VIDEO: Insurance Exam Study Tips

By: Kaplan Financial Education
August 14, 2020
woman studying for her insurance licensing exam

Join Kaplan Financial Education experts Julie Ramsey and Mary Orn as they discuss some key insurance license exam study tips. Mary and Julie have helped thousands of students pass their insurance licensing exams and they have put together these exam study tips to help you succeed too. By following their eight tips, you will be able to put together an efficient study plan to pass the exam the first time.


Mary: Hello, my name is Mary Orn.

Julie: Hi, I'm Julie Ramsey. And welcome to our studio. We want to give you the inside track, so welcome. Mary and I are here today, and we wanted to show you the studio. What we've done here is lots of insurance videos, and these are to help people who are going through the licensing process, because a lot of times, insurance seems like a different language, doesn't it? And so, these are just to break down the concepts and make it simple. So welcome.

Mary: As instructors, we've helped thousands of students pass their exam, and we've put together some study tips to help you as you prepare for your state exam. Our number one recommendation is that you print the state exam outline. You can get it from one of two spots...either the website of your department of insurance or from the testing provider.

Julie: That's really good information, Mary, because one of the biggest mistakes that students make is they treat all of the information the same. This is just as important as this, and it's not when you're studying for your exam. You want to prioritize the most heavily tested, down to the least heavily tested. Prioritize the state the exam outline does that. So study those first five sections really well. Know them inside and out, and then you can just go down by priority.

Mary: Yes, it's important because there's a weighting to the exam. Certain topics are questioned more than others. Another tip is to utilize the practice exams. This is a good chance to practice reading the full question.

Julie: Absolutely, that's really important. And when you're taking these practice exams, your goal is to score an 80% or better, and consistently. Don't just take one exam, do well on it, and say, "Okay, good, I'm done studying." Because if I'm scoring consistently in every session, if I'm scoring 80% or better, I should pass the first time.

Mary: And take notes when you're going through the practice exams. Jot down what it is you got wrong. Don't rewrite the whole question, but just make sure you understand why you got a particular question wrong.

Julie: That's a really good point. It also helps you find efficiencies. "Gosh, I'm really having a hard time understanding annuities," or "I'm really having a hard time understanding this." So you're right...I could learn where I need to hone in on. Mary, I've got another test taking tip.

Mary: Let me hear it.

Julie: Okay. It is time management. How should I best utilize my time, so that I'm prepared and can pass the test the first time?

Mary: So what you're saying is, don't cram the night before?

Julie: Pretty much.

Mary: No all-nighters. Here's what you need to do. After you complete your prelicensing course, spend two to three days studying for your exam. As Julie mentioned, there's a priority that you want to put into place. There's a weighting to the exam. Study the most difficult items first, study the areas where you're weaker first. Get a good night's sleep, and then the morning of the exam, give yourself a little mental vacation, a little break.

Julie: You deserve it. Another test taking tip is scratch paper. When you go take that exam, they're going to give you a piece of scratch paper. And you want to best utilize that scratch paper. Mary, do you have any thoughts for that?

Mary: I do. I love this one because this allows you to do a memory dump. You walk into the test with your piece of paper before you do anything related to the exam. Put everything from your brain down onto the paper. Formulas, acronyms, charts, anything you want to make sure you remember, and then you set it aside. When you come to that question, you can quickly take a peek at the notes that you've written.

Julie: Now that's a really good idea, and it also helps with problem areas. We see a lot of folks that have problems with homeowners. And in one of our taping sessions, we have an instructor who goes through the different areas of homeowners, and we have this homeowners chart. And if I know I'm having problems in that area, then I can memorize that chart. I can write that down on the scratch paper when I go take my test and be successful.

Mary: Perfect. Read the full question. That is really important when you are taking your exam. There will be a lot of information in there, and chances are, what the question is really getting at is that last sentence.

Julie: That's a really good point. A lot of times when people take the test, it's not what you know, but it's can you take a test? So you really want to break down that question and know what it's asking. So here's our recommendation. The first time, read the question. The second time...yes, you do have to look at the question and then answer it, and then look over it a third time. So you're going to read the question, you see your answer, and then you say, "Yeah, you know what? I got this right." And you want to do that with every question, not just one, but all of them. So, each question you're looking at three times. You're confident, and you're ready to move on.

Mary: It's important to weed out extra information. As I mentioned, there's going to be a lot of stuff in that question. Use the answers to help tip you off. Many times, some of the answers, two or three, might be similar. They might contain some of the same information, so you can read through those and go, "Oh yeah, that's what they're talking about." Now, I'm going to go back into the question and read it again as part of that three-step process. Caution…after you’ve read through everything and answered your question, move on. Don't sit and think about it, don't go back and change your answer. Chances are the first one you put down is the correct one.

Julie: That's a very good point. I've got another one.

Mary: Let's hear it.

Julie: Pace yourself. You know, it's not a race. You don't get an award at the end if you're the first one done.

Mary: Don't spend too long on one question. Get yourself into a nice, steady rhythm so that you're reading the question and the answers. You go through your three-step process, you answer, you move on. If you're not sure, mark it. If you have time at the end of your test, you can come back and do a quick little review.

Julie: That's a really good idea. And, you know, I have a hard time sitting down when I'm taking an exam for that long of a period of time. It's not like when I was studying, where I can get up and go make popcorn or get a candy bar. And so I have a hard time sometimes focusing, and a lot of students find that too. So what we recommend is taking a break. How do you take a break? I'm there, I have to take the test. Every 30 questions, maybe just put your head down. Just rest, kind of clear your mind, so then you're fresh and you're ready to go. Just do that every 30 questions and pace yourself.

Mary: And it can be very stressful to take this test, so you want to make sure you stay relaxed and give yourself that mental break.

Julie: Absolutely.

Mary: Watch out for the “except” questions...questions that end in the word "except."

Julie: That's a really good point. The words "except," "never," "always," a lot of times throw students off. So we want to talk about turning that “except” question into a direct question. Now we're not asking you to rewrite the question...that would be way too hard. But what you can do is take the word "except" and just put it up on a shelf. Just ignore it for a minute.

Mary: Perfect. So the question may be, "All of the following are agent responsibilities except…." And as Julie mentioned, you're going to take that word out and put it on the shelf. And now what you're looking at is a question that says, "All of the following are agent responsibilities." You've just turned that into a true-false question. Now, you can read through the four answers, decide which are true, which are false, and you get to your one exception.

Julie: So you're saying the eeny, meeny, miny, moe game doesn't work with this?

Mary: No more eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

Julie: Okay, all right. Well, I've got one more.

Mary: Go.

Julie: The testing site. Now you're going to schedule your test ahead of time. But the day of the test, know where you're going. Leave early. There could be construction, there could be traffic, and you're sitting there, and you're freaking out for your test. Additionally, schedule the exam in the morning if you can. I mean, it doesn't have to be at 7 am, by no means, but schedule it in the first part of the day. That way, you're confident, you're ready to go, you're fresh, and ready to take the test.

Mary: The last thing you want to do is go through an entire day of work, or family life, or things that are taking your mind away from the exam, and then have to go in to take the test.

Julie: Absolutely.

Mary: Now, it's okay to be nervous. It's good to be nervous, but also have confidence in yourself. You have prepared for this exam!


Need more help getting ready for the insurance licensing exam? Check out Kaplan's Insurance Licensing exam prep programs , which are available in all 50 states.

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