How to Become a Real Estate Agent – Pass the Exams!
The real estate salesperson licensing exam is not hard, it’s tricky. Real estate is tricky. There are tons of laws and processes that need to be understood and adhered to so that no one violates any real estate ethics or goes into default.
I have a list of study tips that helped me pass on the first try, which I will share, but I also surveyed some other newly licensed agents who have recently passed the exam to share their tips with you too! Here’s what they had to say:
Study with the intention of getting 100% and not just passing. If you do that, the chances of success the first time are pretty great.
Jennifer Yoo, RE/MAX Gateway
While studying, remember you are not in a competition, you are doing this for yourself, your passion, for a better life, for a better career. Don’t let anything or anyone take your confidence away from you. We all learn differently; we all retain stuff differently. DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. I read out loud while studying, and the tough ones I wrote down.
Rathi Rajasundaram – Keller Williams Real Estate
Both Jennifer and Rathi have great points – Mindset is probably the most important study tip we can give you. You must go into this whole process with a positive and strong mindset. Have courage and believe in yourself. This is not a competition with anyone else, just as so many things are in life. Stay focused and positive throughout and you will not fail. It has been proven that having a positive attitude before taking a test can significantly impact your performance.
At any time, if you feel you are getting anxious while studying, take a break for a minute. Drop your pen, close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and find your happy place. Staying relaxed will reinforce your mind and allow it to dig deeper to retain what you are learning.
Vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary!! Know your vocabulary and terms.
Lori Holcombe, Century 21 Pierce & Bair
I strongly agree with Lori, vocabulary is a HUGE part of the exam. You need to understand the terminology to be able to then understand the concepts. Don’t just memorize words – you need to fully understand what you are reading and be able to apply the concepts.
Take quiz after quiz and every time you get an answer wrong, stop the quiz and physically handwrite “in your own words” the question and then the answer “in your own words”. Use multiple quiz resources so that you do not end up memorizing the same questions. Highlight the first word of each question in your notes for quick reference when going back to review.
Gina Beebe, RE/MAX Peninsula
I love this suggestion from Gina! Writing concepts in your own words will definitely help you understand the information and you are more likely to retain what you learn when you use this study tip!
Other great study tips to consider:
- Set study goals and schedule your study sessions. This could be goals on how much material you want to cover in a certain amount of time (2 chapters in 1 hour or 10 pages in 30 minutes) or just how much time you want to invest each day studying. At the end of your study session, take a minute to evaluate how well you did with your goals, and set some new ones for your next scheduled study session. Reward yourself for hitting your goals. Schedule your study sessions, block them off in your calendar (time blocking will come in handy BIG time when you are a REALTOR). I studied any chance I could get. Keep in mind, I am a full-time working mom of two young boys and my husband works shift work, so most of my studying was done at night and on the weekends. I did find ways to add extra study time in – audio lessons and videos can be played while commuting and cleaning!
- Give yourself enough time to study for the exam. Do not cram, it will not work, there is too much material to learn and fully understand to be able to pass the exam on the first try. Personally, it took me 3 months from starting the pre-licensing course, to nine days of pre-exam studying to passing the state/national exam. If you are not 100% confident that you are ready to pass the exam, you are probably not ready. Make sure to cut yourself some slack and leave some time to relax too! I believe one can “overstudy” which will just frustrate and discourage you.
- Focus on key concepts. Contract law is a key concept, math formulas are key concepts, forms of ownership are key concepts. Most key concepts can be reduced to a few sentences. Highlight and review key concepts until you fully learn, understand, and remember them for the exam.
- Pay attention to the questions on your practice quizzes. Read the questions twice (maybe three times), make sure you aren’t missing keywords that might throw you off like “NOT, EXCEPT, ALWAYS, USUALLY, this trickiest one, “which BEST describes.” These words are thrown in to trick you. Also, don’t choose an answer choice that you have never heard of! Take lots of practice quizzes, I mean tons until you are scoring at least 90% correct on all of them!
- Create flashcards. Notecards are one of the best tools for quick, rapid-fire studying leading up to an exam. Create flashcards for terms or concepts you are having a hard time fully understanding. Keep them with you and reference them when you are waiting at the doctor’s office or on your commute into work (assuming you are not driving – if this is the case, listen to sound clips or audio lessons). If you miss a couple definitions here and there while reviewing your note cards, don’t worry, just keep them in a pile and continue to look over them (as often as you can).
- Math is scary, at least it was for me! Fortunately, math is not a huge portion of the exam (I had 8 questions on my Virginia exam). As long as you have a basic concept of it you will be fine. Try working the math problems backward to come up with the answer (this takes a little longer to solve the problem, but it really helped me). You might want to work each problem twice – make sure you get the same answer both times.
- Get familiar with your state licensing board website. In Virginia, the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) is the agency that issues licenses. Their website is full of useful pre- and post-licensing information. http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/Boards/Real-Estate/. A simple Google search can help you locate your specific state’s board website.
- If you are taking the PSI exam – Make sure to download the Candidate Information Bulletin for your state from the PSI website, as it offers VERY useful information in preparing for the test including additional study resources and a content outline of how many questions there will be in each section of the test. I would suggest downloading this document while you are studying to use it as an additional resource.
- Find a study buddy or mentor. This can be someone that is currently studying to pass the exam or who has recently taken and passed the exam. Talking concepts through with someone who is familiar with the material will benefit your learning process as well.
- AND – my #1 study tip – DO NOT BE AFRAID TO USE SUPPLEMENTAL STUDY MATERIAL! That’s right – don’t just study your course given material – ESPECIALLY if you are not fully understanding the concepts the material is trying to teach you. Using supplemental material can shed new light on a concept that you may not totally understand. There are online resources, books, audio files, and YouTube videos to watch. These are great for people who retain better by listening than reading.
Here are my suggestions on some great supplemental material to should use:
PrepAgent.com – offers multiple quizzes, webinars, videos, audio lessons, and more! You can purchase a state-specific program as well. I LOVED this site, TOTALLY worth the extra $. I would listen to the audio lessons in the car while commuting or cleaning the house (get a set of great wireless headphones too!) and play the videos when I was getting ready for work. I HIGHLY recommend that you use this site (no, I’m not getting any kickbacks from them, it’s just that helpful) Use this link to save 20% OFF any program HERE. Use promo code ROOKIEREAGENT to ensure you receive the discount!
Other popular online resources include: CompuCram, Exam Smart, Quizlet (I used this one too, and it’s free), and PSI Exams practice tests (I believe they are $20 each).
I CANNOT say enough great things about this Barron’s book!!! I was able to understand a few concepts I had trouble comprehending in my course material with this book. It will serve as a great reference resource in my career as well.
There are a bunch of other books on Amazon – just be careful and make sure they are the most recent edition as tests do change.
Check out great videos by: PrepAgent, Travis Everette (he’s in NC, but has great national material as well), and Kevin Ward Real Estate Academy.
There are also several downloadable apps (paid) – Real Estate for Dummies – I did not use this but hear the questions on this app are very similar to the exam; Real Estate Exam Prep & Review; Kaplan Real Estate Terms Flashcards and more (search your app store).
So, there you have it, some tried and true study tips from people who have recently passed the real estate licensing exam on the first try. I know not all of these tips may work for you, as we all learn differently. But give them a try! We want to see you pass on the first try and succeed in the real estate world! Let us know if you have any other great study tips to share!
A HUGE thanks to those agents who offered advice for this blog post!
(this post may contain paid links)