Like most States, California requires that you pass a government administered license exam before you can hang your shingle to sell insurance. In addition, you must take up to 52 hours of pre-license training, which thankfully, can now be done online. Separate license exams and training courses are required to sell property and casualty insurance versus life and health policies. And, there is mandatory continuing education 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 the State handbooks, read and read again all the materials from your license course and take a cram course on test-taking, I can almost guarantee you still won’t pass the California Insurance Exam. These exams can be tough, since they are riddled with confusing and convoluted questions . . . the trademark of most government or quasi-government license exams. So what does it take to pass? Well, that’s what we cover in this article. And, there is a method to the madness.
First Off, Be Wary of Advice and Crazy Tips
Here is just some of the “buzz” around taking the State Exam. For the most part, ignore these rants and tips:
“Taking a cram class is all you need to pass” (Not true. See cram courses below)
“I was told to skip every question on the state exam. That way, these same questions are locked in and the computer will not spit out more difficult ones.” (A crazy conspiracy theory).
“A live teacher is the only way to pass. They pinpoint the “buzz” words you need to pass. They tell you things that can’t be put in writing” (Bunk . . . classes are monitored by the State. And, you need more than buzz words to pass).
“Use common sense to answer the exam questions.” (It won’t work).
“By process of elimination, you can get to the right answer.” (Works sometimes, but you would have to know the subject to eliminate the wrong answers).
“I earned 90% on my online practice exams . . . I’m ready”. (A lot of these 90 percenters still fail. There are practice exams and there are practice exams. See below).
“People who take online courses always fail”. (Bunk . . . our online school has a very high passing ratio . . . it’s what you do with the material that counts).
“Study the course materials . . . you will pass” (There is a lot more to it. It may be a variation the material you learned that is being asked).
“Just look for certain “buzz” words for the answer.” (The State knows all the buzz words . . . you’ won’t beat them this way).
It may seem obvious to many, but be sure that the courses and exam prep materials you are studying are California specific. There are a lot of generic practice exams and courses available online that won’t prepare you for the State Exam or won’t allow you to even sit for the exam. Sign up with an approved California provider and make sure you are taking the right course for the license you want.
The State Exam
The State requires that you complete specific pre-license training BEFORE you can sit for the State Exam. The Certificates you earn from these courses are your “ticket” into the State Exam which are currently given at state office locations in San Diego, Los Angeles and Sacramento.
On the day of the exam, you need to bring proper identification including a current valid driver’s License, passport, military ID, etc. The State Exam is computer-based. There are 75 questions for the Life Only License; 75 for Accident & Health and 150 for Fire & Casualty.
You must score 70% or better to pass. If you fail, you can retake the exam 3 consecutive times for a fee of $41 each. Your 4th try requires a 30 day waiting period. Of course, if you follow the advice of this article you won’t need to worry about failing.
You can schedule the State Exam online at any time . . . just fill out the required license application. But, you must complete the required pre-license training courses needed for the license you want BEFORE taking the exam. And, you need additional time to tackle the remaining procedures we recommend to prepare yourself. Bottom line? Leave at least three weeks before scheduling an exam date.
There are some universal rules to taking any license exam. Basically, you need to become familiar with the testing mentality.
· Make sure to read every single word in both the questions themselves and the provided answers! There are people who fail simply because they didn’t read the question properly!
· Make sure that you understand the gist of the question itself…what are they getting at in the question? In order to answer a question properly, you must understand the idea behind the question!
· Be familiar with the format of the exam. The State Exam is taken on 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 Casualty or Life/Health Exam. Answer all the questions you know. Flag questions you are unsure of or skip them until later. Watch for words like except or not.