Are you preparing to take the esthetician 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 you’re prepared!
The process of registering for (and passing!) your Illinois Esthetician exam
If you’re just about ready to graduate from your esthetics program, then congratulations! You’re almost ready to start your dream career as a skin-beautifying esthetician!
The only thing left to do now is pass your esthetician exam set by the IDFPR. Then you can get your official Illinois esthetician license and start practicing!
But if you’re like a lot of people we talk to, the process sounds scarier than it actually is. Scheduling and taking your exams seems like a daunting, confusing and exhausting ordeal. But don’t worry: we’ll walk you through the process step by step. Starting with…
Step 1: Check you’re eligible to take the IDFPR Esthetician Exam
To be eligible to take the esthetics exam set by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, you must:
- Complete 750 hours of study at an accredited school of cosmetology or esthetics AND
- Be 16 years or older AND
- Hold a high school diploma or equivalent
According to the state’s law, your schooling hours must take at least 18 weeks to complete, but not more than four years.
Illinois does offer early testing, called the Pre-Graduation Licensed Esthetician Examination. To be eligible for that, you must meet the age and education requirements above and have completed at least 600 schooling hours.
Your school will also have to provide an official Preliminary Transcript to the testing institution stating the number of completed hours.
Step 2: Apply for the IDFPR Esthetician examination
To apply for the esthetician exams, you have to submit an application online through a company called Continental Testing.
During the process, you’ll be asked to enter your name and email, and create a password. It’s important to write these down, because you’ll need them later for when you schedule your exam.
After you fill out all the necessary information and upload all the required documents, you’ll be required to pay the (non-refundable) $161 exam fee. They do offer credit card payment online at the time of application.
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.
Once your application is complete, you should place firstname.lastname@example.org in your contacts. When your approval to test has been determined, you’ll get an email from them with instructions on how to move forward.
Step 3: Schedule your exam
Once your application is finished, you’ll get an Approval to Test email from PSI to let you know that you can go ahead and schedule your exam, which can be done either online or by phone.
It’s extremely important to schedule your exam as soon as possible, because you only have 60 days from when you receive your Approval to Test email to take your exam. If you don’t, you will have to forfeit your exam fee.
Exams have to be scheduled at least two business days in advance.
To schedule your exam by phone, you can use either their automated scheduling service or speak to a real person. Either way, all you have to do is call 1-800-733-9267 and follow the instructions.
Some things to note if you choose to use their automated scheduling service:
- 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)
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.
To schedule your test online, click here, create an account, and follow the prompts. Just remember that you have to enter in your email, password, and your name exactly as they were on your application (which is why it’s helpful to have them written down!).
And if you get stuck, check out pages 6-9 of this guide that gives you step by step instructions (with pictures) on how to schedule your exam.
Regardless of which method you choose, you’ll get an email from PSI confirming the date, time, and location of your test, as well as directions to the testing facility.
Step 4: Arrive at the exam center on exam day
You should arrive at the location of your exam at least 30 minutes early to make sure you have enough time to complete all the check-in procedures.
If you’re late, you’ll have to forfeit all exam fees and have to reapply before you can be eligible to schedule a new test date.
In order to be admitted into the exam, you must have one of the following forms of identification:
- Valid U.S. Driver’s License
- Valid State I.D.
- Valid U.S. Passport
- Valid Military Active Duty I.D.
- Valid Consular I.D.
You also aren’t allowed to bring any personal belongings or electronics into the testing room. 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 some things (like purses or electronics) in your car or at home.
Step 5: Take the exam
The exam covers both theory and practical skill topics. It is multiple choice and is done entirely on the computer at a PSI testing location. There is no hands-on, practical exam in Illinois.
Before your test actually begins, you’ll be given a brief tutorial to help you get acquainted with the computer’s software and testing program. None of the questions asked during the tutorial count towards your score, and your time doesn’t begin until after your tutorial is complete.
Once you start your exam, you will have 90 minutes to complete it. And that time does not stop, even if you take breaks.
During your test, 55% of the questions will be related to scientific concepts. Here’s a breakdown of the major topics they’ll be asking you about:
- Sanitation and Infection Control
- Human Physiology and Anatomy
- Integumentary System and Skin Histology
- Disorders of the Sebaceous and Sudoriferous Glands
- Skin Conditions, Disorders, and Diseases
- Hair, Follicle, and its Growth Cycle
- Basic Chemistry
- Skin Care Products
- Factors that Affect the Skin
The other 45% of the exam questions will be about esthetician practices. Those questions will include the following general topics:
- Skin Analysis and Implementation Procedures related to Consultation, Documentation, and Treatment
- Product Application and Removal Procedures
- Cleansing Procedures
- Steaming Procedures
- Exfoliation Procedures
- Extraction Procedures
- Massage Manipulations and their Effects
- Appropriate Use for Masks
- Electricity and Use of Electrical Devices
- Hair Removal Procedures
- Color Theory and Makeup Application
- General Knowledge of Specialized Services
And if you want a more in-depth look at what each section entails, check out NIC’s National Esthetics Written Examination Candidate Information Bulletin.
Step 6: Get your results
Once you finish your test, you’ll get an unofficial score report that same day. You’ll receive your official score report from CTS in the mail one to two weeks after your test date.
If you passed, it will contain an application for licensure and instructions on how to fill it out and get your license.
If you failed, it will contain a diagnostic report that indicates the areas that need improvement.
Step 7: Get your Illinois esthetician license!
If you passed your exam (congratulations!), you’ll receive an official CTS letter in the mail within two weeks of your exam.
Along with your score report, it will also contain an application for licensure and instructions on how to fill it out. You’ll need to complete it, pay the $30 required fee, and send in any necessary documentation to the office.
Once that’s finished, then congrats! You’re officially licensed and can start your career as a skin-smoothing esthetician.
And if you didn’t pass your exam, your score report will also have instructions on how you can retake the test and what areas you should focus on.
While failing your written exam is hard news to hear, it’s not as uncommon as you might think: the national pass rate is only 50%! However, students who use our Esthetician Exam Preparation Package have a pass rate of 98.5%!
Frequently asked questions about the Illinois Esthetician exam
How do I apply for the Illinois Esthetician examination?
You can apply for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation esthetician exam by clicking here to fill out an application through the testing service CTS.
You’ll need to pay the $161 exam 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 you can do either online or by phone).
I can’t make the date/time of my examination. What should I do?
If you need to reschedule your exam, you’ll 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 speak to a real person (and not use their automated service), call the number above, then press 5, and then press the star (*) key.
All exams must be rescheduled at least two business days prior to the scheduled test date.
Which examination program does Illinois use?
The Illinois esthetician exam uses the NIC National Esthetics Written Examination.
How much does it cost to take the Illinois esthetician exam?
To take the Illinois esthetician exam, it costs $161, and the fee is non-refundable.
Where does the examination take place?
The exam takes place at one of the many PSI testing facilities. Those locations can be found on pages 3-5 of this testing guide.
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 esthetician examination?
Estheticians in Illinois need 750 hours of schooling to qualify for the exam and be eligible for immediate licensure.
If you’ve completed 600 hours of schooling, then you are eligible to take the early examination. However, you won’t get your license until after you’ve completed the full number of hours required.
Can I take the Illinois esthetician examination before I’ve completed the required hours?
Yes, you can take a Pre-Graduate Licensed Esthetician exam after you’ve completed 600 hours of schooling.
How long is the esthetician written examination in Illinois?
The Illinois esthetician exam is 90 minutes long.
What’s the format of the written examination?
The written examination is done entirely on the computer, and it consists of multiple choice questions..
To get a breakdown of the topics you’ll be questioned on, check out this guide from the NIC’s Candidate Information Bulletin.
If you want to familiarize yourself with the testing format, try out our practice test here.
How long is the esthetician practical examination?
There is no practical examination in Illinois.
What’s the format of the practical examination?
Illinois doesn’t have a practical exam. Instead, it was replaced by a set of procedural skill questions in the written exam.
What scores do I need to pass the esthetician exam in Illinois?
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 Esthetician exam?
Illinois doesn’t publish an individual pass rate for the esthetician exam, but the national average pass rate for the written portion of the cosmetology exam (which is Illinois’ only portion) is only about 50%.
Check if you’re on track to pass your exam by taking our free esthetician practice test.
How many times can I re-take the Illinois esthetician examination if I fail?
In Illinois, you can take the esthetics exam three times without having to do any extra schooling.
You will, however, 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 be required to take at least 80 additional hours of schooling in an accredited esthetician school (or esthetics program at a cosmetology school) and provide proof of that before you can take the exam the fourth time.
If you fail the exam the fourth time, you basically have to restart – being required to complete the full 750 hours of instruction in an accredited school/program (in no less than 18 weeks) before you can take the exam again.
How long does esthetician school take in Illinois?
In Illinois, esthetician school (or an esthetics program) must take at least 18 weeks to complete. If you go to school full-time, it can generally take anywhere from five to seven months to complete the required hours.
If you can’t go to school full-time, though, it can take a bit longer. However, Illinois states that it cannot take longer than 4 years to complete your schooling hours.
How do I transfer my esthetician licence to Illinois?
Transferring your cosmetology license to Illinois is called Licensure by Endorsement.
To do that, you’ll have to fill out an application online. To be eligible, you must hold a valid, not expired license in a U.S. state or territory.
If you’re eligible, follow these steps:
- Complete an application form on the online portal here.
- Pay the $45 non-refundable fee.
- 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 receive 150 hours of credit for every 12 month period in which you were lawfully employed as an esthetician.
You’ll be informed by the Department if you’re required to complete any additional training.
How do I get my esthetician license in Illinois?
To get your ethetician license in Illinois, you have to first complete 750 hours of instruction in a licensed school of esthetics or an accredited esthetics program in a cosmetology school.
Then, you’ll be required to pass a written examination at a PSI testing facility.
Once you pass, you’ll be mailed an application of licensure and instructions on how to fill it out. You’ll just need to follow the instructions, pay the fees, and send in any additional documentation they might require!
How do I renew my esthetician license in Illinois?
Esthetician licenses expire on September 30th of odd-numbered years. You are allowed to renew it at any point during the 30 days leading up to the expiration date.
You’ll be mailed a renewal application form, so it’s important to keep your address updated!
Once you fill out the form, you’ll need to also certify that you’ve completed 10 hours of continued education within the previous two years. You’ll also need to pay the $25 per year fee.
How should I study for the Illinois esthetician written exam?
Use our Esthetician Exam Preparation Package to learn everything you need to pass the written exam.
- Our package includes a study guide that’s structured to help you learn the RIGHT information rather than ALL the information, which can help you cut your preparation/revision time in half.
- Then use our simulated exams to practice for the written exam under test conditions. This part is really important: it’s the key to helping you succeed!