Cosmetology Practical Exam

After months of studying and completing your on-the-job training, you’re finally ready to apply for your license to work as a cosmetologist in your state. However, before you can get a license you must pass the state board cosmetology licensing exam. What does this all entail and how can you prepare? Learn some valuable information about the cosmetology practical exam.

What is the Cosmetology Practical Exam?

The cosmetology practical exam is the second part of a 2-part state board exam. Whereas the first part requires you to answer a variety of cosmetology-related questions, the practical exam requires you to actually demonstrate your knowledge and skills in actually performing the various procedures. There are usually only eight students taking the practical exam at one time. The cosmetology practical exam, which must be taken at an approved testing site, generally takes slightly less than four hours to complete.

What Procedures is the Applicant Tested On?

The practical exam tests the applicant on various cosmetology procedures. These generally include the following.

  • Professional appearance
  • Preparation of work area
  • Client preparation
  • Haircutting techniques
  • Blow-dry styling techniques
  • Thermal curling/curling iron techniques
  • Roller placement on top of head
  • Chemical restructuring permanent waving
  • Diagonal pin curl wave and shaping
  • Finger waving
  • Foiling simulation
  • Hair coloring
  • Chemical restructuring with rods & retouching
  • Facials
  • Mani pedi
  • Clean up of work area

In addition to performing the above cosmetology procedures, the candidate is also tested on safety, setup and sanitation. Another important part of the practical exam is how the student handles and uses tools and equipment. For instance, in the haircutting and hairstyling portions of the test, the student is tested on how he or she uses combs, clips and brushes. If procedures require electricity, such as facials, the student must demonstrate safe use of tools without actually using them on the skin.

The student is not only required to satisfactorily complete each procedure, but the student must complete it within a certain amount of time. Each procedure that the student completes must be done in a certain time and comes with a certain number of points. Therefore, students may get more points for certain procedures.

Additional Information About the Practical Exam

Although the practical exam typically takes almost four hours to complete, the student does get a break. If the student does not return back on time after the break, he or she may not be readmitted into the testing area.

The student must bring any supplies that may be needed to complete the practical exam. The supplies must be clean and in good working condition. If a model is required for any procedure, the student must also supply his or her own model. The student must also bring an admission letter signifying that he or she has successfully completed an approved training program.

When the student completes the practical exam, a score is not immediately given. The candidate is generally notified at a later time if he or she passed the test. At that point, the student will receive a cosmetology license.