Know What to Expect on Your Real Estate Exam

Distant,Studying,By,Video,Conference.,Focused,Young,Man,Student,GettingStarting a new career is a brave endeavor! Give yourself a pat on the back for getting to this point. You are embarking on an exciting new adventure into the world of real estate, congratulations!

The learning curve is steep, and there are ways to study that will help you better absorb all the information so you feel confident walking in to take your exam. Read up on some study tips I put together for you here, but there are also some strategies for the exam to know about too.  

In this article, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about the exam itself to equip you with strategies to ace it and get one step closer to obtaining your license! 

We’ll explore its format and content with practical study tips, and game day strategies to help you feel confident when you walk into the exam room. 

Understanding the Real Estate Exam

The real estate exam is designed to assess your understanding of fundamental real estate concepts and practices, both at the national and state levels. 

The exam typically consists of two parts: the national portion, covering general real estate principles applicable nationwide, and the state-specific portion, focusing on local laws, regulations, and practices. 

You can expect questions related to property ownership, contracts, financing, agency relationships, and legal requirements specific to your state. Each state is different in the percentages and amount of questions asked. 

You can go to the issuing authority in your state and find the breakdown and format for your state. As an example, you can visit California’s DRE here for context before you look for your state. 

Each state should give you a breakdown of the percentage of the portion that will make up the exam to help you better prepare as you study. CA Realty Training breaks it down easily for you here:

“In California, the real estate exam will test you on topics that you may not have covered in your pre-licensing education. On the exam, you should expect to see:

  • Property Ownership, Land Use Controls, and Regulations (15% of exam)
  • Laws of Agency and Fiduciary Duties (17% of exam)
  • Property Valuation and Financial Analysis (14% of exam)
  • Financing (9% of exam)
  • Transfer of Property (8% of exam)Practice of Real Estate and Disclosures (25% of exam)
  • Contracts (12% of exam)”

Your State’s Exam Format and Content

Each state is different, so make sure to find your state’s specific format, but for an overview of what you can expect…

The real estate exam is timed. You are typically allotted about  2.5 hours to complete the exam depending on your state.

For Virginia:This 120 question test is comprised of 2 portions, covering both state portion and national requirements in 150 minutes of allotted time. You will have 105 minutes for 80 national questions and 45 minutes for 40 state questions.” (Source)

For Texas: “You’ll have 240 minutes to complete 125 questions during the Texas real estate license exam. The questions are all multiple choice and are broken into two sections:

  • National section – There are 85 questions that must be answered within 150 minutes.
  • State section – There are 40 questions that must be answered in 90 minutes.” (Source)

As you can see there can be an incredible difference between each state, but divided between national and state. 

All of the questions are multiple choice, these questions present a scenario or statement, followed by several possible answers. You’ll need to select the correct answer from the options provided.

  • When you are selecting the correct answer it’s a good practice to start by eliminating incorrect answers. 
  • If you don’t know the answer, go with your gut, and don’t change it! You only have to get 70% to pass (could be between 60%-75% depending on your state), so best to move on to the next question. 

Here are some types of multiple choice questions you will likely encounter:

  1. True/False: True/false questions require you to determine whether a statement is true or false based on your knowledge of real estate laws and principles. Pay close attention to the wording of each statement, they can be tricky!
  2. Matching: Matching questions may ask you to pair concepts, terms, or definitions with their corresponding descriptions or examples. Be sure to study your vocabulary!
  3. Scenario-Based: Scenario-based questions present a hypothetical situation, followed by a series of questions related to the scenario. You’ll need to analyze the information provided and apply your understanding of real estate principles to answer the questions accurately. (Source)
  4. Mathematical: Some real estate exams include mathematical questions that test your ability to perform basic calculations related to real estate transactions, such as prorating property taxes, calculating loan payments, or determining commission percentages. (Source)
  5. Ethics and Conduct: You may encounter questions that assess your knowledge of ethical standards and professional conduct expected of real estate professionals. These questions evaluate your understanding of ethical dilemmas, fiduciary responsibilities, and fair housing practices. (Source)
    1. You will likely be tested on ethics throughout your career as a real estate agent, so it’s a good practice to maintain your knowledge in this area. 

As you are studying, it’s best to take practice exams periodically to test yourself on your knowledge and help guide you on where to focus your attention while you are studying. You’ll also get familiar with how to answer each of these types of questions. 

There are several platforms you can utilize that provide guidance and practice exams. We’ve listed a few of them here for you to explore:

Game Day Exam Tips:

On the day of the exam, arrive at the testing center well-prepared and with a positive mindset. It could be easier said than done, but not for you! Here are a few measures you can take to rest assured that you will be ready and feel confident when you walk into the exam room!

Preparation & Study Tips Before Game Day:

  • Create a Study Plan: Develop a schedule that suits your daily routines and allows sufficient time to review all exam topics and regular practice exams and review.
  • Understand the Exam Format: Familiarize yourself with the structure and content of the exam for your specific state. You want to know what to expect to quell any nerves.
  • Utilize Multiple Study Resources: Diversify your study materials, including textbooks, online courses, practice exams, study guides, and flashcards, to reinforce your understanding of the material so you’re prepared for anything that comes your way.
  • Take Multiple Practice Exams: This will help assess your knowledge, identify areas for improvement, and simulate the testing environment. Plus, this will give you confidence once you start passing the exam consistently in practice.
  • Focus Your Studies on Areas You Struggle: As you take practice exams, identify your weak areas and target your study efforts on areas where you find yourself second-guessing the answer or struggling with recall. Then take another practice exam!

Documents to Have Ready to Bring:

  • Your License or Government Issued Identification
  • Exam & Payment Confirmation
  • Each State is different, so check all required documents prior to exam day

For peace of mind, have a folder ready with all documents in one place.

The Day Before Your Exam & Morning of:

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Plan to wear comfortable clothes
  • Review your exam location & parking
  • If allowed, plan for snacks and water
  • Be sure to eat a nutritious meal before to bolster your concentration
  • Prepare a bag for your calculator & pencils
  • Plan to arrive at the exam site early to also calm any nerves

During Your Exam:

  • Be aware & manage your time: Pace yourself to ensure you have enough time to answer all questions. If you get stuck on a question, mark it for review to come back to, and move on to easier ones.
  • Read questions carefully: Make sure you understand the wording of what is being asked so you are more likely to provide the correct answer. There could be questions designed to deceive! Be on the lookout.
  • Eliminate wrong answers: The process of elimination is your friend. Each answer you eliminate increases the probability of a correct answer, even if you are left guessing. It also helps with focus.
  • Stay Calm: Tests can be anxiety-provoking. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, focus only on the question in front of you and take deep breaths. Do your best to not get distracted by other test takers and concentrate on your process. 
  • Review Your Answers: If you have time left, go back and make sure you have answered all of the questions, check your math, and if you have some you don’t know make your best educated guess. 

Last but certainly not least, bring a positive attitude. If you follow these guidelines and have studied properly, you can walk into the room with confidence. A positive mindset will help you move through the test with ease! 


By this point, I hope you are feeling like you know what you have to do to pass your exam. There is a lot to learn, but you can do it. Put each of these guidelines into practice and plan ahead. 

Be sure to utilize as many study guides and practice exams as you can along the way. Also, reach out to experienced agents if in your studies you find something difficult. 

Keep your positive mindset, and know that you can accomplish your goal of becoming a successful 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: 3/14/2024