The following are essential standardized testing skills:

Pace yourself. The ASCP MLS exam consists of 100 questions in 2 hours and 30 minutes. Set aside a block of 30 minutes at the end of the exam for review. That leaves you with 2 hours (120 minutes) to complete 100 questions. You must be at question #25  by 30 minutes. You must be at question #50 by 60 minutes – and so on. Despite knowing this, I still spent too much time on a few questions. However, thanks to my 30 minute buffer, I didn’t need to rush at the end.

Butters's Strategy

There is no penalty for picking a wrong answer, so make sure you pick something. According to Harr, “B” is the most common answer.  

Based on my own experience (and Harr and Kaplan and Princeton), the longest, most detailed answer is often correct. If i’m unsure, I choose the most detailed answer.

An answer choice containing an absolute (never, always) is too extreme. Remember – NOBODY likes an extremist!

The following is the ASCPs breakdown of questions by subject matter. As you can see, Blood Bank, Chemistry, Hematology and Microbiology are the most important subjects. Make certain to study these before you move on to more obscure subjects. Parasitology and Mycology are included in the ~20 Micro questions but how many of them might you see? The ASCP Micro specialist exam consists of only 15% parasit or mycology questions! For the comprehensive exam that you’re taking, that works out to less than 3 of each! Most likely, you’ll see less than 2 of each!


92 Responses to TESTING SKILLS

  1. kwiles says:

    From what I understand, reviewing or changing answers will not help your score. Because of the CAT(Computer Adaptive Testing), your next question is based on whether your previous question was right or wrong.

    • wordsology says:

      You are able to review every question following the exam. Changing an incorrect answer to a correct one will absolutely help your score. There’s no question about it. Remember it’s 100 questions but the point scale is 1000.

      • Heather says:

        Fromm all that I have read from the ASCP website.. the computer adaptive testing method will boot you out once you have missed the maximum number of questions allowed. So, I do not think there is an option to review your questions or go back anymore. Since, the next question is based on the correctness and level of difficulty of the previous answered question.
        I am speaking for the Microbiology technologist exam, however.

  2. Belle says:

    I would take your advice..,

  3. Michelle says:

    Considering that the MLS exam is a generalist exam, I would assume that you would need to answer a certain number/percentage of questions correctly in each subject. Is this correct, or, for example, if you really kick ass on the hematology questions but don’t do so well on the chemistry questions, can you still pass overall?

    • wordsology says:

      There is no score breakdown provided once you have passed. Since it’s also an adaptive testing system, i really doubt there is any particular percentage required for each subject

      • Michelle says:

        Hey, I passed my MLS exam! Your high yield notes were a lifesaver–seriously, made all the difference. Thanks!

  4. Ram says:

    Hi I’m planning to retake the technician exam (MLT) and the exam is in August. What do you suggest in studying and how should I review? There has been a huge gap since the last time I took the exam. I really need to refresh my memory on all the areas. Let me know how I should go about it. Thanks.

    • wordsology says:

      I think the Harr book and labce would best serve you. If only one resource – go with labce. Good luck

      • Ram says:

        Ok thanks. I have the review cards so do you think it will help studying the cards? I am taking the technician which is known to be less intense than the technologist exam. What you think?

      • wordsology says:

        i’d go with the labce primarily – the flaschards are very comprehensive so it might be a bit much. Maybe you can use them just as a reference since they are easy to carry around. good luck.

      • Ram says:


  5. Sharlene says:

    I just took the NYS MLS exam today and I passed. What an amazing feeling. Thank you so much for this website, it really helped out a lot. I got the moth ball question, a lot of blood bank, coagulation, and micro biochemical reaction type questions. I used labce website to study and got an average of about 70% (75% was my highest score) on the practice tests. I also used bottom line approach which I think is an awesome book, and the Polansky cards.
    Good luck to everyone taking the exam! Study hard!!

    • wordsology says:

      excellent work Sharlene – i’m glad you mentioned hitting 70% + on labce – it’s a great benchmark for those who have not taken the exam yet. Once folks are in that range, they have a great chance of passing the real thing.

  6. Cherice Francis says:

    hey i passed my MLS exam today. your high yield notes was a great help to me thank you very much

  7. marwa says:

    i prepare to take MLT EXAM in chemistery what book i should use to study?

  8. TJ says:


    • wordsology says:

      How long is a couple months? If you are getting half right and not just guessing to get that half right without studying then you seem to have a good base of knowledge. You should get yourself up to 75% and you should be alright. I would get one real review book though besides the Polansky cards to get an idea of the exam as a whole. Good luck.

      • TJ says:

        Hi, I did get Harr review book as you suggested and labe ce. Never received polansky cards. Your notes are amazing. I cant thank you enough for this website. I did put lots of time studying for two months but still i was 110% sure i was gonna fail. But, i passed because of this website. I passed my MLS back in june and started a new job of my dream and im happy as i can be now. Thank you wordsology. Email me if you are ever in Mass.

      • wordsology says:

        That’s just incredibly kind of you and “dream job” sounds just great. Sure, if I come by Mass i’ll email you. My best to you.

  9. givlerbabe says:

    Hi…I have my MLT ASCP and am now (3 years later) going to take the MT AAB exam…anyone have any advice on this test? Not very many take it…but it moves me up to MT status at work if I pass.

  10. Roberta says:

    Has anyone taken the MLS recently and passed it?

  11. TJ says:

    Hi, I did get Harr review book as you suggested and labe ce. Never received polansky cards. Your notes are amazing. I cant thank you enough for this website. I did put lots of time studying for two months but still i was 110% sure i was gonna fail. But, i passed because of this website. I passed my MLS back in June and started a new job of my dream and im happy as i can be now. Thank you wordsology. Email me if you are ever in Mass.

  12. Shelles says:

    Hi TJ. Did you purchase a Labce exam or just got the free exam from the site?

    • tj says:

      Hi, I purchased the lance exam. Its only $55 and its so worth it. I was doing 300-400 questions a day.

      • Shelles says:

        Thanks! Just like you i graduated a long time ago. 2years less than yours. What was your style when it comes to reviewing? Do you do books first on some part of the day? How about labce? When do you incorporate that?

  13. Shelles says:

    Hello again. Did everyone of the test takers here purchase Labce? Or use the free one?

  14. tj says:

    I started on labce and was doing 200-300 questions a day. I was getting 50-60%. After reviewing like 1000 questions I started to freak out and then started to make my own notes. I would bring books from work and read those and make my notes. That how I learn all about anemia, coag, blood bank. I printed all this high yield notes and would study those.i was also doing labce everyday.within a month I was getting 75% on labce. I received my harr review book and that book helped me a lot. I was studying like four hours a day very faithfully. At the end I was getting over 90% on lab ce. But, everyone is different. You might not need to put this much time studying. I didn’t have much time to study. Only two months I had. I hope this helps. Good luck studying. Let me know when is your test. I’ll be praying for you.

  15. Valarie says:

    Hallo,somebody help me here,am preparing for the Ascp mls exam,Am in the process of evaluating my documents,what are the initial requirements other than my academic credentials before I make the apllication for exam and how long does it take to do the exam after submitting the application,your advice is highly appreciated,thanks

  16. Marissa says:

    Hi. I’m preparing to take the ASCP, MLS exam in two months. What is the best review material to use? Any recommendations? Im working FT, not sure if I have enough time to review for 2 months.

    • wordsology says:

      For short preparation times I would suggest doing massive amounts of questions (maybe 50-100 per day in the Harr book or thru a LabCE subscription) and using a review guide for as a reference (Success in Clinical Laboratory Science by Ciulla or the Polansky cards).

  17. Marissa says:

    Thank you. I subscribed to LabCE and also using use High yield notes.. Which one is better the Plolansky cards or Success in CLS? or do you recommend both? I dont want to be overwhelmed as far as study material.

  18. Valarie says:

    Hi.whats the difference between ASCP and ASCPi,thinly enlighten me thanks

  19. Valarie says:

    Hi..kindly asking what is the difference between ASCP MLS and ASCPi MLS..thanks

    • wordsology says:

      I believe there is no real difference in terms of the exam or the strength of each of these certifications. One is for international test takers and the other for people in the US

  20. Vernon says:

    Hi. I will be taking my MLS ascp in 5weeks. Right now im only averaging 50% on labce. Should I be worried and do i have enough time to pass the test? Im busy at work too so i can only put up 2-3hrs a day to study, sometimes even less. Thank you.

    • wordsology says:

      It’s so difficult to answer a question like this. If you have already registered there’s nothing you can do either way and you must take the exam. Just take the exam to get it over with. Most likely, you will pass.

  21. luz says:

    HI, if I took the exam for NY licensure but I want the certicate for general MLS(ASCP) I wll need retake the exam

  22. Priyanka says:

    Hi tj,
    I read your conversation… I really like it. I m also planning to take MLS (ASCP). Pls, can I have your email id?

  23. TD says:

    Last 15 years, I worked as a blood banker so I forgot a lot of general stuff, esp. chemistry. Any advice on relearning everything? I have 2-3 months to take the test and wondering if I even have enough time.

    • wordsology says:

      I think that’s enough time if you aren’t working full time. If you are working or have other major responsibilities, i’d suggest just doing an overview of topics for a month, along with 10 questions in each of the major subjects every day. Then do as many questions as you can, every day until the exam.

  24. Dee says:

    Hi I’m taking the HTL (Histotechnology) exam and was wondering if your pointers on answering (like choosing B and most detailed) also applies for other ascp exams? I purchased the labce and bought the boc book (its an updated version with details for every correct answer). I’m also studying my powerpoints and textbook. What do u think? Any feedback helps, thanks !!

  25. Dee says:

    When you said there’s no penalty for picking the wrong answer…why is that? If you get it right, the question gets harder and if you get it wrong, the question gets easier. So if I don’t know the answer to the question, why is it that I should guess? Getting it wrong risks of getting less points. Idk. Please explain. Thanks.

  26. Sami says:

    Hi ,I am planning for ascp certification exam ,I am foreign graduate ,I am bit of confused ,many people said If u dnt have us experience,u r not qualified for MLS exam ,I already did my evolution,they give me bachelor in MT, so can u give any suggestions,what can I do next for myexam? Thanks

    • Tj says:

      Yes, you do need five years of experience but I’m not sure if you have five years of experience from your country would qualify you for MLS exam. I only had year experience before I moved here so I had to wait. But, my understanding was that they need five years experience from US.

  27. GC says:

    I just took my exam on Monday and failed it… I’d been using Labce as my main study source and I was averaging >%70 on my practice tests. I’ve taken about 25 tests, 100 questions each and also some tests that allow you to view your most commonly missed questions. I skimmed through some Polansky cards but didn’t focus on them as much as I perhaps should have. I felt pretty confident from the labce tests but it’s apparent I need to review some more before attempting it again. I also used your micro high yield notes to memorize the charts (very helpful by the way). I’ll heed your advice and incorporate Harr and Polansky cards along with Labce. I bought the BOC when I first started the program thinking it’d be the best source since they’re the people who make the test. But, if you think it’s not worth it I’ll take your word for it. Gotta get back to studying now, thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge and advice with us!

    • wordsology says:

      Hey George,
      I am sorry to hear that. It looks like you were doing well but things didn’t go through on exam day. Was there any particular topic you did poorly in? Be sure to look at the feedback on your exam score and maybe focus more on that next time. I wasn’t doing so well in Chemistry when I took my labce practice exams so I focused on working through chemistry using the Harr book and I learned from the GROUND UP. I really learned it well by doing that. If there’s any topic you feel you are not solid on, I certainly recommend the Harr book highly. Take some time off before you study again. You’re definitely going to pass on the next go around!

  28. Mie says:

    Hello how to apply for an ASCPi exam since i am from the Philippines and nobody could assist me from here, could you please help me how to apply?

    • Cherice Francis says:

      Go to ASCP.org then you will see international certification from there u choose the route which u are qualified for.

      • Tj says:

        No you don’t need to do ascp international. If you are going work in the USA you need to take ascp exam not ascp international.

      • carell says:

        im also having same dilemma. Im already in US but i graduated BS in Medical Technology in Philippines. Im confused on what to chose since im already here in US.Is it ascp or ascpi?

  29. Mie says:

    Hello i am a bit confused here if whT really to take up ASCP or ASCPi? Considering i am from outside USA, i want to work in the USA though, please enlighten me before i will apply for the exam

    • Tj says:

      So that’s what I Thot that I’m not from USA so I have to take ascp international exam but that’s not true. Ascp international exam is for ppl who wants to work outside of USA. You need to take ascp exam like rest of us. That’s what I did. You need five years of work experience in order to take MLS exam.

  30. Cherice Francis says:

    ASCP International are for those who have studied outside the USA and wants to work in the USA

  31. Tj says:

    That is not true. I studied outside of USA and I work in USA and took Ascp MLS exam not ascpi exam. Call them up and find out ur self.

    • Cherice Francis says:

      She doesn’t have five years of experience in the USA so she has to do the ASCP International My friend is working in the USA and she did the ASCP International if she want to do the ASCP she will have to five years of experience

    • Ibtihal says:

      I’m working in Blood bank in USA,but there is no chance to take ASCP.
      iASCP is for people who graduated from out side of USA,unless you have the experience inside USA.
      Unfortunately my director refused to give me approved for BB(ASCP) .So I applied for MLS(iASCP).

    • Shelles says:

      Hi Tj.
      In response to you comment, You took ascp mls not ascpi maybe because you already have a qualifying experience.

  32. Sam says:

    Hi guys
    I have same siruation,i studied out side of usa,now wt can i do ?i am living here now so i am bit of confused abt ascp international or ascp ?i dnt hv 5yrs us exp but i have outside of usa exp ? So any hv idea ?its really appriciate.

  33. are recalls helpful in taking the exam? thanks!:)

  34. Rhea says:

    Hi! I just passed my MLS ASCP exam in new york. Thank God for this website it helped me a lot during my review. I have one question though what is the difference between a clinical laboratory technologist and a medical laboratory scientist? Because im wondering because in my certificate it says clinical laboratory technologist but the test that I took is MLS. Please just enlighten me a bit just to break the confusion. What I know is its just the same but Im not sure what title am I gonna use.. Thank you again Sohail! And to everyone who posted their recalls for the exam it was a great help. Good luck to everyone and God bless!

    • wordsology says:

      Hey Rhea,

      Thank you for the kind words and for using the website – and congratulations! As to your question, there is no difference between clinical laboratory technologist and medical laboratory scientist. The latter title is just the newer title. They are interchangeable. The latter title was established more recently. You can use either title when applying for jobs. In fact, you’ll see jobs listed in one of three ways when you search online “clinical laboratory technologist”, “medical laboratory scientist” and “medical technologist”. All three refer to the same profession and are used interchangeably. I hope that helps.

  35. A.jaan says:

    hi i m really nervous for my exam. I started studying the success book but after reviewing the sectionI m getting most of the questions wrong. I have the BOC, HArr, Suncess, and the cards please suggest what book should i focus on. i know you keep saying to do the lABCE but i can’t afford it as i have already spent so much on these books. what would be the best way to study? do the question then review the sections ?? I feel so unorganized as i keep jumping from one book to the next. sigh

    • wordsology says:

      I absolutely understand how you are feeling. Just look at the ‘Harr’ book as your book of questions. Look at the “Success” book as your book of answers. Now go through Harr subsection by subsection. After each series of questions, look to the “Sucess” book to find out why you got something wrong. Take out your “Polansky” cards and make notes on them in the relevant section. Repeat for every subsection. You’ll be a master of all subjects by the time you’re done. In fact, you may not even have enough time to go through the entire Harr book so best to get started right away!

      • A.jaan says:

        Thank you so much for getting back to me! It means a lot! ! i will do exactly that! lets see how it goes!

      • A.jaan says:

        Hi Sohail so finally Today i took my ASCP! i passed (Alhumdullilah- all praise to GOD!)
        -Your micro charts are amazing I struggled so much with Micro but after i took the time to copy down your Enterbacteria Chart step by step i was shocked to realized i remembered most of it after i finished!

        Here are some of my recalls to help prepare others
        **Urinalyisis i had no pictures what so ever. just one question asking pathological crystals are seen where?
        ***I HAD a lot of BLOOD BANK towards the end of my exam which scared me because i was guessing on all. so Practice looking at antibody panels when i had a panel it took me a while to organize my thoughts. It was impossible to do it on a computer & it was too much work drawing the big panel so PRACTICE DOING ANTIBODY panel on the computer instead of paper. i Didn’t get any frequencies questions

        Study Hard & have faith! Good luck Every one! Don’t get lazy ! IThe Exam is hard but it will all be worth it!! – ❤ – DOnt give up!

  36. Brooke says:

    Any helpful tips for someone going back for the third time? I find myself struggling with test anxiety and was hoping for some helpful hints on how to help beat the anxiety! Thanks

    • A.jaan says:

      Just stay Calm & pray before your exam. If you are anxious it will cause you to answer the questions wrong & you won’t be able to think clearly. Don’t Study right before the exam starts clear your head so you can start with a Fresh brain! Go a little early before the exam so you have some time to relax and get used to the environment.

  37. Decoi says:

    Hi, Sohail. Firstly I want to thank you for taking the time in putting all of the information found in your website. I want to ask, where did you get the breakdown for each subject?

  38. Charles says:

    I am an MLT (ASCP) and am going to be taking the MLS through route 2 since I have a B.S. and 2 years of work. I took 3 tests on labCE in 100 question review mode and scored 74,74,80% and took 2 on computer adaptive and scored 59,62% with average difficulty of 6.2. If I stay around this level do I have a good shot or should I work to increase these scores? If so, how much higher should I work them up to? Thanks!

  39. Gezell says:

    Hi to all! I am about to take the ASCPi exam by june, I would like to ask any recent recalls and tips from you, it would help me a lot. Thanks!

  40. Matthew says:

    Are you allowed to go to the restroom during the test?

  41. Any says:

    Will be taking ASCP MLS exam 2 days from now. Can you give me tips please? Am i still going to get calculator?

  42. Arriane Rachel Freeman says:

    Anyone selling their Polansky and/or Harr book? I’m interested! Please email me: arriane29freeman@gmail.com

    Also, will this apply to MLT exam as well?

  43. Sadaf Rizvi says:

    Hi I am appearing in Microbiology Technologist exam ASCPi(Microbiology). Kindly guide me which subjects should i cover instead of MICROBIOLOGY like Immunology etc. Pls. Need your suggestions and guidance on study material.

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