How To Pass The Insurance Exam -- Tips, Tricks, Practice Tests, & More

If you're getting ready to take a state insurance exam, or any exam for that matter, it's good to know what you're getting yourself into.

Here at StateRequirement, we want you to be able to walk into the testing center with confidence that you will leave being one step closer to getting your insurance license.

In this article, you will learn everything that you will need to know to face your exams without fear.

We've scoured through tons of resources to find the information you need to be prepared (not to mention that we've taken a few of these tests ourselves).

So sit back and keep your reading glasses handy. We're sure to get in the weeds with this guide.

P.S. Go ahead and bookmark this page so you can easily find it the next time you need it.

Basics Of Insurance Exams


What Is The Format Of The Exam?

The format of insurance exams is a timed, proctored, multiple choice test, consisting of around 50-180 questions. The actual length of each exam will depend on the state you are testing in, and the license for which you are applying.

So what exactly is a proctored exam?

"In the simplest terms, proctored means someone is present while the candidate is taking the assessment. Proctored tests can be administered on a computer or using paper and pencil. Depending on the type of test, the proctor may or may not have to be certified.

Proctored assessments are the optimal administration format. You know for certain that the responses were given without input from other people or the use of supplemental tools (calculators, text books, etc.). You can also control the environment and eliminate the risk of distraction."

Quote -- Jen Garrow at

Most states use third-party testing companies, such as Pearson Vue or Prometric to administer their exams. This means that you will be taking the test in a standard testing facility on a computer that is provided with a person watching over you.

For some, this may cause some anxiety, which we will cover later in this article.


The exam is a multiple choice test, generally with four options available as answers. This means that if you aren't sure about an question, you still have a chance of getting the answer correct.

There will not be an essay section to your insurance license exam, as the laws that your test is based upon are not open to interpretation or opinion.

The amount of time that you have to finish each exam will be set by the state and testing facility.


How Many Tests Am I Required To Take

Again, this answer will depend on what type or types of licenses that you are applying for, and which state you are being licensed in.

Example 1: If you are applying for your Life & Health License in Missouri, you will take one exam with two sections. Both sections must be passed in one sitting, or you will need to retake the entire exam.

Example 2: In Tennessee, each line's exam is separated. This means that there is a test for the Life Insurance line, and a separate test for the Accident & Health Line. The tests may be taken in a "back-to-back" manner, but are separate in the fact that you can pass one, but not the other. In such cases, you would only need to retake the exam that you did not pass.


Depending on the licenses that you are seeking, you could be taking anywhere from two to four exams (if you are going for both Life and Health, and Property and Casualty licenses).

Another aspect to note is that you can apply for one license, then come back at a later date and apply for another. This may have different consequences depending on the state you are applying in.


What Is The Price Per Attempt Of Each Exam

This fact again, will depend on the state that you are applying for.

The range of exam prices is anywhere from $40 to $150, averaging around $70 per attempt.

Since this process can get rather pricey in a hurry, we at StateRequirement highly recommend that you take your studying and test prep seriously, and try your absolute hardest to pass the exam on your first try.

Note: If you need to reschedule or cancel your exam sitting for any reason, you need to do so at least 48 hours in advance. Many of the test providers will not refund your exam fee if you reschedule or cancel within this time frame.

Read on, and we'll do our best to get you through the tests as quickly as possible.

Scheduling The Exams

In most states, you will need to schedule a date and time to attempt your exam. This scheduling will either be done over the phone or on the website of whichever entity is in charge of testing for your state.

Third-party testing companies, like Pearson Vue and Prometric handle most states, but some states use either other third-party companies, or have the testing managed in-house.

There are several states that do not allow same-day scheduling for testing. This means that you will need to plan ahead for the date that you will be attempting the test. This also means that if you don't pass the exam, you can't take the test again that day. Sometimes even the next day.

We think the same-day scheduling rule is a good one, as it give you a true opportunity to reflect on your studies if you don't pass on the first attempt.


StateRequirement recommends that you schedule your exam two to three weeks in advance, after you get your study materials. This will allow you enough time to properly study and prepare for the exam without having too much time to psych yourself out.

Test taking is a mental game, and you should do everything that you can to put yourself in the right headspace.

One other element that we would like to suggest is that you only study and schedule for one exam at a time.

These tests are not just blow-off exams, and can be very data heavy. It is easy to mis-remember that you have 30 days for one type of policy, and 35 for another.

Be smart, and work on one subject at a time.


Is The License Exam Hard?

The answer to this question will obviously vary from person-to-person and state-to-state.

We know lots of folks who have passed the exams on their first shot, and we also know plenty who have taken each test several times.  We don't say this to frighten you, rather to prepare you.

There is no "national average" of pass-fail stats, but based on the state's who publish results, the average number that we see is 55% of participants pass the exams on their first attempt. The number is a touch higher for retake participants.

What this tells us is that people tend to go into the test blind and wing it, hoping for the best results. If they fail, they hit the books a little harder, then come back and fair a little better.


Again, testing is a mind game, and you need to control the factors that you can to yield the best results.

Whether or not we like it, tests like these are sometimes more a measure of your ability to test well, rather than how well you know the material. This may not seem fair, but it is the truth, and we have to play by the rules that are set in front of us.

Be sure to read on, as we will give you our best ways to make sure that your ability to test is as effective as you get make it.


What Material Will Be On The Test?

Each state's exams will vary depending on their specific rules and regulations. The Life and Health test, will obviously have different material than the Property and Casualty test, and since the laws in Florida are different than those in New York, this material will also differ.

An example of material can be obtained from your state's testing facility, like this Texas Examination Content Outline from Pearson Vue.

(This is a partial copy of one test outline from Pearson Vue. This copy only goes two subject layers deep, therefore it is not a complete or accurate copy of the outline itself.  For your state's exam outlines, visit the Choose Your State page, and follow the directions from there.)

  1. Types of Policies
    1. Traditional whole life products
    2. Interest/market-sensitive/adjustable life products
    3. Term life
    4. Annuities
    5. Combination plans and variations
  2. Policy Riders, Provisions, Options, And Exclusions
    1. Policy riders
    2. Policy provisions and options
  3. Completing the Application, Underwriting, and Delivering the Policies
    1. Completing the application
    2. Underwriting
    3. Delivering the policy
    4. Contract law
  4. Taxes, Retirement, and other Insurance Concepts
    1. Third-party ownership
    2. Viatical settlements
    3. Life settlements
    4. Group life insurance
    5. Retirement plans
    6. Life insurance needs analysis/suitability
    7. Social Security benefits
    8. Tax treatment of insurance premiums, proceeds, and dividends
    9. Marketing practices
    10. Agent duties/responsibilities

As you can see, these tests contain many questions about specific law applications and policies.

What it does not cover, however, is what it will take to make you a good salesperson, agent, or producer. This information will be of great use to you when you want to stay in compliance with the law, but it won't tell you that bundling your home and auto will give you a 12% discount.

We may kid about this information being dry, and not "every day knowledge", but there is a lot of fraud surrounding insurance (especially life insurance), and having this information all under your belt will help you be a better agent for your clients, and may even keep you out of jail.

Insurance Exam Preparation


Life And Health Exam

The life and health exam is broken up into two parts, General Knowledge and State Specific. (Again, some states split the life exam and the health exam, so be sure to understand how your state works)

The general knowledge portion will test your understanding of different policy types and the guidelines that surround them. Things like:

  • Types of Policies
    • Term Life
    • Whole Life
    • Variable Life
    • Annuities
    • Health Insurance
    • etc...
  • Details of the contracts
    • Riders
    • Provisions
    • Beneficiaries
    • Premiums
    • etc...
  • Application and Underwriting
    • Signatures
    • USA Patriot (Anti-Money Laundering)
    • Insurable Interest
    • Fair Credit Reporting Act
    • etc...
  • Taxes and Other Concepts
    • Viatical Statements (This is a very interesting concept)
    • Group Life
    • Needs Analysis -- Suitability
    • Social Security
    • Tax Treatment
    • etc...

Each state will have their own spin on this information, but most of it is standardized nation-wide. To find out exactly what is on your Life and Health Exam, navigate to your state and find the content outlines from your test provider.

The state specific portion of the exam will test your understanding of state statutes, rules, and regulations. This may include:

  • State specific regulations regarding life, health, property, and casualty insurance
    • Definitions
    • Insurance Commissioner
    • Licensing
    • Marketing Practices
    • Free Look
    • Viaticals
    • etc...

The state specific portion is generally more dry information (which may make it harder to focus and remember when studying). Things like dates, names of laws, amounts will be a part of this portion. We will cover ways to study this in a later section.

Note: Even though the exam will cover variable contracts, a life and health license alone will not allow you to sell variable products. For this, you will need a license from FINRA, like a series 7, 6, or 63. These licenses are completely separate from all of your state licensing.


Property And Casualty Exam

The property and casualty exam is broken up into two parts, General Knowledge and State Specific. (Again, some states split the property exam and the casualty exam, so be sure to understand how your state works)

The general knowledge portion will test your understanding of different policy types and the guidelines that surround them. Things like:

  • Types of Policies
    • Homeowners
    • Flood
    • Inland Marine
    • Commercial
    • etc...
  • Terms
    • Risk
    • Liability
    • Hazard
    • Peril
    • Loss
    • Bonds
    • etc...
  • Provisions and Contract Law
    • Declarations
    • Exclusions
    • Appraisal
    • Gramm Leach Bliley
    • Terrorism Risk Insurance Act
    • etc...

Each state will have their own spin on this information, but most of it is standardized nation-wide. To find out exactly what is on your Property and Casualty Exam, navigate to your state and find the content outlines from your test provider.


The state specific portion of the exam will test your understanding of state statutes, rules, and regulations. This may include:

  • State Specific Rules and Regulations
    • Director of Insurance
    • Licensing
    • Marketing Practices
    • Fiduciary Responsibilities
    • Commissions and Compensation
    • etc...

The state specific portion is generally more dry information (which may make it harder to focus and remember when studying). Things like dates, names of laws, amounts will be a part of this portion. We will cover ways to study this in a later section.


Studying For The Insurance Exam

Since the insurance exam is just that, an exam, preparing to take it can be accomplished just like studying for any other exam.

So what is the best way to study for an exam? For this, we are going to borrow some help from a site specific to studying for, taking, and passing exams. We'll customize it for the insurance exams, but you can visit the original article at TopUniversities.

StateRequirement recommends Kaplan Education Company for all pre-license education courses.

1. Take Enough Time To Study

While "cramming" may have worked back in high school, this isn't the time to try to learn everything in one night. There is a lot of very specific information on these exams, and 0% of it is common sense information.  You can't fake your way through this test. Build yourself a solid base of information before you attempt.

StateRequirement recommends that you give yourself at least a week to study for this exam.  If you are less confident, take a little longer, but don't take allow too much time, as you may either start to lose some of the information, or subconsciously not take studying seriously.

The best way to approach this situation is to gather all of your study materials, then call your testing company and schedule a time to take the exam. This will give you a real, hard deadline that you can work towards.

Note: If you are getting licensed in more than one line of insurance, schedule and study for one exam at a time. This will make sure that you have less information to retain at one time, and much less chance to mix up numbers.


2. Organize Your Study Space

"Make sure you have enough space to spread your textbooks and notes out. Have you got enough light? Is your chair comfortable? Are your computer games out of sight?

Try and get rid of all distractions, and make sure you feel as comfortable and able to focus as possible. For some people, this may mean almost complete silence; for others, background music helps. Some of us need everything completely tidy and organized in order to concentrate, while others thrive in a more cluttered environment. Think about what works for you, and take the time to get it right." -- TopUniversities


3. Use Flow Charts And Diagrams

"Visual aids can be really helpful when revising. At the start of a topic, challenge yourself to write down everything you already know about a topic - and then highlight where the gaps lie. Closer to the exam, condense your revision notes into one-page diagrams. Getting your ideas down in this brief format can then help you to quickly recall everything you need to know during the exam." -- TopUniversities

Flash cards are also a great way to study.  Don't want to write down hundred of terms and definitions? You don't have to! Check out Tons of people before you have compiled their study materials, making this awesome resource for learning terms.

Just search for the test type and state, then choose whose list you want to use, or create your own.

Keep in mind, however, that since this information is all put together by individuals, there's chance that some of it could be less than accurate.


4. Take Practice Exams

This is one we can absolutely help with. In all of our research, we've found a free practice insurance exam that you can take online. This test is provided by Prometric, which is a test provider in multiple states. To take this free practice test, follow this link and register using your personal information. (Note: You do not need to input a Testing ID to register.)

These practice exams do not contain state specific questions, so they are a great asset. If you live in a state where Prometric is not your test providing company, you can still use these practice tests, just not that the format may differ from your actual testing experience.


5. Explain Your Answers To Others

One of the best ways to verify that you understand a topic is to teach it to someone else.

Find a willing party and borrow some time from them. Anyone who will listen will do just fine. If they have questions, that's even better. The better you know the material, the smoother you will be, and the better chances that you will ace the exam.

As Albert Einstein said, "If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."


6. Organize Study Groups With Friends

This may be more difficult now that you're out of school, as not everyone is taking the same exam at the same time as you are.

In states where you are required to take pre-license education, you may be able to find a peer group that are all studying for the same thing that you are. StateRequirement recommends Kaplan Education Company for all pre-license education courses.

If you can find people, take advantage of the combined effort and have some study group fun!

7. Take Regular Breaks

While you may think it's best to study for as many hours as possible, this can actually be counterproductive. If you were training for a marathon, you wouldn't try and run 24 hours a day! Likewise studies have shown that for long-term retention of knowledge, taking regular breaks really helps.

Everyone's different, so develop a study routine that works for you. If you study better in the morning, start early before taking a break at lunchtime. Or if you're more productive at nighttime, take a larger break earlier on so you're ready to settle down come evening.

Try not to feel guilty about being out enjoying the sunshine instead of hunched over your textbooks. Remember Vitamin D is important for a healthy brain! -- TopUniversities


8. Snack On "Brain Food"

Keep away from junk food! You may feel like you deserve a treat, or that you don't have time to cook, but what you eat can really have an impact on energy levels and focus. Keep your body and brain well-fueled by choosing nutritious foods that have been proven to aid concentration and memory, such as fish, nuts, seeds, yogurt and blueberries. The same applies on exam day - eat a good meal before the test, based on foods that will provide a slow release of energy throughout. Sugar may seem appealing, but it won't help when your energy levels crash an hour or so later. -- TopUniversities


9. Plan Your Exam Day

Be sure that you have everything that you need gathered up the night before. The testing centers all require that you bring identification and other materials with you on the day of your exam. If you don't have everything that is required, you could be going home without testing, and without receiving a refund for your exam fee.

You should also be sure that you are not hungry or thirsty when you sit down to test. There is nothing that will kill concentration faster than a rumbling belly during the exam. This is an easy fix, just make sure you eat well on test day!


10. Drink Plenty Of Water

As a final tip, remember that being well hydrated is essential for your brain to work at its best. Make sure you keep drinking plenty of water throughout your revision, and also on the exam day.

Good luck! -- TopUniversities


Am I Ready?

If you have followed all of the steps that we've listed above, and feel confident that you know the information well, then yes, you are ready!

What if I don't feel ready?

As the testing day approaches, if you feel like you aren't prepared, then you can always reschedule for a later time.

Note: Each testing company has different rules on when and how you can reschedule. If you don't follow these rules, you will forfeit your testing fee. Most companies require that you contact them to reschedule 48 hours prior to test time.

You need to be honest with yourself before you make the call to reschedule. Ask yourself what the real reason is that you want to delay. Is if because you truly aren't prepared, or is the anxiety of a looming deadline getting the best of you?

Either way, just be sure that you aren't making decisions for the wrong reasons.  Don't be afraid of the exam, it's totally passable!

Taking The Insurance Exam

What To Bring On Test Day

Each state and testing company will differ slightly on what is required to bring on test day, but the basics are:

  • Identification (Sometimes they will need a second form of ID, like a credit card or Social Security Card)
  • In states where pre-license education is required, a completion form from the education company

You are not allowed to bring your study material, cell phone, wallet, or any other personal affects into the test room. Some test centers have lockers or other storage space where you can keep things while testing.

If you attempt to bring something into the proctor room and are caught, you will be removed from the testing center and forfeit your testing fee.

Don't try to cheat, it's not worth the risk.

Test Anxiety

Testing and performance anxiety are real. They can honestly be a very debilitating factor in your insurance exam experience.

If you're "just not good at tests", it could be lots of things, one of them being test anxiety. Do you get so nervous that your mind becomes a fog? Do your hands begin to sweat? Do you find it hard to even read the questions on the screen? It could be legitimate anxiety.

Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D. has a great article over at the Mayo Clinic on how to overcome test anxiety.

We'll do our best to sum it up here:

1. Learn To Study Efficiently

We covered studying for this exam in the last section of this article. Reference this, and find out what works best for you.

Once you've got an effective routine, capitalize on it.


2. Establish A Consistent Pre-Test Routine

Since you won't be taking lots of exams, this may be less relevant to the insurance situation. We can still take a lesson though: On test day, make sure that you take plenty of time to put yourself in the right headspace.  If you go into it with confidence, you will come out on top.


3. Learn Relaxation Techniques

"There are a number of things you can do right before and during the test to help you stay calm and confident, such as deep breathing, relaxing your muscles one at a time, or closing your eyes and imagining a positive outcome." -- Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.


4. Don't Forget To Eat And Drink

Again, we covered this back in the studying section, but it is absolutely critical to your test success.

If you go in dehydrated or hungry, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Take the time, and be prepared.


5. Get Some Exercise

The mind and body are one tool. If you can keep your body sharp, your head will be sharp too.

Take a walk before you attempt the test. This will get your blood moving and help you get into the right mindset.


6. Get Plenty Of Sleep

Sleep is absolutely correlated to your testing success. It's hard to be sharp when you're not firing on all cylinders. Be sure you get at least eight hours of sleep the night before your exam.

Testing Tips, Tricks, And Strategies

Alright! This is what you came to see. The shortcut method on how to pass the test without studying!


No. Sadly, this test will still take some time to study, but with these strategies, you will have much less of a chance to get tripped up while taking the exam.


Since this is a multiple choice exam, as opposed to an essay exam, you won't be writing any of your answers in sentences. (And don't worry, you won't be graded on spelling.)

Penn State has a one page PDF with a great Approach to Multiple Choice Questions. We're going to throw their suggestions in with some of our own time-tested plans.

1. Read The Last Sentence First

When reading the questions, it's easy to get tripped up in the details, especially if there are three or four sentences. By reading the last sentence first, you will find exactly what the question is asking. Once you know what you are looking for, you will be able to better understand the rest of the question.

Reading the last sentence first will also help when the question seems to be a double negative or something similar.


2. Predict Your Answer Before Looking At The Choices

If you read the question, and think you know the answer, make a mental note so you can see if your answer is in the choices. If you were correct, great. If not, then keep following these steps.


3. Read All Of The Choices Before You Select An Answer

This is a life saver if you find yourself hurrying to beat the clock.

When you read the question and glance down at the choices, you may read the first one and think, "yes, this is the correct answer," but if you continue reading the choices and find that a different option makes more sense.

Keep in mind, that you shouldn't rush. This may be a timed test, but you have plenty of time to finish if you pace yourself.

4. Eliminate Any Answers That You Are Sure Are Wrong

One of the beautiful things about multiple choice exams is that even if you don't know the answer, you still have a 25% (if there are four choices) chance of answering correctly.

To make your chances of "guessing" even better, go ahead and knock out the options that you are certain are incorrect.

If you aren't 100% sure what the answer is, it's better to guess between two options rather than four. When choosing between the last two options, follow the next step...


5. Go With Your Gut

There are times when you read the options, and you have a feeling that one is correct, even though you aren't sure. Often, this is your studying paying off unconsciously. If two answers make sense, go with the one your gut is pointing you to.

Trust your intuition, unless you can prove that another choice is the correct answer.


6. Remember The Questions That Were Asked

One positive about a test that has upward of 160 questions, is that sometimes you will find an answer to a question in the text of another question.

There will be times that you read a question, then remember two or three questions back a question about a similar subject. When you skip back to the already answered question, you may find that reading it again will help you solve the current question.

This can also be helpful retroactively. If you answer a question, but aren't positive that you were correct, then come across another question that helps solve the first one, you can go back and correct your mistake!


7. If You Don't Know It, Don't Waste Your Time On It

If you come to a question that you just can't make heads or tails of, skip it and come back later.

Remember, you have plenty of time to finish the test, but this doesn't mean you can spend five minutes trying to solve every difficult question. Skip it, but try to keep the question in the back of your mind, so that you can try to extract the answer to it from reading other questions.


8. At The End Of The Exam, Go Back And Fill In All Unanswered Questions

Before you take the exam, ask the proctor if there is any penalty for "guessing." We don't know any states that practice this, but it's worth asking.

After you have finished answering all of the questions you knew, go back to your unanswered questions. Read them again carefully, and try to remember if any of the other questions would help to answer this one. If not, just eliminate the options that are definitely wrong, then guess between the options that are left.

If you leave it unanswered, you will definitely get it wrong. If you take a wild stab, you have a chance of getting lucky!

Time: When you come to the last two to three minutes of your time limit, if you have lots of unanswered questions, go through and fill them in.  Again, finishing with unanswered questions is a sure fire way to get them wrong.


If you took enough time to study, and follow these strategies, you shouldn't have any trouble passing the insurance exam.

After The Insurance Exam

I Passed, Now What?

First of all, congratulations!!!

Passing the exams is the first step in your new career, and you're off to a great start.

So the next step depends on the state you are in, and the license types you are going for.

If you are getting more than one type of license, then head back to the study table for your next subject.

If you have passed all the exams you need for now, then head back to your state's page to find your next step.

Whether or not you are getting the license to start your own agency, to become an insurance producer, or any other reason, you've just knocked out a big step in your success timeline.

Great Job.

What If I Didn't Pass?

If you didn't pass this time, you now have a much better idea of what you are facing. In most states, the testing facility will give you a print out of which sections of the test you fared well on, and which you struggled with. Use this to your advantage.

Don't beat yourself up over it. Like we said earlier, only about 55% of first time participants pass the exam. It's a tough test, and you shouldn't feel any shame.

Now that you know what you're up against, you can go back to your studies with a renewed vigor and zeal. Be sure to study hard on the parts of the test that you were less successful with.

If you were close to passing, go ahead and schedule another sitting within a week or two.

You know what you have to work on, so be sure you can explain the topics to a six year old, and go out and crush it the next time!

Information on this page has been gathered by a multitude of sources, and was most recently updated in April 2017.

Any Information on this site is not guaranteed or warranted to be correct, accurate, or up to date. Huge Hammer LLC and its members and affiliates are not responsible for any losses, monetary or otherwise. For more information, please contact your state's authority on insurance.

Disclosure: StateRequirement has an affiliation with Kaplan Education company, and may receive compensation based on user activity on this site. We truly believe that Kaplan offers excellent products and services, and compliments the mission of StateRequirement.