is worded in a specific way (usually as typically taught by massage schools and massage textbooks).
Therefore, this book was necessary for me to reframe and put into context the vast knowledge I already have so that it is in an MBLEx friendly format.
It is like having a book in .doc format and wanting to make a Kindle book out of that.
It is the same information but you have to put it in a format that a Kindle will be able to use.
In the same way, I am putting my knowledge that is not only based in massage, but also nutrition, exercise, bio-hacking, energy work, yogic and tai chi practices, and more, and connecting the information in an MBLEx friendly way using this book and finding out where my weak spots are so that I can later go into further depth or reorganize how I have the material in my mind.
What I Like About This Book
Well, first of all, despite this book looking like a pretty huge textbook, it is a pretty fast read.
The information is presented in a logical, linear way and with great clarity.
I recently brought this book to Starbucks for two hours and was able to get through the first 5 chapters with great comprehension, highlighting the information I need to review later, and circling the two quiz questions I did not answer correctly.
Given that there are 30 chapters in this book, I can now assess that it will take me about 12 hours to get through the whole book, based on the speed from my Starbucks study session.
Again, the intention of this readthrough is to discover any holes or weak spots in my understanding or biological terminology, not to reread each chapter until it is burned into my memory.
I also love that the terminology is actually very easy to spot in this book because all of the important vocabulary words are printed in bold, so you can do a quick scan of the page to know whether you need to review the vocabulary words on a specific topic.
This helps me when I use the other book I have to study for the MBLEx .
What Could Have Been Better
The first thing I want to say is that you will need another, more in-depth book for physiology and pathology to pass the MBLEx.
This book is great because it goes as deep as possible with the quickest explanation possible, but that sometimes is not sufficient to really cover the topic.
This not so much a criticism of the book as much as a ‘heads up’ to let you know that you will need other resources, like an additional textbook that really, really goes deep into complex topics, especially those topics that very much relate to massage therapy, like pathologies of the skin or the lymphatic system.
The other important thing to keep in mind is that the online materials are pretty bad.
The cover of “Plain & Simple Guide” says “Online Access to Interactive Practice Exams”, but what that consists of are the same quizzes that are in the book, presented in a Word .doc file for each chapter. And then the answers to those quizzes are presented in an additional .doc file for each chapter.
I guess if you don’t have the book with you this might be helpful, but it doesn’t help me and it is not really interactive because it is not like you can click through the quizzes online. You have to download them and open the files on your local computer, and it’s not like the website will keep score for you or anything.
To me, this is not helpful. If I am going go through the hassle of downloading .doc files and printing and scoring them on my desktop, I might as well just use the book to look at the identical quizzes.
You can also access and read a digital version of the book, but that did not open on my computer so that was useless, too.
The inside cover says that there are also “Interactive exercises such as game shows, image labeling, flashcards, and quizzes” but I didn’t see any of that on the website except the quizzes and I already talked about that.
Finally, I saw a review by one woman who said that she was a self-learner (like me) who had graduated from massage school long ago and was studying for the MBLEx exam now.
She was lamenting that there were instructor materials on the website that would have been helpful to her to guide her studies, but that she could not access them because she was a student, not an instructor.
She was asserting (and I agree) that people who are studying on their own should have access to the online instructor materials as well.
Therefore, when I created my account, I created an account as an instructor. I am currently my own instructor with my own lesson plans so this is a true statement.
But my status as “instructor” was irrelevant because I still could not access the instructor’s study resources (which would have been very valuable to me), advertised in the book as, “Brownstone test generator, PowerPoint presentations, Lesson Plans, Image Bank and more!”
I am especially disappointed in not getting access to the PowerPoint presentations because this would have been easy put on my phone and review a few times per day.
This book would have gotten a much better overall rating if they had just not mentioned the online resources at all, but I have to mark their rating down because it is false advertising.
A massage student weighing whether or not to make the purchase of this $45 MBLEx study resource should know not to expect anything from the false claim of online resources.
This is a great book and offers a wonderful overview for studying for the MBLEx, especially after having memorized all of the vocabulary words we did in Step 1 with the flashcards.
DO NOT buy this book for the online resources. They are terrible.
DO buy this book for the book itself if you are seeking to organize your knowledge in a logical way that will help you to mentally organize the vocabulary you know in preparation of going deeper from a systems point of view (for example, craniosacral system, endocrine system, respiratory system) and the biological functions relating to each system (like the specifics of respiration works or how food is digested) with a book that goes into much more specifics than the Plain & Simple Guide to Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork Examinations covers.
DO buy this book to accompany your massage school anatomy and physiology textbook which I am going to assume is a tome (because they always are) because this “Plain & Simple Guide” will help you organize your time to focus on the areas of the textbook you need to focus on.
To summarize, I am glad I have Plain & Simple Guide to Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork Examinations in my MBLEx study materials and it has proven very helpful to get clear on what I need to focus on as I get closer to taking the MBLEx exam.