Need to catch up on my story?  You can read PART ONE here.

Finally an official appeared to initiate the next phase. My advice to any future test candidates is to keep one’s mouth closed and ears open. The administrators will provide the bare minimum of information necessary and asking questions will not be rewarded with any additional information. When instructed once again we each presented our identification and paperwork to the official. We were then divided into small groups and ushered into rooms approximately the size of a large classroom. There were several small desks spaced out throughout the room and each desk was perpendicular to a long counter set against the wall. Upon entering the room we were told which station to occupy and while I hoped I would get to sit in a back row, as luck would have it I was directed to a front row desk, closest to the proctor’s lectern.

As soon as were settled the test began. We were told to turn to the notebook on the counter and silently read along with the proctor as she read the test instructions out loud. I doubt anyone actually read along with her since we had all long ago memorized the instructions during our countless mock board exam practice sessions. We were actually all waiting to hear:

“You may begin.”

And the test started. And miracle of miracles – I did not panic and my mind did not go blank! My training kicked in and I starting doing the right steps in the right order. Other than a fleeting moment to remind myself “You got this” I was totally focused on the test procedures with (almost) no room for self‐doubt. In seemingly no time the first section was done and we were reading the next section in the instructions. It briefly occurredto me that so far so good and that I had notyet been discovered to be a fraud and asked to leave.

I will skip over the details of the remainder of the test because it seemed to fly by and was mostly uneventful. At the conclusion of each procedure the proctor would pick up the mannequin hand, examine it and drop it on my desk. I searched her face for any sign of approval or disapproval, but her expression gave nothing away. I would know the test results at the end of the day and not before. On the plus side, despite the horror stories nail school instructors delight in telling of proctors deliberately knocking implements onto the floor, etc, that was not my experience. I had the impression that the default assumption was that candidates would pass; and that one would have to really mess up to fail. So while the proctors may not be your friend; they are not necessarily your enemy either.

At last the final procedure was completed and we were advised the test was complete and thanked for our participation. We were then instructed to pack up our belongings and leave the room. And although everyone was frantically cramming implements, supplies and trash into test bags that were seemingly smaller than when we had arrived, apparently we were not fast enough and soon her instructions to pack up and leave became her mantra.

Then the waiting began. We were directed to another room to wait there while our test results were tallied. While thewait was only about thirty minutes, it was probably the longest thirty minutes of my life. Eventually we were led once again to the reception area and told to approach the counter one at a time to learn our results. When my turn came I walked to the counter, gave my name, held my breath and waited for the verdict.

“Congratulations, you passed.”

When I was handed my official California Manicuring License I was tempted to do a fist pump right there in the office. But somehow I managed to restrain myself and maintain some dignity while in the building. However, I am not certain but after exiting the building I may have skipped to my car.

I do not want to give the impression I thought the licensing tests were easy – they were not. But I worked hard to prepare myself for the day and ultimately achieved my goal.

Does that mean that now I am an accomplished nail technician? Well, no. As any experienced nail technician will tell you, it is after obtaining the license that the real learning begins. I am fortunate that I know several knowledgeable and generous nail technicians to help guide me.

Now I just need some patient clients to practice on.



For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.

Read more about