Study Tips

The following strategies have helped many of our students prepare more effectively for the California Contractor exam and to improve their test scores.


PREPARE IN ADVANCE: It is best to begin preparing long before the day of your exam. Make it a habit of completing your reading assignments and frequently review lecture notes. Also develop an outline of the main topics and concepts that will be covered during your exam, then use this sheet to study. These tips will help you memorize the essential facts and other information you must know to pass.

MAKE TIME TO STUDY: Consistently make time for studying. Work and other activities can occupy your time, be sure to set at least 60-120 Min per day aside to adequately prepare for your exam.

STUDY REGULARLY: Schedule your study sessions consistently every day during the work week Monday – Friday. DON’T OVERSTUDY and BURN OUT. Enjoy your weekend.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE MANUALS: The explanations of the practice questions are just as necessary as the actual practice exams. Understanding the answer is as important as knowing the answer. By learning the “why” of a problem, you will realize the solution no matter how the State may reword it.

REVIEW 3 DAYS BEFORE YOUR EXAM: Review your notes, reading assignments, practice exams, and other materials.


DO NOT POWER STUDY THE NIGHT BEFORE YOUR EXAM: Getting plenty of rest and exercising will enhance your ability to perform well on the California contractor exam. Make sure you eat a light, nutritious meal before taking your examination to be alert and focused.

GO TO BED EARLY THE NIGHT BEFORE YOUR EXAM: It is unwise to stay up all night studying before a test. Get plenty of sleep the night before your exam. Although spending extra time preparing seems like it will improve your score. You will do worse on the test if you to show up for your examination tired or worn out.


EAT FOR SUCCESS: Eat a nourishing but lite breakfast/lunch, You want to be sharp, focused, and alert for your exam not tired, bloated or hungry. Fruits such as blueberries, Healthy Protein such as fish or eggs, Nuts, etc. are all excellent choices. Eat the food that makes you feel your best and most alert.

ARRIVE AT THE TEST CENTER EARLY: Arrive at the test center at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start of the examination.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR “BUSINESS” BEFORE THE EXAM: Be sure to use the restroom before your exam begins. If you must visit the bathroom during the test, it can waste time and break your concentration. In many cases, you may not be permitted to leave the examination area once the exam begins. Not being allowed to use the restroom can be extremely uncomfortable and adversely affect your final score.



  • Each question has only one correct answer.
  • Do not leave any questions blank. It is better to guess than not answer. A blank answer is an automatic wrong answer.


Pass 1) Answer all the easy questions first and write down the question numbers of more difficult questions, rating them from one to three, with one being “I can answer this with a little work” and three being “I don’t have a clue.”

Pass 2) Read the test a second time and answer more difficult questions. Answer all questions you rated as one now.

Pass 3) Read the test a third time and answer more difficult questions. Answer all questions you rated as two now.

Pass 4) answer the questions rated three by utilizing the “identify wrong answer system” listed below.


  • Eliminate answers you know to be incorrect.
  • Give each answer the “true-false test:” This may reduce your selection to the best answer.
  • Question answers that grammatically don’t fit with the question.
  • Question answers that are unfamiliar to you. ‘
  • Question answers that contain negative or absolute words. Try substituting a qualified term for the absolute one. For example, frequently for always; or typical for every to see if you can eliminate an option.


  • All of the above: If you know two of four options seem correct, “all of the above” is a strong possibility
  • Number answers: Ignore the high and low answer and consider the middle range numbers
  • Look-alike options: if multiple answers look alike probably one of them is correct; choose the best answer but eliminate choices that mean virtually the same thing, and thus cancel each other out.
  • Opposite options: If two options are opposite each other, chances are one of them is correct
  • You should favor options that contain qualifiers: The result is longer, more inclusive items that better fill the role of the answer
  • If two alternatives seem right, compare them for differences, then refer to the question to find your best answer.

ART OF GUESSING: How to identify WRONG answers & try to determine the BEST answer:

Always guess instead of leaving the answer blank, there is no penalty.

  • Use hints from questions you know to answer questions you do not.
  • Change your first answers ONLY when you are sure of the correction, or other cues in the test cue you to change. Remember that you are looking for the best answer, not only a correct one.

Eliminate the wrong answers first – Most exam questions feature one or more responses which are unmistakably wrong:

For example, let’s look at this question:

Question: What is the relationship between a prime contractor and a subcontractor?

  1. Employer-Employee
  2. Contractor to Subcontractor
  3. Contractual
  4. No relationship

Start by looking for BAD answers first, look at the question and compare it to the various responses.

(1). Employer-Employee We know that on a specific project a subcontractor is not an employee of the prime contractor, they are a subcontractor, so we can quickly discount this answer.

(2) Contractor to Subcontractor Personally, I like this answer because at first glance it looks like it might be possibly correct, so I am going to consider it for now.

I also like (3) Contractual, since we have determined a subcontractor is not an employee of a prime contractor, as specified in the answer (1) and we know that a subcontractor is also a fully licensed contractor.

The Prime Contractor holds the contract for the primary project, and the subcontractor has an arrangement with the prime contractor.

(4) No relationship. This answer makes no logical sense. A subcontractor always has a relationship with the prime contractor.

CONCLUSION: We have immediately eliminated both (1) and (4) so guessing the correct answer (2) or (3) is now 50/50 instead of having only a 25% chance of getting it right.


Let’s look at (2) and (3), to see if we can’t improve our choice to the right answer.

The (2) Contractor to Subcontractor relationship is in fact (3) Contractual because we know that the subcontractor is not (1) an employee of the prime contractor.

Thus I would choose (3) Contractual as it is the best, most complete answer.

The Correct Answer is (3)


The California contractor exam is a closed-book examination. No reference materials are allowed during the exam. You will not be permitted entry with any reference materials.

The Exam – the California contractor exam is a four-choice multiple-choice exam. You will have four choices per question. Some questions may require mathematical computation.

All exam questions are written to provide only one BEST answer and NOT written as trick questions.

All correct answers have the same point value. It is better to try to answer a question with the chance to possibly get it right (and earn points) than it is to leave that question blank thus getting it wrong (and lose points). Ample time is provided to answer all exam questions so be sure to read all questions and answers entirely and carefully before selecting the BEST possible answer to the question.

To cancel or reschedule your exam contact the CSLB before your exam date. You are allowed to reschedule one time for free, after that you are required to pay an additional fee of $60 to be assigned a new exam date.

The CSLB operates eight testing centers across California. These centers are in

  • Sacramento
  • Oakland
  • San Jose
  • Fresno
  • Oxnard
  • Norwalk
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego