Secrets to Passing the California Insurance Licensing Exam
Like most states, California requires you to pass a government-administered licensing exam before you can hang your roof tile to sell insurance. Plus, you need to take up to 52 hours of pre-licensing training, which thankfully can now be done online. Licensing exams and separate training courses are required to sell property and casualty versus life and health policies. And mandatory continuing education is required every two-year renewal period, as well as additional special training classes needed to sell specific insurance products like flood insurance, long-term care insurance, and / or annuity investment policies.
If your plan is to thoroughly study state manuals, read and reread all of your licensing course materials, and take a crash course on how to take exams, I can almost guarantee that you still won’t pass the California Insurance Exam. These exams can be difficult as they are riddled with confusing and complicated questions. . . the trademark of most government or quasi-government licensing exams. So what does it take to pass? Well that’s what we cover in this article. And there is a method to madness.
First of all, beware of crazy tips and suggestions
Here are just a few of the “buzz” surrounding taking the state test. For the most part, ignore these spiel and advice:
“Taking an intensive class is all you need to pass” (Not true. See intensive courses below)
“They told me to skip all the questions on the state test. That way, these same questions are blocked and the computer won’t throw up more difficult questions.” (A crazy conspiracy theory).
“A live teacher is the only way to pass. They point out the buzzwords you need to pass. They tell you things that can’t be written.” (Bunk … Classes are monitored by the state. And, you need more than words. fashionable to pass).
“Use common sense to answer the test questions.” (It will not work).
“Through the process of elimination, you can come up with the correct answer.” (It works sometimes, but you would have to know the topic to eliminate wrong answers.)
“I got 90% on my online practice tests … I’m done.” (Many of these 90 percent still fail. There are practice tests and practice tests. See below).
“People who take online courses always fail.” (Bunk … Our online school has a very high pass rate … It’s what you do with the material that counts).
“Study the course materials … You will pass” (There is much more. It may be a variation of the material you learned that you are asked to do).
“Just look up certain buzzwords for the answer.” (The state knows all the buzzwords … You won’t beat them this way.)
It may seem obvious to many, but make sure the courses and test prep materials you are studying are specific to California. There are many generic practice tests and courses available online that will not prepare you for the state exam or even allow you to sit for the exam. Register with an approved California provider and make sure you are taking the correct course for the license you want.
The state exam
The state requires you to complete specific pre-licensing training BEFORE you can sit for the state exam. The certificates you earn from these courses are your “ticket” to the state exam currently awarded at the San Diego, Los Angeles, and Sacramento state offices.
On the day of the exam, you must bring proper identification, including a valid driver’s license, passport, military ID, etc. The state test is done by computer. There are 75 questions for the lifetime license; 75 for accidents and health and 150 for fires and accidents.
You must score 70% or higher to pass. If you do not pass, you can retake the exam 3 consecutive times for a fee of $ 41 each. Your fourth attempt requires a 30-day waiting period. Of course, if you follow the advice in this article, you won’t have to worry about failing.
You can schedule the state exam online at any time. . . just fill out the required license application. However, you must complete the pre-licensing training courses required for the license you want BEFORE taking the exam. And you need additional time to address the remaining procedures that we recommend to prepare. Bottom line? Check out at least three weeks before scheduling an exam date.
There are some universal rules for taking any licensing exam. Basically, you need to get familiar with the mentality of testing.
Be sure to read every word in both the questions and the answers provided! There are people who fail simply because they did not read the question correctly!
Make sure you understand the gist of the question itself … what do they mean by the question? To answer a question correctly, you need to understand the idea behind the question!
· Become familiar with the exam format. The state test is taken on the computer. See a sample of how it works on the state’s website here. . . http://www.insurance.ca.gov/sample-test/Sample_Questions-General.htm
· Don’t rush the exam. You have up to 3 hours for the accident or life / health exam. Answer all the questions you know. Check off the questions you are unsure about or skip them until later. Be on the lookout for words like except or not.
Study books, course content, and state publications
The state exam has a very broad coverage. There will be many questions about codes, ethics, and other insurance topics that you may never need or experience throughout your insurance career. However, you must know them to pass.
Then there are hundreds of pages of pre-licensing course materials (your 20, 40 and 52 hour training courses). In fact, the State dictates what must be covered in all pre-licensing courses and publishes “Educational Goals” for each one. Now, you would think that if you studied these courses and the “objectives” very hard you would be ready for the exam. . .Right? NO. Don’t spend too much time here … Sure, you need to read the materials to get your pre-license certificate (s) and there are basics you can learn from these courses, but it is highly doubtful that they will play a significant role in helping you pass the state exam.
There are also dozens of generic guides and crash courses that say they are specifically designed to help you pass the state exam. Save your money and time. Sure, some may provide some guidance, mostly on the test-taking techniques I mentioned above, but you still need to know the specific learning points to pass. That cannot be condensed into a small book or even an 8 hour crash course. I know, I have taken these classes and I wish I had spent the time studying.
An exam prep workbook is KEY!
Well, we are on the key to passing the state exam. Find a proven test prep workbook. We cannot emphasize how important this is to pass. It’s almost too simple, yet licensing candidates tend to discount the effectiveness of practice tests. WHOSE.
A typical test prep workbook is packed with up to 1000 questions and answers, that is, practice tests. Of course, there are practice tests and practice tests. Like I said, find a proven system and ALLOW UP TO TWO WEEKS TO FULLY UNDERSTAND AND REMEMBER THE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS IN YOUR WORKBOOK. Simply reading the workbook once or twice IS NOT ENOUGH. Study and remember EACH QUESTION at least 10 times or more. If you get the same questions wrong, highlight them and study them further.
Don’t schedule the exam early
Do not schedule the state test until you have time to study the practice tests in the test prep workbook. Your boss and others may be pressuring you to take the state exam as soon as possible after your online training, but until you can remember the questions and answers, your chances of passing are slim.
Well that’s it. . now you know how to pass the insurance license exam. But I have a caveat: if your mental focus is just to pass the exam, you need to refocus. Many people pass their exam only to lose their license or be sued for making stupid mistakes. Knowing the answers to a lot of test questions is not enough. . . you need to know what you are doing with that license and you need to gain a sense of responsibility and ethics to win customers and stay out of trouble. While these are not the topic discussed here, know that they are as much a part of your career as obtaining your license. Therefore, please refer to the pre-licensing course materials for the basics and use them for frequent reference. Always expand your knowledge and stay up-to-date with current industry events.
I wish you the best of luck in a very rewarding field.