What to Expect on a Cosmetology School Written Exam

After spending hundreds of hours in class and hundreds more practicing your new skills on clients, the time comes to take a written and practical exam to verify your new knowledge. While these tests are aligned with the curriculum at your school, being prepared for these tests is critical.

Exams are a stressful time for many students and cosmetology exams are no exception. After all, failing a cosmetology exam can mean it will take longer to get out into the working world. Repeat tests can be expensive. It helps to know ahead of time the types of questions and the tests you will be required to pass.

The contents of a written exam depend on the state where you intend to practice cosmetology and the school you are attending. But there are some general requirements that apply to nearly all regulated states. According to the Princeton Review:

“Cosmetologists face varying licensing requirements in different states, but essentially a high school diploma, formal training at a cosmetology or vocational school, and, in some states, completion of an apprenticeship and passage of a state examination constitute the educational requirements. For most cosmetologists, professional training continues throughout their careers. The recently certified stylist can expect to perform duties that amount to sheer drudgery. Newcomers are left to washing, blow-drying, and setting customers’ hair, occasionally being given the task of a simple hairstyle pattern. New workers should perform these tasks with glee, knowing full well that practice makes perfect, and soon enough they’ll develop followings of their own, make better wages, and collect bigger tips. New cosmetologists should be especially careful in following the instructions of patrons and seeking help and direction if unsure of a particular procedure. Remember: This is an industry that relies on the proper use and application of chemicals. Hair and nail disasters can make the cosmetologist and the management of the establishment vulnerable to lawsuits.” (Read more at the Princeton Review.)

Written exams that must be passed are generally the same. You will be tested in several categories that are taught during you time at a cosmetology school including:

Anatomy & Physiology


Hair Cutting & Styling

Hair Coloring & Texturing




The types of questions presented on the written exam will vary between cosmetology schools, but website Online Cosmetology Exams.com provides example cosmetology exam questions. These include:

What does superioris mean?

What is the chemical symbol of carbon?

Which of the following is an artistic guideline utilized when cutting?

For more sample test questions and the full range of topics on which you may be tested, visit one of the free test exams at OnlineCosmetologyExams.com.