Steps to Successfully Completing a Pesticide Certification Exam

The MDA is the authority regulating pesticide use in Minnesota. Persons applying pesticides in Minnesota may need to obtain a license from MDA to do so. By taking and passing a certification exam a person demonstrates they are qualified to hold a license.

The MDA issues different license types with specific categories depending on the intended application site. Persons must determine what type of license they need (Structural, Commercial, Noncommercial) and the categories in which they need to certify.

Private Applicators (typically farmers) apply and test through the University of Minnesota.

Preparing for the Exam

  1. Every person must pass the Core Exam (Category A) and at least one additional exam category. Aerial applicators must pass the Core Exam (Category A), Aerial (Category B) and at least one other category. Study Materials for the exams may be ordered from University of Minnesota Bookstores Extension Publications online or call 612-301-3989. 
  2. Pay application fees, these fees and surcharges are non-transferable and nonrefundable. MDA strongly encourages new applicators to apply online  prior to the testing appointment.  Otherwise complete the application form including the name, address (physical and mailing address, if different) and phone number of your employer. Provide your social security number. Certify that the financial requirements are met.  Bring the complete application and payment to the testing location.  If you were licensed in the previous calendar year and are required to retest, you will need to bring the renewal form with payment or payment receipt to your testing appointment.
  3. Select a testing location.  
  4. If you require accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you must document your request in writing and submit it to no later than seven days before the exam. MDA will notify you whether the request for accommodation has been approved before the exam date. MDA will notify you prior to the exam date whether the request for accommodation has been approved.
  5. All exam materials are written in English. Independently reading and understanding print English is an essential eligibility requirement of being a certified pesticide applicator.  Therefore, no accommodation will be made that allows for another person to read exam materials to tester. 

At the Testing Location

  1. Provide one of the following to the test proctor:
    • Online application confirmation number
    • Renewal Receipt
    • Completed application/renewal form along with payment.
  2. Provide your driver’s license or valid government photo identification.
  3. Exams are given during normal business hours, but are not otherwise timed.
  4. Some county offices charge an administrative fee for use of the facility.

Taking the Exam

  1. Exams are closed book and require 70 percent correct answers or better to pass.
  2. Exam questions are primarily multiple choice.
  3. Questions and answers will not be explained.
  4. A calculator is provided for use during the exam.
  5. No talking is allowed during the exam.
  6. A person may not use reference materials during examination.
  7. Cell phones and other electronic devices are prohibited during the exam; these items must be surrendered to the test proctor during check-in. 
  8. Testers are monitored and the testing session will be ended if tester fails to follow directions. Testing session that are ended will result in a score of zero.

After the Test

  1. Test is scored:
    • If you test electronically: Test is scored immediately, and the results provided.
    • If you test on paper: Answer sheet is mailed to St. Paul office to be scored.
  2. MDA mails a license ID card to successful applicants. Successful applicants will see their valid license online as soon as it is approved.
  3. MDA sends unsuccessful applicants' employers a correspondence with test scores if the test was taken on paper. 

After a Failed Exam

A person may take the exam three (3) times per calendar year.