Six Tips to Finding the Best 20-Hour NMLS Course!

Why Be Picky?

A horse is a horse of course of course! Well, that may be the case according to Jay Livingston and Ray Edwards, writers of the theme song to the 1960’s sitcom, “Mr. Ed,” but let me assure you that this does not apply to NMLS-approved pre-licensing and continuing education course providers! With the overall NMLS exam pass rate being 50%, can you really afford to choose anything other than the best test prep course provider and course?


Before You Begin!

Prior to applying for one’s Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) license, the licensing candidate must, among other prerequisites, successfully complete all required pre-licensing education (PE). In all cases, the licensing candidate must successfully complete an NMLS-approved 20-hour course. Many states, however, require state-specific pre-licensing education in addition to the 20-hour course. MLOs who annually renew their licenses must also complete NMLS-approved continuing education (CE) which also may or may not require the completion of state-specific CE depending on the state in which the licensee’s license has been issued.


The Importance of Due Diligence!

The NMLS not only requires that it approve all PE and CE courses offered, but it must also approve the education providers themselves. The current listing of NMLS-approved PE and CE course providers, along with their courses and available instruction modalities, may be found here. Notwithstanding the NMLS’ standards for course provider approval, approved PE and CE course providers are far from equally competent.

Since no 20-hour course is able to effectively deliver the 150 hours’ worth of material with which the NMLS exam candidate must master in order to pass the NMLS exam (another prerequisite to applying for one’s MLO license), little leeway exists for educator incompetency. Unfortunately, as a mortgage educator who helps new and aspiring mortgage professionals achieve success (including preparing them to pass the NMLS exam), I regularly encounter NMLS exam candidates who are completely unprepared due to the poor quality of their 20-hour course and the educator that offered it.

The disappointing reality is that only a handful of 20-hour course providers actually care beyond collecting the student’s tuition. Sadly, once the student has enrolled and paid, the course provider’s interest evaporates. Having taught mortgage PE and CE for over 14 years, I am thoroughly familiar with the quality education providers as well as with those offering nothing more than catchy marketing strategies and flashy websites to lure you in. First, you should clearly understand that you are completely free to use any NMLS-approved course provider offering the NMLS-approved course in which you’re in need. You are never required to use a course provider that is recommended to you by a current or prospective employer or by anyone else. Exercise your freedom to choose in order to make the best decision. After all, this is your livelihood, your career, your income, and your reputation that’s at stake.


Tips to Ensure Your Success!

The following are six tips to help you identify the best NMLS course provider. Be certain to thoroughly conduct your due diligence prior to committing.

1. How often is it conducting classes?

NMLS-approved course providers that only conduct classes periodically may not offer course content that’s as current as that of course providers that regularly conduct their PE and CE courses. Choose an education provider that regularly conducts its courses.

2. How often is its material updated?

The mortgage industry is dynamic and ever-evolving. The Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) makes it clear that the NMLS exam assesses the test candidate’s knowledge of “real time” and current matters. How can an education provider that only updates its material annually deliver relevant and test worthy material if there’s a strong likelihood that its material is obsolete? Choose an education provider that updates its material regularly in a way that coincides with industry updates and changes.

3. Does the course provider distribute the NMLS Test Content Outline?

I am frequently frustrated to the point of utter disbelief when I encounter NMLS test candidates who have completed their 20-hour course while having never heard of, let alone, ever seen the NMLS Test Content Outline. Considering that this publicly-available and foundational study resource specifically outlines on what the NMLS exam is based, how can an NMLS-approved education provider consider itself worthy of your business and trust if it doesn’t distribute this vital resource? Choose an education provider that distributes the NMLS Test Content Outline as a standard part of its curriculum.

4. What supplemental products and services does the course provider offer in addition to the 20-hour course?

As previously mentioned, no 20-hour course can adequately prepare anyone for the NMLS exam by itself. Quality course providers also provide supplemental material such as practice exams, flashcards, one-on-one tutoring, and review sessions to help its students become a part of the NMLS exam’s overall 50% pass rate. Choose an education provider which offers much more than just the 20-hour course.

5. Does the course provider provide study material to use once the course is over?

How can an NMLS exam candidate be expected to study for the exam once the 20-hour course is over without possessing appropriate material from which to study? Sounds like a pretty commonsensical question, right? Well, believe it or not, numerous 20-hour course providers leave their students stranded high and dry once their course ends. With nothing from which to study and no longer being able to access the coursework, these test candidates are left floundering to their own devices. And I’m sure that you can imagine how that ultimately pans out! Choose a course provider that provides material, including a textbook or textbook PDF, from which to study once you’ve completed their training.

6. Don’t be fooled by fabricated statistics!

Any NMLS-approved course provider that boasts of high NMLS exam pass rates is blowing smoke and telling you what it knows that you want to hear. NMLS course providers have no possible way of definitively ascertaining their students’ pass rates. Once a licensing candidate completes his or her coursework and goes on to take the NMLS exam, he or she is in no way compelled to report those results back to the course provider. In fact, course providers rarely hear from their students again until a portion of the ones who passed the NMLS exam return to complete their annual CE. As such, course providers have absolutely no way of gauging their students’ success rates. Choose an education provider with good reviews that honestly admits that it cannot offer an accurate accounting of its students’ pass rates when you ask for that statistic.


The Solution to Your Needs!

Never assume that, just because an NMLS-approved education provider has met the NMLS’ established standards for approval, that the education it provides will be worthwhile. Just as two FDA-approved steaks may be of different quality, NMLS-approved education providers also vary in quality. If you would like my advice, one of the finest NMLS-approved education providers and one that I eagerly endorse is OnlineEd.

Get started with OnlineEd now!


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