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NMLS/SAFE Practice Tests



Get Licensed As a Loan Officer!

Whether you’re new to the mortgage industry or an experienced professional returning to the business, you’ll find our courses timely, helpful, and interesting! All classes are led by active lending professionals and expert instructors who know the industry inside and out. We understand what you need to be successful at exam time and flourish in the business long-term. 

NMLS-Approved 20-Hour Pre-License Education -
Approved for All States.

  • 3 Days
  • Attend In Person
  • Real-Time Participation
  • Chicago Area Locations
  • Interact with Your Peers
  • Expert Instruction
  • 3 Days
  • Live Broadcast
  • Real-Time Participation
  • Webcam Required
  • Just Like Class, But More Flexible
  • Expert Instruction
  • 6 Consecutive Days
  • Online College Course Format
  • Work On Your Preferred Times
  • Complete Daily Assignments
  • Attend From Anywhere
  • Expert Instruction

* Plus Mandatory Regulatory Fee.

Select a discount package with SAFE test prep and SAVE!

Mortgage Loan Originator Pre-License Requirements:

  1. All state-licensed loan originators must satisfy a minimum 20-hour Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System Approved Pre-license education requirement to get their NMLS license.
  2. Some states also have state-specific education requirements that must be met. See the NMLS State-Specific Education Requirements Chart for details.

Mortgage Pre-License Blogs

Stay up-to-date or learn something new. Read some of our blogs:

  1. I Want to Be a LOAN OFFICER When I Grow Up!
  2. All Mortgage Blogs
Mortgage CE - Why Choose Us

Why Real Estate Institute?

Because your success matters! You’re not just joining an industry-led premier licensing and continuing education school; you’re joining a network of people who will be with you every step to ensure your success.

Critical concepts in our mortgage pre-licensing program are thoroughly explained, and all your questions will be answered. We know what you need to be successful at exam time to obtain your mortgage loan originator license.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to our most commonly asked questions.

NMLS-Approved Pre-License

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.

Where can I get more information about the NMLS?

The NMLS website is a valuable resource:

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.

How do I obtain an NMLS Individual ID?

Detailed instructions are provided at the NMLS Website.

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:

  • Pre-License Education
  • National Examination
  • Background Checks

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

In brief, what are the NMLS pre-license 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.

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

Exactly what pre-license education is required by the SAFE Act?

The SAFE Act requires that the 20 hours of pre-license education shall include:

  • 3 hours of Federal law and regulations
  • 3 hours of ethics, which shall include instruction on fraud, consumer protection, and fair lending issues
  • 2 hours of training related to lending standards for the nontraditional mortgage product marketplace. HUD has acknowledged that "nontraditional mortgage product" means any mortgage product other than a 30 year fixed rate mortgage
  • 12 hours of other instruction on mortgage origination

Some states may have state-specific requirements. See the NMLS State-Specific Education Requirements Chart for details.

Why am I being asked to enter an NMLS ID when enrolling in a Mortgage pre-license program?

NMLS-approved providers must report pre-license course completions to the NMLS.  To successfully report these completions, we must have your NMLS Individual ID.  You may enter a "0" as a placeholder to enroll at our website, but you must contact us and provide us the NMLS ID before completion of your course. 

Here is a link to instructions NMLS created on how to obtain and NMLS Individual ID.

Do your 20 hour programs satisfy all of my pre-license education requirements?

Our courses satisfy the base requirement for 20 hours of pre-license education contained in the federal SAFE Act. It covers the minimum requirements for federal law, ethics and non-traditional mortgage lending, as well as elective education.

Some states have state-specific requirements for pre-license education that go beyond the 20-hours required under federal law. You can find a list of states that have a state-specific education requirement by viewing the State-Specific Education Requirements Chart on the NMLS website.

We do not currently offer state-specific pre-license education.

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

Please see this document at the NMLS website.

Will your 20 pre-license course help prepare me for the mandatory SAFE examination?

Our pre-license courses do cover most of the topics listed on NMLS test content outline for the National Component exam.

Keep in mind, however, that pre-license education is intended to provide originators with a knowledge base to work in the mortgage industry. The NMLS does not approve pure "test preparation" courses for pre-license education. We do recommend that our students study for the SAFE exam using our PREP-to-PASS program after completing their pre-license education.

How can I complete my 20 hour requirement with Real Estate Institute?

We offer all three NMLS approved delivery options, which are classroom courses, classroom equivalent courses (such as live webinars), or online instructor-led courses (a comprehensive, interactive online course similar to those offered at online universities). 

Additional details on these course options can be found here.

What is the difference between your classroom/webinar course and your online instructor-led course?

Our classroom and classroom-equivalent (webinar) courses utilize a traditional classroom format with a live instructor presenting the material to students, both in class and online. Students have the ability to interact real-time with the instructor in order to ask questions and enhance their learning experience. Students looking for the most interactivity with our highly rated instructors, and who are able to devote three consecutive days to learning, should choose one of these options.

Our online instructor-led course utilizes instructor-to-student and student-to-student interaction and does not occur in real-time. Rather, students post comments and submit assignments on discussion forums that the instructor (and, often, other students) responds to each evening (similar to an online college course). Although our instructors are available to answer questions and provide support to students needing extra assistance, this format will not feel like a "traditional" classroom setting that many people are used to.

How long is the classroom or webinar course?

Our classroom and webinar courses are typically three full days during the week. Students get periodic breaks throughout the day and at least one hour for lunch. Occasionally, we will run courses on a different schedule. These will be clearly posted on our website.

Additionally, private courses are available for groups of 10 or more (for a live webinar) or 20 or more (for a live classroom course at your offices). Private courses can be run on any schedule chosen by your company, including weekends.

You advertise the classroom and webinar course together. Are they the same course?

Yes. The materials used in both our classroom and classroom equivalent (webinar) courses are identical, and they are both taught live by an instructor with real-world mortgage experience who is available to answer your questions. In fact, all of our webinar pre-license courses are actually live broadcasts of a classroom session where webinar students are able to interact with those in the classroom and vice versa. Classroom and webinar students alike rave about their experience with Real Estate Institute's live courses.

However, when you enroll you must choose to attend all three days in class or all three days via webinar.  A hybrid option is not available.

What are the technical/computer requirements for taking the webinar course?

Device Requirements:

  • Personal Computers (Windows or Mac)
    Click here to test your computer's compatibility.
  • Webcam
    • NMLS requires you to be visible on camera from at least the shoulders up for the duration of the course instruction. If you are unable to comply with these requirements, we must remove you from the webinar and reschedule you to a future date.
Additional Requirements:
  • Audio, to hear presenter throughout the webinar. You may ask questions and interact with the instructor via text chat.
  • High-speed, reliable Internet connectivity

Is there a final exam required to pass the class and webinar course?

Yes. The NMLS requires that all students pass a final exam in order to earn credit for pre-license courses. The final exam for both classroom and webinar courses consists of 30 questions.

Students must score at least 70% to achieve a passing grade.

What if I fail the final exam for the class/webinar course?

Students failing the final exam will be allowed one retake made up of different questions. If a student fails the final exam two consecutive times, the student must repeat the course.

What is an online instructor-led course?

This course is similar to an online college course. Students are required to complete one module of instruction per day, interact with other students and the instructor in the discussion forum and complete daily assignments. This format is ideal for anyone who can't dedicate full work days to classroom learning. Although students have flexibility in choosing the time of day that they complete their required work, the course has a specific start and end date. It is not self-paced, and students failing to complete their work on time will be dropped from the course without credit.

Visit the NMLS website for additional information.

Is self-study permitted for pre-license courses?

No. NMLS-approved pre-license courses must be offered as classroom courses, classroom equivalent courses (such as live webinars), or online instructor-led courses (a comprehensive, interactive online course similar to those offered at online universities).

How long will it take me to complete the online instructor-led course?

NMLS courses are based on a 50-minute hour, meaning that each hour of credit consists of a 50-minute block of time. The course should take the average student 20 hours to complete (based on the 50-minute hour). Actual time spent in the course may be longer, depending upon the speed at which a student reads, the length of exercise responses, instructor feedback, etc.

REI's online instructor-led course is 6 days and students will need to complete one module of instruction each day for five days (Monday through Friday), with the final exam being taken on the sixth day (Saturday).

Will I receive a textbook with the online instructor-led course?

No textbook is required. This online course uses the same high-quality content you would expect from a college-level textbook. The content is delivered entirely over the Internet through an engaging and interactive format.

What are the technical/computer requirements for taking the online instructor-led course?

Students need a desktop or laptop computer (PC or Mac) running any modern browser. We recommend Google Chrome. Your computer must have JavaScript enabled, be configured to accept cookies and have the Adobe Flash Player installed.

Is there a final exam required for the online instructor-led course?

Yes. The NMLS requires that all students pass a final exam in order to earn credit for pre-license courses. The final exam for the online instructor-led course consists of 50 questions.

Students must score at least 70% to achieve a passing grade.

What if I fail the final exam for the online instructor-led course?

Students failing the final exam will be allowed one retake made up of different questions. If a student fails the final exam two consecutive times, the student must repeat the course.

Will you report my course completion to the NMLS?

Yes. The NMLS mandates that course providers report course completions within 7 days of the end of each class. However, we typically complete that process much quicker than the NMLS mandates.

Does your school offer financial aid or can I pay the course tuition over time?

We have partnered with Affirm, who offers financing options that enable our students to enroll today and pay later. This extends our traditional payment options, such as credit/debit cards and cash.

Click here to learn more.

Affirm cannot be used for the Mortgage Pre-License Online Instructor-Led course.

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.

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.

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.)

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.

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.

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.

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).