Gianni Evangelisti By: Gianni Evangelisti
Cosmetology Practice Test

If your goal is to become a certified cosmetologist, then a cosmetology practice test will help you achieve that goal. The Council of State Boards of Cosmetology requires individuals who are looking for certification to pass a grueling exam. By taking a cosmetology practice exam, you’re sure to pass with flying colors.

You’re expected to understand all of the ins and outs of cosmetology in order to pass this test. The only way to achieve that is by creating a consistent study regimen and then gauging your progress.

Summary: Take a cosmetology practice exam below to start preparing for your cosmetology test.

Taking a Cosmetology State Board practice test the best way to see how you measure up and where you need to focus your studies. Here are some free resources to help you get started.

Resource Notes Provider
Full-Length Exams 9 full-length exams and 1,000+ questions to practice from. Cosmetology State Board Exam
Cosmetology Questions 100+ questions to practice from in flashcard format. Quizlet
Cosmetology Questions 140+ questions to practice from in flashcard format. Quizlet

First of all, it’s worth noting that every state will have different requirements that define the exact nature of this test. So before you dive deep into a study plan, you need to research your state’s unique requirements. 

That being said, the structure of the test is generally the same. It’s a 90-minute multiple-choice test that tests an individual’s knowledge of specific areas such as:

  • Scientific Concepts
  • Skincare Services
  • Nail Care Services
  • Hair Care and Services

As long as you properly prepare, this isn’t too difficult of a test. But you will want to create a detailed study plan and take a cosmetology practice exam to weigh your progress. 

On the other hand, the exam tests you on the skills you learned while attending beauty school.  It’s comprised of several categories including:

  • Client Protection
  • Haircutting 
  • Thermal Curling
  • Hair Lightening
  • Hair Color Retouch
  • Chemical Waving
  • Relaxer Application
  • Relaxer Retouch

Again, states will have different requirements so it’s essential that you research them beforehand.

Getting cosmetology certification requires a specific number of training hours that varies by state. These are hours that are spent in school learning the craft. This includes hands-on experience and classroom learning. Before taking the test, you’ll have to make sure you meet this requirement. 

A few states do allow you to complete apprenticeship programs as a substitute for school. This apprenticeship requires you to work in a spa or salon while being supervised by a licensed professional.  

Training is also a critical component of passing the cosmetology test. They provide you with the experience that you won’t get from studies and help you put everything you learn into context. 

The test itself is two sections and consists of 110 questions that are spread across the categories listed above. In most states, the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) is who conducts the test but some states will administer it themselves. 

Regardless of who administers the test, it covers the same 10 key areas. Once again, states differ in the cost for taking this test. However, the NIC does provide practice tests for right at $40. Additionally, they will provide a DVD that provides a detailed overview of the text. That DVD costs $30.

The cosmetology practice exam above covers everything found on the real test. The main differences between states when it comes to the cosmetology certification are exact requirements, not the subject matter on the test. 

Here are the four sections to expect on the cosmetology practice exam. 

Scientific Concepts (30%)

This section covers infection control topics like microbiology and federal regulations. It also tests your understanding of the different methods used to control infections, as well as your knowledge of first aid. 

Other scientific concepts are also covered in this section including your understanding of human anatomy and basic physiology. This includes knowledge about tissues, cells, joints, skeletal and muscular systems. 

Finally, the practice test will also ensure you know about body positioning and chemistry. 

Hair Care and Services (40%)

This is the bulk of the cosmetology State Board practice test so it tests a lot of different concepts. At the top of the list are trichology concepts including hair analysis, quality, structure of scalp & hair, and hair loss.

Of course, you can also expect to find questions related to draping procedures, shampooing, brushing, and hair design since these are four primary services of certified cosmetologists.  

A cosmetology practice test will dive even deeper into each of those categories. 

Nail and Hair Services (15%)

Nail care is also a huge part of cosmetology so it’s no surprise that it’s found in 15% of the questions on the practice test. Nail service consultation, nail structure, and other advanced nail care are all tested in this section. 

Of course, you will find a few questions related to manicure and pedicure procedures as well! 

Skin Care and Services (15%)

Skin histology, skincare services consultation, and temporary body hair removal procedures are all tested in this section of the exam. Diving deeper, you can expect to find questions related to skin composition, condition, and function. 

Additionally, there will be questions related to facial procedures, treatments, and tools used for administration of these types of services found on the cosmetology practice exam.

Start by creating a strict study schedule and try your best not to deviate from it. This test is administered in two parts – a written test and a practical test. You’ll need to dedicate time to preparing for both. 

Don’t worry though. We’ll break it down into manageable chunks so you can make sure you’re properly prepared. 

Learn the Cosmetology Terms

The Cosmetology State Board Exam has a lot of terms that you’ll need to memorize. This is stuff you’ll have encountered in school but the exam will test your detailed knowledge of each term. Here are some of the categories to expect. There are a lot of different terms associated with each of them. 

  • Anatomy
  • Chemical
  • Sanitation
  • Scalp Disease
  • Scalp Disorders
  • Nail Diseases
  • Nail Disorders

There are approximately 1,200 terms that you’ll need to memorize! Online flash cards are a great way to study these terms. Another approach is to read each word and its definition out loud.

Learn Cosmetology Theory

Another thing you’ll be tested on when taking this test is your understanding of the theories surrounding the practice. The basics are not enough if you want to become certified. You’ll have to dive deeper into theories like finger angle, elevation, over-direction, and finger position. 

You must know how to apply these theories in practice too. Understand why you need to know this stuff and how you will apply it to real-life scenarios. 

Practice combining your knowledge of cosmetology terms with theories to develop context for everything you’ve studied.  

Use Practice Tests to Measure your Progress

The cosmetology practice test is a valuable resource to help you measure the progress of your studies. If you are struggling in a specific area, then you’ll need to shift your study plan so that you have more time with that specific area. 

It’s highly recommended that you have a practice test every week so that you can stay on the right track.

Is the cosmetology test hard?

Scoring for the written section of the Cosmetology State Board Exam is scaled, meaning that if a version of the test is considered to be more difficult, then the score required to pass will be lower. That makes this test slightly easier than average in terms of scoring.

The difficulty comes in having to learn and apply all of the theories and vocabulary used in the cosmetology industry. An efficient study plan and practice tests all make this test much easier.

To answer the question, it’s not difficult for those who are properly prepared.

How long is the cosmetology practical exam?

The practical exam for cosmetology is 4 hours. You will be given a 15-minute break during this four-hour period.

But to reach that point, you can expect to spend 1,500 hours in a cosmetology program. So really, 4 hours doesn’t seem all that bad.

The written examination is two hours in most states but this can be different depending on where you live.

What is NIC exam cosmetology?

The NIC cosmetology exam is the last barrier between cosmetology school and becoming certified. It consists of both a written test and a practical exam. The practical exam portion is not required in some states.

The written section is a multiple choice test that lasts approximately two hours, although some states might have slight variations to this limit.

Some states also require you to pass a practical exam in addition to the written one. The practical exam is generally about 4 hours long and the requirements are different depending on the state.

Is the cosmetology written exam multiple choice?

Yes. It’s a multiple-choice test that’s administered on a computer. The exact number of questions varies between each state.

The Cosmetology State Board Exam is quite challenging so you need to be prepared. Creating a study plan is only the first step. You need to make sure you are studying the right materials and dig deeper in order to understand the context of what you’re learning. Taking a cosmetology practice test is the best approach!

Last Updated: 2/22/22

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