Top Insurance License Exam Tips
Are you a good test taker? Or, like many, do you cringe at the thought of having to pass an exam? Most people would agree that it can be stressful, takes time to study and prepare for the exam, and quite frankly, something they would rather not have to undergo.
Preparing for the Test
Though it may seem somewhat overwhelming at first, preparing for and taking the state insurance exam is NOT that difficult. In fact, most agents who take the exam admit that it was easier than they imagined. The reason was that they were prepared for the exam by learning and understanding the basic concepts of insurance.
The concepts in insurance are universal throughout the United States, even though each state enacts laws that govern its own insurance regulations. Having an understanding of the basic concepts allows you to answer questions logically.
While taking endless practice tests and memorizing dozens of definitions will help prepare you, understanding the core concepts within insurance is the key to passing the state exam.
Read, Reinforce and Repeat
To be successful on the state exam, it is crucial that you fully understand the concepts you learn throughout the course. Start with carefully reading each lesson while watching any corresponding instructional video. At the end of each lesson, review the lesson summary to further your understanding of the major concepts. Reinforce the concepts you learn within a lesson by taking the lesson exam. Reinforce ALL the concepts you learn in the course. Repetition is key when learning anything, so do not hesitate to keep doing EACH step over and over up until your test date. It is important to keep every concept fresh in your mind come test day.
Recognize that concepts may have multiple names
It is important to recognize that a specific concept can have multiple names. An example of this could include “insurance that protects the insurance agent from claims against him or her as a result of failing to adequately provide professional service to a client.” This is the definition of Professional Liability Insurance, also known as Errors and Omissions Insurance (E&O).
Understand the differences between similar concepts
It is important to realize that a concept can be part of a more generalized concept, but not vice versa. A simple example is where a principal is considered an insurer, but an insurer is not necessarily a principal. A principal is an insurance company that is required to provide coverage against financial loss through policies an appointed agent sells on its behalf and is also known as an insurer. However, an insurer is an entity who, through a contractual agreement, underwrites an insurance risk and provides financial compensation in the event of an insured’s loss. An insurer does not necessarily have to be a principal, even though it performs the same function.
Scheduling the Test
English is your second language
If English is not your primary language, many states allow for additional time to complete your state exam. Your will need to submit an English as a Second Language (ESL) Authorization form to your testing administrator prior to scheduling your exam.
If you require testing accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), reasonable accommodations are provided by the testing administrator. You will need to make special arrangements prior to registering for the state exam by contacting the testing administrator.
Taking the Test
Your state licensing exam is composed of both scored and unscored questions. Scored questions are those which are covered in your pre-licensing course and are graded towards or against your overall exam score. Unscored questions, referred to as ‘pre-test’ questions, do not count towards or against your overall exam score, nor are they covered in your pre-licensing course.
Pre-test questions are included by the testing provider with the sole purpose of evaluating the quality of these questions to determine whether the testing provider should include these questions on future exams.
Since pre-test questions are not covered in your pre-licensing course, these questions will stand out from other questions and will likely be confusing to you. Keep in mind that these questions are not graded towards or against your exam score, so don’t let them overwhelm you. Since you will not know which questions are pre-test questions, remember to read each question carefully and try to answer them to the best of your ability. If you feel like it wasn’t covered in your pre-licensing course, then it is most likely a pre-test question.
Read each question fully and carefully
Sometimes a test taker feels pressed for time or perhaps is over-confident while taking the exam, and as a result, might not read the question in its entirety or carefully enough to truly understand what the question is asking. In order to be successful on the state exam, you must take your time to understand exactly what a question is asking before choosing your answer. By rushing through a question, you may be missing important details or qualifiers mixed within with the question.
Choose an answer only on the basis of the information provided within the question
In understanding a question, realize that everything you need to know is found within the question. Do not make additional assumptions based on what you may think is common sense or is based from personal experience. The context of the question can vary depending on how the question is asked, so think only about the information in the question and relate that to the four multiple-choice questions provided. The best answer of the four questions is the correct answer.
Read all answer choices before choosing the best answer
When you view the available answer choices, you will most likely notice that two of the answer options are far from relevant in regards to the question. The two remaining answers may be similar in definition or wording, and you must determine which one best fits the question being asked. Also, you may think you know the correct answer and choose it without reviewing the other options. As mentioned before, read each question carefully then review each answer option.
Focus on the main points in a question
In reading a question, sometimes you will find unnecessary details that attempt to mask what is truly being asked. When you come across these questions, you must separate vital information from verbiage that is simply there to distract.
Be mindful of qualifiers
Qualifiers are words that qualify or intensify a question being asked, and are helpful in determining a correct answer. Keep an eye out for certain words that strengthen the specificity of a question, such as “never” or “always”, compared to those that soften them, such as “unlikely” or “often”. For example, compare the difference in meaning between the following statements: It is always warm in Florida. It is often warm in Florida. The second statement is a true statement, while the use of the word “always” in the first statement requires Florida to constantly be warm in order for the statement to remain true.
Look out for double negatives
Sometimes a question may start with the word “All” or “None” and end with the word “Except”. When this occurs, you will likely want to find the answer that is an inverse to what the question appears to be asking. In other words, if a question starts with the word “ALL”, you automatically search for any answer that pertain to that concept. When the word “Except” is placed at the end of the question, you should then look for the answer that does not pertain to the concept in question.
All of the following are considered basic elements associated with an agent acting as a fiduciary except
- being honest and trustworthy
B. being qualified to perform insurance sales functions
C. using good moral judgment and acting in good faith
D. understanding how first year commissions are beneficial
Three of the possible answers pertain to how an agent should act as a fiduciary, where only one is an exception to this concept (correct answer is D).
Stick with your initial answer
Unless you misread the question, your first answer is usually the correct one. Keep in mind that you should still review all answer choices before deciding on the best answer, but once you have chosen your answer, do not continue to change it.
Be mindful of the time
Although it is important that you take your time in reading and understanding each question, you must remember that the state exam is timed. Periodically, check to see how much time is remaining and where you are in the exam. If you come across a question that you find difficult, skip it and answer those you understand. At the end of the exam, you will be able to return to those questions you left unanswered. In addition, there might have been other questions during your exam that helped to clarify those questions you skipped. Again, while it’s important to keep track of the time and pace yourself during the exam to finish within the allotted time period, don’t rush yourself. You are given plenty of time to finish the exam, just don’t get bogged down too much over any one question.
Relax and stay focused throughout the exam
Exams can be stressful, but it is important to take a deep breath and simply do the best that you can do. Fully preparing for the exam will provide you with confidence, and remember that you are prepared will help to relax you. The state exam can be tedious, so remember to stay focused for its entirety