Best Real Estate Schools in Illinois

Best Illinois Real Estate Schools

aa-trophy-smallIllinois real estate agents have ranked the very BEST real estate courses in Illinois to make sure you start your new career right.  Want to see the full, in depth editor reviews for each school? Check out our 100% free guide to the best real estate schools in Illinois (includes the latest 2021 pricing, reviews, pass rates, and more).

School Editor's Score Pricing
The CE Shop

based on 85 reviews

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Rebate Available

We’ll pay you back once you finish – all you have to do is interview with one of our partner brokerages and you will be reimbursed 100%.

Real Estate Express

based on 85 reviews

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kaplan logo
Kaplan Real Estate Education

based on 39 reviews

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Real Estate School Illinois_logo
Real Estate School of Illinois

based on 5 reviews

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Best Online Real Estate Schools in Illinois

illinois licensing logoIllinois home prices are up as inventory is tight. Lots of people are looking to swoop up homes across the state, which is driving up prices. While it’s a hard time to be a buyer, it’s the perfect time to become an agent. The higher the home price, the more you’ll make in commissions. 

If you’re looking to get in on this, it’s important to know that a successful career path starts with your real estate education. That’s why getting inside knowledge from industry experts is crucial when deciding where to start getting your real estate license in Illinois. In fact, making the right choice for your real estate school is one of the most important choices a new agent can make!

Our in-house real estate experts spent hundreds of hours researching, scoring, and ranking the top Illinois real estate schools.  Our experts also took into account the ratings and reviews from thousands of Agent Advice agents who have taken the courses themselves. 

We’ve ranked and rated each school on 8 different factors to come up with the very best real estate schools in Illinois. The top factors considered are: 

  1. Course value
  2. How easy the courses were to navigate
  3. If there were any technical glitches
  4. Return policies
  5. Overall performance of each school as a whole
  6. Reviews directly from agents who’ve attended the school

There are dozens of options (some of them not so great!), so we’ve taken the work off your plate by narrowing down the list to only the ones that scored high enough. Whether you’re dedicating yourself full time to your new career, are looking to fly through the courses quickly to get them over with, or are busy and looking to work through them when you have downtime, here is a list of the best online real estate schools in Illinois you should consider.

The CE Shopce-shop-logo

Although The CE Shop is considered a newer real estate school with only 15 years in business, it quickly became popular among students. They use an interactive and inquiry-based approach in their courses that are approved by the Illinois Division of Real Estate and accredited by ARELLO.

As proof of their reliability and dedication, they’ve been given several accolades, including Best Places To Work and #9 Denver’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies by Denver Business Journal, and 2017 ONLINE EDUCATION PROGRAM OF THE YEAR: 180-Hr TX Salesperson Pre-Licensing Program.

Course Content

Course packages

Students of The CE Shop in Illinois can enroll in any of the four packages currently offered by them. Each of them is designed for varying levels of knowledge and experience and provides a different level of preparation for students. 

Courses only is the most basic package offered by The CE Shop that comes only with access to the mandatory 75 hours of Illinois pre-licensing education. 

Standard Package comprises of the mandatory 75 hours of Illinois courses plus an Exam Prep Edge and a Pass Guarantee through which students can get a refund if they don’t pass the exam on the first try after meeting some criteria.

The Value Package of The CE Shop comes with the mandatory 75-hour courses, Exam Prep Edge, a Pass Guarantee, and access to three different business-building courses (Building Your Sphere, Building Your Real Estate Business, and Is Commercial Real Estate For You?). 

The Premium Package includes all features of the previous packages for students to get their license in Illinois but also includes a 45-hour Illinois post-licensing package.

Individual Courses

As the basic package contains only the mandatory pre-licensing courses, The CE Shop doesn’t have any individual courses. 

Exam Prep

Students can get the National Exam Prep, State Exam Prep, or both as a package. The CE Shop’s Exam Prep Edge is an intuitive online study experience that helps students pass the licensing exam through: 

    • An initial assessment about the topic you’ve mastered to date and the ones you still need to work on.
    • Studying individual lessons by relevant topics.
    • Taking dynamic practice exams with unique questions from the licensing exam.
    • A real-time dashboard showing your current progress and mastery of each topic.

ce-shop logo

Ratings & Reviews

Agent Advice has a separate page with reviews left for real estate schools. On it, The CE Shop has just over four out of five stars. That puts it in the same class as the other top online schools in Illinois. The ratings are constantly changing as new students enroll in classes and leave reviews online. 

What are the best parts?

Studying with The CE Shop comes with several advantages for students. There are packages with different levels of preparation tools and features for each student taught through an online course, which gives everyone the flexibility to study whenever they want. 

In addition to this, students get access to a whole library of study aids, tools, and instructor support to guide them through the licensing process and help them pass the exam with a higher score. 

What are the worst parts?

As the courses are online and self-paced without any type of supervision, they require a lot of discipline. Students taking the course have to be strict and stick to a schedule to be able to successfully complete the course before their access expires. 

Return policy/cancellation policy

As part of their commitment to student satisfaction, The CE Shop will refund the purchase price of any course for any reason if:

    • The refund is submitted within 30 days of purchase. 
    • The course hasn’t expired.
    • The course is not more than 50% completed.

The CE Shop will also refund the cost of Exam Prep Edge if the request is submitted within 30 days of purchase and if the student hasn’t passed through an initial assessment.

The CE Shop ProsThe CE Shop Cons
Very helpful course materials according to studentsThere is only one delivery method available
Flexibility to take the courses online Website is not user-friendly
Technical support provided through the schoolRequires a lot of discipline
A lot of additional study materials providedDoesn't go in depth enough about real estate math

Real Estate School of Illinois Real Estate School Illinois_logo

Real Estate School of Illinois is fully approved and accredited by the State of Illinois. One of their trademarks is their goal to provide the lowest cost of all. If anyone finds the course for a lower price than them, they will beat it by 10%.

They also assist their students with employment and will ensure that every person that passes the licensing exam through their courses will find a job in the industry. 

Course Content

Course packages

The course provided through Real Estate School of Illinois are web-based and can be accessed from any type of device on any location, 24/7. It also includes practice exam questions, interactive exercises, progress tracking, and instructor support throughout the whole course. 

Individual Courses

There is currently only one Illinois pre-licensing package offered by the Real Estate School of Illinois. 

Exam Prep

Real Estate School of Illinois currently doesn’t have an exam prep package. However, the pre-licensing package includes practice exam questions and exercises designed to help students pass and score higher on the exam. 

Ratings & Reviews 

On Agent Advice’s review page, Real Estate School of Illinois doesn’t have many reviews. Many students were not enrolling in the school because of COVID-19, however, they anticipate that their enrollment numbers will bounce back. Although all the current reviews are sourced from Google, each of them is a clean, 5-star review, leading us to the conclusion that the Real Estate School of Illinois is reliable and helps students ace the licensing exam. Here is what one of the students said about their experience with the school:

“Very good school! The course material was very updated, and the course covered everything I needed to know. Instructors were knowledgeable and helpful. The course included many practice questions and helpful tips about the exam.”

What are the best parts?

As a real estate school from and in Illinois, Real Estate School of Illinois is specialized in providing local pre-licensing education. All course materials are continually updated to match the local laws and regulations, so students get only the latest information taught by professionals that know the local market and how it works. 

What are the worst parts?

A potential downside of the Real Estate School of Illinois is that it only has one type of pre-licensing course package students can enroll in. There is no additional exam prep package to help students prepare better for the final exam, so some students may consider this a negative. 

Return policy/cancellation policy

Real Estate School of Illinois offers a full money-back guarantee for refunds requested within seven days of purchase. 

Real Estate School of Illinois ProsReal Estate School of Illinois Cons
Specializes in providing Illinois pre-licensing coursesOnly one type of course package offered
Taught by Illinois real estate professionalsNo exam prep package
Materials are constantly updated Pricey

Real Estate Expressreal estate express logo

Real Estate Express is a reputable online real estate school part of a family of brands called Colibri Group. They provide learning solutions for licensed professionals in real estate, property appraisal, engineering, nursing, mental health, massage therapy, and cosmetology. 

REE was founded in 1996 to offer pre-licensing courses, post-licensing courses, and real estate exam test prep to aspiring real estate agents. It’s accredited by renowned agencies IDECC and ARELLO and has educated over 200,000 students in their 20+ years of experience. 

Course Contentpexels-binyamin-mellish-1396122

Course packages

As in every state, the course packages offered in Illinois are The Basics, Exam Preparation, Exam Preparation plus, and Ultimate Learning. 

The Basics package is designed for disciplined self-starters who already have some basic real estate knowledge. As the name suggests, it has only the basic features of their courses: 75 hours of pre-licensing courses, instructor support, and three real estate eBooks. 

Exam Preparation is fit for students that require some extra exam simulation and the protection of a money-back guarantee. Aside from the basic features, it also comes with REE’s Exam prep and a Pass or Don’t Pay guarantee through which students can get a refund if they don’t pass the exam on the first try if they meet certain criteria. This package also includes a basic Prep for Success membership, which comes with a subscription to Weekly Express, a newsletter with student tips and tricks, as well as a membership to Social Express – social media program.

Exam Preparation Plus includes features designed for those who want to talk regularly to an expert and establish a social media presence. The package comes with everything the previous two packages have, with the added comfort of 40 monthly hours of live Instructor Q&A sessions where licensing exam topics are discussed, a real estate dictionary with the key terms, and the three 15-hour post-license education needed for the first license renewal.

The Ultimate Learning package is the most comprehensive one offered by REE made to change the future agent’s life by helping them become an expert in the field. Everything from the previous packages is included, plus a printed course textbook for those that prefer studying from a physical copy. But what Ultimate Learning offers that other packages don’t is the benefit of getting a one year of professional development membership through McKissock. Students can kickstart their careers with professional development courses, webinars, job aids, and more through this membership.

Real Estate Express Ultimate Learning Package Homepage Screenshot

Individual Courses

The three mandatory pre-licensing education courses in Illinois can also be bought individually.

Exam Prep

The Exam Prep platform is used by thousands of agents each year. Through it, you get access to ten practice exams, two national and three state final exams, custom-made exams, and digital flashcards intended to facilitate the exam process. Purchasing the exam prep also comes with a pass or don’t pay guarantee through which you can receive your money back if you don’t pass the exam on the first try after scoring 80% of all progress and final exams and take the final one within 30 days of completing the practice exams in the exam prep package. 

Ratings & Reviews 

Agent Advice has a dedicated online real estate school review page where schools can pay to have reviews removed. On it, Real Estate Express in Illinois has more than 4 out of 5 stars. Most students have had a positive experience and enjoyed the curriculum and exam prep, so negative experiences are far and apart. 

Here is what one student has said about studying with REE:

“I like that I was able to take care of the course at my own pace instead of having to wait on a regular class schedule times. One thing that I think could’ve been helpful is auditory learning and possibly videos that would’ve made it easier for a visual learner like myself. I also think if they were to offer more testing sites to make it easier for their users. Be sure to take notes and make sure you review them before testing.”

What are the best parts?

As a long-standing and reliable education provider, REE is known to provide a high level of educational service. But, the reason why it stands out above its competition is its exam prep. It’s a comprehensive tool with several types of practice exams, custom exams, and other tools that help students prepare and ace the final exam on the first try.

What are the worst parts?

While there are no negative comments left for REE in Illinois, some students have said that they would prefer seeing more interactive methods of studying that would help them process the curriculum easier. 

Real Estate Express Quiz 2 Screenshot

Return policy/cancellation policy

Aside from the Pass or Don’t Pay guarantee, students can get a refund within one week if they don’t like the online course. Every purchase is backed up by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so students can always reach out to the customer support of Real Estate Express to get a refund. 

Real Estate Express ProsReal Estate Express Cons
Multiple course packages offeredOne-dimensional course content
Advanced exam prep free with course Some exam prep complaints
Pass or don’t pay guaranteeState portion of the course is outdated

Kaplan kaplan logo

Kaplan considers themselves as “ the country’s premier real estate school providing real estate licensing and continuing education (CE) courses.” They have over 80 years of experience in providing education in multiple industries, with their real estate education provider being known as Kapre.

Kaplan hires only real estate professionals to teach their courses and allows students to take their pre-licensing education through several delivery methods: online, live classroom, or home study. 

Kaplan Unit Overview Screenshot

Course Content

Course packages

Illinois 60-hour Broker Licensing Online Course

Studying with Kaplan’s basic package grants you access only to the 60-hour online courses, not the full 75 hours. This means that you would have to take the Illinois 15-Hour Broker Interactive Licensing Course through another school to meet the Illinois Division of Real Estate requirements or purchase one of the other two packages offered by Kaplan.

Students also get enrolled in the interactive study groups, connecting distant learners in live webinars with real estate industry experts to discuss exam topics. 

Illinois 75-hour Broker Licensing With Master Exam Prep Online Package

This package comes with the complete 75 hours of mandatory pre-licensing courses and the interactive study groups but extends it with a unique Kaplan tool – the Practice QBank. The National and State PSI Drill and Practice QBank is an online test engine that stimulates the national or the state portion of the exam and gives students the ability to get mini-exams by topic to create the test that would help you pass the exam. 

Career Launcher Online Package 

The Career Launcher Online package is the most comprehensive package containing everything from the previous packages – 75 hours of mandatory pre-licensing courses, access to the interactive study groups, and the Practice QBank. However, this package adds a unique feature called the Real Estate Accelerator, which is an 8-hour intensive course taught throughout eight weeks, where you get professional coaching to launch your real estate career.

Individual Courses

Kaplan doesn’t offer the mandatory courses separately, which means students would have to purchase a course package to get their pre-licensing education.

Exam Prep

Kaplan’s exam prep package includes both the National and the Illinois Real Estate Drill and Practice QBank. Through this tool, students can test themselves with hundreds of questions and simulate almost every test environment at any time to help them prepare better and score higher on the final exam. 

Kaplan Unit 1 OnDemand Course Screenshot

Ratings & Reviews

Agent Advice has a reliable page with online real estate school reviews where companies can’t pay to have the reviews removed from it. On this page, Kaplan has close to four and a half stars. Most students have enjoyed their courses and were able to pass the exam thanks to them, with a few of them considering Kaplan has some room for improvement in a few areas.  

What are the best parts?

Kaplan is often praised for its exam prep. It has everything students need to prepare and pass both portions of the exam. “I thought it really covered all its marks, and I passed on my first try. Without it, I don’t think I would have passed them on the first go.” one student says. 

What are the worst parts?

Kaplan’s course prices are slightly higher than other online real estate schools, so their courses may be unaffordable for some. 

Return policy/cancellation policy

Students that purchased any of the web-based courses and classes, live classes, or exam preps and want to refund, reschedule, or cancel their package can do it through Kaplan. 

Kaplan ProsKaplan Cons
Courses are taught by real estate professionalsHigh course prices
Multiple delivery methods with flexible schedulesThe basic package doesn’t cover the full 75 required hours
Great exam prep Server often times out

Real Estate Institute

Real Estate Institute has been a local leader in providing real estate education in Illinois for over 25 years. It was founded in 1992 and currently has over 150,000 students who obtained their license through them. The goal of Real Estate Institute is to provide customers with unparalleled service and support, for which they employ professionals from different fields: expert instructors, customer service representatives, class and webinar support, course developers, and large client success specialists.

Course Content

Course packages

Real Estate Institute has three different types of pre-licensing course packages offered in Illinois:

    • Flex Path course package, which includes the mandatory 75-hours Illinois pre-licensing courses, instructor support throughout the course, and all course materials needed – both digital and hardcopy materials.
    • The Fast-Track course package comes with access to the mandatory 75-hours Illinois pre-licensing courses, instructor support, and course materials. In addition to this, the Fast-Track package comes with access to the Prep-to-Pass online exam prep with over 650 practice questions and explanations. This package is also backed up by a Success Guarantee that allows you to retake the course for free if you pass the course but fail the state exam. 
    • Directed-Track package includes everything that the Fast-Track has, but through this course, students get to attend live or webinar sessions with some of the best instructors in the business where they explain each area of the course textbook and provide information relevant for the final licensing exam. 

Individual Courses

Students can get the mandatory 75-hours Illinois pre-licensing courses separately in two parts:

    • Part 1 comprising of 60 hours of pre-licensing classes
    • Part 2 comprising of 15 hours of interactive study classes

Exam Prep

Real Estate Institute currently offers three exam prep packages:

    • Intensive National Broker Review – includes a 3-hour live class or webinar with a real estate expert, a copy of the instructor’s presentation, online practice quizzes, and a stimulated final state exam you can retake if you don’t pass the licensing exam. 
    • Intensive Illinois Broker Review – includes a 2.5-hour live class or webinar with a real estate expert, a copy of the instructor’s presentation, online practice quizzes, a copy of State of Illinois Real Estate License Act of 2000 Study Guide, a stimulated final state exam, and MP’s candidate handbook with detailed information about the exam.  
    • Intensive Math Review – includes a 1.5-hour live class or webinar with an instructor where you can practice problems and ask questions, an electronic copy of the instructor’s presentation, online practice quizzes, and a final exam prep, which includes math-specific questions from the exam. 

Ratings & Reviews 

Although there are no reviews left on Agent Advice for Real Estate Institute, other websites have a rating between 4 and 4.8 stars. 

What are the best parts?

Real Estate Institute gives students several course packages students can enroll in. Each package comes with a different price and intensity to meet the varying educational needs. There are also three exam prep packages, so students can enroll in an exam prep that focuses on their specific needs and budget. 

What are the worst parts?

The biggest downside of studying with Real Estate Institute is that their courses are more expensive than other real estate schools, and all costs paid are non-refundable. This means that even if a student is unsatisfied with the course, they won’t be able to receive a refund for it. 

Return policy/cancellation policy

All courses purchased through Real Estate Institute are non-refundable.

Real Estate Institute ProsReal Estate Institute Cons
Several pre-licensing course packagesHigh course price
Variety of exam prep packagesNo refund policy
Courses are continuously updated to meet local regulationsLimited number of delivery methods
Focused on Illinois real estate Outdated course materials


Bottom Line

The quality each real estate school provides is not the same, which is why we’ve assembled the schools the best online real estate schools in Illinois. We carefully analyzed the content of each course and the conditions under which they offer their courses to bring you a guide that will help you find a trusted source of pre-licensing education that will give you the best shot at nailing your licensing exam in Illinois. 

Advice from the pros:

Here’s what licensed Illinois real estate agents say about the licensing process

Bill-Samuel HeadshotBill Samuel
Realtor in Chicago, IL
Blue Ladder Development

“The most effective time management strategy I found was to take the practice exams at the end of each chapter in your course book and record your scores on a spreadsheet. This will give you an idea of where to focus your study time. If you can dedicate 2 hours of your time each day you can finish the practice exams in 5-6 days.

Review your test scores and set a benchmark to determine what material to review further (e.g. any score less than 80%). Any score below your benchmark focus on reading the chapter to get a better understanding of the material. Take the comprehensive review tests in the back of the book during your last study week to get an idea of where you are at.

Most course textbooks will have a page that gives you a percentage breakdown of the material covered on the test to help develop your study plan. No sense in spending all your time reviewing material that only represents a small portion of the test.”


Tomas SatasTomas Satas
Licensed Broker in Chicago, IL
Windy City HomeBuyer

“Let’s be honest, passing the real estate exam isn’t exactly like taking the medical boards. I think people put too much pressure on themselves and go into it thinking it’s gonna be hard. It’s not any more difficult than a college-level class final.

Nowadays, I think the biggest obstacle to passing the exam is online classes. A lot of people find it difficult to learn in the online forum, especially if the class is just a bunch of videos and reading. My advice would be to take the classes in person where discussions happen and you can ask questions. People just learn better when they ask questions.

Finally, remember that the exam is full of rote memorization and not actual knowledge. Learn the formulas for the math and the acronyms for the lists by repetition. You likely never need the information again in your real estate career.”


Chris Heller Headshot


*This article was updated on 9/21/2021

This information was reviewed and approved by Chris Heller. 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.