Tips To Passing The NMLS National Pre-Licensing Exam The Second in a Four-Part Series

Today I’m going to jump right in with the next four tips that you will need to appropriately prepare for and pass the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System’s MLO National Licensing Examination.  As discussed in my previous article, the NMLS exam, for all intents and purposes, is relatively standard.  One hundred and twenty, computer-generated, multiple-choice questions, offering four answer options each that must be completed within a window of slightly more than three hours.  Of the 120 questions, five are “test” test questions that do not affect your grade.  Of the 115 questions that do count, the test taker must achieve a passing score of 75% or higher.

The following four tips will help swing the odds of passing the NMLS exam in your favor:

1. Read Every Single Question and Every Single Answer Option No Fewer than three times!

This is a tip about which I get the most positive feedback.  People are regularly thanking me for offering them this tip.  I frequently hear how much of a positive difference following this tip contributed to peoples’ passing the NMLS exam.  But let me begin by saying this is NOT an easy tip to follow.  It’s difficult, yes.  But following this tip is mandatory!

I don’t care how simple the question is.  I don’t care if the question is, “What is your name?” and the four answer options are Jerry, Bobby, Phil, and Mickey and your name just happens to be Mickey.  Read every single question and every single answer option no fewer than three times before answering.

Your eyes and your mind often work at different speeds.  And frequently your eyes will see something that your mind interprets differently.  Proceeding with your mind’s interpretation could prove disastrous.  You cannot afford to make these kinds of mistakes on this exam.

When I took the NMLS exam, I absolutely forced myself to follow this tip.  And I absolutely caught myself, on more than one occasion, about to incorrectly answer questions wrong that, had I had not read those questions two to three times, I would have.  The test questions are very tricky!  Please do yourself a favor and make this promise.  Right here and right now.  Promise to read every single question and every single answer option no fewer than three times prior to answering.

Imagine the following question:

“At what equity position is private mortgage insurance automatically removed?”

A.) 80%
B.) 78%
C.) 22%
D.) 20%

Your mind races!  You remember your 20-hour course emphasizing how, once the LTV reaches 78%, the Homeowners Protection Act mandates that private mortgage insurance be automatically removed.  Got it!  You choose to answer “B” and guess what!  You answered wrong!  The question didn’t ask about LTV.  It asked about the equity position.  Clearly, the correct answer was “C” but, by reading it quickly, you answered it wrong and possibly found yourself with an overall score of 74%.  So do yourself a favor.  No matter how simple the questions may seem, be sure to read each one a minimum of three times before answering.

2. Immediately Answer Each Question!

You’ve read the question and answers three times and think you know the correct answer.  Well, if you are 100% clearly sure that your answer is correct, select the answer and click on next.  When you do that, it will advance you to the next question.  But if there is even a flicker of a glimmer of a sparkle of doubt in your mind about the correctness of your answer, go ahead and answer it but, before clicking on “next,” click on “mark for review.”  And then do this for all 120 questions.

Once you’ve answered your 120th question, here is where you will need to slam on the brakes!  If you click “submit” now, you’ve submitted your exam and there’s no going back.  Instead of clicking on submit, however, with the click of a different button, you will bring up all of the questions that you marked for review.  Now you can afford those questions the added thought and consideration that they warrant.  But what you’ve accomplished by following this tip is that all of the questions that you knew with 100% absolute certainty are already working in your favor.

3. Look Out For Double, Triple, and Quadruple Negatives!

Those tricky test writers are always scheming!  It’s not a matter of “if” rather a matter of “when” you will encounter questions on this exam that contain double, triple, and quadruple negatives.  When this happens, you must be prepared to effectively perform.  This is one of the many reasons why it is so critical to be well-rested and clear-minded when you sit for this exam.

Imagine encountering a question to the effect of, “Except for which of the following is not prohibited?”  Daunting?  Yes.  But only at first glance.

There are two strategies to effectively manage such questions.  Strategy one is word rearrangement.  By rearranging the words of the question, clarity sometimes ensues.  So here you could rearrange the word structure to read, “Which of the following is not prohibited, except?”  That might help.  It also might not.  Another strategy to help forge clarity is “reduction.”  Reduction means eliminating multiple words and replacing them with fewer words that carry the same meaning.  Does, “Except for which of the following is allowed?” prove any clearer?  You bet it does!

4. Answer Every Question!

A blank answer is a wrong answer.  Even if you have absolutely no idea what the correct answer is, guess!  If you leave it blank, you have a 100% chance of getting the question wrong!  At least, if you guess, you have a 25% chance of getting it correct.

Should answering a test question come down to a wild guess, some guessing strategies you can employ consist of the process of elimination and/or identifying the answer option that most effectively works in the customer’s best interest.  If neither of those options are possible, then the final guessing strategy would be to choose answer option “C” or “D.”  Want to know why?  Sign up for one of my upcoming NMLS Exam Prep Webinars, “Maximizing Your Success” via to find out!

Be certain to visit again next week for Part III in this four-part series to give you the tools and edge that you need in order to pass the NMLS Exam on your first attempt.

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