9 Study Tips to Help You Crush Your Real Estate Exam

studying for licensing examAre you aspiring to become a licensed real estate agent? Well, congratulations on taking your first step toward a rewarding career in the real estate industry! That’s a big deal! Starting a new career is an exciting adventure, and can be nerve-wracking at the outset. 

Am I right? Don’t stress… been there, done that and you can too. Hopefully, after reading this article you’ll feel more confident in your next steps in getting your license! 

First things first, before you can start helping clients find their dream homes or close lucrative deals, you’ll need to pass the real estate exam. While this might seem daunting at first, with the right preparation and strategies, you can ace the test with confidence. 

In this article, we’ll explore 9 invaluable tips to help you prepare more effectively and understand what to expect in the exam.

Understanding the Real Estate Exam

Before diving into the tips for success, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what the real estate exam entails. With this knowledge, you can better plan your time for what to focus on while you are studying.

Let’s get started with a quick overview!

The exam typically consists of two parts: the national portion and the state-specific portion. The national portion covers fundamental real estate concepts and practices applicable across the country, while the state-specific portion focuses on laws, regulations, and practices specific to your state. (Source)

“The salesperson exam is made up of 120 multiple-choice questions total. This includes 40 state-specific questions and 80 questions on national topics. Expect to see questions about the principles, practices, regulations, and statutes of real estate. You have 150 minutes total to complete the exam.” (Source)

This breakdown above is specific to the Virginia Real Estate Exam. Each state is a little different so be sure to check your state exam breakdown, but I wanted to give you some general expectations as you get started. 

The time permitted to take your test can range from 1 to 3.5 hours depending on your state. We’ll go over how to make the most of your time in the tips section below, but know that typically the percentage for passing the test is between 60%-75% depending on your state’s requirements… so you have some wiggle room to help calm your nerves!

Okay, don’t freak out, but it’s also time to brush up on your math skills. The math portion of the exam generally makes up between 10-20% of the questions. (Source

You are allowed a calculator, and there are specific equations to familiarize yourself with that are fairly simple. We’re not talking calculus here, so a quick brush-up and you’ll be cruising.

Last but not least, you will need to gather certain documents before you take your exam. Always good to know this up front so you can plan ahead and better focus on studying without undue stress. 

Here’s a list of requirements provided by Real Estate License Wizard:

exam prep

Make sure to check for any additional requirements to be completed for your state.

Okay… let’s dive into some helpful tips to get you on the right path for successfully taking your real estate license exam!

Tip 1: Know Your State’s Exam Format and Content

We’ve done a general overview, but the very first tip I have for you is to get very familiar with your state’s exam format provided by your state’s real estate licensing authority. Understand the topics covered in each section, including real estate principles and practices, property ownership, contracts, financing, and agency relationships. 

Here’s an example of California’s issuing authority to help you navigate for your state:

exam prep2

It’s fairly easy to find for each state and will bring peace of mind knowing what to study ahead of time. 

Once you’ve completed this step, allocate your study time accordingly to ensure comprehensive coverage of all relevant subjects.

Tip 2: Utilize Reliable Study Materials

There is a lot of guidance in the world of real estate for you to take advantage of, and it’s worth investing in high-quality study materials: textbooks, online courses, practice exams, and study guides. 

You can also watch videos and tutorials online but do choose resources from reputable publishers or institutions known for their expertise in real estate education. One such group that I recommend is PrepAgent.com. They also have a FREE practice test you can take.

Additionally, consider joining study groups or online forums where you can exchange insights and support with fellow exam takers.

Tip 3: Create a Study Schedule

Getting your real estate license is a big undertaking, but worth it. If you’re switching careers, or have a busy personal life full of obligations, staying committed to your study schedule can be extremely difficult. 

I suggest developing a structured study schedule tailored to both your learning style and work/social/family commitments. Set aside dedicated time each day or week to review study materials, take practice tests, and reinforce key concepts. 

Break down the topics into manageable sections and establish realistic goals to track your progress. Consistent and focused study habits will significantly enhance your chances of success on the exam. 

Plus, you’ll be less likely to push off the test and delay getting your license!

Tip 4: Practice, Rinse, Repeat… Practice! 

You don’t know what you don’t know until you do! Practice is essential for mastering the material and building confidence for exam day. Take advantage of practice exams and sample questions to assess your knowledge and understanding of the content. 

Pay attention to areas where you struggle and focus your efforts on reinforcing those concepts through additional study and review. The more familiar you are with how questions are phrased, and formatted, and the types of answers provided to eliminate… the more confidence you will have. 

Tip 5: Know the Vocabulary

I credit getting my license to studying vocabulary as my main priority. I made flashcards and quizzed myself ad nauseam. Sometimes there is no way to get around pure memorization, and this method of learning is tried and true. 

To help with this there are a few psychology-based techniques you can incorporate into your memorization:

  • Create associations – tell yourself a story that relates to the term you are focused on. 
  • Draw a picture – draw upon visual memory retrieval processes
  • Write in different colors – this gives a unique imprint you can more easily recall
  • Sleep – your brain needs to code and restore, after intense studying ensure you are getting enough sleep
  • Practice explaining – talk out loud and act as if you are teaching someone else the term

Utilizing these techniques will help you learn the vocabulary like the back of your hand and be able to place terms in context to better answer your questions. 

Tip 6: Break Up Your Studying Into Sections

After you’ve completed your course, you will be aware of key concepts and overarching themes. Delineate your study days based on a topic that you know you will likely be tested on. 

Start by dividing the exam topics into manageable sections, such as real estate principles, property ownership, contracts, financing. Allocate dedicated time to each section based on its importance and your proficiency level. 

For example, if you’re confident in your understanding of real estate principles but struggle with contracts, devote more study time to the latter.

Within each section, further break down the material into themes or subtopics to facilitate focused learning. For instance, under property ownership, you might focus on types of ownership, property rights, and land use regulations. 

By approaching your study sessions in this structured manner, you’ll cover all the necessary content and develop a deeper comprehension of the material, increasing your chances of success on the exam.

Tip 7: Reach Out to Other Experienced Agents

Some are against this based on the argument that seasoned agents may think taking the exam is easy or undersell the importance of studying. I disagree. 

Reach out to experienced real estate agents who have successfully passed the exam and obtained their licenses. Seek their advice, insights, and recommendations on preparing for the exam, navigating challenging topics, and overcoming test anxiety. 

Learn from their experiences and apply their strategies to your own study approach. Mentors and peers can offer valuable support and encouragement throughout your journey to licensure. I mean… that’s why you’re reading this, right? 

Last-minute questions will come up, and you’ll want a reliable person to call to help you from time to time to talk something through. It’s good practice to start building those relationships now… you’ll need them throughout your career! 

Tip 8: Take Care of Yourself

I’ve mentioned already that your brain requires sleep to repair and store memory, which is why this reminder to take care of yourself is important to incorporate into your study habits. 

You must maintain a healthy balance between studying and self-care to optimize your overall well-being and exam performance. Prioritize adequate sleep, nutrition, exercise, and relaxation to keep your mind sharp and focused. 

You could even incorporate stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, or hobbies into your routine to alleviate exam-related anxiety and maintain a positive mindset. We don’t want you burning out before you even get started!

Tip 9: Stay Confident and Positive

This may sound like fluff but it’s not… Believe in yourself and your abilities as you approach the exam. Self-sabotage is easy to slip into, but if you stay regimented in your approach and truly believe in yourself, you can accomplish your goals. 

Stay confident and positive throughout your preparation and on test day. Visualize success, stay focused, and trust in the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired during your study journey. 

Passing the real estate exam is a milestone on your path to a successful career, and with dedication and perseverance, you will cross the finish line with success!


Passing the real estate exam requires diligent preparation, strategic study habits, and a positive mindset. By following these 10 essential tips, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle the exam with confidence and embark on a fulfilling career in the real estate industry. 

Remember to stay focused, stay motivated, and stay committed to your goals. Best of luck on your journey to becoming a licensed real estate agent!

Chris Heller Headshot

About the Author

Chris Heller brings 27 years of experience in real estate. Chris serves on the AgentAdvice Editorial Board and is the Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs. Chris brings deep expertise having held influential industry positions including CEO of mellohome and former CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.

Last Updated: 3/6/2024