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Posted by Barb Gavitt, CDEI, ITP, SILA-F ● March 25, 2022

How to Pass your Licensing Exam on the First Attempt

Man studying at laptop

This guide will help you understand how you need to study to put yourself in the best position to pass your licensing exam. This information applies to all of our exam prep courses. 

Before getting started in your online course, review our 10 tips for successfully completing your prelicensing online course from home

How do I know if I am on track to pass my exam?

AD Banker's student performance score. This shows a student how they are progressing in the course.

Use the Performance score on your student dashboard to get a high-level understanding of how you are doing in your course. The Performance score is calculated using three metrics:

  • Average a score of 70% or higher on chapter exams
  • Average 5 or fewer chapter exam attempts
  • Spend more time studying (reading, watching videos, doing activities) than taking chapter exams

Based upon these metrics, you will be provided a Performance score:

  • A “Good” performance score means you have met 3 metrics. You are in a good position to successfully complete your program and pass your licensing exam.
  • An “Average” performance score means you have met 2 metrics. You are doing well, but there are things you can do to improve your performance. You may be on the fence between passing or failing your licensing exam.
  • A “Poor” performance score means you have not met any metrics, or have only met 1 metric. You need to make some major adjustments to your study habits and consider getting extra help.
  • A “Not Available” performance score means you do not have enough activity to calculate a score yet.

Note: if your manager is monitoring your progress during your studies, they will have access to your performance metrics as well.

Performance Score Disclaimers

  • The Performance score should be used as general guidance to understand your overall performance and does not guarantee you will pass or fail your licensing exam. You may still pass your licensing exam if you are in the “Poor” category or fail your licensing exam if you are in the “Good” category. Statistically, your probability of passing increases with a better Performance score.
  • You will be unable to achieve a “Good” Performance score once you pass 5 average chapter exam attempts.

How do I get a better Performance score?

Our research has shown that what matters most is your understanding of the concepts, rather than how well you can memorize questions. Students that follow this strategy tend to have fewer than 5 exam attempts per chapter, spend more time reading/studying than taking exams and score an average of 70% or higher on their chapter exam. Follow these 5 steps to put your study plan in motion, increase your Performance score, and get on the path to passing your licensing exam:The 5 steps to put your study plan in motion: study, check knowledge, take assessment, evaluate, and repeat.

1. Study

Before you begin, we recommend that you discover your personal learning style. Knowing and understanding the way you learn best will set you up for success as you move through the online course. 

Course Content

Example of a slide within an online course. There is a box with text in the middle of the screen, arrows in the bottom right for course navigation, and a header at the top of the screen.

The content is broken down into smaller sections on each slide for easier retention. This makes learning the information more manageable and less overwhelming. 


You can take notes within the course. The note-taking box allows you to type your own notes or copy and paste notes from the slide. This includes a feature to highlight, underline, bold, or italicize the text. Your notes will automatically be saved, and you have the option of printing them at any time. 


Example of a video lesson in the online course. There is a large screen with a "play" button in the middle.

A.D. Banker videos are short summaries of what you learned in the content. These videos are typically 2-4 minutes and are meant to be reviews to help solidify key content that you will find on your exam.


Screenshot of AD Banker course. At the top of the screen, you can turn on and control audio capabilities by clicking the speaker icon.

You have the capability of listening to the audio instead of reading the content. Once you turn on the audio feature it will remain on until you turn it off, but to move forward in the course you will have to click to the next slide.

2. Check Your Knowledge

Retention questions

Multiple-choice retention questions are strategically placed throughout each chapter. These questions are designed to immediately check your knowledge on the preceding topics. Upon answering each question, you will receive immediate feedback on the correct answer with rationale. If the question is not answered correctly, you should review the missed content before proceeding in the course.


Numerous activities are integrated in the course to provide an interactive component. The activities are presented in sorting, matching, or sequencing formats. This is an active approach to learning that also promotes retention.

Key Concepts

Key concepts are included in our securities courses to clarify highly testable content. It’s important to make sure you understand these concepts before progressing in the course.

Key Facts

Key facts are also included in our securities courses. Key facts are bulleted points broken down by chapter—they contain the most testable topics from each chapter. Review the key facts before attempting each chapter exam. NOTE: The key facts should not be the sole source of study; they should be used to supplement the course material, videos, and practice exams.

3. Take an Assessment

The assessments in our online courses will test your understanding of the material and help you prepare for the actual licensing exam. You will become familiar with the general format of the licensing exam and gain experience answering multiple-choice questions. Exams are a common cause of stress, but these tips may help alleviate test anxiety.

Chapter Exams

Before progressing through the course, you are required to pass a 15-question chapter exam with a minimum score of 80%. You should treat this as a closed-book exam and spend, on average, less than one minute per question, or a maximum of 15 minutes for the entire exam. Upon answering each question, review the correct answer and provided rationale. After completing the chapter exam, we recommend you review the entire exam and rationales by clicking on the appropriate “Attempt #".  Do not retake the exam immediately after failing an attempt. Go back and read or listen to the chapter content, watch videos, retake the retention questions, and complete the activities before your next attempt.

Comprehensive Exams

Once all chapter exams have been successfully completed, you can access the Comprehensive exam. The Comprehensive exam is built to mirror the licensing exam for which you are enrolled based on the number of questions and percentage allocated to each topic. Treat this exam as a closed-book final exam to be taken without the use of study aids. You should be spending, on average, less than a minute per question. Unlike the chapter exam, you will not know if you got each question correct until you complete the exam and submit for scoring. Once graded, you can click on the exam to review each question and rationale.

4. Evaluate your Results

Comprehensive exam results summary. This shows a student how many questions they got correct broken down by chapter.


You can review the Exam Results Summary to see which chapters require additional study. Do not retake the exam immediately after a failing attempt. Go back and review chapters or sections that need additional review.

Relevant Content

After taking the chapter or comprehensive exams, each question will have a relevant content link. This link will take you back into the course where the content is explained. Refer to the relevant content section for all missed questions on both the chapter and comprehensive exams.

5. Repeat

Repeat this process, and you will end up taking fewer than 5 attempts per chapter, score higher on each attempt, and spend more time reading than taking exams. You will also be in a better position to pass your licensing exam.

Is the certification exam similar to the state exam?

If you are taking an insurance exam in a state that requires a certification exam, you must pass this exam to obtain a certificate of completion before you can take your state exam. The certification exam is a compliance requirement that will test on minimal competency and is not comparable to the state exam. The comprehensive exam is more comparable in difficulty, number of questions, and the weighting of the actual state exam.

What should I do if I continue to struggle after following these steps?

If you find yourself struggling or facing a "Poor" Performance score, you may need to revisit your study methods. Check out these 4 essential activities for studying with a purpose for new ideas and strategies.

Use Content Support

If you have content questions, you can submit a support ticket by clicking on the question mark at the top of the page or by emailing curriculum@adbanker.com

Sign Up for a Web Class

Once you complete your online course and are looking for additional support, you can enroll in a web class taught by an instructor in real time. During this class, difficult concepts will be explained, examples will be shared, and you can ask questions.


Follow these steps and you will pass your exam on the first attempt! 

Topics: Study Tips