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Tips and Tricks for Passing the NMLS SAFE Test

Join the 60% of MLOs that are PASSING the National SAFE Exam on the first attempt!

If you are reading this you have already taken your first step in building a solid foundation that will allow you to thrive in this industry. While this test is designed to be difficult, we are committed to providing you with the tools you need to succeed. Our industry experts have put together 6 key tips and tricks to help prepare you to achieve a passing score on the National SAFE exam.


1. Understanding How the Test is Designed

In an effort to protect our industry standards, the NMLS has designed the National SAFE Test to help ensure that those entering the industry meet the minimum requirements and expectations to keep consumers safe. The test is designed to evaluate your overall understanding of the content and topics.


The test consists of 120 multiple-choice items (115 scored test questions and 5 unscored test questions) that are distributed among the five major content areas.


Content Area Percentage of Test
 Federal Mortgage-Related Laws 24%
 General Mortgage Knowledge 20%
 Mortgage Loan Origination Activities  27%
 Ethics 18%
 Uniform State Content 11%


Utilize and review the SAFE test outline provided by the NMLS. We recommend making sure you fully understand each topic that is covered in the outline so that you are able to apply the knowledge to choose the most correct answer that is offered.


2. Prioritize Time to Study the Material 

Tutoring With MEC

Now that we know how the test is designed, and what it will cover, let's talk about the importance of becoming familiar with the 5 concepts listed above. We recommend that you study for at least 20 hours for the SAFE test. This does NOT include your 20+ hours of pre-licensing education.


The amount of time you spend with the material will have a serious impact on how much you recall while in the testing center. Did you know we offer additional resources such as Test Prep Options and 1-on-1 Tutoring?


3. Make Your Study Time More Effective

Effective studying begins with creating a conducive environment for learning and having a positive attitude toward the task at hand. Start by breaking down the material into manageable chunks and using a variety of study methods such as reading, writing, flashcards, and practice questions. Be sure to check the NMLS SAFE Test Outline for the info that is on the test and find the sections that you might be currently struggling with. This is a great start to organizing not only what to study but how much of each section to study. Active recall, like attempting to explain the concept to someone else, is also a great way to reinforce your learning. Additionally, taking breaks and getting enough sleep can help you retain information better. It's also helpful to quiz yourself regularly to test your understanding and identify areas where you need more practice. If you have purchased the Ultimate Test Prep Course, it includes access to the mobile app MEC Pass+. This app can help provide a way to take the quizzes on the go and has some flashcards that you could use to help you study. Don't wait until the last minute to start studying and try to avoid multitasking while studying. Most importantly, believe in yourself and your ability to succeed!


4. Utilizing your Pre-Licensure Course

The 20-hour pre-licensing education course that is required before obtaining your license is designed to teach essential concepts that are key in loan origination. Whether you have taken the course already or are trying to prepare for it, we recommend that you take your time in the course to learn as much as you can. If you have finished the course and no longer have access to those materials, please reach out to our support team and we will be happy to help you get access to the course materials again in a study-only version. We know this is a lot of material to cover and it could be very helpful to go back through the course and watch the videos on concepts that may have been more difficult for you.


20 Hour Course Textbook 


5. Prioritize Concepts Over Answers

The SAFE test is designed to make you understand key concepts and apply them to more advanced topics. As an education provider that offers a national test prep course, we do not know the exact questions that are going to be on the SAFE test. The NMLS does not share its test questions with anyone. We do, however, have industry-leading experts to help cultivate questions that will help you to learn those topics. Every year we have heard students say, 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. So while taking our 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 from an answer you memorized in a prep course.


6. Take Control Of Your Stress And Anxiety

Stress about a test is completely normal and can actually be a good thing. It shows that you are taking the test seriously and are dedicated to doing your best. However, excessive stress can have negative effects on your well-being, including loss of sleep, decreased appetite, and a weakened immune system. To perform at your best, it's important to find ways to reduce test anxiety.


Check out our Facebook Study Group!

Here are several strategies that can help, first, it's important to recognize and acknowledge the stress you're feeling. This can help you understand what might be causing it and find ways to cope. Second, try to adopt a positive mindset and focus on your strengths and abilities. Knowing your strengths can help you cater your studying to your learning style. This can help you feel more confident and motivated. Third, make sure you're taking care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in physical activity. Finally, consider reaching out to others for support, whether that's friends, family, or our Facebook study group. Talking about your stress and getting encouragement can help you feel better and find effective solutions to reduce your stress.


If you are feeling nervous about the SAFE test, don't worry! Preparation is key to success. Take a test prep course to get comfortable with the material and to increase your chances of success. Additionally, Willamette University put together a great article, 10 Ways To Beat Test Anxiety, which we have found to be a great resource on the topic of stress.


Ultimate Test Prep Bundle includes access to MEC Pass+!