How are State License Exams Structured?

If you hope to work in certain fields after attending college, you should plan on taking one or more state license exams. Successfully passing one of those examinations gives you a license that lets you work in the field you studied in college. School psychologists, nurses, teachers and lawyers are just some of the professions that require the passing of a licensing test. Before you finish college, make sure that you know the parts of the test and the details surrounding that exam.

Registering for the Test

Long before you can take the test that applies to your profession, you need to register for the test. This usually involves contacting the state department for your profession and filling out an application. Most states also ask that you pay a fee to take the licensing test. If you fail the exam, you’ll need to complete a new application and pay a new fee each time. School psychologists, teachers, nurses and other community workers may also need to pass a background check as well. They need to go to the local police department, fill out a confirmation for a background test and submit their fingerprints for testing, as well as pay a small fee.

Day of the Test

Educational Testing Service, the company responsible for many of the state license exams, suggests that you double check the date and time of your test on the day that you take it. When you arrive at the testing center, you need to bring proof of your identity, but ETS has a long list of items that you cannot bring in the center, including a purse or backpack.

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ETS also recommends that you arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled time of the test and that you plan on spending an additional 30 minutes at the center after finishing the exam.

Parts of the Exam

The structure or parts of your exam vary based on the test that you take. You will typically take at least two sections that cover both quantitative reasoning and reading comprehension. The reading comprehension section includes several short stores and passages that you’ll read before answering questions on those passages, while the quantitative reasoning section asks various math questions. Some licensing exams include a section on writing, and other tests ask subject specific questions. Those questions may cover the ethics of your field, the laws in your field and other things you might encounter in the working world.

Receiving Your Results

Unlike other exams, state licensing tests won’t notify you of your results immediately. The testing center will usually send you a copy of your results through the mail within several weeks after taking the test. Some professional organizations will inform test takers of their results even sooner. If you take the nursing examination, the state nursing board will often update its website and tell you whether you passed within a few days of taking the exam. Some tests will also let you call the center and receive your results within seven days of your testing date.

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Having your license shows that you passed a licensing examination and are capable of working in your field. Many of these tests are available through Educational Testing Service, which tells you of your results within a few weeks. State license exams often consist of two or more sections and can include questions relating specifically to your chosen field.