Updated: Mar 20
You can dramatically improve your odds of passing the Real Estate Exam using these 12 test taking tips.
1. Be sure to answer every question. Yes, sometimes tests penalize you for wrong answers. The State Real Estate Exam does not penalize you; a wrong answer is the same as a no answer, which is no points. You should always at least try to answer each question, even a complete guess.
In addition, most people do not run out of time on the State Real Estate Exam. However, it does happen. If you think you could be running out of time and have several questions still unanswered, you would be better off to use your last 1-2 minutes to go through and just hit any answer.
2. Answer easy questions first. You are able to mark questions that you want to come back to. If you glance at a question and it looks very involved, mark it and return to it. You don’t want to waste your brain power on one question that will take 10 minutes, and then not be able to answer several easier questions where you could bank the points.
3. Start with what they are asking. Many questions on the State Exam have extra information that you don’t need. Here is an example:
Jim, Jack and Bob own a house. Jim had owned the property with Jack and Bob’s father, Steve. Steve and Jim purchased the home at the same time and were on the same title. Jack and Bob are brothers and inherited their portion from their father when he died and together own 60%. Jack has a son and if Jack dies, his son Andrew will inherit his portion.
(Wow that’s a lot of information- and it seems to be leading you to a “how they own title” question. Then you get to the question at the end) What percentage of the home belongs to Jim?
Well, now it’s an easy question: there are 3 owners, and the other 2 own 60%. Jim owns 40%.
So, back to the tip… Start with what they are asking. How do you know what they are asking? Look at the words at the end—the ones in front of the question mark. If you understand what they are asking BEFORE you even read the question, you will know what to look for and what information is irrelevant.
4. Use one question to answer another. Sometimes the way a question is worded will make another question more obvious. Jot down question numbers if you aren’t sure, so if another one helps, you will know where to go.
5. Use the question to give you clues to the answer. Statistically, if the question is long and involved, the answer will be also. Let that help you if you don’t know the answer.
6. If you don’t know the answer, look to the longest answer. This is similar to the last tip, but different. Even short questions can have long answers. But to make the answer correct, it takes more explanation. It is not always the case, but if you really do not know the answer, pick the longest one.
7. Try to anticipate answers before you read your choices. Often the answers might be confusing with things like double negatives and, unfortunately, intentionally confusing information. If you anticipate the answer that you are looking for, you may be able to avoid these pitfalls of confusion.
8. Make sure the answer that you are considering makes sense. This one can be very important in math questions. For instance, if you are finding a future worth of a property that appreciated, it would not make sense that is now worth less. But you should always keep the “does that make sense?” rule in mind for all questions.
Does it make sense that as an Agent, you should show a home that is not for sale? Does it make sense that a Broker would start reacting to an issue without getting the facts first? Just ask yourself… does it make sense?
9. Don’t read too much into the question. It is easy to assume information or decide that they left out an important part. They didn’t. For example:
A home sells for $200,000, and a 6% commission is paid to the listing Broker. How much does the Broker receive?
Don’t think “but they are going to have to split that with the Buyers Agent” or “Some of that goes to the Brokerage and some to the actual Real Estate Agent” or “Maybe that’s not what they actually meant” If the question didn’t say it, don’t assume it.
10. There can only be one best answer. That means, on a real estate State Exam, you have 3-5 answers that are not as correct (although you might get some points if you choose an answer that is "kind of correct". But let's focus on getting you the most points. :-) Look at the answers to see if there are clues that give them away as absolutely incorrect. Eliminate what you can. If all else fails, remove whichever answers you can, and just pick one of the remaining ones and move on.
11. Don’t change an answer. Unless you are absolutely, positively sure you put down the wrong answer, do not change it. Your initial gut feeling will help you more than hurt you. If you change one guess for another, statistically, you will change a correct answer to a wrong answer.
12. Make these skills a habit on practice tests. Students take practice tests to prove their understanding of the terms and concepts, and that is very important. What people don’t do is practice their test taking skills.
Take as many of the practice tests as possible, WHILE PRACTICING all the skills on this sheet. Think “does it make sense?” and “look for the longest answer if I don’t know” over and over. Make these skills a habit, so when you are in the actual exam, your TEST TAKING SKILLS are as important as your knowledge of the subjects. Here is information on Practice Tests.