Ultimate Guide to Passing the Real Estate Exam on Your First Try

October 18, 2023
11 min.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed from studying and taking the real estate exam, don't worry. This article is designed to be your ultimate study guide and checklist, equipping you with the knowledge and strategies to prepare for and pass the real estate exam. 

What to study for the real estate exam

The real estate exam isn't the same across the U.S. Each state has its specific exam, with a different set of questions, timeframe, and passing requirements. It is, therefore, important to check your state's specific requirements and exam structure before you begin your preparations. 

Typically, real estate exams consist of two portions: 

  • The national portion, which covers real estate topics applicable across the entire country
  • And the state-specific portion focuses on regulations and laws unique to a particular state. 

While the state-specific portions of these exams may vary, there are some core topics that nearly every real estate exam tests for. A thorough understanding of these core topics will greatly increase your chances of passing, regardless of your state. They include: 

State regulation of the real estate industry

This has to do with the structure of the state's real estate department and the regulations they impose on real estate salespersons and brokers. State-specific real estate laws and regulations may include:

  • Licensing requirements
  • Professional conduct
  • Scope of practice
  • Roles of the commission
  • Duties of licensees
  • Refusal, suspension, revocation, and renewal of a License

Federal fair housing regulation

The real estate exam will test your knowledge of federal laws prohibiting discrimination in housing. You should, therefore, be well-versed in the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and its provisions to ensure equal housing opportunities for all individuals. Expect questions on:

  • Protected classes
  • Prohibited conduct (red-lining, blockbusting, steering)
  • Americans with Disabilities (ADA)
  • Exemptions

Fiduciary duties

This topic involves knowing the responsibilities of agents to their clients, including loyalty, confidentiality, disclosure, obedience, and accountability. You may also be asked to identify scenarios where these duties come into play.

Contracts and disclosures

Real estate transactions involve various contracts and disclosures. You should be prepared to learn contract concepts, such as offer and acceptance, and the importance of legally binding agreements. 


Familiarize yourself with the basics of real estate financing, including mortgages, interest rates, loan types, and the roles of financial institutions in real estate transactions. You might also encounter questions about loan qualifications and mortgage calculations.


Real estate exams often include math-related questions. You might be required to perform calculations involving:

  • Property valuation 
  • Commissions/Compensation 
  • Property taxes
  • Prorations
  • Property area calculations
  • Loan financing costs
  • Settlements and closing costs
  • Property management calculations

Ensure you're comfortable with these mathematical concepts before your exam to enable you to answer the questions accurately.

Property transfer & ownership

This topic involves understanding the processes of transferring property ownership, including deeds, titles, and the various forms of property ownership, e.g., joint tenancy and tenancy in common. Also, be prepared to answer questions related to property conveyance.

Vocabulary & acronyms

One of the keys to success in the real estate exam is mastering common and uncommon real estate terminologies and acronyms. You can easily grasp the bulk of the study material by understanding the terminology. 

Be sure to remember important acronyms like RESPA (Real Estate Settlements and Procedures Act). There will be questions with acronyms and knowing them will help you understand what the question is talking about.

How to study for the real estate exam

Here are the best study tips and strategies that will boost your confidence and enhance your chances of acing the exam.

Gather your resources

This step is all about organizing your resources for the journey ahead to make your study process easier and more efficient. Before you begin studying, take note of all the materials at your disposal, including:

  • Online pre-licensing courses
  • Instructional videos
  • Free online resources
  • Ebooks
  • Textbooks

Make these resources quick and easy to access for when you study. That way, you spend less time finding the information and more time learning the information.

Make a study routine

Establishing a study routine is important! Study schedules help you remain consistent with your studies by ensuring that you spend quality time studying every day while balancing your other daily activities.

Here’s our study length tip: 1-1.5 hours every night. Don’t force yourself to study for long swaths of the time. That will make mustering up the will to study more difficult! Studying a little bit every night helps you build momentum because it’s much easier to manage and let’s you learn and retain more.

Make an outline

In tandem with your study schedule, an outline can provide a roadmap for what to study and when. This outline can be as detailed as you need it to be, covering entire topics, chapters, subtopics, and specific focus areas. Your outline should also contain deadlines and timelines to help you stay on track and prevent delays.

We recommend making an outline based on subjects. For example, focus on fair housing laws in one study session and then contracts the next. This helps you focus and build a bigger picture for each subject without adding more stress of switching gears continuously.

Drill flashcards

Vocabulary words and acronyms are vital components of real estate learning, and one of the most effective ways to memorize them is by using flashcards. You can create handmade paper flashcards or use digital ones to test yourself on key terms regularly.

Take practice exams

Practice exams are invaluable in helping you become familiar with the actual exam format and questions. They also provide a platform to practice test-taking strategies and assess their effectiveness. We recommend taking practice exams repeatedly until you consistently score at least 80% on each exam you take.

Form a study group

Study groups are a great way to solidify your understanding of your learning materials. You strengthen your knowledge by engaging in discussions, explaining concepts to others, and listening to others explain their version of the same concepts. 

Additionally, you can learn from the test-taking strategies of others and adapt them to your advantage. We recommend getting in contact with a few classmates from your pre-licensing course. If you took the courses online by yourself, look around for online groups or your school’s community pages.

Exam prep package

We mentioned making flashcards and taking practice exams before. It’s a lot of (unnecessary) work to create your own flashcards and practice questions. Luckily, we provide an online real estate exam prep package that gives you access to thousands of vocabulary flashcards, unlimited practice exams, explanation videos, and an eBook study guide. 

You’ll learn math formulas you need to know, have quick and organized access to every concept and acronym on the exam, and unlimited access to countless variations of practice exams. This is the quickest and easiest way to study for the real estate exam.

How to prepare for the real estate exam

As your exam day approaches, it's essential to ensure you're well-prepared, both physically and mentally. Here is a breakdown of the best practices you should implement the night before and the day of your exam.

The night before

The night before your exam is the best time to organize everything you need for the exam. Here are some things to do: 

Organize what you need to bring for the exam

Take some time to make a checklist of your exam essentials, including:

  • Means of identification
  • Basic calculator (if permitted)
  • Any specific items required by your state, like pre-licensing course certificates

Remember that being well-prepared will save you from unnecessary stress in the morning.

No last minute cramming

While squeezing in a last-minute study session might be tempting, it's generally not advisable. This is because cramming can lead to anxiety and hinder your performance during the exam. Instead, trust in your preparation, and remember that a good night's sleep is more valuable.

Have a good dinner

A balanced meal will keep hunger at bay, helping you focus and preventing distractions as you prepare for the big day. It’ll also put you in the right mood and give you plenty of energy to focus.


Take some time to unwind and ease your mind. Instead of worrying about the exam, engage in activities that help you relax, such as reading a book, watching a comforting movie, or practicing relaxation techniques. 

Go to bed on time

Fatigue can affect your cognitive abilities and decision-making, making you underperform during the exam. Therefore, your top priority the night before your exam should be to get a good night's sleep.

The day of

The morning of your exam should be dedicated to double-checking you have everything you need and getting yourself into an excited, positive attitude. Here are some things to do on the day of your exam to give you a good start: 

Wake up early

Waking up early after a good night's rest is important on the day of your exam, as it gives you ample time to prepare for the day. Waking up early also prevents you from rushing to meet up with the time for your exam, helping to keep you calm and collected. 

Get your required items together

Double-check that all the items necessary for the exam are ready. Consult the list you made the night before and make sure you don’t forget them while you walk out the door.

Eliminate all distraction

Mental clarity is very important before your exam, and you should create an environment that puts you in this state. Silence or turn off your phone and avoid engaging in activities that may cause unnecessary stress. 

Eat a good meal

Enjoy a nutritious breakfast or meal before heading to the exam center. Eating well helps reduce hunger distractions and enhances your ability to think clearly during the exam.

Do what makes you feel good

Before leaving for the exam center, indulge in activities that put you in a positive and confident mood. These could be listening to your favorite music, taking a short walk, or practicing deep breathing exercises.

Tips while taking the real estate exam

As you step into the exam room for your real estate exam, it's essential to have a strategy in place to maximize your chances of success. These tips will help you navigate the exam with confidence and efficiency.

Skip the math problems (until the end)

Math problems can be time-consuming and often comprise a small portion of the exam – typically between 5 and 10 questions. It is, therefore, advisable to postpone them until later so you can focus on answering the easier, less time-consuming questions first. 

However, if a math question seems straightforward and the answer is obvious, feel free to answer it first.  

Answer the easy questions first

Starting with the easy questions instead of the more difficult ones builds your confidence and ensures you cover a substantial portion of the exam faster. This approach also gives you more time to tackle the more challenging questions later.

Read each question carefully

Real estate exam questions are designed to be tricky, Pay close attention to words like:

  • Except   
  • Is NOT   
  • Always 
  • Never 
  • NOT true 
  • False

These words intentionally alter the question's meaning and confuse you. Therefore, it is important to read each question carefully and only pick an answer when you’ve understood it. Some questions are intentionally designed to trick you.

Eliminate wrong answers

If you encounter a question whose answer you’re unsure of, use the process of elimination to increase your likelihood of selecting the correct answer. This process involves crossing out answers you're certain are incorrect to narrow down your options. 

Don't pick answers you've never heard of

If you've diligently studied, you should be familiar enough with the topics to identify terminologies that did not come up when you studied. If an answer seems unfamiliar, avoid selecting it, as it is likely incorrect.

If two answers are opposite, it's likely one of them

On occasion, exam questions may offer two answers that are opposites. In such cases, one of these options is likely correct. Consider both choices carefully and use your judgment to determine the right one.

Longer or more detailed answers are usually correct

One common test-taking strategy is to look out for longer or more detailed answers that provide comprehensive information, as they are usually the correct answers in many cases. 

Answer every question, even if you have to guess

If you don’t know the answer to a question, try to take a guess. Remember, unanswered questions are always wrong, whereas guessing will give you a 25% chance of getting the answer right. 

Don't compete for first place

Rushing through the exam to finish first is counterproductive. It puts you in a rushed state that can leave you second-guessing yourself and increases your chances of making errors. Instead, take your time and try to get as many questions as possible answered correctly within the allotted time.

All you need to do is pass

Regarding real estate exams, you do not need to get a perfect testing score. All you need to do is achieve the minimum passing score. In most cases, you won’t be shown your final score. In fact, there is no benefit to getting a score higher than what is needed to pass. So don't waste time dwelling on a few challenging questions. 

Take one last look

Before submitting your exam, take a moment to review your work. Ensure that no questions are left unanswered and that you haven't overlooked any details. This final check can make a significant difference in your results.

Final Thoughts on Passing the Real Estate Exam

This guide contains all the information we’ve learned from students passing the exam in the past based on what they have done. They’re tested advice that we recommend to all students! But, the one thing we recommend the most is getting our exam prep package. It consolidates everything you need to study for the exam and it’s accessible and easy to use. Don’t go into the exam without it!

TL;DR: This article offers a comprehensive guide to successfully prepare for and pass the real estate exam. It covers what to study, study strategies, and tips for exam day, emphasizing the importance of using an exam prep package for efficient preparation. The ultimate goal is to pass, so the article provides valuable insights to help candidates achieve this.

October 18, 2023
How To
11 min.