Study Materials


No matter how long you have been doing HECM counseling, the HUD HECM exam requires preparation.  In order to pass the exam, you need to:

  1. Know the material

  2. Understand how the program works

  3. Apply analytical thinking skills to the material

  4. Read the questions carefully, and

  5. Answer the question that is being asked.

Good reading comprehension is key.  You will need to get a minimum score of 80 out of 100 in order to successfully complete the exam.  You are not REQUIRED to have satisfied the HECM Counseling Roster HECM training requirement before taking the exam.  However, unless you have previous HECM counseling experience, you are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to do so.

After completing HECM training, you should plan on several weeks of study - at a minimum - to prepare for the exam.  You will be taking the exam online from your home or office, but you will not have access to any notes, books or other materials during the exam. 

Start by reviewing the study materials below.  Then take the sample exam which is available online.  The sample exam is available at no cost.  You are permitted to take the exam up to three times.  The sample exam will provide you with information on where to learn more about the topics for questions that you did not answer correctly.

Official HUD HECM Program Materials

  • The HUD HECM Counseling Protocol is the document that outlines much of the information that counselors need to know and cover in counseling (but not everything that is on the exam).  It was most recently updated in 2010, though, and does not include program changes since that time.  A new version is in process.

  • HUD Handbook 4235.1 REV-1 Home Equity Conversion Mortgages, is the basic program handbook for the HECM program. The key sections are Chapters 1-9 and Appendixes 1, 7, 8, and 13. Remember - the Handbook was published in 1994, and some of the key program rules have changed since then, as explained in later HUD mortgagee letters, HECM regulations, and amendments to the HECM statute (see below).  BE SURE TO READ THE MORTGAGEE LETTERS!  A new version of the Handbook is in process and may be issued in late 2015. 

  • HUD Handbook 4330.1 Administration of Insured Mortgages, Chapter 13 addresses servicing requirements for HECMs. 

  • HUD Handbook 7610.1  Housing Counseling Program HandbookChapter 4 focuses on HECM counseling specifically.   Most recently updated in 2010.

  • HUD HECM Mortgagee Letters are issued by HUD to make official changes in the HECM program. This is the way the program is updated and rules are clarified or modified.  Reading and digesting the Mortgagee Letters is critical for a thorough understanding of how the HECM program works and how it is changing.  Concentrate on the ones from 2009 forward, since earlier ones have been incorporated into the Protocol.  See the Overview of Key Mortgagee Letters document below for an unofficial summary of the most important mortgagee letters.

Other Resources for Exam Preparation