New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling Cosmetology Exam: Free Practice Test, and Everything You Need to Know

Do you need to take the State Board cosmetology exams in New Jersey? 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!

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The process of registering for (and passing!) your New Jersey cosmetology exams

If after months and months of hard work, you’ve finally graduated from cosmetology school, then let us be the first to say CONGRATS! All that hard work is about to pay off, because you’re just one step away from becoming a cosmetologist!

But before we get too ahead of ourselves, there is still one thing standing in your way: the dreaded State Board exams. All you have to do is pass those, and you’ll be a licensed cosmetologist!

But if you’re like a lot of people we talk to, the process of scheduling and taking your exams is actually daunting and confusing. 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 New Jersey State Board Cosmetology Exams

In order to qualify to take the cosmetology exams set by the New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling, you must:

  • Be 17 years or older AND
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent AND
  • Have completed 1,200 hours of schooling at an accredited cosmetology school

If you’ve completed 960 or more hours of study, you’re able to take the test early.

Step 2: Apply for the New Jersey Cosmetology examination

New Jersey has both a written and practical, hands-on portion of their cosmetology exams. You must complete the written portion first before you are eligible to take the practical portion.

The application process is different for both and can be quite confusing. So, let’s break it down into the two parts.

Theory Exam

The first exam you’ll be applying for is the theory – or written – portion of the exam.

Your school will help you get together all the information you need for your application – you won’t have to fill it out alone.

Your school will electronically provide the necessary information to the testing company PSI after you’ve completed your required hours. You’ll get an email confirmation immediately after you’ve been submitted.

Practical Exam

You have to pass the written portion of the exam before you can apply to take the practical exam.

When you’re ready to apply, you must fill out an application and send it to the State Board with all the necessary documentation and fees.

The first step is to download and print out the application, which can be found here, and then fill it out completely.

The next step is to get it notarized by a Notary Public, which are located at most UPS stores as well as local bank branches. They do tend to charge a small fee.

To pay the fees (which are listed on the first page of the application), you’ll have to send a check or Money Order made out to the “State of New Jersey.” You can mail it to:

New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling
P.O. Box 45003
Newark, NJ 07101

You may be required to submit official transcripts or results from your written exam. If that is the case, you must arrange for your school or testing facility (PSI) to send the documents directly to the Board. They cannot accept copies or other documents sent directly from the applicant (you).

It’s also worth noting that your fees must be paid in full, and failure to do that could result in delayed processing.

If you have any other questions regarding the practical exam application, call the State Board directly at (973) 504-6400.

Step 3: Schedule your exam

You’ll be scheduling your written exam first, since you must complete that before you’re able to take the practical exam. Below you’ll find detailed information on how to schedule both portions of the exam.

Theory Exam

After you’ve received your email confirmation from PSI, you can schedule your written exam. There are two ways to do this:

  • Online
  • By phone

The fastest and most convenient way is to go online and create an account on PSI’s website. You’ll have to enter your email address and name, which must match exactly with the information your school provided them.

You’ll want to make sure you check the box next to “Check here to attempt to locate existing records.” That way the system knows that your information should have already been submitted. Then, you’ll be asked to pick the exam and enter your social security number.

After your records have been located, you’ll be able to pay the $39 non-refundable exam fee and schedule your exam. If for some reason the system can’t locate your information, call PSI at (800) 733- 9267.

To schedule your exam, enter your ZIP code and a list of test sites that are closest to you will pop up. After you pick the location you want, you’ll be prompted to pick from a list of available test dates and times.

It’s worth noting that you’ll have one year from the date of payment to be able to complete your exam.

However, if you would rather schedule your exam by phone, all you have to do is call (800) 733-9267 during their business hours.

They’re open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Practical Exam

Once you’ve sent in all the necessary information to the State Board and paid the required fees, your practical exam will be scheduled within 6-8 weeks.

If you haven’t heard from anyone in that timeframe, or you simply have more questions, you can call the State Board at (973) 504-6400.

Step 4: Arrive at the exam center on exam day

It’s always good practice to arrive to your exams at least 30 minutes early to ensure you have enough time to complete any required check-in procedures. If you’re late, you will have to forfeit your exam fee and you must reschedule.

For the written portion of the exam, you’ll be taking it at a PSI testing site. You’ll need to provide two forms of identification, one primary and one secondary.

Acceptable forms of primary identification (one with a photo) are:

  • State-issued driver’s license or nondriver’s ID card
  • U.S. passport
  • Military ID card
  • I-551 Permanent Resident Card
  • I-571 Refugee Travel Document
  • I-688 Temporary Resident Card
  • I-688A Employment Authorization Card
  • I-688B Employment Authorization Document
  • I-766 Employment Authorization Card

Acceptable forms of secondary identification (one without a photo) are:

  • State-issued driver’s license or nondriver’s ID card
  • Utility or credit card bill issued in the past 90 days that has your name and current address (cannot be a PO Box number)
  • Checking or savings account statement from a bank or credit union, issued within the past 60 days
  • Original lease or rental agreement showing your name as the lease or renter
  • Property tax bill, statement, or receipt from the past year
  • Any letter or correspondence received from the IRS or state tax office in the last year
  • First-class mail received from any federal, state, or local government agency in the past six months

They will not allow any personal belongings in the testing room itself, but they do offer storage on-site.

Step 5: Take the exam

For the written portion of the exam, you’ll be taking it at a PSI testing site. The exam is a multiple choice format and will be done entirely on the computer.

Before your test actually begins, you will have a brief tutorial that will help you get acquainted with the computer software. You have up to 15 minutes to familiarize yourself and ask any questions to clarify how to use the program before your test begins.

After that, you will have two hours to complete 120 questions. Out of those, 110 are scored, and 10 of them are pretest questions that do not count towards your score.

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

  • Safety, Sanitation and Disinfection – 25 questions
  • Client Consultation and Professional Conduct – 5 questions
  • Hair, Skin, and Nail Anatomy – 10 questions
  • Shampooing, Conditioning and Scalp Care – 5 questions
  • Hairstyling – 8 questions
  • Haircutting – 11 questions
  • Hair Coloring 11 questions
  • Chemical Texture Services – 9 questions
  • Skin Care – 8 questions
  • Nails – 8 questions
  • Shaving – 5 questions
  • New Jersey Laws and Regulations – 5 questions

And if you want a more in-depth look at what each section entails, check out PSI’s Cosmetology Bulletin.

For the practical exam, you’ll have two-and-a-half hours to complete a variety of tasks. You will be given more information regarding the practical exam after you’ve completed and passed your theory exam.

Step 6: Get your results

For the written exam, you will get your results immediately, as they will appear on screen. You will also get an official score report printed on-site after your exam. You must get 75% or more correct in order to pass.

If you didn’t pass, you’ll get an unsuccessful notification on screen that will indicate your strengths and weaknesses.

You must also pass your practical exam with a score of 75 or higher in order to receive your license.

Step 7: Get your New Jersey cosmetology license!

After you’ve passed both your written and then your practical exam, then congrats! You’re officially licensed!

After you pass the practical exam, you’ll immediately be issued a license number, which you can find online.

They’ll also print your license and mail it to you. You should receive that within a week or two of passing your exam.

If you didn’t pass either portion of your exam, you’ll have to repay the fee, reschedule, and try again.

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

Frequently asked questions about the New Jersey cosmetology exam

How do I apply for the New Jersey cosmetology examination?

You can apply to take the New Jersey State Board written exam by working with your school to collect all the necessary information.

Your school will then send all your information electronically to the testing entity PSI. You’ll receive a confirmation email once your information has been entered into the system.

For the practical exam, you’ll have to download and print an application, which can be found here.

You’ll have to fill it out, get it notarized, and pay all the required fees. You’ll also potentially need to have PSI send in your examination results, as well as have your school send in your official transcript. All those will need to be sent to the State Board.

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.

They’re open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

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

Which examination program does the New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling use?

New Jersey uses the PSI Exam testing program for its cosmetology exam.

How much does it cost to take the New Jersey cosmetology exam?

Entry to the New Jersey cosmetology written exam costs $39, and the fee is non-refundable.

Where does the examination take place?

The exam takes place at one of the many PSI testing facilities. When applying, you’ll be asked to put in your ZIP code, and you’ll be able to pick from a list of sites closest to you.

How many hours of practical work do I need to qualify for the New Jersey cosmetology examination?

Cosmetologists in New Jersey need 1,200 hours of schooling to qualify for the exam and be eligible for immediate licensure.

If you have completed 960 hours of schooling, you can 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 New Jersey cosmetology examination before I’ve completed the required hours?

Yes, you can take the exam early after you’ve completed 960 hours of schooling.

How long is the cosmetology written examination in New Jersey?

The New Jersey cosmetology exam is two hours 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 pages 7-8 of their Cosmetology Bulletin.

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

How long is the cosmetology practical examination?

The practical exam in New Jersey is two-and-a-half hours long.

What’s the format of the practical examination?

The practical exam will be a series of hands-on tasks that you’ll be asked to perform in front of a proctor.

What scores do I need to pass the cosmetology exam?

In New Jersey, to pass your written exam, you must get a score of 75% or higher. For the practical exam, you must get a score of 75 or higher in order to pass.

You’ll get the results the same day, whether you pass or fail.

What’s the pass rate for the New Jersey Cosmetology exam?

New Jersey doesn’t publish an individual pass rate, but the national average pass rate for the written portion of the cosmetology exam is only about 50%.

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

How many times can I re-take the New Jersey cosmetology examination if I fail?

In New Jersey, you can retake the cosmetology exam three times without having to do anything else.

You’ll need to wait 15 days from the date of your exam to reschedule, and you’ll need to reschedule and pay the fee each time you retake the test.

How long does cosmetology school take in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, there are no time requirements. So, it all depends on whether or not you go to school full time or part time.

Generally, if you go to school full time, you can finish your hours in about a year. However, if you’re only going part-time, it might take you anywhere from 2-3 years to complete.

How do I transfer my cosmetology licence to New Jersey?

To transfer your license to New Jersey, you must contact the State Board where you’re currently licensed. They must submit a certification of your current, active license directly to New Jersey’s State Board.

After you’ve done that, you’ll want to contact New Jersey’s State Board at (973) 504-6400 to make sure they’ve received the certification.

Someone will review your certification to determine if you qualify for an endorsement or if you have to take the exams.

Generally, if your home state’s requirements were similar (or surpassed) New Jersey’s requirements, you won’t have to take the exam. However, if your state did not require a practical exam, you will be required to take the exams.

The State Board, after reviewing your certification, will direct you to the application you must fill out and return to them.

How do I get my cosmetology license in New Jersey?

To get your cosmetology license in New Jersey, you’ll be required to complete 1,200 hours of instruction in a licensed cosmetology school and pass both a theory and practical examination at a PSI testing facility.

Once you’ve passed the written examination, you’ll need to fill out an application for the practical portion, which is available online. You’ll generally be scheduled within 6-8 weeks following the acceptance of your application, documents, and fees.

Once you pass both of the exams, you’ll get your cosmetology license in the mail!

How do I renew my cosmetology license in New Jersey?

Cosmetologist licenses are valid for two years, and expire in September of even-numbered years. You can renew it online and pay a fee.

How should I study for the New Jersey cosmetology written exam?

Use our Cosmetology 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!

Find out more about the Cosmetology Exam Preparation Package here.

New Jersey cosmetology state board exam practice test

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What are the two types of asymmetrical balance?*
Which of the following is not a function of brushing?*
At which two reference points does the comb leave the head?*
How can split ends be repaired?*
What purpose does silicone serve in conditioners?*
For which techniques should razors be used on curly hair?*
Which of the following is not one of the natural wave patterns of hair?*
Which type of shampoo should be used to remove build-up?*
Which of the following is not a layered haircut?*
Which of the following is not a type of conditioner?*
What should be done for patients who have been treated with conditioner that must be left in for more than one minute?*
It is safe to perform a service on clients who have...*
Which pair includes the two basic requirements for a healthy scalp?*
How does shampoo draping differ from chemical draping?*
Which type of shear is best for cutting large sections of hair?*
Moisturizing conditioners allow the _____ to absorb moisture from the air.*
What purpose do humectants serve in conditioners?*
What is the difference between treatment massages and relaxation massages?*
Which elevation angle could be used to add weight to a haircut?*
What is the most appropriate hairstyle for round facial types?*

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