Knowing What to Take to a Real Estate License Exam

The big day is almost here. You've passed whatever prelicensing course you had to take with flying colors, and you've filled out and sent in your application for the exam and gotten something back in the mail telling you where and when to show up for your exam. You've reviewed everything that applies to the test you're taking and you're ready to go. Now start packing.

In some places, the question of what to bring to the exam has produced an art unto itself. General security issues are in effect in many public buildings, and you'll also need to deal with security issues that are specifically pertinent to exam sites. The key here is simple. Read all of the literature you can find from the state licensing agency or the testing company your state uses to find out about what you can and cannot bring to the exam and follow it exactly. (Some states have contracted with private companies to administer exams; if this is the case in your state, you can get contact information from your state licensing agency.) If you have a specific question that isn't covered in the material, you can call or e-mail the state agency and get an answer to your question.

In general, the things you need to bring are

  • A calculator: Pay attention to the requirements for a calculator. Calculators are usually required to be silent, battery-powered, and nonprogrammable. In general, anything that can carry text won't be permitted. Those of you who have a calculator feature built into your cell phones may not be permitted to use them. In some places, you have to sign a form indicating the kind of calculator you're using.
    One other thing: If you're using a battery-powered calculator, change the batteries a few days before the exam or bring two calculators. If changing the batteries in your calculator is really easy (you don't need a screwdriver or some other tool), you can also bring new batteries with you, just in case.
  • An entry permit: Make sure that you bring the entry permit that you received in the mail after you sent in your application, because it and any other necessary paperwork may be the only documents that will enable you to take the exam. What is considered necessary paperwork varies from state to state, so it's pretty difficult to tell you exactly what you'll need to bring, but at a minimum you need that entry permit. In states that permit walk-ins at exams, you may need the application itself, plus the fee and probably one or two forms of identification.
  • No. 2 pencils: You'll probably need some of those famous No. 2 pencils. Bring more than two with erasers. If you buy new ones, sharpen them before you go to the exam. Don't depend on there being a pencil sharpener at the exam site. Sharpened No. 2 pencils are a little hard to carry. Put them in a standard-size (No.10) envelope.
  • A pen: Bringing along a pen with blue or black ink is a good idea in case you have to fill out some form that's better completed in ink than in pencil.
  • A photo ID: An ID of some sort is pretty standard, and you're probably going to need photo ID with you. Check out whether your state requires you to have one, and then make sure you have what you need. You may even be required to present two forms of ID. And if you are not a citizen, have the appropriate documentation with you showing your status.
  • A certificate from your prelicensing course: Your state may require you to bring the certificate you received that shows that you passed your prelicensing course. In some cases, you may have already sent it in with your application. In either case, make sure you make a copy of the certificate and keep it in a safe place just in case someone loses it.

You probably won't be allowed to bring scrap paper, food, books, notes, and so on, into the exam. In a worst case, you'll simply be turned away from the exam site if you have any of these things with you. In a situation almost as bad, you'll be asked to leave the unauthorized item in the hallway outside the exam room. If you need to bring food or water because of a medical condition, make sure you get permission first before the day of the exam. In addition, if you need to make accommodations for a handicap, like the use of a wheelchair, make sure those arrangements are made before the day of the exam.

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