In Minnesota, title companies and those doing land title searches generally take and pass a state licensing examination. Counties do not need to allow you into the public record without it. No license, the county can make you wait at the counter for assistance. Theory being that the records could be damaged, altered, mis-filed, etc. Well, the exam is not the proverbial “piece of cake.” Here is a typical question from an exam taker. I get these quite often.

Hi Jeanne,

I have taken your abstracting and exam classes in the past and tried to pass the abstracting test a few months ago and FAILED twice. I am wondering if you have any suggestions for me???  (Name withheld)


Dear XXX,

Good to hear from you. Do you recall anything from the exam that was especially puzzling for you?

I have heard from others that the questions use a lot of negative and trick-like questions such as “which of the following is the least likely…”, or “which one of the following is not…” For those, you need to be extra careful. 

For example if they asked, 

Which of the following is most likely to be deleted in a name search against Mary Charlotte Jones?

  1. Marie C. Jones
  2. Mary Charlotte Jonas
  3. Marie Cathleen Jones
  4. Mary Jones

You need to try to decide what names you would NOT show if you found a judgment. So, the one that is most clearly different is c, because the middle name is clearly not the same, and although Mary and Marie are different, and Jones and Jonas are different, they pretty much sound the same. So best answer, the one that is most different, is c.

Another type of negative Q to look out for:


A quit claim deed is not used…


  1. to give no claims as to the validity of title
  2. to give up any interest one may have in real estate
  3. to warrant title to property
  4. to convey title to real estate

You have to think through each answer.

  1. Does a QCD give no claims as to the validity of title?  Yes.
  2. Does a QCD give up any interestone may have in real estate? Yes.
  3. Does a QCD warrant title to property? No.
  4. Does a QCD convey title to real estate? Yes.

It goes against how we think, but, because the Question says a QCD is NOT used to…, the answer is C.

Other questions may seem to be tricks, as they are hard to follow. For example,


Which of the following is least likely to be shown in Joint Tenancy?

  1. A and B→ C and D
  2. E→ F and G
  3. G, H and I → J, K
  4. K→L, M→ N

The key to this question is how many people do you have to have for joint tenancy? Answer is at least 2, so only #4 fits the bill because others are deeds to only single parties, so they can’t be JT’s. What comes to mind is that someone is always a T in C unless specified otherwise, and none of these say “as JT.”

Other suggestions are study up on the terminology, as they may split hairs, or substitute similar words – encroachment for encumbrance, etc.


If you have specific areas you do not understand, please let me know. Thanks, Jeanne

P.S. XXX, I am going to post your Q on the blog without your name to see if we get any other responses… keep an eye out.