My Journey To Passing The NMLS Exam

Rebecca Clevlen: My Journey To Passing The NMLS Exam

“If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” ~Henry Ford

I am a teacher, both by vocation and by nature. I love to learn, and I love to share what I know and have learned. I grow personally and professionally when I see that ‘something’ I have shared with someone has enhanced their lives and has opened up a new avenue for them. So, I am reaching out to you today to share my journey with you; the journey I embarked upon to change the course of my future. I want to share my experiences with you, so that you will know and understand the process I went through, the resources I utilized, the fear and apprehension I experienced, but most importantly, I want you to know that you can do this.

My Work Experience

As I mentioned, I am a teacher by vocation. I’ve been in the education industry for approximately 11 years. Seven of those years have been in the classroom as a math teacher, while the other four years provided me with the opportunity to work in a leadership capacity as an Leadership Consultant and Instructional Math Coach working with math teachers, supporting their instruction in the classroom and developing their campus leadership teams.

My Experience In Education

Education is at the heart of everything I do. However, as I sat at my desk one day looking at the ever-growing stack of paperwork (none of which had to do with lessons or activities) I began to ask myself some very difficult questions; questions I’ve asked myself before but knew in my gut my responses were not completely honest. This was now the time to be honest with myself…brutally honest. The conclusion I’ve come to is that our education system is painfully and irreparably broken. It no longer has the best interests of our students at heart. And while, I do believe that accountability is crucial, both on the part of student and on teacher, it does not serve the purpose it may have been originally designed for. I work daily with teachers and students who consistently battle feelings of inadequacy, who stress every time a test is administered because the results may not be in line with what the state expects. I am one of those teachers. Not only did I experience stress for myself, but also for my students. Their success means everything to me.

My Next Step

So, as I continued asking myself questions, I found myself at my last question…the one that set my journey in motion. It was simply, “So, what’s my next step?”

How can I continue to serve others in a way that challenges me to continue to grow, and educates and informs others…a way to share my knowledge for someone else’s benefit. After much consideration, I made the decision to pursue my mortgage loan originator license. For me, it was the perfect way to combine my passion for working with people and sharing my knowledge in order to help them. So, I did my due diligence by researching the educational requirements for Texas. I found out that I needed 20 hours for the national requirements, plus 3 hours specific to Texas law. Wow, that’s a lot! With a full-time teaching job, and a daughter facing a very challenging first year of college, I was very anxious about how I was going to accomplish this. And then, finally, I was incredibly stressed about having to take a 4-hour, 125 question licensing exam.

Wheels In Motion

After gathering all of my information and determining all that needed to be accomplished, I put into practice the same strategies I’ve utilized with my classroom students and the teachers I’ve coached. I developed a plan. Without a plan, your goals are only dreams. A plan will give you something to measure progress by. For me, my plan needed to be something that worked around my other ‘life’ commitments (job, family, etc). So, what I found was that an online course worked best for me. It allowed me the flexibility and control that I needed in order to meet my daily commitments. Planning is essential, even for this. In my head, I could hear the 5 P’s one of my principals used to preach: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. After 6 years with this principal, those words are embedded in my thought process, and they have served me well, which is why I’m sharing them with you. On a calendar, I would write down the days and the amount of time I knew I could commit to my course. Writing this down will increase your commitment to follow through.


Once my online coursework was complete, I decided to find a study guide to help me prepare for the exam. Again, I did a great deal of research, and the one I decided to use is, The SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator National Exam Study Guide, by Patricia O’Connor. It’s offered as paper copy and also as a Kindle. For me, I like to write notes in my study guides, especially if there is something I don’t understand and need to do additional research on, so I purchased the paper copy. This was an invaluable resource and supplement to the online coursework. Quizzes are offered at the end of each chapter, and there are two full practice exams at the end of the book. What I found was that a great deal of information that I read in the study guide had not been shared in the online course. Together, however, they offer a complete industry overview.

Studying With A Full Time Job

I’ll be honest with you, I was very overwhelmed when I received it. It just looked like so much material. Again, with a full-time teaching job (that doesn’t end at 5:00), and family commitments, all I could think of was, “How?” Well, here is where another strategy comes into play. Break an overwhelming task into smaller chunks. By doing this, the smaller chunks are much easier to plan and manage. The best way to do this is to go back to the calendar. Once I broke the study guide into smaller chunks, I mapped it out on the calendar. I knew how many pages I needed to cover each night (or each week). And give yourself a deadline, a REALISTIC deadline. Consider all of your commitments and any time constraints you may have. Once everything was planned out on my calendar, I scheduled my exam. By doing this, I knew I would have to stick to my plan in order to meet my deadline.

Anxiety And Nerves

Tests are not my thing. I know that probably sounds funny coming from a teacher, but it’s the truth. I experience so much anxiety. I’m the person who doesn’t sleep the night before, and feels nauseated up until the moment the test is passed out. And then the real anxiety sets in. My brain literally feels like it has been squeezed into a tiny little ball. I probably couldn’t recite my name and address if asked. But, on this day, as I sat in my testing cubicle and clicked ‘Begin Exam’, I reminded myself of the conversations I’ve had with my students as they begin to take their dreaded state assessments each Spring. That conversation goes like this, “You have done everything in your power to prepare for this. And, in the event, you are not successful this first time, there are two really great things that can result from this: 1) You’ll have a better understanding of what you know really well and what you need to go back and work on, and 2) You’ve seen the exam in its entirety once, so you’ll know what to expect the next time. No Stress.

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.”
~Christian D Larson, Author and Teacher

About The Author: Rebecca Clevlen

Gustan Cho Associates would like to thank Rebecca Clevlen for publishing this great informative article about her experience in committing herself to pursue a new career as a mortgage loan originator and taking the proper steps in preparing and passing the NMLS Examination for the first time. Rebecca Clevlen is a staff writer for Gustan Cho Associates Mortgage and Real Estate Information Center and a licensed mortgage loan originator. Rebecca Clevlen is an expert in all areas of mortgage lending. Her expertise is originating, processing, underwriting, and funding FHA Loans, VA Loans, USDA Loans, and Conventional Loans. Based in Texas, Rebecca Clevlen’s mission is to help first time home buyers and home buyers who had prior credit issues realize their dream of home ownership a reality. Unlike other mortgage lenders, when you contact Rebecca Clevlen and you do not qualify, you will not hear to come back a year later after you improve your credit. The minute you contact Rebecca Clevlen, your relationship with Rebecca has started. If you do not qualify due to not meeting the minimum credit scores or issues on your credit report, Rebecca Clevlen will help you and work with you together in your journey to home ownership. Rebecca Clevlen is available 7 days a week to answer and of your questions and you can contact her at 512-663-2100 or you can email Rebecca Clevlen at

The information contained on Gustan Cho Associates website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by The Gustan Cho Team @ Gustan Cho Associates or its affiliates. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and/or guest writers of Gustan Cho Associates Mortgage & Real Estate Information Resource Center website and do not reflect the policy of Gustan Cho Associates Lenders Network, its officers, subsidiaries, parent, or affiliates.

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