Impact of Time Lapse on ASCP Board of Certification Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) and Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) Examination Scores

Lab Med. Summer 2015;46(3):e53-8. doi: 10.1309/LMNM534LIACPBZWH.


Background: Research in several professional fields has demonstrated that delays (time lapse) in taking certification examinations may result in poorer performance by examinees. Thirteen states and/or territories require licensure for laboratory personnel. A core component of licensure is passing a certification exam. Also, many facilities in states that do not require licensure require certification for employment or preferentially hire certified individuals.

Objective: To analyze examinee performance on the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Certification (BOC) Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) and Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) certification examinations to determine whether delays in taking the examination from the time of program completion are associated with poorer performance.

Methods: We obtained examination data from April 2013 through December 2014 to look for changes in mean (SD) exam scaled scores and overall pass/fail rates. First-time examinees (MLS: n = 6037; MLT, n = 3920) were divided into 3-month categories based on the interval of time between date of program completion and taking the certification exam.

Results: We observed significant decreases in mean (SD) scaled scores and pass rates after the first quarter in MLS and MLT examinations for applicants who delayed taking their examination until the second, third, and fourth quarter after completing their training programs.

Conclusions: Those who take the ASCP BOC MLS and MLT examinations are encouraged to do so shortly after completion of their educational training programs. Delays in taking an exam are generally not beneficial to the examinee and result in poorer performance on the exam.

Keywords: Medical Laboratory Scientist; Medical Laboratory Technician; certification; examination.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Educational Measurement*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Licensure / standards*
  • Male
  • Medical Laboratory Personnel / education*
  • Specialty Boards