On your way to becoming a loan officer there are many boxes you need to check along the way and after you have registered for a profile on the NMLS (Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry) and completed your 20 hour approved course, you will now be tasked with passing the federal loan originators test. This test must be passed before you can proceed on the way to becoming a loan originator. This test is 115 questions and you will have 180 minutes to complete this. In the coming paragraphs I am going to share my test taking preparation in hopes that you will pass the NMLS Exam on the first try just as I did. As a reference, you need a 75% to pass and I received a score of 90% which puts me in the top tier of scores achieved on this exam nationwide. My goal is to be a great resource to my fellow loan originators, so if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call me at 888-900-1020 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First things first, let’s start with the school that I chose to get my 20 hour class satisfied in an effort to pass the NMLS Exam on the first try. My choice was a 2-week online class that I took through Mortgage Educators at a price of around $250. I really can’t compare this class to another as it is only a class you will need to take once and honestly it just “checks the box” so to speak. This class was one that you completed at your own pace and you were good as long as it was done in the 2 week timeframe. The class was broken down into individual 3-5 minute taped segments that followed a defined syllabus. You had to make sure you watched/played the entire clip as you were not permitted to skip forward at all. At the half-way point and at the end of sections there were quizzes that were asked as a small refresher to make sure you were retaining the proper concepts and knowledge along the way. This is a good class that only requires 1-2 hours of time daily to complete. For some people, this may not be the best route and they would rather sit in a formal classroom setting. There are definitely 3-5 day options for the formal setting as well for similar pricing. You need to decide what type of learner you are and what will work best for you. This is critical if you want to pass the NMLS Exam on the first try.
Now after completing your course, don’t act like you are going to sign up for the federal exam and you can go in and pass it right away as this is not the case, however, if you want to pass the NMLS Exam on the first try, you are going to need to follow my advice. First, you need to take this test very seriously as it is not something you can show up to and pass easily without any preparation. Think about it like this, a 20 hour class is trying to teach you years upon years of government rules and regulations in an industry that is heavily regulated and always changing. This is like the CPA exam accountants take to get certified or the BAR exam lawyers take to become certified. If you do not take this seriously, there is no way you can pass this exam on the first try.
One thing that drove me to selecting this online course was the fact that it gave you over 900 practice questions and all were broken down in 7-11 question quizzes by section that you would see on the test. (TRID, Federal Law, Ethics, General Mortgage Knowledge, Loan Origination Activities, and UST) Let’s say you wanted to study Federal Law, you could easily go to this section and begin testing yourself on just these items. I am going to stop right here and say, what I am going to explain to you now was a main factor into my success of passing the NMLS exam on the first try. You need to make sure that after you dedicate 1-2 hours per day to take the course, you need to keep dedicating the same 1-2 hours per day for the next 3-4 weeks or so as you prepare to take the exam. You need to keep seeing this data each and every day or you are going to lose the knowledge you have learned. My goal to get this done was to start by creating an Excel spreadsheet and recording every test result that I obtained. This was an easy way for me to see how well I was doing in every section. The next thing I did was I didn’t just take quizzes in the same topic, but I took one from each category to ensure I kept my brain from focusing on a specific topic. On any given day I was doing between 8-12 quizzes ranging from 80-120 questions.
When I first started keeping track of my results, I was worried that I wasn’t going to pass the NMLS Exam on the first try due to the fact I was scoring between 70-75% on my quizzes. However, I stayed positive and once I finished the 900 or so questions, I decided to go back and revisit the quizzes I didn’t do so well on and see if after completing all these quizzes I had learned more about these topics. I actually surprised myself seeing now that I was getting nearly perfect scores on the quizzes I was only getting 60-70% correct on. After I retook a lot of the quizzes I did poorly on, I brought my percentage up to 83% which gave me a lot more confidence in passing the NMLS Exam on the first try. However, for me this still wasn’t good enough as I didn’t feel like I was prepared to be solidly above the 75% passing rate.
Another technique I did was I reached out to my good friend to see if he had any additional materials that he could share with me in my efforts to ensure I would pass the NMLS Exam the first time. He was a great help and got me 2 different 100 question practice exams that he had personally. This was a tremendous help for me as it gave me a different set of questions to study from and also study with questions that were written a different way. It might sound crazy, but you can definitely tell there were different writers of these practice tests. I believe this was beneficial since I could study outside of the 900 questions I was already using. Now after going through these 2 tests 3 different times each, I was scoring 87-91% on these tests and I finally thought I was ready to move forward and get this test taken.
After I went back on the NMLS website and registered for my exam, I was scheduled to take it 5 days later. In this time I kept going over the questions the same as I had for the last 3-4 weeks. I know this might sound like a lot of studying but I was making sure that I developed the memorization and logic needed for passing these large certification exams. All in all I think I went over 2,000 questions in preparation for taking my exam and now was the time where I felt I had a strong grasp on the test. The night before the exam I made sure I got to bed early and got 9 hours of sleep. When I woke up the next morning, I relaxed, had a good breakfast and made my way over to the test taking center, arriving 30 minutes before my scheduled time. Upon arriving I signed in, my identity was verified, and I was checked that I brought nothing into the exam besides myself. After this process I was brought to a computer where I went through the instructions and proceeded to start the exam.
Please note that all questions are multiple choice with 4 answers. Upon initially reading the question and answers, you should have no problem identifying 2 wrong answers that make no sense, leaving you with a 50/50 shot of getting the question right. After going through the exam in its entirety I had over 40 questions that I marked to go back and revisit before I submitted my results. I took my time and thoroughly read these questions to make sure I made the best guess I could make with the knowledge I had learned. Another observation that I saw was that a lot of these questions are made to fool you when you are reading them as they are very vague or the usage of double negatives to throw you off. I am not sure why the test is written this way, but it is, so it is paramount that you read carefully if you want to ensure passing the NMLS Exam the first time. The last bit of advice I am going to give you is that you need to make sure you know your federal regulations and all the finite details written about them: TILA, RESPA, ECOA, HMDA, HOEPA, FACTA, FCRA, and disclosures. As 35% of the test is going to come from regulations, it is in your best interest to get these areas figured out and prepared for.
In conclusion, if you take this approach I can be certain that you will pass the NMLS Exam on the first try. It is going to require a lot of hard work and studying, but it will be worth it in the end when you get that passing grade and move on to the next step of becoming a licensed loan originator. Just think about it this way, once you have obtained your license, you don’t have to worry about it again, just as long as you take your 8 hours of continuing education annually. Stay calm, do your best, and you will pass the NMLS Exam!