It’s been almost a week since the ’16 NFLPA exam, and I’ve had several conversations with the 400-plus people who were there. Here are a few observations.

  • My initial observation was that the NFLPA made the test a lot easier after last year’s exam cut the passing rate by about 30 points, from about 70 percent to just under 40 percent. After talking to more people, it seems they might have made it a little easier, but not appreciably.
  • Where I think they changed things is that they made the pre-test seminar a lot better and more thorough. Last year, especially on the second day, the seminar was a bit of a blow-off; they even ended the seminar early and almost started the exam early. They must have taken fire last year from some of the candidates that failed.
  • My impression is that Mark Levin, who’s one of the better officials at the NFLPA and certainly one of the more knowledgeable of the CBA, played a bigger role this year. If that’s the case, that’s a good move on the NFLPA’s part.
  • If you’ll permit me to brag a bit, the people that seemed most confident about the test used our practice exam. We expanded it this year, and I think the 40-plus questions gave people an excellent look at what to expect. At least that’s what everyone told me.
  • On the other hand, I spoke to one test-taker who freely admits he wasn’t prepared and didn’t perform well (and probably failed). This is incredibly refreshing. There are so many big egos in this business, especially when they’re first getting into he business, but this young man (who has an NFL background and who was fresh out of law school) essentially laughed at how not-ready he was for this test, and how lightly he took it. I mean, it was classic what-not-to-do-when-taking-the-exam stuff. We’re at least six weeks away from even getting the results for the ’16 exam and we’re already working with him, getting him ready for ’17.
  • I think the era of the easy NFLPA exam is over, for several reasons. One, the NFLPA doesn’t really like agents, especially lower-tier agents. Two, the PA really struggles to vet all the applicants (every year, there are several applicants that don’t even find out they’re approved for the exam until a week or more beforehand). Three, the PA is always hearing from the big firms that there are too many agents. Four, the PA sees agent applications as an insatiable, renewable resource (and that may be right). No matter how many agents fail the exam, and no matter how many leave the business each year, they’re still going to have about 300 people taking the exam.
  • I think you’re going to see an uptick in the size of the agent class this year, but it won’t be a landslide. Many of the 200 or so that were back this year for a second whack at it will pass (at least a hundred, I’d say), plus the 200-plus new test-takers were, generally, better-prepared, I’d say (we worked with an awful lot of them), so I’d guess at least a hundred of them pass. So my guess is that we get an agent class that’s more in line with the usual 150-200 that pass.

That pretty much wraps up our coverage of the ’16 agent exam. On to next year.