how to get your C-38 license in California and pass your refrigeration contractors exam with the CSLB

Preparing For Your Refrigeration License Exam?

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Passing the Refrigeration License Test on your first try is simple if you have the right information. However, it will absolutely require study and dedication.

 In California, thousands of people apply for the C-38 Refrigeration license each year.

The Contractor State License Board offers 73 different classifications in addition to the refrigeration license. Read this to see if you qualify to get an exam date. I have helped thousands of people pass the exam on their first try, and these 5 Quick tips are based on the information I have gathered over the years that I know works.

image of the logo of the contractors state license board, which is the agency that administers the refrigeration license exam

1. What will be on the Refrigeration License Exam?

Preparation is everything, many tradesmen I work with apply for the exam without actually knowing what will be on the test.

Taking the time to look at some basic information about the exam is very helpful.

The C-38 Refrigeration License exam includes:

  • 115 Questions LAW
  • 115 Questions Refrigeration
  • Multiple Choice Exam
  • Close Book
  • 3 Hours To Complete Each Section
  • Taken On A Computer at A State Testing Center

Law & Business

  • Business Organization
  • Business Finances
  • Employment Requirements
  • Contract Requirements and Execution
  • Licensing Requirements
  • Safety 
  • Public Works


1. Planning and Estimation (18%)

2. Installation of Refrigeration Systems (31%)

3. Repair of Refrigeration Systems (18%)

4. Maintenance of Refrigeration Systems (19%)

5. Safety (14%)

For a complete guide to the Contractor License LAW concepts, you must know to pass the C-38 refrigeration license exam.

2. Refrigeration License Practice Tests

a refrigeration contractor fixing the back of a cooler system

While running a contractor license school, I learned that the biggest difficulty my students faced was that most of them had not taken an exam in years.

  • Some of my students never finished high school or had immigrated to the United States recently, and were still learning English. 
  • One of the best study tools for them was to use Online Practice Tests. Simulated online tests are based on the state exam.

Get Online Practice Tests Here

C-38 Refrigeration License Practice Test Questions

2. With the power on, what is the proper sequence when checking fuses on a 3-phase fused disconnect?

a) Line to line of alternate adjacent phase

b) Ground to load of alternate adjacent phase

c) Line to ground of alternate adjacent phase

d) Line to load of alternate adjacent phase

A contractor is bidding to install a walk-in cooler and finds that the compressor costs $4,600 and the piping is $5.76/foot for 200feet of pipe. If this is 40% of the contract, what is the contract’s total bid price?

a) $5,752

b) $9,204

c) $10,360

d) $14,380

3. Use Refrigeration License Exam Study Guides

Test questions are great, but relying on them as your only study source is a big mistake. If you are not into reading, you can find refrigeration license exam study books in audio or video format.

Online Practice Tests and Answers

Practice test questions for the refrigeration license exam do not give you the theory behind what the question is asking you. Use a book or study guide as a reference. Exam prep books for the C-38 refrigerator license cover a wide range of topics. They can also be incredibly helpful to refresh your memory on core topics you may have forgotten. Free contractor license study guides often cover just a snapshot of what you need to know.

Invest in yourself and look for C-38 license study guides that cover topics such as:

  • Rough-in refrigeration systems
  • Install refrigeration equipment
  • Planning refrigeration projects
  • Troubleshooting refrigeration systems
  •  Perform refrigeration system repairs
  • Code compliance activities

4. Enroll in Contractor Classes

Contractor Classes are only LAW & BUSINESS classes for construction contractors.

Contractor license schools offer state-specific exam prep classes that cover the basics of construction LAW. It is essential to understand the distinction between a contractor license and a trade school. The C-38 refrigeration license exam is for a journey-level tradesman who has a solid understanding of the refrigeration repair and maintenance trade. Contractor classes are not meant to teach you your trade. Contractor Classes are highly beneficial for those of us who haven't been in school for a while

an image of a frustrated contractor looking down at some documents. if you are applying to take the refrigeration license exam, a contractor license school can help

Contractor Classes are:

  • Taught by Contractors or construction veterans
  • Live Instruction format with questions and answers
  • Bilingual (depending on the school you chose)
  • In-depth classes that cover important exam concepts

Contractor License schools offer several services that can help you get everything taken care of quickly and easily.

Check out this article for a more in-depth look at how to choose the right school!

How to study for the Contractor License Test!

You are trying to get the C-38 refrigeration license to make more money, achieve a goal or move up in some way. It is totally understandable if the idea of taking an exam is intimidating.

  • Remember that most of the people there on test day are in the exact same position as you. 
  • The key is to get some accurate material and be consistent about studying them.
  • Professional athletes, artists, and other top-level tradesmen will all tell you the same thing. Developing mastery is about doing a bunch of little things over and over again.

5. Study Every Day!

If you commute, invest in an audio program, and you can listen while you drive. If you are a native Spanish speaker and prefer to watch a recorded class, invest in a bilingual program.

There are a lot of options out there to get you the information you need to know so you can get where you want to be FAST!

blog post about how to get the c-38 license for refrigeration contractors in California

If you have found this article helpful, feel free to check out some of our other free content.

For a complete guide to the C-38 Refrigeration License ​see this article!