Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Barber Exam: Free Practice Test, and Everything You Need to Know

Do you need to take the IDFPR barber exam in Illinois? On this page you’ll find everything you need to know about scheduling and preparing for your exam, answers to all the most common questions, and a free practice test to check if you’re prepared!

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The process of registering for (and passing!) your Illinois barber exam

So, you’ve just graduated from barber school? Well let us be the first to say congrats! You’re well on your way to shaving and clipping as an officially licensed barber.

However, one thing does still stand in your way: the IDFPR barber examination. In order to get your license, all you’ll need to do is pass the exam. Sounds simple, right?

Actually, if you’re like a lot of people we talk to, it sounds pretty complex. The process of applying, scheduling, and actually passing your exam is daunting, confusing, and downright worrying.

But there’s no need to worry! We’ll walk you through the entire process step-by-step, starting with…

Step 1: Check you’re eligible to take the IDFPR Barber Exam

The first step is to make sure you’re actually eligible to take the exam in the first place.

To be qualified to take the exam set forth by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, you must:

  • Complete 1,500 hours of study at an accredited cosmetology school AND
  • Be 17 years or older OR be 16 years old with a high school diploma or equivalent

It must take you at least 9 months to complete your schooling hours, but it cannot take you longer than 3 years.

If you are a cosmetologist looking to also become licensed in barbering, they offer up to 1,000 hours to be credited towards the total required hours for barbering. So, if you’ve completed the 1,500 cosmetology hours, you would only need to complete an additional 500 hours of a barbering course.

And they do offer early testing, called the Pre-Graduation Licensed Barber Examination. To be eligible for this, you must meet the above age requirements and have completed at least 1,200 hours of schooling.

Your school will have to issue an Official Preliminary Transcript that you can provide to the testing company that shows proof of the completion of the required hours.

Step 2: Apply for the Illinois Barber examination

Once you’ve deemed that you’re eligible, the next step is to apply.

To do that, you’ll need to fill out an application online through the testing company Continental Testing, which can be done here.

During the process, you’ll be asked to enter your name, email, and to create a password. You’ll want to write these down, because you might need them later.

You’ll also have to pay the $98.00 exam fee, which is non-refundable. You can pay it online with a card, or you can mail it into their office. If you choose to mail it in, you’ll have to send in a copy of your application also, which you must sign and date.

Regardless of how you pay, you will have to also send in your original barber school transcript to their office by mail.

It’s important to note that your application will not be considered complete until you’ve paid all the required fees as well as provided a valid email address.

When your approval to test has been determined, you’ll get an email with instructions on how to move forward. They recommend putting in your contacts to make sure you get your email.

Step 3: Schedule your exam

After you’ve completed your application, you’ll receive an Approval to Test email. You will only have 60 days to complete your exam from the date you receive your email, so you don’t want to put it off!

You can schedule your exam online or by phone, and all exams need to be scheduled at least two business days in advance.

If you want to schedule your exam by phone, they have an automated scheduling service. All you have to do is call 1-800-733-9267 and follow the instructions. Some things to note if you choose this option:

  • Your ID number is your social security number
  • You will automatically be scheduled at the location closest to your ZIP Code (you don’t get to pick which test center you want)

And if you want to speak to a real person, just call the same number, press 5, and then press star (*). Their hours are Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

You can also schedule your test online by clicking here, creating an account, and following the prompts. Here are a few tips that might help you out during the process:

  • You have to enter in your email, password, and your name exactly as they were on your application
  • When asked to “Select Organization,” choose “Government/State Licensing Agencies”
  • When asked to “Select Jurisdiction,” choose “Illinois”
  • When asked to “Select Account,” choose “IL – Cosmetology”

If you get stuck or confused, check out this guide, which has detailed, step-by-step instructions (with pictures!) to help walk you through the process.

You will get an email from PSI regardless of which method you choose to schedule your exam. It will confirm the date and time of your test, as well as directions to the testing facility.

Step 4: Arrive at the exam center on exam day

You should arrive to the testing facility at least 30 minutes early to make sure you have enough time to complete all the check-in procedures.

In order to be admitted into the examination, you must have one of the following forms of identification:

  • Valid U.S. Driver’s License
  • Valid State I.D. issued by any of the 50 states or territories
  • Valid Military Active Duty I.D.
  • Valid Consular I.D.

It’s also worth noting that you won’t be allowed to have any of the following with you in the testing room:

  • Cell phones
  • Pagers
  • Other electronic devices
  • Purses
  • Coats
  • Other personal items

Some facilities may offer lockers for you to keep your belongings in while you take your test, but if not, you might have to leave them in your car or at home.

Step 5: Take the exam

There exam is entirely written, there is no practical, hands-on exam in Illinois for barbering.

It’s a multiple choice test that is done entirely on the computer at a PSI testing facility. It will cover both theory and practical skill topics.

Because the software PSI uses can be a little confusing at first, you’ll be given a brief tutorial to help get you acquainted with it before your exam actually starts.

Once that’s complete, you’ll have only 90 minutes to complete the exam. And even if you have to take breaks, that time does not stop.

These are the topics that you’ll be asked about during your test:

  • Scientific Concepts (20 questions)
  • Facial and Shaving Services (8 questions)
  • Hair Care Services (10 questions)
  • Chemical Services (12 questions)

For a more in-depth look at what each topic will entail, you can check out NIC’s Barber Information Bulletin.

Step 6: Get your results

After you finish your test, you’ll get a preliminary score report that same day.

To pass, you must have a score of 75 or higher. Anything less than 75 is a failing score.

You’ll receive an official CTS letter one to two weeks from your test date confirming your test results and providing you with information on how to apply for your license or reschedule your exam.

Step 7: Get your IDFPR barber license!

If you passed your exam, then congrats! You’ll receive an official letter from CTS in the mail within two weeks of your test.

It will have both your official score report and an application for licensure (with instructions on how to fill it out).

All you’ll have to do is fill it out, pay the $30 fee, and send in any documentation they might require to their office.

After that’s all done, then congrats – you’ll be an officially licensed barber!

And if you didn’t pass your exam, your official letter will contain your score report and also instructions on how you can retake the test, as well as what areas you should focus on studying for next time.

Failing your written exam is devastating, but not as uncommon as you might think: the pass rate nationally is only 50%! However, students who use our Barber Exam Preparation Package have a pass rate of 98.5%!

Frequently asked questions about the Illinois barber exam

How do I apply for the Illinois barber examination?

To apply for the IDFPR barber’s exam, you simply need to fill out an application online through the testing company Continental Testing.

You’ll need to pay the $98 non-refundable fee, fill out all the necessary information, and send in the required documents.

After that’s all complete, you’ll receive an approval to test email from PSI prompting you to schedule your exam (which has to be made at least two business days in advance).

I can’t make the date/time of my examination. What should I do?

To reschedule your exam, you have to contact PSI by calling them at 1-800-733-9267. Their business hours are Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., or Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

To get through to speak to a real person, call the number above, then press 5, and then press the star (*) key.

All exams must be rescheduled at least 48 hours prior to the original exam date.

Which examination program does the IDFPR use?

Illinois uses the NIC National Barber’s Written Examination. Here’s a link to their information bulletin, which gives a list of the topics that will be asked about on the exam.

How much does it cost to take the Illinois barber exam?

Entry to the Illinois barber exam costs $98, and it is non-refundable.

Where does the examination take place?

The exam takes place at one of the many PSI testing facilities. Pages 3-5 of this testing guide give a list of the names of the locations and their address.

It’s important to note that some of those testing facilities are proctored by people on-site, and others are remotely proctored.

What that means is that, at some locations, the proctor will be monitoring you with video cameras, microphones, and a chat window from a remote location, instead of being there in person.

How many hours of practical work do I need to qualify for the Illinois barber examination?

Aspiring barbers in Illinois need to complete 1,500 hours of schooling to be eligible for the examination.

However, if you’re a cosmetologist who’s already completed 1,500 hours of cosmetology school, you may only be required to complete 500 hours of instruction in a barbering course.

Illinois also offers an early exam. To be eligible for that, you must complete 1,200 hours of instruction.

Can I take the Illinois barber examination before I’ve completed the required hours?

Yes, you can take a Pre-Graduate Licensed Barber Examination after you’ve completed 1,200 hours of schooling.

How long is the barber written examination in Illinois?

The Illinois barber examination is 90 minutes long.

What’s the format of the written examination?

The written examination is a computer-based, multiple-choice examination.

To know the breakdown of topics you’ll be questioned on, check out NIC’s information bulletin.

If you want to familiarize yourself with the testing format, try out our practice test here.

How long is the barber practical examination?

There is no practical examination for Barbers in Illinois.

What’s the format of the practical examination?

Illinois doesn’t have a practical exam for barbers. Instead, it was replaced by a set of procedural skill questions in the written exam.

What scores do I need to pass the barber exam?

In Illinois, to pass your exam, you must get a score of 75 or higher.

You’ll get the (unofficial) results the same day, but you won’t receive your official score report until one to two weeks after the exam.

What’s the pass rate for the Illinois barber exam?

Illinois doesn’t publish an individual pass rate, but the national average pass rate for the written portion of the exam (which is Illinois’ only portion) is only about 50%.

Check if you’re on track to pass your exam by taking our free barber practice test.

How many times can I re-take the Illinois barber examination if I fail?

In Illinois, you can retake the barber exam three times without having to do anything else.

You’ll need to wait 30 days from the date of your exam to reschedule, and you’ll need to reapply (which can be done here) and pay the fee each time you retake the test.

If you fail your exam three times in a row, you’ll have to take a 250 hour refresher course at a licensed barber school before you can retake the exam the fourth time.

If you fail the exam four times in a row, unfortunately, you’ll have to start over with your schooling and retake the full 1,500 hours again.

How long does barber school take in Illinois?

In Illinois, the full 1,500 hours of instruction must take at least 9 months to complete. So, if you go to school full time, it can take you anywhere from 9 months to one year, depending on how the program is laid out.

There’s also a law in Illinois that states your hours of instruction must not take longer than 3 consecutive years. So, if you don’t go to school full-time, you will still only have 3 years to complete your required hours.

How do I transfer my barber’s licence to Illinois?

Transferring your barber’s license to Illinois is called Licensure by Endorsement.

To do that, you’ll have to fill out an application online. To be able to qualify, you must hold a valid, not expired license in a U.S. state or territory.

If you’re eligible, follow these steps:

  1. Complete an application, which can be done here.
  2. Pay the $45 non-refundable fee.
  3. You’ll need to submit an official Certification of Licensure from the State Board where you’re currently licensed and one from the jurisdiction where you were originally licensed.

Once you submit all the required documentation and pay all applicable fees, the Department will review your application and confirm you meet all the criteria.

Depending on your state’s licensing requirements and your amount of work experience, you may need to complete extra schooling hours. You’ll be informed by the Department if that’s the case.

How do I get my barber’s license in Illinois?

To get your barber’s license in Illinois, you have to complete 1,500 hours of schooling in a licensed barber school.

Then, you’ll have to pass a written exam at a PSI testing facility with a score of 75 or greater.

After passing your exam, you have to fill out an application for licensure, which will be mailed to you with your official CTS score report one to two weeks after your exam is complete.

How do I renew my barber license in Illinois?

Barber licenses expire on July 31st of odd-numbered years, and you can renew it at any point in the 30 days leading up to that date.

You’ll just have to fill out a renewal application online (which can be done here).

Renewing a barber’s license in Illinois costs $25 per year.

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