If you want to become a real estate agent in the state of California, passing the state exam is one of the steps you’ll have to take. And while it’s not exactly easy, it’s definitely something that you can accomplish if you put your mind to it.
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What’s On the California Real Estate Exam?
The California real estate license exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that you must complete over a period of three hours at a licensed, in-person testing center.
In order to pass the exam, you’ll have to score a 70 percent or higher. This means you can only miss 45 questions and still pass. Almost all testing centers offer electronic exams, which means you get immediate feedback and results before leaving the facility. However, if you take a paper exam, it usually takes up to seven days to get results by mail.
Here’s the breakdown of the topics covered on the exam:
- Practice of Real Estate and Disclosure (25 percent of the exam)
- Laws of Agency and Fiduciary Duty (17 percent of the exam)
- Property Ownership and Land Use Controls and Regulations (15 percent of the exam)
- Property Valuation and Financial Analysis (14 percent of the exam)
- Contracts (12 percent of the exam)
- Financing (9 percent of the exam)
- Transfer of Property (8 percent of the exam)
Obviously, you don’t know the exact questions or the order of questions as they’ll appear on the exam. However, if you prepare well, it’s definitely something you can pass on the first go-round. Understanding this breakdown of topics also helps you know where to spend most of your time.
For example, you’ll want to focus more on Practice of Real Estate and Disclosure topics than on Transfer of Property or Financing.
4 Tips for Passing
In order to get a 70 percent or better on the California state real estate exam, you’ll want to make sure you go through all of the proper preparations. Here are several helpful tips:
1. Choose the Right Course
It all starts with selecting the right California real estate license course. You’re certainly free to choose the one that works best for your learning style, but we find that online courses from RealEstateU.com are the way to go. They’re convenient, cost-effective, and can be completed at your own pace. They also provide ample resources and content to help you supplement the standard coursework.
Format aside, make sure the course does a good job of preparing you for the actual exam. In other words, it needs to cover the right topics and subject matter. If the course is licensed and accredited, which it should be, this won’t be a problem.
However, you can read reviews and speak to past students to learn if there are any areas where the curriculum is lacking.
2. Study Daily
While you can technically move at your own pace with an online course, we highly recommend studying on a daily basis. You want to get in a habitual groove of reviewing content. Some days, you might spend an hour or two studying, while other days it might just be 15-minutes of reviewing terms in the morning. But whatever you do, don’t take several days or weeks off. Keep yourself warm and never let the content get too cold.
If you’re serious about prioritizing studying, we recommend creating a study calendar. Begin with the date you want to take the exam and work backward. Set daily and weekly study goals so that you stay on track.
Treat each day’s studying window like you would a business meeting or important appointment – don’t miss it! When you make studying a mandatory part of your day, the knowledge soaks in and passing the exam becomes much easier.
3. Take Practice Exams
Knowing the content is one thing, but you also have to get familiar with the way these exams are structured. This is why it’s helpful to take practice exams. Not only does this familiarize you with the material, but you also grow accustomed to the way questions are worded.
As you take practice exams, develop a strategy. Since questions are asked in a multiple-choice format, you can usually work backward by eliminating answers that are obviously wrong. This increases your odds and helps you stay focused on choosing the right answers.
Ideally, you should leave questions blank if you don’t know the answer. This prevents you from spending too much time on any one question and not getting to the rest of them. Then you can return at the end and answer anything that’s still blank.
When you take practice exams, treat them like the real thing. In other words, don’t just casually take the exam while you’re laying on the sofa watching reruns of The Office. Find a quiet room (or maybe even go to the library) and treat it like the actual exam. Put your phone away, set a timer, and complete the exam in one sitting. This gives you a feel for how to pace yourself.
4. Show Up Focused and Prepared
Exam day is so important! Get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy breakfast, and arrive at the testing center early. Don’t bring anything that you don’t need. The goal is to have minimal distractions and maximum focus.
Don’t worry about what others in the exam room are doing. Everyone has their own way of taking a test. Just because someone finishes early, doesn’t mean you need to rush through. Take your time. You want to ensure absolute focus and peace of mind.
If you come across exam questions that are confusing, or you find yourself getting overwhelmed, pause for a moment and take three deep breaths. This will help you recenter and get back on track.
Pass the Exam the First Time Around
The good news is that you can still retake the exam if you fail on the first try. But why go into the exam thinking like this? By preparing ahead of time and working diligently to master the topics, you can absolutely pass the first time around. This is the mindset we recommend adopting!