Information Regarding the Examination

Effective January 1, 2022, the practical exam is no longer required for all license types. Candidates only need to pass the written exam to become licensed. Once an examination application is approved by the Board, a PSI handbook will be sent to the candidate. The candidate will schedule the written exam at a time and PSI location of their choice.

The exam is available in English, Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Simplified Chinese. Please note: the exam is translated into the most universal or neutral version of each language to be acceptable to the widest possible audience. If a candidate cannot read, speak, or write in English at a 10th grade-level and the examination is not available in their native language, the candidate may request approval to use an interpreter for one or both parts of the examination. Please refer to Interpreter instructions at:

The number of questions and time allowed for the examinations vary per license type:

  • Barber: 85 scored questions, 10 pretest, 120 minutes to complete
  • Cosmetologist: 100 score questions, 10 pretest, 120 minutes to complete
  • Esthetician: 75 scored questions, 10 pretest, 90 minutes to complete
  • Electrologist: 50 scored questions, 10 pretest, 90 minutes to complete
  • Manicurist: 60 scored questions, 10 pretest, 90 minutes to complete
  • Hairstylist: 50 scored questions, 10 pretest, 90 minutes to complete.

Effective July 1, 2022, the Board began offering the national examination developed by PSI services for all license types. The processes used to develop these examinations have been reviewed by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Office of Professional Examination Services and the examinations have been deemed valid for use in California.

Under the direction of PSI psychometricians, the examinations have been developed by licensed professionals who are subject matter experts in Cosmetology, Barbering, Manicuring, Esthetics and Electrology. Each examination content outline identifies practice areas of importance to licensees critical for providing services to the public in a safe and competent manner.

California Candidate Information Bulletins (CIB)

Provided in the links below are the examination bulletins which include the content outline for each examination as well as the reference materials used for examination development:

Additional Resources

Spanish Translation Guide

Korean Translation Guide

Vietnamese Translation Guide

Simplified Chinese Translation Guide