Real Estate Education

Real estate exam prep: The ultimate guide to acing your state’s real estate exam

Let our education and curriculum expert help you ace your state’s real estate exam using research-based tips, techniques & strategies.

If you’re considering getting your real estate license — congratulations! You’re only steps away from an exciting and rewarding new career that offers endless opportunities for growth and success. Our ultimate real estate exam prep guide will walk you through the steps to prepare for your state’s real estate license exam.

With our tips and techniques for studying and our strategies for exam taking (plus common mistakes to avoid), you’ll be on your way to acing your state’s exam, getting licensed, and representing clients.

Top picks for real estate exam prep

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Real estate exam prep facts

Real estate exam cheat sheet 

Format: Typically multiple-choice, with 75-150 questions. 

Time Allotted: 2-3.5 hours. 

Sections: National and state sections, both scored individually. 

Passing Rates: Most states require a minimum overall score of 70%, but each state varies.

Exam Retakes: Exams or exam sections can be retaken, states vary on the required time in between retakes or the fee to retake an exam.

First, let’s review the structure of most state real estate licensing exams. Real estate exams are typically in multiple-choice format. The number of questions and the time allotted to sit the exam vary by state. Real estate exams are typically divided into two sections: national real estate principles and practices, and state real estate laws. 

Both sections are scored individually, and in most states, you’ll need to achieve a passing grade in both sections to pass the exam. Passing grades are also determined by each state. Luckily, if you happen to stumble on one section, you can often retake one portion of the exam. Stay confident and stay focused, and you’ll be on your way to mastering the real estate exam.


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Before you study: real estate exam prep tips

Before you sit down to study for the real estate exam, do as the experts do to set yourself up for success. With our research-based tips, you’ll be on the path to mastering the exam.

  • Create a study schedule

    Decades of research from the American Psychology Association shows that students who create study plans and space out their study sessions come out with higher test scores. [1] Designate specific blocks of time each day to focus solely on studying for the exam. Consistency is key, so make sure to stick to your schedule. Instead of long chunks of time, opt for 30-minute sessions over a longer period of time.

  • Gather quality study materials

    Invest in reliable study materials that fit your learning style such as online courses, digital flashcards, videos, and practice exams. Use a critical eye to find exam pass rates on real estate schools’ websites to find assurance that their exam prep materials help students succeed on the real estate exam.

  • Find practice exams

    The Learning Strategies Center at Cornell University confirms that mimicking exam conditions helps immensely in retrieving the information at exam time.[2] Practice makes perfect, so take advantage of real estate practice exams to assess your strengths and weaknesses and identify areas to review.

While you study: get the most out of your real estate exam prep time

Now that you’re set for success, let’s explore some study hacks to maximize your study time. 

  • Vary your learning resources

    Don’t stick to just one study tool, keep your brain sharp by varying the ways you’re taking in information. Take advantage of exam prep tools like flashcards, videos, summaries, and practice questions. Harvard Health also suggests to quiz yourself often while you study, and ask yourself why and how concepts connect to process the meaning of all you’re studying.[3]

  • Form study groups

    Collaborating with others who are also prepping for the real estate exam can be highly beneficial. You’ll be exposed to repetition of concepts through another person’s lens, which will help you synthesize your own learning. Plus, you can tackle challenging topics together, share resources, and quiz each other.

  • Teach others

    The success of teaching others as a means of better understanding material yourself has been proven so many times over it has a name – the protégé effect. Studies show you’ll learn with a deeper understanding if you think you’ll have to reteach it later.[4] Plus, teaching others will reveal gaps in your understanding you can catch before exam time.

    Check out our Free real estate practice exam + 7 study hacks to ace the real estate exam. We share our top study hacks and strategies for success.

Common mistakes to avoid during the real estate exam

Many people make avoidable mistakes that can lead to failing the exam. Here are some common mistakes to avoid as you prepare for and take the real estate exam.

  • Not reading the questions carefully

    Rushing through questions or assuming you know what the question is asking can lead to answering incorrectly. Be sure to read each question carefully and ask yourself if you fully understand what is being asked before answering.

  • Guessing without eliminating options

    Another mistake people make on the real estate exam is guessing without eliminating options. If you are unsure of the answer, try to eliminate the options that you know are incorrect. This will help increase your chances of guessing correctly and can prevent you from getting tripped up by trick questions.

  • Forgetting to review your answers

    Taking the time to review your answers can help catch any mistakes or oversights you may have made. You can also flag questions you weren’t entirely sure about and return to them later so you can capitalize on your confidence when you see questions you know the answers to.

Strategies for answering different types of questions on the real estate exam

By understanding the unique demands of each question type, you can confidently tackle any type of question that comes your way.

  • Multiple-choice questions

    Pay attention to keywords and the stem of the question, and use logic and reasoning – apply your knowledge and critical thinking skills to arrive at the most accurate answer. Watch out for options that include words like “always,” “never,” or “every,” as they tend to be incorrect.

  • True or false questions

    Start by looking for qualifiers and exceptions, since words like “usually,” “sometimes,” or “most” can change the validity of the statement. Next, be cautious with double negatives and take your time to decipher the intended meaning. Finally, it’s common to make assumptions, but it’s important to base your answer solely on the information provided in the statement.

  • Scenario-based questions

    Start by scoping out the key details; highlight important facts, figures, and relationships that are relevant to the question. Next, put yourself in the shoes of the parties involved and evaluate the situation from different angles. Lastly, try to avoid overthinking or overcomplicating, and trust your gut.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is the format of the real estate exam?

    Real estate exams are usually administered on a computer at designated testing centers. Some states may offer both computer-based and paper-based options, but the computer-based format is more common. They typically consist of multiple-choice questions and have two portions: a national portion and a state-specific portion.

  • How hard is the real estate exam?

    The passing score for the real estate exam varies by state, but most look for an overall score of 70%. Real estate exams can be challenging, but doable with good preparation. You can find your state’s real estate regulatory board website by finding it through the Association of Real Estate Law Officials website.

  • What happens if I fail one part of the exam?

    If you fail one part of the exam (either the national or state-specific section), you often have the opportunity to retake only the section you failed. Check your state’s policies, as retake rules vary in each state, and you may need to pay an additional fee or wait a specific amount of time before retaking the exam.

  • How many questions are on the real estate exam?

    While each state’s real estate exam varies, the exam typically consists of multiple-choice questions that can vary between 70 and 150 questions. The allotted time to complete the exam can typically be between 2 and 3.5 hours. Some exams may also include scenario-based questions or case studies.

  • How do I pass the real estate exam?

    To prepare for the real estate exam, you can create a study plan, use study materials such as textbooks, flashcards, and practice exams, consider enrolling in a real estate exam prep course, and join study groups for collaborative learning.

  • Are there requirements to take the real estate exam?

    Yes! Eligibility requirements vary by state. Generally, you must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. In most states, you must complete a set number of hours of prelicensing education at an approved school, provide valid identification, and pay an exam fee before being eligible to take the exam. You may also have to submit to a background check to get licensed. Check with your state’s real estate commission for exact requirements or find your state on our Real Estate Education landing page.

  • What happens after passing the real estate exam?

    After passing the real estate exam, you can apply for your real estate license with your state’s regulatory authority. You’ll often be mailed your real estate license (and a pocket card). Once you have your license, you can start working as a real estate professional, such as a real estate agent or broker. You’ll need to find a brokerage to sponsor you or to work under.

The full picture

The real estate exam is a significant milestone on your journey to becoming a successful real estate agent or broker. By following our guide, you can unlock the secrets to mastering the real estate exam.

Remember to stay focused, maintain a positive mindset, and trust in your preparation. With dedication and perseverance, we have no doubt you’ll ace the real estate exam and embark on a fulfilling career in real estate.

We’re here to help you launch your career with helpful tips, tools, strategies and product recommendations from experienced real estate industry professionals.

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