When and why “Pre Exam Crash Courses and Live Classes” are mostly a waste of your time and hard-earned money.

So, you decided it’s time in your career to get licensed and become a contractor. Congratulations. This can be a life-changing moment!

And like for all things that matter, as a builder you know you need the best tools to get the job done. However, with schooling, what exactly are the best tools?

Fallacy No-1: The Higher the price the better the school. Not really. And here is why.

A program that costs around $1200 and provides live instructors, study facilities, and weekend crash courses MUST be better than a program costing $399 that you study at home, right?

Not necessarily, and here is why.

Teaching The Law and the Trade Exam: Contractor school live classrooms teach the Law and Business exam. This is basically universal to all schools offering live education before your test. What they usually gloss over is INSTRUCTORS DO NOT TEACH THE TRADE EXAM. At least not in any way that actually matters.

This is to say that you will not be gaining any noteworthy amount of additional instructor lead or one on one instruction covering your trade.

So how do you study for the trade in a classroom? You do it yourself. Same way you would if you were still at home and not sitting in a classroom. Some schools are actually brazen enough to offer instructor lead self study as part of their overpriced study program. I remember instructor lead self study from high school, it was called detention hall.

Why cant schools teach the trade? Its simple. You may be sitting in a room with other 20 other students who are there for 20 different trades. In other words, it’s simply not possible to teach your specific trade with any level of thoroughness.

HOWEVER, everyone in the room with you will be taking the same Law and Business exam. The Law exam is universal to all trades and it is easy to teach. All contractor licensing schools pretty much know the Law exam forwards and backward.

An example of this, over 50% of our clients previously signed up with another contractor school before coming to Thompson Learning. 99% of them had passed the law but failed the trade exam. We have never had a client fail to pass their Law and Business exam on the first attempt. Our clients pass their trade exams.

  • Cost of providing education. Live instruction costs school a lot of $ paid as rent, staff, and resources. This is a lot of overhead to recover. They are going to recover it from you.

To see for yourself what is being discussed in this blog. Go to YELP and run reviews for any school you may be considering – Run reviews in bad to good order and see what past students have said. Look for red flags.

NOTE: We are purposely looking at reviews that mention the classroom or curriculum within Yelp.

For advice on choosing a contractor school please read How to choose a contractor school



Look for bad student reviews and look for patterns. Is it just a pissed off student, or does it look like a trend? If a school has too many bad reviews…it may be time to look elsewhere.

ONE STAR – 8/20/2019

I’m leaving this review in hopes that no one else will get taken advantage of. I tried to sign up with this school and I was getting the run around for months. The original package I was trying to sign up for cost $1,300. Don’t sign up for any of their high priced packages. They’re constantly sending emails with lower prices but that’s not my issue. My issue is with XXXXXX the dirt bag that tried to steal my money and the mangers who allowed it. Thank God I never signed shit with this school and I was able to get a full refund from my bank. Now this Yelp review will forever stay up on here and others will look for better schools to go to. Don’t fall victim to these thieves.

XXXX X. Don’t patronize me and act like you didn’t know. You guys tried to keep my money for over two weeks. Going back and forth through XXXXXX. You all know damn well what you’re doing. Stop trying to save face with you generic response. You won’t win this one. Trust me

ONE STAR – 5/5/2019

Bait and switch at it’s best. False advertisement and empty promises. They promise 100% money back guarantee and we gave them so much business only to be lied to in our face. We used XXXXXXXXXXXXXX – SO MUCH BETTER, it’s not even funny.

ONE STAR – 3/28/2019

These guys are a scam, you are basically paying a PREMIUM for books – that’s all it is really. When we caught on to them they refused to give us a refund for even 1 of the many courses they INSISTED we needed.

ONE STAR – 3/22/2019

It’s been long time, long story short – enrolled me though I did not qualify, then refused to refund a significant portion for their useless at the time instructional material. refused to give me somewhat unrelated information over the phone even though they screwed up and could have helped giving me a direction “we are not an information bureau”

There are many websites that help for less, I’ve got my license now and spent about 200 for prep…

ONE STAR – 3/1/2019

So, after 18 years of being in my trade, I finally decided to reach out to this contractors’ license school to get my license. I called to get more information on schooling and fees. I then spoke with a man named XXX a.k.a Jose (XXX) words of advice, change your voice when you change your name). After hearing what they have to offered and there prices, I was pretty excited. When I asked to make a payment, he insisted I pay over the phone or give the check to the UPS driver when the study material arrived, which I thought was strange. So today I decided to drive out to their office to speak with them in person at XXXX Suite XXX San Diego 92121 only to find a vacant office full of trash… SMH!!!! SCAM

ONE STAR – 1/5/2019

I went to schools the first one XXXXXXXXXX  XXXXX License schools was a rip-off I couldn’t get a refund paid for my bond can even get that refund then I signed it with XXXXXXX instruction schools none of the questions and answers they taught me in that school where on the chest I passed the Law & business with common sense took my time answer the questions with common sense failed the trade part with a 61 out of 65 and a second term of 63 out of 65 I should have studied but that was my on time I was too busy but these schools take your money and not one of them around the chest not one question or answer and the guy at the State Board admitted with me that yeah none of them were on the test and they don’t tell you that they mislead you so save your money don’t listen to these are the reviews that are probably people that work for them are people they put up to do this please save your money don’t go to the schools go directly to a contractor State License Board in your area and go directly to them and get the literature from the book stores don’t go to the online tutorials cuz they’re not right and learn it from your trade and get some books and study yourself and save you a lot of money thank you

ONE STAR – 2/13/2019

My husband went to school, lost two days of work, gained nothing out of it. Lectures are basically a video that they play, they give 400 questions but how are you supposed to answer them if they don’t teach you anything. He failed his exam! I will be taking some actions, unacceptable, time is money, and two days is a lot of time! My husband got the books and studying from them every night, very good books and a lot of those questions were on exam. Don’t go to this school!

ONE STAR – 12/26/2018

Worse school ever, I’ll give them 1 star because there is not 0 star, totally scam school,  everything they said is wrong I had to fill up my own application and call to the state to ask them what do I need to put in the application because Anna was totally lost , then they gave me the wrong materials to study , I passed law and business using common sense,  the trade test and still trying to figure out what I am gonna do I failed 2 time with less than 50%, and when you contact the teacher in class all the materials are available for purchase,  and he send you a link to learn how to make math’s, completely scan artist , I am still looking for another school to help me with the trade exam . They know who I am so they can’t say they don’t have me in file like another bad review here

ONE STAR – 2/8/2019 

Definitely not recommended the material that they teach is not up to date, and none of it is showing on the general b test , I was buying the most expensive package that they have to offer I was surprised that after I was studying very hard doing all the exams that I was buying over 700 questions, getting on all the school test score of 90 and up And going to all the classes that they have to offer. When I get to the test it’s felt like I never went to the school, question that they were asking was totally different from what the school offer On the state exam the referral you to a sketchbook over 30 questions, this school don’t teach you even one of those questions. I failed the test three times

I bought the exam from another school and I past after the first time, so price the what I was studying was exactly at the test. I was losing money for a bad experience I hope that you’re reading my review and not going to do the same mistake that I did.

ONE STAR – 9/18/2018

I’m not one for writing reviews, but this is a must. Time is valuable, and I took the crash course and let me tell you it’s just a waste of your time and money!
The structure of the class is to run through the book within the first 4 hrs. without given any examples to understand nor any advice as to what is of importance to mark in the book. After lunch, instructor just passes a handout of questions with an answer sheet, which doesn’t explain the answer in detail. Instructor sits around and does absolutely NOTHING unless you ask a question directly. All materials given were outdated!!! I left the class and didn’t return. I called the office to get my money back and they REFUSED!!! 
Honestly, they are the most unprofessional people I’ve ever dealt with.

ONE STAR – 2/13/2019

My husband went to school, lost two days of work, gained nothing out of it. Lectures are basically a video that they play, they give 400 questions but how are you supposed to answer them if they don’t teach you anything. He failed his exam! I will be taking some actions, unacceptable, time is money, and two days is a lot of time! My husband got the books and studying from them every night, very good books and a lot of those questions were on exam. Don’t go to this school!

ONE STAR – 5/21/2018

F#@k this place it’s a shame they can be allowed to call themselves a place of business I don’t understand how this place has existed for as long as it has it’s really a shame that people have to deal with this nasty service these people are lazy liars and thieves it’s hilarious filed with them for a name change for my business was told it takes 2-4 weeks originally and then 4-8 either way called in myself to find out what’s going on they said oh we can’t call the secretary of state made it sound impossible to get a hold of them stated by XXXXX  XXXXXXXXXX this guy is a true old school salesman he deserves an award for biggest liar in town anyways these guys calling them self a business again hadn’t even sent it in and if they did never bothered checking that the secretary of state received it they said they couldn’t contact on my behalf because the secretary of state wouldn’t speak to them on my behalf however I just spoke to them and they had no issue speaking to anyone inquiring about it you guys are a joke of a business f%#k you for wasting my time and energy you guys truly s%#k

TWO STARS – 3/28/2018

I’m a bit disappointed at this school. I was hoping to pass my test the first time, however, I failed miserably. I went to their crash course the weekend before my exam and I didn’t feel like I gained much from it. The Trade training was with other Trade applicants and the instructor didn’t focus the material on any Trade. He just went through math questions and safety. 

Since I only have their study material and practice tests, I went through all of them. As I went to the examination, the questions were extremely different. It caught me off guard. After I failed my test, I decided to look through their study book again and realized all the content were from 2015. 

I don’t know what they plan to do now. Hopefully, they don’t ask me to go to that crash course again with different Trade applicants. That’ll just be a waste of time. I need either an instructor to go through specifically my Trade or at least give me an updated book with relevant content, so I can study on my own.