Purpose: Many Allied Health education programs have shifted attention toward program outcome measures, including professional exam pass rates. The purpose of this study was to solicit the opinions of students, in order to better understand how they perceive their barriers to professional exams, what resources have proved helpful for them, and ultimately what advice programs can give to students to increase exam success. Method: A survey was sent to 104 alumni of the Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) program at a large Midwestern university to determine what they perceived as barriers in preparing for and taking their certification exam(s), and the resources they identified as being the most or least helpful in the process. Results: Forty-two individuals responded to the survey, with two self-reporting having not passed a certification exam. Successful students reported the most beneficial tools included a purchased review manual and an online exam simulator. They reported that reviewing their own notes and materials were only somewhat helpful. The respondents, who had attempted the exam, but not yet passed, reported feeling unprepared, waiting too long after graduation and high stress levels, as the reasons for not being successful. The majority of respondents indicated the need for additional resources in preparing for professional exams. Conclusions: Educational programs can use this information to better mentor students to utilize additional resources that are available to them, design a meaningful timeline, and deal with stress before taking any professional exam.

Author Bio(s)

Kathryn E. Webster, M.S., MT (ASCP), AHI, is an Associate Professor of Medical Laboratory Science in the Department of Health Sciences at Illinois State University, Normal, IL.


I would like to thank Dr. Beverly Barham and Dr. Jeff Clark for their helpful advice and support of this study.





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