Cosmetology Exam Review

provide services of personal care that include the hair, nails, and skin of
their clients. Although it may be tempting to just offer these services because
you are good at them, you must be licensed through your state by meeting
testing qualifications.

When testing
for your license, centers offer special testing accommodations to those who
have conditions that are listed and approved by the Americans with Disabilities
Act as being qualified for such modifications. In most cases, you must make
this request in writing.

Some testing
accommodations may include extended test taking time, breaks, large print test
materials, the ability to take prescription medications with water, hand-held
magnifier, and seat cushion.

How can I become a cosmetologist?

Although eligibility requirements for becoming a cosmetologist vary from state to state, all states in the United States require that you have a license to work in this capacity. Some states require that you complete a closed-book written test, while others require you to complete a closed-book written and practical test.

Approximately two hours are allotted for each of the written exams in Texas, Tennessee, Florida, and Pennsylvania, with additional time for the states that require the practical exam.

Generally speaking, what are the content areas that will be assessed on the written theory/law exam?

  • Licensing and Regulation
  • Infection Control
  • Hair and Scalp Care
  • Nail Care
  • Skin Care

How will I know if I have done everything necessary to take the exam and/or get my license?

As previously stated, pre-requisites that must be met before taking the exam can vary, depending on the state. Due to this, it is your responsibility to consult with your state to ensure you meet the requirements to sit for the exam and obtain your license.

For example, the states of Texas and Tennessee require that you pass the written test before you can take the practical. On the other hand, the states of Florida and Pennsylvania only require you to successfully complete written exams, no practicals to get your license.

Additionally, in order to get your license, Pennsylvania states that you must complete 1250 hours of experience in a licensed school of cosmetology OR 2,000 as an apprentice in a licensed salon AND be at least 16 and completed 10th grade or have proof that you’re 35.

You must also register, pay the required fee, and select the location, date, and time of testing.

What should I do the day of the exam?

While this too may vary, it is advised that you report to the testing site 30 minutes early. This will give you enough time to locate the test center, park, and complete the check-in procedure before testing time. Arriving late could prevent you from taking the exam and also forfeit the fees you have paid.

Although some states request that you only bring one form of identification, it is best to bring two just in case one does not include all of the information they need to confirm. Test centers typically want to verify your name, signature, photo, and date of birth match what they see before them. This is important because if your identification does not meet the test center’s standards, you will likely not be allowed to take the exam.

If your testing center requires that you have an authorization to test form, admission ticket, or any other form of appointment verification, be sure to bring that with you as well. Some testing centers won’t let you take the exam without it.

Do not bring any personal items that are not allowed in the testing area. If you do, you may have to store them in a location that is out of your sight, which could compromise their security.

What happens after I take the exam?

In most cases, you will receive your score before leaving the testing center. The passing score is usually 70-75%. If you do not pass, you may be able to re-take the exam. Whether or not you can re-take the exam and how many times you can do so, depend on your state’s law. For example, in Texas, you can re-test an unlimited number of times in a period of five years, while Tennessee gives three years to pass.

If I become licensed in one state, can I work as a cosmetologist in another state?

Some states allow for reciprocity, so check with your state and the state in which you’d like to do business. Don’t assume just because a state offers it with one state, it offers it with all. For instance, Pennsylvania provides reciprocity with some states, but not Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, or Utah.

How Can I Prepare for the Cosmetology Test?

That’s a great question.  We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.

  1. Do yourself a favor and study.  Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try.  Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
  2. Take care of yourself.  Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping.  All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance.  If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
  3. Get a study guide or set of flashcards.  Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them.  We’ve tried to make it easy for you by tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam.  Below you’ll see links to both!

Study Guide



Last Updated: November 9, 2023