Real Estate License Exams For Dummies with Online Practice Tests
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Every teacher with whom you’ve ever taken a class has told you that the way to successfully pass an examination is to prepare for it. Maybe that’s all they said, leaving you hanging, or maybe they gave you a few hints. But here's a detailed plan for getting ready to take the exam. The plan is based on steps characterized by the letters in the acronym PREPARE. Each of the letters represents a separate step in getting ready for the real estate exam. In some cases, each step is made up of several smaller steps.

If you follow these steps and put some reasonable time into mastering the material, you give yourself an excellent chance at passing the state real estate license exam the first time you take it.

PREPARE for real estate exam © iQoncept /


You need to provide yourself with every opportunity to pass the exam. But, I bet you’re asking, “How do I do that?” Keep the following in mind for test success:
  • Get information about the state exam. No matter whether you’re planning to take the salesperson or the broker exam, you need to find out what subjects, both general and state-specific, are on the test. You also want to find out about the exam’s format, the number of questions on it, and the amount of time you have to complete the test. It may be obvious, but find out where and when the exam is given and how to get there. Remember to check out what you need to bring to the exam (and what you may not bring). Whenever you require special arrangements (for example, if you have a disability or need to bring food into the exam because of a medical condition), find out about that, too.

So where can you get all of this info? Try contacting your prelicensing course instructor, your state licensing agency, or the testing company that’s been hired to administer the exam.

  • Take enough time to study. Regular study, instead of cramming at the last minute, consistently seems to be the best way to approach material like this. What’s more, when you leave your studying to the last minute and some emergency develops (believe me, one usually does), you lose out on what little study time you have left. You don’t have to be fanatical about keeping regular study times and hours. You may want to study half an hour or an hour every night and two or three hours on Saturday or Sunday. The point is, put in regular time during a longer time frame so you can grow more comfortable with the material, including state-specific material, and the textbook for your prelicensing course.
  • A quiet place to study. Although having a quiet place to study may seem obvious, it’s worth its own note. Do what you have to, including going to the library if necessary, to crack the books in peace and quiet so you can concentrate and get the most out of your study time.


Reviewing means that you’ve already read the material, which is what I’m assuming here. After you identify specific subject areas on the state exam you plan to take (either the salesperson’s exam or the broker’s), you need to spend time studying that material. Then it’s time to review the information, and don’t worry about what you need to review or how.

Vocabulary and terms

Vocabulary is critical on all real estate exams, especially the salesperson’s exam.

If you like copying information as a way of studying, you can make a list of terms and their definitions, or prepare a three-by-five file card for each term. Don’t forget to put a little notation on the corner of each card to indicate what general subject the term relates to. Doing so helps you remember the material in context. Or you can carry the card idea one step further and prepare flashcards. Write a term on one side of the card and the definition on the other side. Then you can either have somebody quiz you or quiz yourself.

State license law

All states have their own real estate license law material, which usually covers more than just how to get a real estate license. It often provides rules and regulations regarding certain business practices in the conduct of a real estate business. It will usually also cover enforcement of standards and disciplinary measures for real estate licensees. This material may be available in hard copy from the state licensing agency or downloadable from the state licensing agency’s website (try an online search for your state’s site), or it may be given to you if you’re required to take a course before taking the exam. Read the material several times, noting those items like license requirements, fees, and business practices.

State-specific items

In addition to reviewing the general information, make sure that you find out about and review information that you know is unique to your state. You get this information in whatever course you’re required to take. For those of you in states that don’t require a course, if the information is going to be on the exam, it’s probably available in whatever booklet or other exam preparation material is provided by your state real estate licensing agency.


As you prepare for the state exam, you continually need to evaluate how well you’re mastering the material. Answer some practice and review questions. Go over the answers and then reread the material giving you trouble.

Most people have limited amounts of time to devote to studying. Reviewing the real estate exam information enables you to focus your time on the material with which you’re having the most trouble. After reviewing the material in areas where you’re weakest, you can take the review-question exams again, if you like.


After you review the material, evaluate your weak and strong points, and review the material again, it’s time for a final run-through. Whenever you can schedule two hours or so, sit down with a piece of paper and the writing tool of your choice and take a practice exam. Score yourself, and go over the answers to the ones you get wrong. If something isn’t clear, review that information. And don’t stop there. Do it again on another day with another practice test. If your scores still are low, review the material again and then go back on another day and take the practice tests again.

You need to be able to find out the length (number of questions) of the state exam and the amount of time you’re allowed to complete it. You can use that info to take a self-timed practice exam that simulates the conditions of the real thing.


Someone once said that 80 percent of success is showing up. To ensure that you arrive safely to take your state exam, in good humor, on time, and in the right place, you need to find out where and when the exam is scheduled and how long it takes to get there. With that information in hand, you need to get directions to the exam site (no winging it) and find out if you’re likely to encounter any long waits to getting into the exam and if people routinely are turned away because of overcrowding at the test site. (You can get this information by calling your state licensing agency.)

These factors may vary from one exam site to another, especially if your state offers the exam at more than one location. If your state administers the exam in several locations, pick one that’s most convenient for you, which may mean a little farther away but easier to get to or with better parking. When I took my broker’s exam, I chose to drive farther away to a suburban location instead of taking public transportation to the test site in the city. Do whatever makes you more comfortable and leaves plenty of time to be early. If you live far away from the exam site, consider arriving in the area the night before the exam and staying over.


Relaxation part one: Relax the night before the exam. Don’t study. Go see an early movie, rent a video, eat a light supper, read a non-real-estate book, and get to bed early. If you regularly meditate, jog, or take long walks, the evening before the exam is a good time for enjoying that kind of activity. Prepare everything you need for the next day, and have it ready to go.

Relaxation part two: Try to stay relaxed on the day of the exam. Eat a light, nourishing breakfast. Get to the test site in plenty of time, and follow the instructions to get a seat. If you can, close your eyes for a few seconds, take a few deep breaths, and remember that no one knows this stuff better than you do. Now sit down and feel yourself relax into the moment of actually taking the exam.

Relaxation part three: Stay relaxed during the test. You may get caught up in the moment, starting to rush and feel pressured. Every 15 or 20 questions, sit up straight, close your eyes, and take one or two deep breaths. Flex your shoulders and hands, and then begin again.


I know what you’re thinking: “How can anyone ever enjoy taking a test?” You’ve studied. You’ve reviewed. You’re relaxed. In short, you’re prepared. In your mind you’ve already passed the exam and are making money working in real estate, maybe even having your own brokerage business in time. I hope you’re getting the picture. Taking and passing the test certainly is a challenge, but it’s one that with the right preparation (which you now have), you can easily meet. You’re ready, and your real estate career awaits you.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

John A. Yoegel, PhD, is a certified real estate instructor and former board member of the Real Estate Educators Association. He teaches pre-licensing and continuing education courses for salespeople, brokers, and appraisers.

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