It’s been quite a few years since I’ve taken a Scantron type test, so I was equal parts excited and terrified to take my real estate licensing exam. The six weeks and 30+ hours of class work leading up to the test provided a great foundation for understanding the laws that govern the practice of real estate in the United States and Illinois. After passing the class final (required by the school in order to take the actual licensing exam) I had four days to hunker down and study for the actual exam…so the question became: how did I take the fundamental information we learned and use it to pass the exam? I used the following five steps as my test prep roadmap:
1. Understand the big concepts: The national portion of the exam is 100 questions (for Illinois there are 40 questions). Clearly there was no way to cram five weeks into one two-hour test, so I focused on the learning the following big topics: Agency Relationships and Contracts; Real Property; Finance; Marketing Regulations, Property Management; and Real Estate Calculations. Dividing my time equally helped me to feel that I had the concepts covered and the details fell into place.
2. Double check the math: I must confess, the math portion was my favorite. I loved being able to calculate the projected taxes on a property, or figuring out how much a seller might owe at closing. That said, the questions are often tricky. Sometimes the question has tax rates in annual denominations but HOA dues in monthly denominations with the expectation that you remember to either divide or multiply by 12 in order to level the two out (very sneaky!). I tried to read through these questions more than once and double check (sometimes triple check) the answers to confirm that I didn’t fall into any traps.
3. Take practice tests: I’m not someone who can sit and read for hours, so for me taking practice tests was a huge help as I was actively studying. I took practice tests provided by the testing company, as well as the real estate school. I even made up my own tests to keep me engaged and interested.
4. Schedule the exam as soon as the class is over: I signed up for very first actual exam that I could get. My class ended on Wednesday and the first test I was eligible for was Monday morning. Everything was fresh in my head and I even had the weekend as bonus study/review time.
5. Don’t second-guess your gut! This was the single hardest part of my test prep and test taking. I’m a writer so I usually have lots of opportunities to write, rewrite and prove my point. Not so in multiple choice. I had to struggle to try not to change my answers last minute, as my inclination is to tinker. Going with your first answer in the practice tests was key in honing that skill for the real thing.
Whether you are looking to get your real estate license in a new state, looking to add advanced certifications or are starting out in the real estate industry for the first time, I hope these test prep tips are helpful as you prepare for your exam!
Watch our video that shares what we learned, what surprised us the most, and (most importantly) how this benefits you!