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The 5 Steps to Taking the SAFE MLO Test
May 18, 2022

The 5 Steps to Taking the SAFE MLO Test

by The CE Shop Team

What Are the Steps To Taking the SAFE MLO Test?

As an aspiring Mortgage Loan Officer (MLO), there are certain steps you need to take to obtain your license, including taking and passing the SAFE MLO Test. But what does this test entail, and how can you prepare? 

Why Are You Required to Take the SAFE MLO Test? 

Before 2008, Mortgage Loan Officers were not required to complete education or pass an exam to become licensed. The SAFE Act of 2008 changed that, pushing the mortgage industry to create regulations that protect consumers and reduce fraud. 

According to the NMLS, “The SAFE Act (Section 1505 (d)), requires the NMLS to develop a qualified written test to measure the applicants’ knowledge and comprehension in appropriate mortgage subject areas, including ethics, federal law, state law, and laws and regulations covering fraud, consumer protection, fair lending and the nontraditional mortgage marketplace.” 

SAFE MLO Test Overview 

You will be given 190 minutes to complete the 120 question exam, with each test component consisting of four-part multiple choice questions. Only 115 of the 120 questions will be counted towards your score, and you will need a score of 75% or higher to pass the exam. If you fail to get a 75% or higher, don't worry! You’re able to retake the test. Here is an outline of the retake cycle based on the number of times you've tried to take the exam: 

Test Attempt Test Result Retake Waiting Period
Initial Fail 30 days
2nd Fail 30 days
3rd Fail 180 days
Initial (new retake cycle starts) Fail 30 days
2nd Fail 30 days
3rd Fail 180 days

The 5 Steps to Taking the SAFE MLO Test

The Steps to Taking the SAFE MLO Test 

Let’s take a look at the five steps you’ll follow to take your SAFE MLO Test. 

1. Sign Up for Your Individual Account in NMLS 

The very first step you have to take is creating your individual account in the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS). You will need to submit fingerprints, authorize a criminal background check, and allow NMLS to obtain a credit report

2. Create a Test Enrollment Window 

Once you’ve created your NMLS account, the next step is to create a test enrollment window and pay the $110 testing fee. You must create a test enrollment window before you’re able to schedule your test appointment. 

3. Schedule Your Test Appointment 

You have two options for taking your test: in-person or online. The in-person test taking will need to take place in a Prometric Testing Center, while the online proctored test has separate regulations through the Prometric ProProctor system. You are able to reschedule or cancel your test as long as you follow the cancellation and rescheduling policy

4. Study! 

Here are some quick tips to studying for the SAFE MLO Test: 

  • Start studying as far out from your testing day as possible. 
  • Set aside time every day (or every other day) to study, even if you work for only 10-15 minutes at a time. 
  • Study using methods that work best for your learning style. Taking practice exams, making flash cards, or reading core concepts aloud could help you absorb more of the information you need to know. 
  • Get adequate sleep leading up to the day of your test. 
  • Eat a hearty meal before your test. You’ve got enough on your mind - don’t let your hunger weigh you down! 

As for what to study, the percentage of questions that correspond with different facets of mortgage are as follows: 

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

5. Take the SAFE MLO Test 

Before taking your test, you must review the NMLS Candidate Agreement and Rules of Conduct. If you’re taking the test in person, be sure to show up 30 minutes early with your photo ID. 

Whether you’re just looking into Pre-Licensure Education to become an MLO or are inching closer to taking the SAFE MLO Test, it’s never too early to start preparing. Although this test is a difficult one, don’t forget to keep a positive mindset. Do as much as you can to prepare. Then, when you feel most confident, take a whack at it! 

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