MLT (ASCP) Exam Prep & Study Guide

Essential Test Prep Tips to Help You Pass the MLT Exam in 2021

If you love working with high-tech lab equipment, but also want to play an essential role in patient care and medical research, then becoming a medical laboratory technician may be the best career choice for you! Becoming a certified MLT is rewarding in more ways than one—it’s a well-paying job with great long-term prospects, as evidenced by its recent feature on our list of the best entry-level medical jobs.

Any medical laboratory technician who wants to maximize their earning potential should plan to take the MLT exam, as MLT certification is one of the best ways to show employers you’ve mastered the necessary skills and knowledge to work in a lab. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about the MLT certification exam, including the exam format and length, how much it costs to take the test, how to prepare for the MLT certification exam, and what to expect before, during, and after the exam.

Want to know more about becoming a certified MLT? Check out our detailed guide on how to become a medical laboratory technician.

MLT (ASCP) Exam Overview

What is the MLT (ASCP) Exam?

The MLT (ASCP) certification exam is the most widely recognized credentialing exam for medical laboratory technicians. Passing the MLT exam is the final step to becoming a certified medical laboratory technician and getting licensed by the state where you’ll start your new career.

What is ASCP Certification?

The American Society of Clinical Pathologists administers the MLT (ASCP) exam as well as certification exams for several other healthcare industry professions. Many employers and academics consider the ASCP to be the gold standard for medical laboratory technician certifications.

Why Should I Get Certified as an MLT (ASCP)?

Professional certifications like MLT (ASCP) often elevate job-seekers to the top of the running for the best medical laboratory technician jobs. Not only does that frequently mean better pay and benefits, but MLT (ASCP) certifications are also recognized throughout the United States and even internationally, which means you’re able to take your skills just about anywhere you choose. The ASCP can even submit your test scores directly to licensing boards in whatever location you intend to work.

How Do I Register for the MLT Exam?

Who Can Take the MLT Exam?

You can register for the MLT certification exam directly through the ASCP website, where you’ll first need to complete an application and submit documentation that proves you’re eligible to take the exam. To be eligible to take the MLT exam, you’ll need to have completed an MLT associate’s degree program from an accredited college or university within the last five years or have relevant clinical experience within that same time period (in addition to a previously earned associate’s degree.)

How Much Does the MLT Exam Cost?

The cost to apply for and take the MLT (ASCP) certification exam is $215. This fee is non-refundable, as it covers the administrative costs of evaluating your application and confirming your eligibility, as well as the costs of administering and grading the exam itself.

How Many Questions Are On the MLT Exam?

How Long Is the MLT (ASCP) Exam?

The MLT (ASCP) certification exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions administered during a time window of up to 2 ½ hours. The MLT exam uses computer-adaptive testing (CAT), which means you will answer multiple-choice questions that get a little harder after every correct answer, and a little easier after every incorrect answer. You must answer a question before moving on to the next one; however, you can go back and review or change previous answers once you’ve answered all the questions.

What Score Do You Need to Pass the MLT Exam?

Is it Hard to Pass the MLT (ASCP) Exam?

The medical lab technician certification exam is graded on a 999-point scale, with 400 being a passing score. According to ASCP’s 2020 exam statistics, 84% of people passed the MLT exam on their first try. You certainly don’t want to be unprepared, but the odds are on your side if you put in the necessary time to study for the test.

What Happens If You Fail the MLT (ASCP) Exam?

How Many Times Can You Take the MLT Exam?

If you don’t get a passing score on the MLT (ASCP) certification exam on your first try, there’s no need to panic or feel ashamed. You can retake the MLT exam up to five times, using the same eligibility that got you approved to take the test in the first place. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to pay the full application fee each time you take the exam, so sufficient studying will certainly save you money in the long run!

Woman with a stethoscope typing on a laptop

MLT (ASCP) Exam Outline & Study Guide

What is on the MLT (ASCP) Exam?

There are seven main areas of content you can expect to see on the MLT certification exam, each with its own weight toward your overall score:

  1. Blood Banking: 15-20% of the exam: These questions will test your knowledge on topics like blood products, blood group systems and immunology, physiology and pathophysiology, serology and molecular testing, and transfusion practices.
  2. Urinalysis & Other Bodily Fluids: 5-10% of the exam: Expect a small handful of questions to cover testing, analysis, physiology, and disease states of urine and other bodily fluids.
  3. Chemistry: 20-25% of the exam: As chemistry is a major part of safely and effectively using medical lab equipment, you can expect several questions testing your knowledge of everything from enzymes and electrolytes to compounds and carbohydrates.
  4. Hematology: 20-25% of the exam: Since so many medical diagnostic tests are blood-based, these questions will measure how well you’ve mastered your knowledge of blood-related diseases and testing indicators.
  5. Immunology: 5-10% of the exam: A small portion of the MLT exam will cover immune-related disease testing, including serologic and molecular testing procedures and interpreting results.
  6. Microbiology: 15-20% of the exam: Another essential set of skills for medical laboratory technicians, these questions will test your knowledge of testing for and identifying various types of microorganisms like viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
  7. Laboratory Operations: 5-10% of the exam: A portion of the medical laboratory technician certification exam is dedicated to general lab competence, including using and troubleshooting equipment, laboratory math, and overall methodology and best practices.

For even more detailed information about potential exam questions in each of these areas, you can check out the full MLT exam content outline from the ASCP.

MLT (ASCP) Practice Exams

Taking an MLT practice test is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for both the exam format and the MLT exam subject matter. While you can find MLT practice tests from third-party sources, the ASCP offers an official interactive practice exam, which lets you build and complete realistic practice exams pulling from a library of over 2,500 actual questions from the MLT certification exam. You can select different difficulty levels and even focus on specific topics where you may need a little extra practice.

While the MLT practice test from the ASCP isn’t free, it’s definitely a lot more affordable than retaking the MLT exam because you didn’t pass it the first time! Many people find practice tests to be very helpful before taking the medical laboratory technician certification exam, as they can help avoid those test-day jitters and keep your confidence sky-high as you walk into the testing center.

MLT (ASCP) Exam Study Materials

In addition to interactive practice exams, the ASCP Board of Certification also offers a comprehensive study guide that many consider to be the authoritative preparation tool for the MLT certification exam. It’s another worthwhile investment when you consider that passing your medical laboratory technician certification exam on the first try means you’re able to start your new career that much sooner!

It also can’t hurt to go over the recommended reading list from the ASCP. You’re likely to have these or similar books left over from your MLT degree program. You may also find it very helpful to look over some of your previous class notes or assignments, especially in any areas where you felt like you may have struggled.

Notebook and pencils

MLT (ASCP) Exam Sample Questions

Curious about what to expect from the MLT certification exam? The following ten MLT practice questions cover various areas you can expect to see on the MLT exam. Just like the real MLT certification exam, questions are multiple-choice, with one best answer out of four possible choices. (Scroll to the bottom of this page for the correct answers to see how you stack up.)

  1. During the maturation of a blood cell, the nuclear chromatin pattern becomes:
    • A) Finer
    • B) More dense
    • C) Less dense
    • D) More acidic
  1. As a general rule, when a blood cell matures:
    • A) The cell increases in size
    • B) The cell decreases in size
    • C) The cell’s size does not change
    • D) The nucleus increases in size
  1. An elevated leukocyte count, with increased numbers of neutrophilic granulocytes USUALLY indicates:
    • A) Bacterial infection
    • B) Viral infection
    • C) Infectious mononucleosis
    • D) Allergic reaction
  1. Which of the following tests is used to measure capillary fragility?
    • A) Tourniquet
    • B) Bleeding time
    • C) Prothrombin time
    • D) Partial thromboplastin time (PTT)
  1. On most automated cell counters, background counts are made using:
    • A) Distilled water
    • B) Highly diluted blood
    • C) Diluting fluid
    • D) Lysing reagent only
  1. Brilliant cresyl blue or new methylene blue are stains used for counting:
    • A) Reticulocytes
    • B) Platelets
    • C) Malaria
    • D) Howell-Jolly bodies
  1. Cerebral spinal fluid, in patients with post-cerebral hemorrhage, appears:
    • A) Clear
    • B) Bright red
    • C) Light yellow or straw-colored
    • D) Green
  1. The distance between the ruled surface and the cover slip of the hemacytometer is:
    • A) 1 cm
    • B) 0 cm
    • C) 1 mm
    • D) 0 mm
  1. On an automated blood cell counter, the two parameters affected by a high background count would be:
    • A) WBC and Hgb
    • B) RBC and Hgb
    • C) RBC and WBC
    • D) Hct and WBC
  1. Leukemia may be suspected when a manual hematocrit determination reveals:
    • A) Hemolysis
    • B) Icteric plasma
    • C) A high hematocrit
    • D) A heavy buffy coat

Ready to Start Your New Healthcare Career?

Whether you’re set on becoming a certified medical laboratory technician, or you’re still considering other careers in the healthcare industry, you deserve a college that goes the extra mile in helping you prepare for your certification exams and launch your new career. Click here to learn more about all the healthcare degree programs at Brookline College, and start taking steps toward your exciting new job in the medical industry!

Sample Question Answer Key: B, B, A, A, C, A, C, C, C, D