I recently took the ASCP exam in order to acquire a state license in laboratory science. I’ve written this for folks seeking advice on a passing strategy. If you’re experiencing difficulty understanding the material or are anxious about what the exam entails, i’d like to help.

Who this is for:
Different strategies work for different folks. Some can pass an exam in two weeks, while others may require more than one attempt. I wished to make this strategy comprehensive so I have written this for folks taking the exam with only a rudimentary understanding of laboratory science. You know what an antibody is, but the fella who kept interrupting the professor made it impossible for you to learn anything else. Maybe your Professor exhausted his/her own own knowledge by this point. Perhaps you crammed for every exam in school, learning nothing substantive in the process. You may even be taking the exam after being out of school for several years. Whatever your situation, I’d like you to understand that you will pass this exam, by following a few simple steps.

About the exam:
You need to score 400 points out of 1000 in order to pass. That’s all you need – 400. Easy questions are worth 10 points; moderately difficult ones are worth more; difficult ones can be worth up to 25 points. All you need is 400. How do you know if you’re ready to score 400 on the real exam? Referring to, if you can score 75% + on subject tests; 65% + on 100 question review mode; or 55% + on computer adaptive testing mode, then you have a good shot at passing the ASCP exam. I’ve heard mentioned that if you’re still getting very difficult questions around #80, the computer is essentially throwing high value questions at you, hoping you can guess correctly and bring your score up to 400. If you’re getting very easy questions repeatedly, then you’ve already passed and the computer just wants you to go away.

Survival Kit (for those who aren’t sure what to get):
This is the survival gear you need. It is essential and comprehensive. I wouldn’t take this exam without the following:
Polansky review cards (THE best resource) subscription – absolutely essential for questions and learning
Success in Clinical Laboratory Science (Ciulla) – to be used as your reference textbook
Clinical Lab Science Review (Harr) – for questions and learning

How much time do I need to study?
Very subjective. Depending on how hard you work on this, you will need more or less time to prepare. Two to three months is more than adequate if you have an extremely poor understanding of lab science.

Okay fine but what do I DO?!
Take a Labce practice test in 100 question test mode. Don’t look at any resources. Just finish it to see what score you would get. Randomly guess on everything if you need to. It’s Kewl – a blue legged squirrel would score 25% by random guessing so you’ll score around 25-35% if you learned the bare minimum in school. You may be worried about a horrendous score. Don’t be – trust me on this.

Separate your Polansky review cards by subject. Chemistry, Blood Bank, Hematology, Bacteriology and Urinalysis requires 95% of your attention because these subjects comprise 95% of your exam.

Open up the Harr Review book. Examine its organization. Each subject is subdivided further into subtopics (for example, Microbiology is divided into gram positive cocci; gram positive bacilli; anaerobes, enterobacteriaceae, etc). Your cards are organized in a similar manner. Notice that each ~50 question subtest in the review book corresponds to only a handful of review cards.

Each Harr question comes with an excellent explanation. If you don’t know a subject AT ALL, go through the entire individual set of questions for that subtopic – read each explanation – look up the pertinent facts in the few review cards you’re holding in your hands and mark it up. If it’s not there, then tell that fact to @!#*$ off because it’s not important. Do this for every question in that subtopic. By the end of that set of questions, you’ll have learned the entire subtopic and noted what you need to remember on your cards.

Do the above for every subtopic you have difficulties with. It took me 1-2 days per subtopic. Keep in mind that while there are many subtopics, only a few are important for the exam.

After you finish each subtopic (say you finish the enterobacteriacea questions in Harr), do a 50 question subject test in labce, corresponding to the subtopic you just completed (eg. do Bacteriology in labce if you finished enterobacteriacea in Harr: do Hematology in labce if you finished wbc disorders in Harr). Getting a poor score is okay. Most people score around 50%. But every question you get wrong is a new fact you’ve learned and underlined in your cards.

I attempted to do as many of the Labce questions as I could. A classmate did 100 every day – that’s phenomenal. Someone else did 300 every day – that’s wild. I did a thousand in total. Do as many as you can, and learn from every wrong answer. Highlight the facts you learn in your Polansky cards.

By the end of your study period, you’ll notice that only a certain percentage of your Polansky review cards are highlighted with facts you didn’t know. The more you know when you start studying, the less marked up your cards will be. Either way, it’s these highlighted facts that you need to review, ideally every few days.

Additional notes:
Don’t buy the BOC book. The explanations are not helpful. What’s the point of buying an inferior book with thousands of questions when you won’t even get to all the questions in the good review sources listed above (Labce and the book of questions from Harr)? The same goes for textbooks. You don’t need them for this exam.

In my opinion, class notes are utterly useless unless they’re diagrams or tables. Proper understanding requires that you create your own visual aids in between answering questions. Don’t waste time staring at monotonous text or reading the gibberish we tend to jot down in class. Those notes have a place and it rhymes with recycling bin.

Each day, try to recall all of the important information you learned that day. Some will also do this as part of a weekly group meet. I can’t stress enough how important it is to recall the information you’ve learned. If you understand something well and wait 2 weeks to think about it again, you’re liable to forget what you understood so well just a short while ago. Attempt to recall as you’re about to fall asleep every night and it will be fresh in your mind in the morning (an added bonus is that it may knock you out like a light). Therefore, review early in the morning, as well.

Picture the branches of bacteriological charts or certain key antigens in blood bank. If you can’t recall something, look it up immediately! Learning is all about layering knowledge. When you take the time to do several layers (learning, doing questions, drawing charts) your recall will be solid.

Use my high yield charts or make your own. But please know the relevant information!

Good luck!

873 Responses to PASSING STRATEGY

  1. Valeed says:

    Hi sohail,
    i want to thank you for such a great effort, i passed my MLS exam today,
    moreover, i want to share some table and charts for those who needs to memorize micro in very short form, i also require your permission to upload in micro section

  2. Michael says:

    Just wanted to post that. Super glad discovering this site, just spent a lot of time reading the comments, and observing information from people who took and passed and even failed the exam. I will be taking my MLT exam this summer in about 3 months.. I’ve started studying for it, and did my 1st run on LabCE to see where I stand initially.. to my surprise I scored 49% on the comprehensive exam, which I am pretty happy about just going based on what I remember from my classes at school, it gives me a starting foundation, where I have a road in front of me, but at least I feel, I am not swinging around in the dark either. Once I start hitting all the recommend approach into studying, and testing my self as I go along. My goal is to do both the NY licensing exam, and the ASCP. I will update in (months) to come on how it went and hopefully good!! and my progress from my current 49% on the CAT part of LabCE.

    • wordsology says:

      Thanks for allowing us a peek at your thought process and strategy Michael. This is a rational, well thought out plan. We look forward to hearing your updates.

  3. hope says:

    hello.. how will I be able to take the LABCE subject tests, review mode. computer adaptive testing mode, is there a need for me to purchase it? how and where? Hoping for your reply, I will be taking the ascp for the second time next month, and I hope this will help. Thank You so much.

  4. Alexis says:

    I take the test again in less than 3 weeks. I’ve been averaging 80% on regular 100 question MLS and 65% on Adaptive mode MLS. What do you think my chances are? This is my third time. I look forward to the day that I pass the test and don’t have to study anymore.

  5. Alexis says:

    I’m taking the exam next week for the third time. I was wondering what you think my chances are. On lab CE I’ve been averaging about 75-85% on the 100 question mode (MLS) and 65-75% on the adaptive mode (MLS). My highest so far on adaptive is 77%. I study the Polanski cards, I have your micro charts memorized, and I study this site almost daily. I am so desperate to be done studying! I’m hoping for a miracle this time.

    • Andrea says:

      I’m in the same position as you are. Taking the exam in a month for the third time and i am so nervous. i scored 364 last time and i am so tired of studying. how did your test go and do you have any tips?

      • Ash says:

        How did your exams go ? I also have taken the exam a couple of times and would really like to know how things worked out for you both. I have so many question, how did you know when you were ready to take it again ? How did you study this time around ? Please, help !

  6. Vanessa says:

    Can I skip a question on the test and then come back to it?
    Can I go back to an answer and then change it?
    If so, how is it done?

    Thank you so much for your help.

  7. Kim Nguyen says:

    I took the exam twice and haven’t passed it. I learned that I did not study hard enough. I am working therefore it is hard to study but I have managed myself to study at night, before going to work, and on Saturday.
    I am taking the exam in 2 weeks and I always paranoid whenever I am thinking about that.

  8. Ricardo says:

    AMT passed on first try, more difficult than expected. 230 questions, you need 166 answered correctly aprox. A lot of urinalysis and blood bank. Thanks

    • Kristine says:

      Can you please give me an overview about the AMT exam? And what subject should I focus more? Thanks and Congratulations!!!

      • Omer says:

        AMT medically technologist test is not easy now ,difficult than I expected ,more focus blood bank,urinalysis,microbiology!

      • Vicki says:

        Hi Kristine,
        I am studying for the AMT as well. I am wondering the same thing. Have you heard anything?

    • HOMAN says:

      Hey Ricardo would you share your email ? I want to take AMT and have some concerns.
      Would appreciate if you share your experience with us.

    • Nis says:

      Hii Ricardo;
      Can you give me more information about AMT exam. Can you tell me that what kind of materials or books did you use.please

  9. Esmeralda Cordero says:

    Just passed the exam yesterday! Thank you so much for your guidance on how to study for this exam! Of course, the high yield notes were excellent. I also wanted to add that ignoring mycology is not a good idea! I got around 5 or 6 questions on mycology and had to guess a lot of the organisms (that was my bad, I should have studied it). Surprisingly, I barely got any bacteriology questions (maybe like 3)! Also, soooo much hematology questions!! Lots of calculations too! (Corrected WBC count, how many units of blood to pull, etc) Also, soooo many coagulation case studies. It was tough. Around the 60th question, I was feeling worn out and thought I was going to fail. Seeing the word “Pass” on that screen was the most awesome feeling in the world! Taking 100 questions a day on LabCE REALLY does help, because you will see a lot of the same questions on the real exam. Study and understand any answers you get wrong. Good luck to anyone taking the test!

  10. Ionna says:

    Where can I find your high yield notes? Thank you for this information!!

  11. Thank you so much for the information I have 4 weeks left of school and I am stressing I am failing my mock exams and I am struggling to remember all of my information. This helps so much

  12. Shmeeps says:

    My first attempt at labCE put me at 53% with a difficulty of 5.7? Do you think I could be in a position to take the test in a few weeks?

  13. Decoi says:

    Hello again, Sohail. I have a question with this certain excerpt from the post above:

    “…look up the pertinent facts in the few review cards you’re holding in your hands and mark it up. If it’s not there, then tell that fact to @!#*$ off because it’s not important.”

    Does this mean that, let’s say if question #1 from Harr about creatinine has a corresponding info in Polansky, I mark it up, but when question #2 from Harr about creatinine as well doesn’t have a matching fact in Polansky, I dismiss it?

  14. ArrianeRachel says:

    Hello everyone,

    Would this strategy work for studying MLT as well? I’m currently using the CLS review (purple/gold book) 3rd edition by Jarreau. Where can I get the other resources such as the Polansky cards? Thank you guys for taking the time to put all this together.


  15. Rosie says:

    Has anyone here who has passed willing to share PDF Text books or polansky cards OR sell? I’m still months away from taking my exam but it’s never too early…

  16. Andrea Kerkman says:

    I am getting ready to study for boards Again! I have failed 2 times and have used every book possible. How much time do I need to spend on each area? Is 3-4 weeks enough? I have used labce before but never got a difficult level higher than 4.5. Need all the help possible. Please feel free to email me at

    • Wendy Parpart says:

      I would use the purple/gold medical laboratory review. The pictures and cartoons help you remember charts. I didn’t get anything from labce.

  17. Fb I’d is emmi shahzadi

  18. Krystal Hayes says:

    I’m getting prepared to take ASCP Chemistry only what advice could you possibly give me?

  19. What should I subscribe for on lab CE if I am taking the ASCP Microbioly only exam?

    • wordsology says:

      While it is true that labce contains questions for other topics as well, it will also contain a wealth of questions for microbiology. You can take separate exams with just microbiology questions through labce.

  20. KL says:

    Hi Sohail,
    I am so glad to find this website. The high yield notes help me a lot to memorize the keys points, especially in microbiology. I got the recommended book, note card and the Lab CE. I am so happy that passed the AMT MLT on first try. I think the actually test is easier than the Lab CE. Thank you again for such a great website.

  21. cornnuts says:

    I would like to thank you for this wonderful website. I passed the ASCP MLS exam on the 3rd try today.

    I used your website religiously to study for the exam. Your website is a blessing to us all.

    Thank you!

  22. I was failed in exam ASCP MLS
    When I was attempting I guess I have done lots of question I’ll pass but at the end I failed
    I done my test within 1.30 minutes. Plz guiDE me what should I doo

    • Im very disappointed after my failure
      I want to retake the exam but when shold I shedulde my exam now
      I don’t know what to study again
      I have read BOC ND HAR but I failed
      What should I study now to clear my exam

      • Thankew sir plz guide me

      • Sekonie says:

        Take some time off to gather yourself and re-focus again, Amina. Focus on why you need this exam and look over details you think you might have missed the first time studying. Change up your study routine a bit and use the HIGH YIELD NOTES here they helped me tremendously when I was doing my exam. Good luck.

  23. Chinedu says:

    “Each Harr question comes with an excellent explanation. If you don’t know a subject AT ALL, go through the entire individual set of questions for that subtopic – read each explanation – look up the pertinent facts in the few review cards you’re holding in your hands and mark it up. If it’s not there, then tell that fact to @!#*$ off because it’s not important. Do this for every question in that subtopic. By the end of that set of questions, you’ll have learned the entire subtopic and noted what you need to remember on your cards.”
    Speaking of the fact to ‘@!#*$ off because its not important’, is it the fact from polansky or Harr? Which is more important in this case.

  24. Joe says:

    I recently passed the ASCP MLT exam after using your study guidelines for two months. As the test day approached I scrambled to find any correlation between LabCE adaptive scores and passing the cert exam. My hope was to be reassured by my own LabCE adaptive scores. So for what it’s worth, I was averaging about 59% on the adaptive and managed to easily pass the exam with a score of 832. A classmate who was averaging <55% on the adaptive also passed her exam.

  25. Janine says:

    Oh my god, i didnt know how to study of ascpi. It has been a while since i opened my books since we dont do much in the lab im working in. All we do are routine tests. I tried reading my Harmening book to start Blood Banking. It sucks. I have no drive at all. I take too long understanding and reading by heart. Im very worried, i dont think 3 months is enough 😦 I will follow this. Thanks.

  26. Susan says:

    Can you please give me recent hints for taking the international MLS exam.
    2 mos. from now I’ve been taking the exam.especially for subjects Microbiology, BB and Hematology
    Thank you and more power.

  27. Melinda Bell says:

    I know it is somewhere on here, but I cannot find it. Am I okay just knowing the conventional units for exam? Based on BOR review book most values are given both ways.
    Thank you

  28. Hi Sohail, which Polansky flash card are you referring for? I’m tryinh to look at it at the amazon but there are 2 options. Which one should i get? Thank you!

    • Cathy says:

      First edition 978-0803604599
      second edition 978-0803629561

      The first edition are nice size cards made of a thicker stock, like a notecard. The newer edition are made with a thinner stock paper, almost like copy paper thickness. The size of the cards are also smaller.

  29. flora says:

    I need help. I failed 5 times exam. I want to retake exam. Could you tell me what I have to do for another chance?

  30. Jk says:

    No BOC? Everyone I know bought it and is using it. I also have the cards and Harr.

  31. Janine says:

    I started reading chemistry from Ciulla, then went to Harr after finishing one subtopic. I find the questions in Harr so difficult to answer, its like nothing in Ciulla helped at all :'(. Is it normal to be this hard? thanks

    • Yes, the questions in the Harr book are difficult. I thought his questions were harder than the ASCP exam. When a I got question in the Harr book wrong, I felt like it helped to know why the incorrect options were wrong.

      • Janine says:

        What reference books did you use? 🙂

      • Janine says:

        What reference books did you use? 🙂 i just want to be confident in answering harr questions

      • I used a number of books. I used the Success, Polansky and Medical Laboratory science review by Elsiver. I used the last two to study and the Success as a reference guide. I also used the BOC and Harr books.
        Honestly, the Success book is a little overkill. It has a lot of information.
        Also, like I said before, the Harr questions are more difficult than the ASCP exam questions. It’s not necessarily a bad thing.
        Are you also using LabCe Exam simulator? If you haven’t bought the subscription, I would highly recommend it. I was averaging 50% on the adaptive mode but I was getting a lot of the higher level questions correct. I was worried that I wouldn’t pass, but I passed.

  32. JBean says:

    Just took and passed the ASCP MLT exam. Used this website (high yield notes – many thanks!), LabCE, Harr, Polansky cards, and BOC book. Overkill? Maybe. Studied on an off since graduating in May and working full time, didn’t really sit down and focus until about a week until the exam. Compared to the questions on the actual exam? BOC was probably closest to the type of questions I saw, although the questions and answers in the book were kind of repetitive and seemed like the only thing they wanted MLT’s to know was that bilirubin is effected by light…but on the actual exam it was more extensive. The high yield notes were helpful, gave me a bigger picture at what I was looking at, and I filled in what I needed more help in. LabCE was good with questions and explanations but I couldn’t get myself to stare at a screen for too long. Harr was also very good with explanations. Polansky cards were good for when you’re running around and can only spare a few minutes. My only advice if you’re taking the MLT and not the MLS exam…and you’re looking at recalls… be careful that you’re only looking at other MLT recalls and not MLS recalls…MLS recalls are much extensive and it’ll probably freak you out if you’re looking at the a couple of days right before the exam. Trust yourself, if you’ve put in the time, relax, it’ll pay off. Best of luck!

  33. henok says:

    wish me luck please am gonna take the exam October 3rd!!!!

  34. Kimberly Mchenry says:


    My name is Kim, I take the AMT, MLT exam on November 11th, I feel like my brain is just fried, bc I have no clue where to even begin studying, I have been working in a lab since I graduated 5 years ago and just always was too scared to take the exam, are there any pointers you could give me or aim me in the right direction, I really need to pass and want to do well!!!

    • wordsology says:

      Definitely do questions from labce. Figure out your weak areas and study for those weak areas using some of the material supplied and some of the references suggested. Then do more questions. Keep repeating. Following every question you get wrong, you’ll learn a LOT as you figure out WHY you got it wrong.

  35. Mattie says:

    It’s been 19 years since I graduated from my MLT course. Iam now expected to get certified in order to keep my job of 10 years. I am beyond nervous. I haven’t been in school for so long. Thank you for the study guides and references. I needed a starting point for my studies. You have supplied it.

  36. Louis Ndangoh says:

    Hi I am going to take my MLSi certification in two months. Poor lab student and need tremendous help. Please which books do I get and what to I do?

    • Cherry says:

      Louis u can use the bottom line approach by patsy jareau Clinical laboratory science review by Robert harr.

    • Mana says:

      Hi, i just past my ascp mlt exam in order to get florida license, dose any body know if i need job expreince as part of Requirement?

  37. Alix says:

    Just did the MLT certification . It says passed but im holding my breath until i get the results in the mail.
    I used LabAce and i pretty much wrote out every book I used in class to study. The books I rewrote were made from the school, they were more like power points. Took about a day and a half per subject. But rewriting it in my own words helped me understand what I was reading. I bought the BOC book but only used it once. I grasped the info better in reading format. If you have 2 solid weeks of nothing else but studying, it helps to write it all out. Also, when writing it out i used colored pens and did different colors to categorize and organize things. Im very visual and it helped.

  38. Hello!

    I am taking my MLT BOC this Friday and I am freaaaking out. I’ve been using LABce and averaging about 5.5-6.2 difficultly on the Computer Adaptive Testing and I can’t seem to get any higher than 60-65%. What do you think my chances are of passing the exam? I’ve been mostly using LABce and your High Yield Notes are SUPER helpful! I don’t think I’ve gotten testing anxiety until now, haha.

    Thanks so much!

    • wordsology says:

      These numbers sound pretty good. I couldn’t give you a precise percentage possibility of passing but I would say you’re in the ballpark. I’d suggest continuing to write out the micro charts as a form of memorization, as well as continuing to do LabCE questions and learning from all of your incorrect answer selections. You’ll do well.

      • Thanks so much!! I passed my exam this morning!! I’ve read this everywhere and I can also attest that I thought I was failing the whole time haha! My suggestion for those taking the MLT exam is to STUDY THE HIGH YIELD NOTES and brush up on those FORMULAS. I had a couple questions where I had to do calculations. I can’t recall any questions right now, probably still in shock but when I do, I’ll definitely post them. Thanks Sohail for this site! It was definitely very helpful! I’ll also update with my scores once I get them in the mail.

        Last tip: BREATHE. I advise you not to study too much the night before and the morning of. Ironically, LABCE locked me out of the site the night before because I was taking too many exams, HAHA!! It was a sign. I rescheduled my exam once cause I knew I wasn’t ready. I then studied my butt off the next two weeks. GOOD LUCK TECHS! 🙂

      • wordsology says:

        Congratulations on passing! Thank you for the great advice you’ve offered future test takers.

  39. Raven says:

    I thought the test was only 100 questions. Is this a new regulation?

  40. Mulat says:

    Hi I’m going to take my MLT exam my test is on disember . Can u tell me how to prepare myself for the test . Getting low scores in the LabCE practice exam please give me some tip to prepare

  41. wdalbdree says:

    I want to take only the exam in clinical chemistry, what is your advice ?

  42. Censor says:

    Thanks very much for the advise.

  43. Nis says:

    Hey sohail,
    I am going to take my exam in March. Can you tell me that if I will subscribe on Labce then,
    Do I have to subscribe in course or exam simulator??

  44. Rabia says:

    I’m schedule to take exam on 9th of March. And I’m going to be appeare for MLT exam. My husband is suggesting me to focus on department that are 20 to 25% on exam.
    If I focus o only chemistry, hematology, microbiolgy and blood bank, Will I be able to pass.?

    • Ahmed says:

      I am taking my exam on the same day March 9th. But I am very stressed out. It is not easy to review everything again. Good luck for you and me

  45. Arriane Rachel Freeman says:

    Hi Sohail! What’s your facebook account so I can join the group?

  46. LB says:

    I passed the MLS (ASCP) on the first try on Saturday (Feb the 10th 2018) and wanted to let you guys know how my LabCe scores correlated to my PASS.

    61 of 100 (61%), avg difficulty 5.99
    68 of 100 (68%), avg difficulty 6.09
    60 of 100 (60%), avg difficulty 6.06
    65 of 100 (65%), avg difficulty 6.04
    55 of 100 (55%), avg difficulty 5.74
    58 of 100 (58%), avg difficulty 5.86
    59 of 100 (59%), avg difficulty 5.63
    53 of 100 (53%), avg difficulty 5.69

    I know it sounds totally cliche, but I really thought I was failing it. There were quite a few things on my test that I had never seen before but somehow, I got a preliminary PASS on the screen at the end. I only had one single calculation problem, a lot of blood bank, one immunology (a hepatitis question), lots of microbiology including parasitology and mycology :(, several hematology, not too many chemistry, but lots of laboratory operations! I absolutely recommend the high yield microbiology notes from this website; they were a lifesaver.

  47. Christi Pereira says:

    I am taking my Chemistry exam at the end of May.
    Please see link below. Abbott Diagnostics has some free downloadable learning guides.

  48. Kathy Iadonisi says:

    I passed my ASCP MLS certification today. I found this web page and used the high yield notes along with LabCE, Success in Clinical Laboratory Science Review book, Harr, and the Clinical Laboratory Science Review: A Bottom Line Approach. I had questions in almost every subject, it was pretty hard. I was averaging 53 on the adaptive tests, 70’s on the subject tests and MLS tests on LabCE. (I do not have my score from the cert. yet or I would post it to compare, although it was probably 400 on the dot!) If I can pass with not being in the lab for 8 years (I currently work in a blood donor center) then have faith that you will pass too! Good luck!

  49. Matty says:

    Hey, Christi. I checked your link. That’s great. Thank you and good luck on your exam

  50. Tamy says:

    I am taking MLS exam next week. When I do LabCE I got ok score but Robert harr and ciulla question tough on me. I m getting average of 60 on LabCE since last three months. I m little worried
    Can someone help me which area I should focus more. To pass test

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s