Tips and Tricks to Pass Your Contractor Exam

If you are like me, deciding to get your contractor license is a big deal. You’ve spent time looking for the best exam prep course for the best price and now you’re signed up to take your exam. You’ve circled the date on your calendar and the pre-test jitters are setting in. You have questions like “how much should I study? and "what should I study?” Every state's exam may be slightly different but the test taking skills you will need are universal. Here are some of the best exam taking tips to help you pass your exam.

Obviously the most important factor in passing your contractor exam is knowing the material. However, don't lose sight of the goal: passing the test! Learning is great but you can't use what you've learned if you don't pass.

  1. Start by only answering the easy questions. Read the entire exam and only answer the questions you absolutely know the answer to. This will give you a sense of progress and your subconscious will begin thinking about the questions you skipped. When you’ve got a timed test, there’s always the concern that you’ll get hung up in a section and not be able to finish the test. Don’t be one of those people--unanswered questions are marked wrong. Wouldn’t it be a shame if the last three questions on the test were easy ones— guaranteed points for you--but you wound up just having to fill in a random answer on them because you didn’t have time to actually read and think about them? By skipping through the questions you don’t know the answers to and focusing first on the questions you do know the answers to, you’re assuring yourself that you get time to answer the questions you are most likely to get right.
  2.  If you don't know it, wait. Skip questions if you don't know the answer--don't waste time on questions you don't know. For example, if math is difficult for you, skip the math problems until after you finish the rest of the exam. Occasionally, the answer to an earlier question will be revealed in a later question. It is not uncommon for exams to have questions that relate to one another, like using the same purchase or sale scenario. These hidden answers are another reason why reading all the way through the exam once at the beginning is a great idea.
  3. Don't second guess yourself. As a general rule, once you've answered a test question, don't change your answer even if you're unsure of the answer you selected. It has been statistically proven that you are much more likely to change an answer from correct to incorrect. An easy way to get tripped up on the exam is to misinterpret an answer choice, thanks to complicated wording. Deceptive language is fair game on tests like this, so double-negatives, unrelated conclusions, or red herrings (especially in the math portion of the test) are common. Do your best to puzzle it out, but ultimately move on without answering if you estimate having to spend more than a minute thinking about the correct answer.
  4. There is no penalty for guessing. Once you have gone through the exam at least twice, time may be running short and now would be a good time to start guessing. You have a one in four chance of getting the question correct while unanswered questions are marked wrong. That being said, you can increase your odds by trying to make an educated guess--there is likely at least one answer that is obviously wrong, so don't guess blindly: read the question and answers first and choose the most likely answer.
  5. Don't compete with other applicants. You're given plenty of time to complete the exam and you should use as much of it as you need. Don't worry if other examiners finish before you do, most likely they are taking a completely different exam. All types of exams are given in one room. You may be sitting next to a plumber taking his exam or a beautician completing hers. If by chance, there is more than one contractor hopeful, remember that many students who finish quickly… fail.

Construction licensing exams are pass/fail, there is no extra credit for a perfect score. If you’re like me, the allure of a perfect score on a test is hard to ignore, but in the case of contractor licensing exams, we must. Remember, your goal is to answer the number of questions correctly that will get you a passing score. Use all your best energy to get to the passing threshold—anything beyond that doesn’t matter.

Bonus Tip: do as many practice contractor exams as you can. The test is multiple choice and you will perform MUCH better if you've been doing practice tests that mimic the exam. Use a trusted service like ours to prepare for the actual exam.


Thanx for all your help. I successfully passed the PRACTICE/TRADE exam and the BUSINESS/LAW exam the first time and am now qualified to receive my builders license. I’m not used to taking tests. The…

Kenneth A. Cressy / Bricklayer from Michigan
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