What is the California Insurance Exam Like?

California has contracted with PSI, a testing service, to administer the California insurance exams. (Search under Government/State Licensing). The California insurance licensing exam will test your knowledge and understanding of broad insurance concepts. The exam is also designed to challenge your reading comprehension, product knowledge, and test-taking skills. The following are key points about the exam format: 

  • Multiple Choice Questions.  All examination questions are multiple-choice with 4 possible answers. The typical question is short – usually just one sentence followed by 4 answer choices. Three different multiple-choice formats are used. These include “direct question”, “incomplete question”, and “all of the following are correct except.”
  • Very Few Math Problems.  There are very few math questions and the math problems on the exam are very straightforward. Basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills are all the math skills required. (Please review our Math Problems Super Sheet found in our online course to master the math problems.) No reference materials, papers, or study materials are allowed while taking the exam. A calculator or slide rule is allowed and must be battery powered, solar powered, quiet and paperless. Calculators will be provided at the test center. 180 Licensing will provide you with sample math problems so there will be no surprises at exam time.
  • Read Key Words Carefully.  Test questions are not designed to mislead. However, just like any other exam questions, misreading the questions will impact your score. Words such as ALL, NONE, EXCEPT are often used and, if misread, can dramatically impact your score.
  • Question Types.  About 80 percent of exam questions cover conceptual knowledge, while the remaining 20 percent cover specific facts, such as number of days, dollar amounts, etc.

California Insurance Exam Details

You will take your exam on a computer, with your test results provided immediately afterwards. Your score will be shown on the screen and you will also receive a printed score report.

Minimum Passing Score.  California requires that you receive a 70 or higher score to pass the exam. Your overall score and grade is shown on the score report including the numerical percentage of questions answered correctly and if you passed or failed. Section percentages will not average to total percentage score because of the way questions are allocated to different sections. 180 Licensing takes this into account when preparing you for the exam.

Passing the Exam Does Not Equal a License.  Passing the exam does not automatically mean that you receive an insurance license. You must work with your employer in order to apply for and receive your insurance license from the California Department of Insurance. (For more information about obtaining your license, see our article Steps to Getting Your California Insurance License.)

Where is the California Insurance Exam Given?

When you register with PSI, you will be asked to specify a test center location. Several ways to find a location include:

Online Test Locator.  To find a test center that is most convenient for you by using the online Test Center locator, go here.

Test Locations in California.  Although they may be changed from time to time, the usual testing locations are:
Atascadero, Bakersfield, Burbank, Carson, El Monte, Fresno, Los Angeles, Hayward, Redding, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Rosa, Ventura, and Visalia.

How Do I Register For the California Insurance Exam?

If you have any disabilities that require special attention, be sure to contact PSI well ahead of time to make special arrangements. When signing up for your specific exam date, keep in mind that examination time slots may fill up quickly.

  • Schedule Your Exam.  Use the links below to schedule and register for your exam. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to ensure the location and date you prefer are available. We recommend scheduling you exam at least one week in advance.
  • Exam Registration:  Go here or here.
  • Change a Scheduled Exam Date.  Keep in mind that if you need to change your testing time or date, PSI will sometimes cancel your existing testing time before they can see if other time slots are available. Reschedule as soon as possible in order to avoid forfeiting your registration fee. Visit the online registration page to view/edit your appointment.

When Should I Schedule My California Insurance Exam?

We recommend that you plan to contact PSI at least three weeks prior to completing your required prelicensing education course. That will allow you to predict when you will complete the course and also give you the opportunity to pick an exam date that falls soon after finishing the course.  If you take the exam too long after completing the course, it becomes more difficult to remember the details.

Is the California Insurance Exam Available in Any Other Language?

Alternative Language Exams. In California, the exam is available in English and Spanish. Please contact PSI at  800-733-9267  as soon as possible to inquire about an alternative language exam. If you want to take the exam in Spanish, you should request this at the time you register. If English is not your primary language, you may request an ESL (English as a Second Language). Authorization to allow more time for the test. You should not schedule your examination until you receive your approval.

Which California Insurance Exam Will I Take?

The most common types of licenses and related exam names for California are listed below, along with the number of questions and the time allotted for each exam. Students report to us that they normally complete their exams with time left over. But, be sure to watch the clock on your test computer to keep track of the remaining time on each exam.  And, if you have any doubt as to which exam you need, your employer is the best person to ask.

Exam Name Questions  Duration
Life, Accident & Health 150 195 minutes
Life 75 105 minutes
Accident and Health 75 105 minutes
Property & Casualty 150 195 minutes
Property 75 98 minutes
Casualty 75 98 minutes
Personal Lines 90 135 minutes

**This is not a complete list of all insurance licenses in California. For a complete list, go here.

Note:  You may request to take one or more exams during the same testing session, except those exams which must be taken individually.

What if I Fail the Test? Can I Retake It?

Yes. Each state has a different rule on this and the rules change from time to time. The best source to find the answer is from the testing service’s handbook (see below).

Where can I Find Additional FAQ’s about California’s Licensing Exam?

Find the current answers to many of your questions from the California’s Insurance Licensing Information Bulletin here.


Disclaimer:  180 Licensing Exam Prep, Inc. makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of this article, information is subject to change. The final authority for the latest insurance licensing information is your state’s department of insurance.

Must Read:  Our National online, self-paced, exam prep courses offered in California do not meet your state’s prelicensing education requirement. They contain national insurance and general state law rules, but do not contain your exam’s specific state law content (about 15-20% of your exam). If you have taken an approved prelicensing education course, have a valid certificate, and still need a passing score, use our materials and supplement with the state law material from your prelicensing provider. Designed by award winning Professor Jerry Furniss, our interactive exam prep materials are excellent for getting you over the finish line the fastest and easiest way possible. Go here for more information.