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SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator Test Prep
  • Test Preparation
SAFE National Test PREP-to-PASS

Boost Your Confidence. Boost Your Score.

Are you planning to become a licensed Mortgage Loan Originator?  If so, you must pass the SAFE National Test. Get the skills you need to pass the test the FIRST TIME.

PREP-to-PASS, created by mortgage and regulatory experts, covers essential exam concepts. This proven program has helped thousands of loan originators pass their licensing exams. Online practice tests are included at no extra charge.

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PREP-to-PASS Includes:

Blue Square Bullet Point

Comprehensive Study Guide

with instant score reporting & results-driven study recommendations.

Blue Square Bullet Point

Online Practice Tests

covering all of the topics on the NMLS content outlines.

Get the Edge You Need with PREP-to-PASS

Make no mistake, it is a tough exam. You really need to prepare for the SAFE National Test. PREP-to-PASS is a proven self-study program created by mortgage and regulatory experts.

Frequent Updates:
Content is regularly revised to keep pace with regulatory changes and NMLS guidelines.

Proven Practice:
Receive instant score reporting and personalized study recommendations based on your performance with our online practice tests. Thousands of MLOs have passed their licensing exams with this program.

Immediate Access:
Get started right away. You'll have online access to the study guide upon enrollment. You'll also receive a printed copy for your convenience. Study anywhere, anytime. 

NMLS Licensing Requirements 

State-licensed mortgage loan originators are subject to the education and testing requirements of the SAFE Act. The Act requires all MLOs seeking state-licensure to pass the NMLS-developed SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator Test with a score of 75% or better.

In addition to passing the SAFE test, all state-licensed loan originators must also satisfy a minimum 20-hour NMLS-Approved Pre-license Education requirement to become licensed under the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System. Save money with our discount package program that includes pre-license education and test preparation.

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Real Estate Institute is an NMLS-Approved Course Provider, #1400102.


  1. Upon enrollment, you will be provided with a username and password so that you may immediately access the online study guide and practice tests.
  2. A printed copy of the study guide will be shipped within one business day of enrollment at no additional charge.
  3. Real Estate Institute offers programs specifically designed for loan originators to satisfy NMLS education and testing requirements. Click here for more information about mortgage licensing.
Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about this license type and program:

View FAQs
NMLS Loan Originator

What is the NMLS?

The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry (NMLS) was created to form a central repository of license and disciplinary information on mortgage companies and mortgage loan originators. The SAFE Act requires all state-licensed companies and individual mortgage loan originators working for them to have an account and unique identifier number with NMLS.

Is Real Estate Institute an NMLS-approved provider?

Yes. The Real Estate Institute is an NMLS-Approved Course Provider, #1400102 We offer NMLS-approved pre-license and continuing education programs. We also offer a SAFE test preparation course to prepare loan originators for the mandatory National exam.

What is the SAFE Act?

The Secure and Fair Enforcement in Mortgage Licensing Act was signed into law on June 30, 2008 as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA). The intent of the SAFE Act is to increase uniformity in licensing requirements, reduce regulatory burden, enhance consumer protection, and reduce fraud in the mortgage industry.

To whom does the SAFE Act apply?

The SAFE Act applies to all companies and mortgage loan originators. However, only those companies that are state-licensed and the individuals originating for them must go through the licensing process.

Under the SAFE Act, exactly who is considered to be a "Mortgage loan originator"?

The SAFE Act, as implemented by rule, defines an "individual loan originator" as an individual who, for compensation or other monetary gain, performs loan origination activities, such as

  • Taking an application.
  • Arranging a credit transaction.
  • Assisting a consumer in applying for credit. A loan originator assists a consumer in obtaining or applying for credit by advising on particular credit terms that are or may be available to the consumer based on the consumer's financial characteristics.
  • Offering or negotiating credit terms. Credit terms include rates, fees and other costs. Credit terms are selected based on the consumer's financial characteristics when those terms are selected based on any factors that may influence a credit decision, such as debts, income, assets or credit history.
  • Making an extension of credit.
  • Referring a consumer to a loan originator or creditor. Referring is an activity included under each of the activities of offering, arranging, or assisting a consumer in obtaining or applying to obtain an extension of credit.
  • Advertising or communicating to the public that you can or will perform any loan origination services.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has further clarified that an individual cannot avoid licensure requirements by having someone else "take" the application. CFPB also clarified the limited contexts where offering or negotiating residential mortgage loan terms would not make an individual a mortgage loan originator:
  • Performing only administrative or clerical tasks on behalf of a loan originator or creditor, such as processing or underwriting, provided you perform those services for only one organization at a time.
  • Delivering an application to the consumer for them to fill out and not discussing terms, etc.
  • Providing financing to a buyer pursuant to a sale of your own residence.
  • Performing only real estate brokerage services as a licensed real estate professional as long as you are not being compensated by a lender for offering products or referrals.
  • Providing third-party advisory services, such as an attorney, accountant, financial advisor or someone assisting an immediate family member, as long as you are not being compensated for the actual loan origination service or for referring clients to a specific creditor or broker.
  • Other assorted situations, such as employees of manufactured home builders in certain cases.

In brief, what are the NMLS education and testing requirements?

Applicants are required to:

  • Complete at least 20 hours of pre-license course education (may be more in some states).
  • Pass a standardized National examination.
  • Complete at least 8 hours of continuing education course curriculum each year (may be more in some states).

You can find out more about the education requirements in each state by clicking here.

If I work for a depository institution do I need to take the education courses or examinations required by the SAFE Act?

If you work for an insured depository institution regulated by OCC, FDIC, FED and NCUA or the Farm Credit Administration you are not required to take the NMLS Approved pre-license or continuing education courses or examinations.

You still must receive education commensurate with your origination involvement and the relevant NMLS-approved pre-license and continuing education courses can satisfy this requirement. Additionally, it would be a good idea if you have ever considered changing employment and going to work for a state-licensed lender or broker.

Where can I find additional information about NMLS licensing procedures for a specific state?

Please see this document at the NMLS website.

What types of background checks are required?

Individuals must undergo a criminal background check as well as a character and fitness check, which includes a credit check. Further information can be found at the NMLS website.

When must I submit to the required background checks?

Before applying for state licensure.

How do I submit to the background checks? Who do I contact?

You will find this information at the NMLS Website.

What is the difference between NMLS registration and licensing?

All mortgage loan originators must have an account with the NMLS. This creates a centralized national database of disciplinary information for individuals originating residential loans. Registration is the only SAFE Act requirement for mortgage loan originators who are employees of a federally-regulated depository institution or its first-tier subsidiary (as described above).

For all other mortgage loan originators, including those working for Mortgage Brokers and Mortgage Lenders, the SAFE Act requires state licensure for each state where the individual originates loans. The licensure process will be facilitated through the NMLS and its systems. State-licensed mortgage loan originators are subject to the education and testing requirements of the SAFE Act.

Will states issue a Mortgage loan originator license once I'm registered with the NMLS?

While the states are the entities that issue mortgage loan originator licenses, you won’t be able to apply for your license in a given state until you’ve satisfied all of its requirements for licensure (education, testing, background checks, etc.)

After becoming registered with the NMLS, what steps are required to become licensed in an individual state?

Requirements for individual state licensure are dictated by each state's mortgage licensing law. However, certain requirements exist for all states, and the licensing process will be standardized and facilitated through the NMLS.

Requirements include:

  • Background checks
  • Testing
  • Pre-license education
  • Continuing education

Please check the NMLS website for updated information about individual state requirements.

Is NMLS registration also required for Mortgage Brokers and Lenders (companies)?

Yes, in addition to individual mortgage loan originators, a mortgage brokerage or mortgage lending company will create a record in the NMLS system. Using this "One Record Concept", NMLS allows for the creation and maintenance of a single record for each company, regardless of the number of jurisdictions in which it is licensed.

This single record may be used to apply for, maintain, renew, or surrender licenses in all jurisdictions participating in NMLS. Companies will also be able to create and maintain a single record for each branch, control person or mortgage loan originator.

The use of any of these forms is governed by the regulations of the state in which you are seeking licensure, not by NMLS.

Additional information is available at the NMLS Website.

How do I obtain an NMLS unique identifier?

Detailed instructions are provided at the NMLS Website. It is important that you coordinate your use of this system with your employer.

Are there any mortgage loan originators who are NOT required to become licensed?

Yes. Mortgage loan originators who are employees of a depository institution (a bank that takes deposits) regulated by the FDIC, OCC, Federal Reserve, CFPB, NCUA or Farm Credit Administration are exempt from the state licensure, and testing requirements. However, they must become registered MLOs through NMLS and receive education commensurate with their involvement in loan origination. Although not specifically required to take NMLS-approved courses, those can certainly satisfy the requirements of the Act.

Where can I get more information about the NMLS?

The NMLS website is a valuable resource:

I have more questions. Who can I call?

Our customer representatives at the Real Estate Institute are available to help.
Please call us with your questions: (800) 995-1700.

The NMLS Call Center is also available: (855) NMLS-123 (1-855-665-7123).

NMLS Loan Originator SAFE Test Preparation

What are the testing requirements to become a licensed mortgage loan originator?

All individuals applying for a state-licensed mortgage loan originator license must pass a National exam. This exam is scheduled and taken through Prometric.  Prometric is the vendor the NMLS uses to administer the exam.

How can the Real Estate Institute help me to prepare for the National exam?

Real Estate Institute offers a test preparation program specifically designed to help mortgage loan originators prepare for the National exam. Our program includes a study guide, online practice exam and online score reports.

Click here for more information about our program.

How many questions is on the National exam?

The national component contains 125 questions. Of those, 115 are scored and 10 are excluded from your score because they are being evaluated for use in future exams.


What type of questions are on the National exam?

All questions are multiple-choice.

What score is required to pass the National exam?

Passing score is 75%.

What happens if I fail the National exam?

You are permitted to retake the exam, but there are mandatory waiting periods between each attempt.

You are permitted to retake a test 2 consecutive times (for a total of three attempts) with each retake occurring at least 30 days after the preceding test.

After failing 3 consecutive tests, you must wait at least 6 months before taking the test again.

What should I do today to prepare for and satisfy the testing requirement?

You should begin studying to pass the National exam. We have created a PREP-to-PASS program that includes our comprehensive study guide and online practice tests. Click here for more information about our program.

How do I schedule my National Exam?

Information regarding the National Exam, including how to schedule the exam, can be found at the NMLS website.

Where can I find more information about the National exam?

The online NMLS Resource Center provides detailed information about the tests including what will be covered on the test, the number of questions, how each test is weighted and corresponding reference lists.

Am I permitted or required to use a calculator on the test?

You are permitted to use a basic calculator, which the testing center will provide for you. You will not be allowed to bring your own calculator (or any other device) into the exam. Although the test may include math questions, you will be provided enough information to solve the problem without the use of a financial calculator.

Free Practice Tests

NMLS/SAFE Practice Tests