The California notary exam can be difficult, but practice exams can really improve the odds of achieving a passing score.
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Is the California notary exam open book? Can I use notes?
The notary public state exam is closed-book. This means that you will need to memorize all of the information necessary for passing on your own, without any outside help from books, notes, or other materials.
Can you take the California notary exam online?
The California notary public state exam may not be completed online. It must be completed in person through CPS HR Consulting, which is the Secretary of State’s only authorized notary public exam provider.
Is the California notary exam hard?
For some test-takers, the state exam might be difficult. The test was modified several years ago to make it much more challenging. Some notaries public who previously passed the old version found the current version to be much more difficult to complete with a passing score.
How many questions are on the California notary exam?
The state exam contains 45 multiple-choice questions.
How much time is given on the state exam?
Test takers are given one hour to complete the exam.
What is the passing score on the California notary exam?
Many notary public candidates are confused by the way the state scores tests. These people assume that it is scored in percentages. But in fact, the state uses what they call a “scaled score” instead of a percentage to score these tests.
To pass the test, you need to get a score of at least 70. The Notary public examination has 100 questions and a scaled score from 0-100 is given for people who take it.
The scaled score is not like a percent and cannot be calculated by dividing the number correct by the total number of questions on your state exam.
A scaled score is a conversion of how well you did on one test to the scale used for all other versions of the test. The actual math formula used to make this calculation is not public information.
When you have many tests with different questions, it is not possible to set a specific number for passing. For this reason, the pass point of each test is set based on how difficult the questions are.
The pass points for the state exam are adjusted so that each state exam is the same difficulty. By considering any differences in difficulty between the exams, everyone has the same chance to pass and the way that scores are interpreted will always be the same.
If you pass the test, you get a scaled score between 70 and 100. If you fail the test, then your scaled score is between 0 and 69.
What subjects are covered in the notary examination in California?
The notary state exam can contain any information that is covered in the Notary Handbook.
These subjects include:
- Appointment and Qualifications
- Requirements and Time Limit for Qualifying
- Notary Public Bond
- Geographic Jurisdiction
- Acts Constituting the Practice of Law
- Notary Public Seal
- Notary Public Journal
- Conflict of Interest
- Proof of Execution by a Subscribing Witness
- Signature by Mark
- Powers of Attorney – Certifying
- Notarization of Incomplete Documents
- Correcting a Notarial Act
- Certified Copies
- Illegal Advertising
- Immigration Documents
- Confidential Marriage Licences
- Grounds for Denial, Revocation, or Suspension of Appointment and Commission
- Disciplinary Guidelines
- Change of Address
- Foreign Language
- Electronic Notarizations
- Common Questions and Answers
Can I retake the notary exam if I fail?
Yes, you may retake the notary exam if you fail it, but you can only take it once per calendar month. There is also a fee of $20 to retake the state exam.
How many times can someone take the California notary exam?
The state does not limit how many times you are able to retake the test except that it can only be taken once per calendar month.
What is the best way for me to study for the notary exam in California?
The state requires that all notary public applicants take an approved notary public course and submit a proof of completion certificate from that course along with the notary public application that is submitted to the Secretary of State.
Although these courses cover all of the material that can be tested on the state exam, many students find that they need additional practice in order to pass.
However, most state-approved notary public courses do not offer additional study resources. In-person courses typically do not have enough time in the day to cover all of the required material and then administer exams for practice.
Many online courses fail to offer a practice test along with their curriculum. This often leaves students ill-prepared for the difficulty of the notary state exam. A good practice exam can help the potential notary public to test their knowledge by answering practice exam questions to help the test taker to know what material needs to be studied in more detail.
If a student’s answer to a practice question about a specific topic is incorrect, then that is a good indicator that the student needs to study that topic in more detail before taking the Secretary of State exam. And if a student’s answer to questions about a specific topic continues to be correct, then that means that a student can focus valuable study time elsewhere.
Sometimes students take practice exams until they consistently score 70%, thinking that if they can get a “70” on the practice test, then it’s likely that they will do the same on the state exam.
Unfortunately, this is not always correct because of the “scaled score” calculation that the state uses to score the exam that was explained above.
We recommend that students seek consistent scores of 90%-100% on practice exams to feel confident in their answers to any questions that may be asked on the state exam.
California Notary Practice Exam
The best place to take a California notary practice test is through your education course provider, but not every provider offers practice tests. Many students do not realize that this is an important factor in choosing a notary course until it is too late. They have either already paid for and/or completed a course that didn’t include practice or they have already failed the exam because they didn’t get to practice.
If you have not yet chosen a course provider, we recommend finding a course that includes practice tests. This will help you to not only complete the education that is required by the Secretary of State but also give you an advantage in passing the notary exam on your first attempt.
However, if you’ve already taken a course from another provider, you can also find practice tests that are sold separately.