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Which states have the toughest Notary exams?

A person studying in a library.

Updated 7-18-23. Requirements to receive a Notary commission are becoming stricter and more difficult in many states. Read on to find out which states have the most challenging state Notary tests and find helpful links to resources to help new and renewing Notaries pass these exams.


Because of Louisiana's unique civil law codes, the state's Notaries have duties and testing requirements different and more difficult than any other state in the U.S. Applicants must take and pass the statewide Notary examination but are exempted if they are attorneys licensed to practice law in Louisiana.

Schedules for upcoming exams can be found online. It is administered at regional test centers. Nonattorney applicants must also take a pre-assessment test administered by the Secretary of State to determine the probability that the applicant will pass the statewide exam.

Helpful Resources For Louisiana's Exam:

The Louisiana Secretary of State's office has information on becoming a Notary and offers exam study materials for purchase.

New York

New York has one of the toughest tests to become a Notary. The Empire State requires Notary applicants to take and pass an exam in order to receive a commission. However, the state does not require any training so applicants are on their own to learn the material covered in the exam. Applicants have one hour to complete the exam, and the tests are closely monitored: No notes, books or reference aids are permitted, and all electronic devices must be turned off during the exam.

Helpful Resources For New York's Exam: The state Division of Licensing publishes an online schedule of New York Notary exam times and locations. The NNA offers an online course with material to help you prepare for and pass the New York Notary exam.


California has some of the most stringent application requirements for Notaries in the U.S. — including a required education course and background check — and the mandatory exam is among the most challenging in any state. The test, based on the state's Notary Public Handbook, is proctored, and applicants must score at least 70 in order to receive a California commission. Renewing Notaries must also take the exam again each time they wish to renew their commission.

Helpful Resources For California's Exam: Exam questions are based on California's Notary Public Handbook, available online through the Secretary of State's website. The NNA also offers live and online training seminars for California Notaries with the option of taking the exam at the end of the seminar.

California Notary Exam Prep Course Available: The NNA also offers a California Notary Exam Prep Class designed for all new or renewing Notaries who have recently completed their 6-hour or 3-hour California Mandatory Online Training.

The 90-minute refresher course covers the toughest topics included on the California Notary Exam, and offers attendees the opportunity for a live Q&A session with an NNA Certified Instructor. (For more information, call 888-896-6827.)

North Carolina

North Carolina requires new commission applicants to take a mandatory training course and pass an exam with a minimum score of 80 percent — among the highest required passing scores for Notaries in the country. Applicants for recommissioning must pass an examination for each subsequent commission. Attorneys who are licensed members of the North Carolina State Bar are exempt from the mandatory course and examination requirements.

Standards for the recommissioning test are stringent. An applicant has 30 minutes to complete the test. If the applicant fails the first test, two re-takes are allowed within 30 days of the date the first exam was taken. If the applicant fails to pass the exam within 30 days, the application for a commission will be denied.

Helpful Resources For North Carolina's Exam: Information on registering for North Carolina's course and exam is available through the North Carolina Secretary of State's website. You can also learn more on our website about the three easy steps to becoming a North Carolina Notary.

David Thun is the Assistant Managing Editor at the National Notary Association.

View All: Notary News


Add your comment


12 Oct 2015

In North Carolina if you have been a notary since 1991, you don't have to take the test. NC General Statutes - Chapter 10B 7 (b) A notary whose commission has not expired must comply with the following requirements to be recommissioned: (1) Submit a new application meeting the requirements of G.S. 10B-6, except for G.S. 10B-6(2). (2) Meet all the requirements of G.S. 10B-5(b), except for G.S. 10B-5(b)(5), (6), and (9). (3) Achieve a passing score on the written examination required under G.S. 10B-8(b). This requirement does not apply if the notary is a licensed member of the North Carolina State Bar, or if the notary has been continuously commissioned in North Carolina since July 10, 1991, and has never been disciplined by the Secretary.

La Tonya Coleman

12 Oct 2015

Update on renewal

Cathy Wong

12 Oct 2015

California renewing notaries also have to take an education course, the 3 hour refresher course.


12 Oct 2015

Once you pass the 5 hour test you will never have to take it again in Louisiana even if you move to a new Parish.


31 Jan 2016

Louisiana is probably one of the hardest exams to pass for any notary than in any other state. But I must say, I can perform as a notary better because the test only allows those who pass this exam to be prepared as a Commissioned Notary in the state of Louisiana. I moved to another Parish and I moved my commission here. Without being a statewide notary, I could not have done this so easily. It was the right thing to do when the Secretary of State took over to give the exam. It is so much more fair of an exam than the individual parish test given by attorneys before 2005. I passed the statewide exam in 2008 on the first try but failed the individual parish test 3 times prior. It did help with experience and the 10 years I worked for a Paralegal in a Title Company.

Virginia covey

27 May 2017

This is very good help


01 Jul 2018

Whoever wrote this article either has an axe to grind or just uninformed. Louisiana is definitely the most difficult since the application procedures, wait time, very hard test etc. make it extremely hard to get a commission. I've taken both the Lousiana and California exams and CA is not difficult at all as long as you paid attention in class.

Sergio Szuster

30 Jul 2018

Is it easy to get a job and get work as a notary republic

becky m

08 Jan 2020

ohio is for sure the hardest. you have to pass with an 80%

Jeanine Lomax

25 Sep 2020

Taking pa notary test tomorrow u7jHsP

29 Jan 2021

Where can you sign up for NSA training in the state of maryland? Where do you take the exam to be certified as a NSA?

National Notary Association

04 Feb 2021

Hello. You can find information about NNA Signing Agent certification for Maryland Notaries here:

christine a walker

29 Jun 2021

Who wrote this article? There is a reason why Louisiana has had to resort to requiring "PRE" EXAM testing since I took my exam, to determine if a person is even capable of passing the mini bar~ too many people fail the 5 hour used to be 3 part, now 2? part civil law exam which, if passed, makes us civil law notaries able to perform the same acts as atty's short of going to court/giving legal advice. There is also a reason why we are commissioned for life. Although, the passing percentage for ea. of the three parts of the test I took was 80% seem now the two part test has lowered their standards to a 75% passing percentage. When a state has below a 10% passing rate, the test is either hard or the people ignorant. I, too, am a statewide notary~ contrary to what I saw posted above~ we are all still domiciled in our place of residence/work. Remember, one does not have to go to law school in many state to become an atty. as long as they pass the Bar, but I wouldn't recommend it.


29 Jun 2021

David Thun must be from New York~ they are listed as the number one hardest test to pass~ A “ONE” hour test which requires 70% to pass? No training required Louisiana gets a special mention? when i took the test it was a 3 part mini bar exam which required an 80% on ea. part to pass. Louisiana notaries are civil law notaries commissioned LIFE after passing a 5 hour exam and are able to perform the same acts as Atty's short of representing you in court and giving legal advice. I passed my exam in 1998 but contrary to what someone above stated I, too am a statewide notary, we are all domiciled in our home parish/es. Today Louisiana notaries take a two part test and they only require a 75% on ea. of the two parts, BUT before one can take the test, they must pass a PRE assessment test to see if they can even qualify for the test itself~and Louisiana gets a special mention? Remember, in many states one can become an atty. w/out attending law school if one can pass the bar, but I wouldn't recommend it~ David


24 Feb 2022

I agree with Christine... Who wrote this article? I do not believe this is accurate. Of those who sit for the Louisiana Notary Exam, historically less than 20% pass. This qualifies us as a Civil Law Notary Public, who can draft as well as execute almost any legal document you can think of. Of the 4 ladies in my study group, I was the only one taking the exam for the first time. Only two of us passed the test, and these ladies were not dumb people. One was a CPA , another was a Mortgage Officer and I have a degree in Applied Science. In the past, I have always been an Honor Grad, made the Dean's List and was in the Honor Society, and this was the hardest exam I have ever taken. I did pass, but my score was not as high as I typically expect. I was only relieved I passed the first time.

Denise Williams

29 Aug 2022

I'm so interested in becoming a mobile notary in California and Arizona .. What to do where do I start

National Notary Association

02 Sep 2022

Hello. Please be aware that you cannot hold both an Arizona and California commission at the same time. Only CA residents may hold a CA Notary commission, and only AZ residents may hold an Arizona Notary commission. You can find more information about how to become a Notary in Arizona here: and how to become a California Notary here:


25 Feb 2023

Louisiana has the toughest exam. Period. The exam is 5.5 hours, open book, 70 multiple choice questions. The average pass rate is about 12%. Civil Law Notaries in Louisiana are basically non-advocate lawyers.

Michael Gilman

31 Jul 2023

NY is not that bad... this past January the Guide the Secretary puts out there grew from 18 to 22 pages.. Mostly due to new RON rules.. but there were some changes to general notary work as well. There is NO continuing education here in NY.. which based on what I see out in the field is too bad.. many need it.. I teach a Prep Class to help folks prepare to take the NY State exam at a local college, I am also a Notary Mentor and NNA Ambassador.

Mark Polansky, Sr., Pinehurst Notary

09 Aug 2023

For North Carolina: sat thru a 6 hour class and took the 50 question closed book (no notes allowed) test with 9 other applicants. 80% required to pass; I scored 98%. Two of the ten applicants failed the test. Studying the NC Notary Manual is mandatory if you want to pass the test.

Mark Polansky, Sr., Pinehurst Notary

09 Aug 2023

For North Carolina: sat thru a 6 hour class and took the 50 question closed book (no notes allowed) test with 9 other applicants. 80% required to pass; I scored 98%. Two of the ten applicants failed the test. Studying the NC Notary Manual is mandatory if you want to pass the test.

Roc City Notary

15 Aug 2023

My confidence just shot through the roof after reading this. I’m in NY and passed the 1st time. I did pay for training so great advice to take a class prior.

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