NMLS Test Difficulty & Pass Rates

So you want to become a mortgage loan officer. One of the most important aspects of becoming an MLO is passing the NMLS test. However, for many, that is easier said than done. The Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry (NMLS) most recently reported NMLS test pass rates, only 58% of individuals pass on the first try.

The NMLS test difficulty can be described as challenging, even for those who prepare, and this is on purpose. Due to the financial responsibilities of mortgage loan officers, the exam serves to ensure MLOs are prepared for these duties and are held to high industry standards. 

While the NMLS test is not easy, that should not discourage you from pursuing your career goals. Instead, you should focus your energy on preparing for the exam as thoroughly as you can—starting with reading through this guide. Learn more about what to expect from the exam, how to pass the NMLS test, and what happens one you do. Use the links below to guide you to the section that best answers your questions about passing the NMLS exam.

What Is the NMLS Test?

In order to become a mortgage loan officer, you will need to take the NMLS test. The Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry (NMLS) oversees mortgage loan officer licensure and administers the SAFE Test, also known as the SAFE MLO Test or SAFE Mortgage test. The NMLS test is a written exam that consists of a National Component and a Uniform State Content. The purpose of this exam is to ensure that mortgage loan officers (MLOs) are well-versed in the ethics, laws, and regulations that apply to their position, which helps to protect borrowers.
For the National Component of the NMLS test, there are 125 questions total, however, only 112 are scored (the others are used as pilot questions for future exams). All questions will be formatted as multiple choice and you will have 190 minutes to complete the exam. To pass the NMLS test, you will need to score a 75% or better on the test as a whole.

Is the NMLS Test Difficult?

According to the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry (NMLS), the national NMLS test pass rates are 55% for the first attempt. For those who do not pass on their first attempt, NMLS test pass rates fall to 43% for later attempts.

Based on these pass rates, you can infer that the NMLS test is not an easy feat. However, NMLS test difficulty, in part, comes down to how prepared you are.

NMLS Test Prep

There’s no doubt you need to prioritize preparation for the SAFE MLO Test, but figuring out where to start can be challenging. Once you register for your exam, you will receive the MLO Testing Handbook and access to the National Test Content Outline as a starting point for test prep. There are also a variety of online courses designed to help you pass the exam as well as practice tests. 

One way you can get ready for the SAFE MLO Test is by using our Prep2Pass™ mobile app. With the app, you will gain access to valuable materials that will help you prepare for the NMLS exam. App features include:

  • Focused Flashcards based on the NMLS Content Outline 
  • Prep2Pass Simulated Test which resembles what you can expect on the SAFE MLO Test
  • Over 15 hours of videos covering the concepts you’ll be tested on—you’ll also be able to communicate directly with an NMLS Approved Instructor, who you can ask unlimited questions  
  • Up-to-date NMLS test-prep materials examined by mortgage industry experts
  • Access to these prep materials wherever you go 

Ensuring that you are as prepared as possible can help reduce the NMLS test difficulty for you when it comes time to take the exam. Take the time to study up to the time you take the test, and you can approach the exam with confidence.

When choosing your SAFE MLO Test prep source, the NMLS has a few recommendations

  • Avoid providers who claim insider access to the test and questions
  • Make sure the course or prep materials are based on the current Content Outline 
  • Ensure that they are providing prep materials based on up-to-date federal and state laws

Prep2Pass™ complies with these recommendations. Try the free trial today to get a preview of the app.

Taking the NMLS Test

Once you feel like you’re as prepared as you can be for the SAFE MLO Test, it’s time to schedule your exam. To take the National Component of the test, you must:

  • Create an NMLS account. 
        • Pay for the test, which will open you for enrollment. Payments are non-refundable and non-transferable.
        • Accept the Candidate Agreement—you cannot schedule your exam without completing this step.
        • Schedule your test appointment.  From the time you pay from enrollment, you will 180 days to schedule your test.
        • Bring one form of current government-issued identification that has your photograph and signature on it.

When you complete the exam, it will be electronically graded and you will be able to see your score. Your official score will also be posted online within 72 hours of taking the test.

What’s Next: NMLS Continuing Education

Taking the SAFE MLO Test and passing isn’t a one and done event. As a mortgage loan originator, you will be required to renew your license on an annual basis. In order to renew, you will need to complete a minimum of eight hours of NMLS-approved continuing education training. This ongoing training ensures that you are up to date with the latest industry regulations and standards.

Start Prepping 

It’s time to take—and more importantly pass—the NMLS test and get licensed. With thorough preparation, you can walk into your NMLS test with the knowledge you need to pass and start your career off on the right foot. We’re your resource for test-prep that can help you get one step closer to your goal of becoming a mortgage loan officer. 

In the beginning stages of deciding whether you want to become an MLO? We’ve got you covered with what you need to know about the career path including answers to your questions like “how much do mortgage loan officers make?” as well as useful guides that cover how to become a mortgage loan officer and other key topics. Diehl Education is an excellent resource whether you’re just starting out as an MLO or looking to grow in your career.

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