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Why 40% of MLOs are FAILING the National SAFE Test

If there is one thing that all MLOs are aware of, it is the difficulty of the NMLS National SAFE exam. It is the major hurdle for many future mortgage loan officers in the process of becoming licensed by the NMLS. Many MLOs go into the test confident that they will pass it, but find out a few days later that they missed the mark. They have taken their pre-licensing education and have most assuredly studied for the exam, so why is it that 59.6% of test takers are passing on their first attempts on the test?

What can be done to ensure a passing score on the first try? Here are reasons why you might be failing the test and what you can do to make sure you get through this exam once and for all.


1. The test is designed to be hard -- VERY hard

One of the most frequent things that we have to remind failed test takers of is the fact that the SAFE test is designed to be extremely difficult. This test is a weeding out process for the NMLS to determine who truly understands the content and who is merely hoping to get by. If you're here right now, we know that you are serious about passing the test. So what's the deal? You're forgetting that the test is supposed to be this hard. 

The mortgage industry is a vast one, and as such, the NMLS has hundreds of questions to pull from in order to make sure that the test is difficult. Don't underestimate this fact. Look to the SAFE test outline provided by the NMLS to get a general idea of what to expect. But don't be surprised if something out of left field pops up on the test.


2. You're not studying long enough

This might seem like an accusation that we couldn't POSSIBLY make. We don't know you personally, we haven't been watching you study. So how do we know that you aren't studying long enough? Because most students who fail the test call us wondering what happened. When asked how much they studied with the test prep course, the answer is generally something like this: "I took the test prep course and scored an 80% so I thought I was good."


The recommendation is to make sure you are studying at least 20 hours for the SAFE test. This does not include pre-licensing education hours. The amount of time you spend with the material will have a serious impact on how much you recall while in the testing center.


3. You need to make your study time more effective

So how can you make your studying more effective?  Maximize your study time. Make sure that you understand what content will be on the test by reviewing the SAFE test outline. Are you reading trying to memorize answers to practice questions or are you taking a comprehensive test prep course to give you sample questions to help you remember key concepts? Spend some time to create flashcards for terms that you have a tough time remembering. Spend that extra "down time" that you have studying. Or are you putting it off for later? Maximize your time by studying as effectively as possible now and you will see a huge jump in your test scores.


4. You didn't pay enough attention in the pre-licensure education 

What is the point of the 20 hour course? The course is designed to teach you the concepts essential to the loan origination field. If you went through your 20 hour course just to get through it and didn't properly comprehend all of the information, we highly recommend you go back through the course. There is loads of information in there that you probably missed that could seriously help you on the SAFE test that may not have been covered in your test prep course. If this is the case for you and you took your course with us, give us a call and we can reopen your course for study purposes.


5. You're prioritizing answers too much

For years, student after student has said, after failing the test, "I took the test prep course and memorized every answer! How could I have possibly failed the test?!" The answer to that question is right there: you're focusing too much on the answers. No education providers that offer a test prep course knows what questions are going to be on the SAFE test. The NMLS is extremely secretive about this. So why do they offer test prep? Because education providers know that if they can help you understand the key concepts through their test prep courses, you can piece together bigger and more complex concepts. This is what the SAFE test wants you to do. So while taking a SAFE test prep course, don't memorize the answers. Think about what concept the question is asking about and answer from your knowledge of that concept rather than some answer you memorized in a prep course.


6. You're stressing yourself out

It is good to stress about the test. It honestly is. If you aren't at least a little stressed about it, you probably aren't taking it as seriously as you should be. But stressing about the test too much can impact your well-being in a way that can negatively impact your test-taking. Loss of sleep, lack of appetite and a lowered immune system can all be side effects of too much stress and can get in the way of you performing your best on the test. If you are feeling extra stressed about the SAFE test, look for tips to help reduce test anxiety.


While you may have initial fears going into the National test or you are concerned because you already took the test and failed, don't worry! The SAFE test is not as hard as it seems if you properly prepare yourself to take the course and get comfortable with the material on the test. If you haven't taken a test prep course, purchase one and get started with more effective studying. You can pass this thing. Now get out there and crush it!