Minnesota

Minnesota cosmetology state board exam: Free practice test, and everything you need to know

Do you need to take the cosmetology state board exam in Minnesota? 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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Table of Contents:

The process of registering for (and passing!) your Minnesota state board exams

Congratulations: you’ve made it through cosmetology school and you’re SO close to your dream career in cosmetology!

The final step is to pass your cosmetology State Board exams in order to get your Minnesota cosmetology license. If you’re like a lot of people we talk to, the process of scheduling and taking your exams is daunting, confusing and worrying. Don’t worry: we’ll walk you through the process step by step. Starting with…

Step 1: Check you’re eligible to take the Minnesota Board of Cosmetology (or Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners) exams

To be eligible to take the Minnesota Board of Cosmetology exams, you must have:

  • Graduated from a Minnesota cosmetology school AND
  • A high school diploma or GED

Additionally, you must have worked a minimum number of practical hours (from a Board-approved school) before you can apply to take the exams:

  • Cosmetologists need 1,550 hours (training in cosmetic hair, skin, and nail care)
  • Estheticians need 600 hours (training in cosmetic skin care only)
  • Nail technicians need 350 hours (training in cosmetic nail care only)

Note: apprenticeships are not permitted in Minnesota. All practical hours must be performed in a Board-approved school.

To be eligible to take the Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners exams, you must have:

  • 1,500 hours of practical hours from a Board-approved school
  • Completed the 10th grade (or equivalent) at high school

Note: apprenticeships are not permitted in Minnesota. All practical hours must be performed in a Board-approved school.

Step 2: Apply for and schedule the Minnesota Board of Cosmetology (or Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners) examinations

In Minnesota, there are 2 different State Boards, depending on what you’re studying:

  • The Minnesota Board of Cosmetology (for cosmetologists, estheticians, and nail technicians)
  • The Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners (for barbers)

How to apply for the Minnesota Board of Cosmetology exams:

All candidates must pass 3 written exams in order to become licenced as a cosmetologist, nail technician or esthetician. You can pay for and schedule all 3 examinations at once (called the “combination exam”), or you can pay for and schedule each one separately.

All exams are administered by a company called PSI, and you’ll visit a PSI site to take them.

For information about how to apply for the Minnesota State Board cosmetology exams, download the Candidate Information Bulletin here: https://mn.gov/boards/cosmetology/licensing/testing/.

Applying for the exams costs the following for cosmetologists, nail technicians and estheticians:

  • “Combo exam”: $90

Or pay separately:

  • General theory exam: $35
  • State (laws & rules) exam: $25
  • Written practical exam: $30

How to apply for the Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners exams:

Barbering in Minnesota is overseen by the Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners. All candidates must pass one written and one practical exam.

The exams are given 4 times a year, on the first Monday of February, May, August and November. Your completed application form is due in the office by the 20th of the month prior to the exam.

The barber application form can be found here: https://mn.gov/boards/barber-examiners/applications/becomingabarber.jsp.

Applying for the exams costs $85.

Step 3: Arrive at the exam center on exam day(s)

Minnesota Board of Cosmetology examinations take place at PSI locations across the state. For a full list of all locations, visit https://candidate.psiexams.com/.

You should arrive at the test center at least 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time. If you arrive late, you won’t be admitted to the examination and you will forfeit your examination fee.

In order to be admitted into the examination(s), you must have 2 forms of valid (non-expired) signature-bearing identification.

For your primary identification (with photo), choose one from:

  • State-issued driver’s license
  • State-issued identification card
  • Government-issued passport (U.S. or foreign)
  • US Government-issued military identification card
  • US Government-issued alien registration card
  • Canadian Government-issued identification card

For your secondary identification, choose one from:

  • Credit card (must be signed)
  • Social Security card
  • US Government-issued birth certificate with raised seal

Note: student ID and employment ID are NOT acceptable forms of identification.

Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners examinations take place at a number of barbering schools throughout the state. Contact the State Board for more information: (651) 201-2820.

Step 4: Take the exam(s)

  • For cosmetologists, you’ll be allowed up to 5 hours to complete all 3 exams.
  • For nail technicians, you’ll be allowed up to 4 hours to complete all 3 exams.
  • For estheticians, you’ll be allowed up to 4 hours to complete all 3 exams.
  • For barbers, you’ll be allowed up to 2 hours for the written examination and up to 2 hours for the practical examination.

Step 5: Get your results

Minnesota Board of Cosmetology results will appear immediately on your computer screen (where you took the exam). If you pass, you’ll see a successful notification. If you do not pass, you’ll see an unsuccessful notification along with a diagnostic report indicating your strengths and weaknesses.

A score report will also be printed at the test center, which gives you your result.

Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners results will be mailed to you within 5 working days of the exam.

Step 6: Get your Minnesota State Board cosmetology license!

When you’ve passed all 3 written exams for the Minnesota Board of Cosmetology, you must download and complete the “Initial Operator License Application” form from this page. The form must be sent to the Board with $195 and a number of other items:

  • Proof of high school graduation or GED completion
  • Original course completion certificate
  • Original passing results from the state (laws & rules) exam
  • Original passing results from the general theory exam
  • Original passing results from the written practical exam

You will receive your license within 15 business days. Alternatively, you can pay $345 for expedited processing – which means you’ll receive your license within 5 business days.

When you have passed your barber examinations, your status will be updated in the Board’s license verification section of the website.

The most common reason for not getting your license is failing your written exam: the pass rate nationally is only 50%! However, students who use our Cosmetology Exam Preparation Package have a pass rate of 98.5%!

Frequently asked questions about the Minnesota cosmetology exams

How do I apply for Minnesota State Board exams?

In Minnesota, there are 2 different State Boards, depending on what you’re studying:

  • The Minnesota Board of Cosmetology (for cosmetologists, estheticians, and nail technicians)
  • The Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners (for barbers)

For information about how to apply for the Minnesota State Board cosmetology exams, download the Candidate Information Bulletin here: https://mn.gov/boards/cosmetology/licensing/testing/.

To apply for the Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners exams, visit this page: https://mn.gov/boards/barber-examiners/applications/becomingabarber.jsp.

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

You can reschedule your Minnesota State Board of Cosmetology exams if your cancellation is received at least 2 days before the scheduled examination date. To cancel, visit the PSI website: https://candidate.psiexams.com/. If you cancel with less than 2 days’ notice, you’ll forfeit your payment and will have to re-apply.

The Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners states that you’ll forfeit your payment and will need to re-apply (and re-pay) if you miss the exam “without appropriate notice”. You’ll also need to re-apply if you’re late for the exam (after 7.45am) or don’t have a model on the day of the exam.

How much does it cost to take the cosmetology and barber State Board exams in Minnesota?

Applying for the exams costs the following for cosmetologists, nail technicians and estheticians:

  • “Combo exam”: $90

Or pay separately:

  • General theory exam: $35
  • State (laws & rules) exam: $25
  • Written practical exam: $30

Note: you will then need to pay another fee ($195) for the license itself, after you’ve passed all the exams.

Applying for the barber exams costs $85.

How many hours of practical work do I need to qualify for the Minnesota State Board examinations?

Cosmetologists in Minnesota need 1,550 hours; estheticians need 600 hours; and manicurists need 350 hours (all at an approved school).

Barbers in Minnesota need 1,500 hours of education at an approved barber school.

Where do the examinations take place?

Minnesota Board of Cosmetology examinations take place at PSI locations across the state. For a full list of all locations, visit https://candidate.psiexams.com/.

Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners examinations usually take place at a number of barbering schools throughout the state. Contact the State Board for more information: (651) 201-2820.

Can apprenticeship hours be used instead of school hours when applying for a cosmetology license in Minnesota?

No: apprenticeships are not permitted in Minnesota. All practical hours must be performed in a Board-approved school.

How do I transfer my cosmetology license to Minnesota?

If you hold a valid cosmetology or barber license in another state, you must submit an application to the Board (using the Domestic License Transfer application form). If your education and examination requirements are equal to that of the state, you’ll receive a license without examination. If not, you may need to have extra training and take exams before you can get your Minnesota license.

If you were a practitioner in another country but do not have a license in any US state, you’ll need to apply to an approved Minnesota cosmetology school as a transfer student before you can apply for a license. You will also need to have all appropriate non-U.S. documents credentialed and verified before you can begin the licensing process.

For more information on cosmetology reciprocity, visit this page: https://mn.gov/boards/cosmetology/faq/practitioners/faq-practitioners-applicants.jsp (click on “I’m licensed in another state/country. What do I do?”).

For more information on barbering reciprocity, visit this page: https://mn.gov/boards/barber-examiners/barbers/reciprocity/

How do I get my cosmetology license in Minnesota? How do I get my barbering license in Minnesota?

To obtain your cosmetology, esthetician, or nail technician license in Minnesota, you must have completed a specified number of practical hours at a Board-approved cosmetology school.

  • Cosmetologists need 1,550 hours (training in cosmetic hair, skin, and nail care)
  • Estheticians need 600 hours (training in cosmetic skin care only)
  • Nail technicians need 350 hours (training in cosmetic nail care only)

You must also pass 3 written exams. The 3 written exams are:

  • General theory exam
  • State (laws & rules) exam
  • Written practical exam

Once you’ve passed the exams, you’ll be granted your license.

To obtain your barber’s license, you must have completed 1,500 practical hours at a Board-approved school. You must also pass a practical exam and a written exam.

Once you’ve passed the exams, you’ll be granted your license.

Can I take the State Board examinations before I’ve completed the required hours?

No, you’ll need to complete the required hours first.

How long are the cosmetology and barber State Board exams? What is the format?

Here’s a breakdown of all the exams for Minnesota:

Examination Scored items Non-scored items* Time allowed
Cosmetology combo exam 190 20 5 hours
General theory exam 100 10 2 hours
State exam 30 5 1 hour
Written practical exam 60 5 2 hours
Esthetician combo exam 155 20 4 hours
General theory exam 75 10 1.5 hours
State exam 30 5 1 hour
Written practical exam 50 5 1.5 hours
Nail technician combo exam 135 20 4 hours
General theory exam 60 10 1.5 hours
State exam 30 5 1 hour
Written practical exam 45 5 1.5 hours
Barber exams
Written exam 100 N/A 2 hours
Practical exam N/A N/A 2 hours

*These questions are being assessed for inclusion on future versions of the exam, and they won’t count towards or against your score.

What scores do I need to pass?

There’s no universal passing score: each state chooses its own pass rate. In Minnesota, cosmetologists, estheticians, manicurists and barbers all need to score at least 75% per exam to pass their cosmetology exams.

What’s the pass rate for the Minnesota Board of Cosmetology exams?

Minnesota doesn’t have an average pass rate for the state as a whole.

The national average pass rate for the cosmetology written exam is about 50%. (National pass rates for barbers, estheticians and manicurists are unavailable.)

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

How many times can I retake the State Board cosmetology examinations if I fail?

In Minnesota, you can retake the cosmetology, nail technician, and esthetician examinations as many times as you need. If you take the combination examination and only pass 1 or 2 and fail the other(s), you will only need to retake the failed examination(s). Each time you retake, you will need to pay the examination fee.

For the barber examinations, the rules depend on which exam you fail:

  • If you fail the written examination, you can retake it as many times as necessary until you pass. (You must pay a fee each time.)
  • If you fail the practical examination, you will need to return to barber school for an additional 500 hours of training (tuition fees apply). After you’ve completed the 500-hour program, you can retake the practical examination. These 500 hours must be completed within 15 weeks.

How long does cosmetology school take in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, it can take as little as 10 months to complete the required hours of training for your cosmetology, nail technician, esthetician or barbering license. If you attend school part-time, it can take up to 2 years.

How do I renew my cosmetology license in Minnesota?

To renew your license as a cosmetologist (including nail technicians and estheticians) in Minnesota, you must follow a number of steps:

  1. Complete the 4-hour core continuing education course (safety, infection control, laws, and rules).
  2. Complete the 4-hour professional practice continuing education course.
  3. Renew online OR complete and submit the Active License Renewal application by mail (or in person) with the fee payment.

The renewal fee is $115 (or $160 for a late renewal).

To renew your license as a barber (which all expire on December 31st each year, regardless of when your license was awarded), you can submit your renewal application online, in post, or in person. Instructions can be found here: https://mn.gov/boards/barber-examiners/barbers/renew/

The renewal fee is $80 (or $95 for a late renewal).

How should I study for the Minnesota 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.


Minnesota cosmetology state board exam practice test

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