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How to Pass the Real Estate Exam on the First Try

How to Pass the Real Estate Exam on the First Try

If you’re wondering how to pass the real estate exam, you’re not alone. Many people ask this question.

Fortunately for you, I’ve done it, and I will share my tips and tricks to help you do the same.

Is the Real Estate Exam Hard?

If you’re preparing to take the real estate licensing exam as you work toward your real estate license, you might be wondering exactly what you can expect on test day.

What’s on the test? What should you bring? What happens after the exam? The real estate exam tests your knowledge of real estate in general and the real estate laws in your state.

You learn this information through your state’s required real estate courses for agents or brokers. To pass your real estate licensing exam the first time, you probably want to prepare for the exam.

And we mean beyond simply reviewing your pre-license course materials. There are lots of ways to fit your exam prep in and make sure you’re reviewing the right concepts.

Tired young woman student of the University. Preparing exam and learning lessons in public library.

Lia Koltyrina/Shutterstock

It’s Not Hard When You’re Prepared!

After all, the exam is difficult. I’m a decent test-taker, but I don’t consider myself any smarter than the average person. However, I see why the fail rate is high.

Don’t get discouraged when you read this, though. It’s not because the test is impossible. I think would-be agents fail the test because they don’t prepare in advance.

If you want to pass on the first try, keep reading. We’ll cover what to expect on the real estate exam, ways you can prepare for the exam, the best practice tests online, and what you can expect on exam day in this quick guide.

Preparing for the Real Estate Exam

Yellow house with a red roof and check boxes with red checks in them being drawn by a red pencil


It’s hard to prepare for an exam if you don’t know what information will be tested and covered.

Each state’s exam is a little different, but there’s a general 2-part structure these exams follow.

The first part is nationally regulated and covers real estate concepts that apply across the nation.

The second part is regulated by the state and pertains to state-specific laws and real estate information.

If you’re applying for a broker license, you might have a few more questions on the state-specific portion of the test.

In any case, the questions on the exam will be directly related to the real estate pre-license courses you take.

Part 1: Real Estate Concepts

  • Expect up to 100 questions on the test (multiple choice)
  • You must pass this section to receive your license
  • Covers topics like real estate ownership, listing agreements, financing, and more
  • Time allowed: About 2 hours and 40 minutes

Part 2: State Licensing Laws

  • Expect up to 80 questions on the test
  • You must pass this section to receive your license
  • Covers any state-specific real estate laws
  • Time allowed: About 1 hour and 20 minutes

You’re individually scored on each of these two parts of the test. You have to pass each one to be accepted for a license application. A score of at least 70% to 75% will be required on each section to pass.

If you are taking the exam to become an appraiser, acquisition agent, or timeshare salesperson, you may have additional questions on the test as well as different passing percentage requirements.

Be sure to check with your state to see what your specific requirements will be. Reviewing your course materials from your required pre-licensing education can be very helpful as you prepare for the examination.

Practice tests, study guides, and flashcards are other ways to prepare for these exams. Let’s look at your best options for practicing real estate exams and studying.

Real Estate Exam Practice Tests and Study Guides

It makes sense that those who take practice real estate tests and test prep courses tend to score higher and are more likely to pass on the first try.

Education College Literacy Knowledge Acquisition as an image for a piece on the real estate exam

The PSI exam guide itself states that “planned preparation increases your likelihood of passing.”
Practice tests will help you:

  • Make sure you’re completing the questions within the allotted time frame
  • Identify areas you need a better understand of before the exam
  • Identify your strongest areas in testing
  • Get used to the computer testing format
  • Feel more prepared for the actual licensing exam

Not all real estate practice tests are created equal, and some actually guarantee higher pass rates. We recommend using one of the highly-rated options below.

Just visit the link and select your state to get started.

I’m partial to the Real Estate Express exams, as I personally used these to study for (and pass) my own real estate exam. Questions are similar to the actual test, including the “gotchas.”

When you take your practice exam, try to mimic the environment you’ll be in when you take the actual real estate licensing exam.

Make sure there are no distractions, sit at a desk or table, track your time, and treat it like it’s the real exam. In addition to practice tests, you can find a vast number of real estate exam prep guides online.

Real estate express practice exam

Image Source: Real Estate Express Course

Try searching for study guides that are designed for your state so you don’t waste time learning information that won’t be on your exam.

Another excellent way to study for your real estate exam is using flashcards. Because the exam questions are multiple-choice, flashcards are the perfect way to review the concepts anytime quickly. You have a free minute.

If you happen to be taking the exam at the same time as someone you know (or if you have a friend or family member willing to help you), meet up to study with flashcards and quiz each other.

Try taking turns “teaching” the information to each other. Studies have shown that just speaking newly-learned information out loud and helping another person understand the concept can help you better retain the information.

It’s called the Protege Effect, and it’s proven to help you master topics. When you’ve studied as much as you can, and it’s time for exam day, you’ll feel much more prepared and at ease.

How to Pass the Real Estate Exam

On the big day, you’ll need to bring a few items you’ll need to be admitted into the examination center. This information will be sent to you when you register for your exam appointment.

Make sure you arrive early! Checking in takes a little time because you’ll need to verify your identity. The exam will be completed on a computer, so there’s no need to bring pencils or writing utensils.

How to pass the real estate exam on the first try

What to Bring

When you arrive at the examination site, you’ll need to have:

  • First form of ID: State-issued or federally issued identification (like a driver’s license, passport, or military ID)
  • Secondary form of ID: Credit card or social security card
  • Basic calculator: Typically cannot be a graphing calculator

Your state may have additional requirements, so be sure to check those requirements before your scheduled exam day.

At the Test Center

Make sure you arrive at the testing site at least 30 minutes early to allow yourself time to find the testing room, sign in, verify your identity, and get settled before the exam.

Once the exam starts, you won’t be allowed to leave the room unless you get permission from the proctor. Don’t stress about taking the test.

You’ll get a chance to go through a quick, interactive tutorial. You’ll see how the exam works before the official time clock starts. This is precisely what you’ve been prepping for! Keep an eye on your time.

Note: We just said this, but make sure to use all your time. On my own test, I read all questions 3 or more times. This helped me catch a few questions I had misread the first time.

Most people can finish the exam easily within the allotted time. So as long as you keep moving steadily through the questions, you will be able to finish in plenty of time.

The test has a review function, which allows you to use the leftover time to go back and check your answers before officially submitting your answers. If you have unused time, take advantage of this!

Even catching one question you’ve missed the first time could be the difference between failing and passing your real estate exam.

After the Test

When you finish your test, you will immediately be able to see your score for each section. There are two ways you’ll be able to review your score:

  • On-screen: This is where your score will appear as soon as you finish the test. If you do not pass the exam, it will show the result of “Unsuccessful” and highlight the parts of the exam you had trouble with.
  • On paper: You’ll get a printed, official score report before you leave the exam room.

After successfully passing the exam and meeting all requirements, you’ll still need to apply for your real estate license through your state’s website.

How to Pass the Real Estate Exam

Article Highlights
  • In all, your test will take about 4 hours and consist of about 180 questions that will be on topics you’ve covered in depth during your pre-licensing education courses.
  • Whether you’re looking to become a real estate salesperson or real estate broker, you’ll see better results on your official exam if you take a practice exam or two beforehand.
  • There is no substitute for studying, though, so be sure that you’re reading and learning about the topics you identify on your practice exams. There’s no such thing as being too prepared.
  • Deciding to become a real estate salesperson or broker can seem complicated and overwhelming as you look at the overall process and requirements you have to meet.
  • To give you an idea of what’s on the test, take a practice test. I took about 10 of them before sitting for the final exam

Your licensing exam is one of the final steps you’ll need to take on your path to becoming a real estate professional.

With enough study, review, and practice, you’ll be able to ace the exam on your first try and get that much closer to starting your new career.

Our Favorite Real Estate School

Let’s face it — it’s the digital age, and your schedule is busy. Why tie yourself to a set schedule by choosing a brick and mortar school? Don’t worry, there’s an alternative.

Real Estate Express offers flexible course options that are completely online. This means you can take your real estate courses from the comfort of your own living room, whenever is convenient for you.