How Hard is the California Real Estate Exam?

Dec 9, 2021
7 min

What’s so hard about the real estate exam?

There’s a good reason why people think the exam is a challenge. But, don’t let that phase you when you take the big test yourself.

In fact, I’m going to show you WHY people find the exam so hard and what you can do to make it easier for you.

What’s the Real Estate Exam Pass Rate in California?

In the 2019/2020 fiscal year, there were 64,562 salesperson exams administered and 34,360 licenses issued. So, we can expect the pass rate of the real estate exam to be about 53.2%.

Not bad! But, a 50% pass rate looks scary. You should keep in mind that, of the people who failed, there are various reasons. Some didn’t do the appropriate studying, some might have not taken care of their own health, others could have psyched themselves out, and some could have just avoided studying altogether.

There are a plethora of reasons as to why some people fail the real estate exam or find it flat out hard. Let’s explore why that is so you can create a plan to bypass the struggle and go for that passing score.

What Makes the Real Estate Exam Hard

There are both elements external and internal that will make the real estate exam hard. What I mean by that is you’ll find that the exam isn’t the only thing that tries to stop you from getting your real estate license. 

In some cases, your biggest obstacle is yourself!

Tricky Worded Questions

On the exam, the exam will give you tricky worded questions. These are questions that will use double negatives, confusing phrasing, or some other form of wordplay to trick you. Read each question carefully so you can outsmart the exam. Be on the lookout for the double negatives!

Questions with Unnecessary Information

Some questions give unnecessary information in the question to stump the test taker. The question might have you apply a concept to a specific scenario. While explaining the scenario, the question will give you too much information. This is information that is unnecessary to the solution.

The reason why the exam does this is to test you on how well you can apply concepts to real-life scenarios. Knowing what is valuable information and what isn’t is a great skill to have on the exam.

Memorizing Concepts and Terminology

Another reason why people find the exam hard is because they struggle with recalling terminology or concepts. While studying, someone may want to memorize as many terms as they can. By putting concepts and terms in your short-term memory doesn’t help. In fact, it can hurt you.

Learning and understanding terms and concepts for the real estate exam will help you mold what you know around the question. This will save you when you are given a tricky worded question or one with unnecessary information.

Time Limit Pressure

You have 3 hours on the real estate exam. That might seem like a long time. But, once you see all 150 questions and how confusing they can be, 3 hours might not seem long enough. So, people will let the time limit pressure them into an exam panic. It happens. When it does, take a few deep breaths, answer the easy questions first, and then tackle the hard ones.

Putting Pressure on Yourself to Pass

The hardest part might not even be the test, but overcoming your own pressure. People might feel unconfident or they might put pressure on themselves to pass. This only turns up the stress and will distract you from the exam.

The Atmosphere of the Testing Center

Lastly, the atmosphere you’re in is tense. Everyone wants to pass the real estate exam and become a real estate agent. But, not everyone will pass. The stakes are high and you can find the vibe is “tense.”

Get yourself in the right, can-do mindset before the exam. Enter strong, confident, and optimistic to pass the real estate exam. You just might find the exam is easier than what people say.

How to Make Passing the Real Estate Exam Easy

Now, let’s talk about ways you can make the real estate exam easier for yourself. These tips and tricks were collected from CA Realty Training’s head trainer Robert Rico and a few of the staff of the school who had passed the exam on their first attempt.

Create Your Own Glossary of Concepts

When you put the concept into your own words, you can understand things so much easier than you would by memorizing the ideas. By doing this, you can push yourself to understand more concepts for the exam and it will help you mold the concepts around the scenarios the exam gives you.

Break Up Studying for the Real Estate Exam

Don’t burn out with cramming. Breaking up the study schedule helps you make a big, daunting task less stressful. You spend more time learning a wide range of information and you feel less pressured to understand the concepts in a short amount of time. 

Start studying early and put yourself on a simple study schedule. That’s why we recommend studying as soon as you apply for the real estate exam.

Create Mnemonics and Acronyms

Mnemonics and acronyms help you store information in a way that eases recall. For example, UPTEE is used to remember the bundle of rights. There’s a ton of acronyms you should know for the real estate exam, and you can make your very own!

Seek to Understand, Not Memorize Concepts

Speaking of remembering concepts. Concepts are recalled easier when you understand them and how they are applied practically in the industry. Memorizing concepts means you don’t actually learn the material. With tricky worded questions, this will throw you off and confuse you on test day.

Don’t Be Hard on Yourself

Don’t put pressure on yourself to be the best. Have confidence but beating yourself up for not understanding a concept right away will only make things worse for yourself. Remember to take breaks while studying and to take care of your health.

Answer the Easy Questions First

Beat the time limitations by answering the easy questions first. That way, a hard question won’t stop you from answering the easy questions first. If you spend the entire exam time on a few hard questions, you won’t have time to answer the easy questions, which would have boosted your test score. Remember you just need a 70% or higher.

Get Additional Help on the Real Estate Exam

The best way to study is often with guided help. Real estate exam prep gives you practice real estate exams that you can take as much time as you want. Real estate crash courses are also cram sessions that help you learn test-taking tips, concepts, terms, and other helpful material to get you ready for the exam.

What Does the California Real Estate Exam Cover?

The real estate exam in California will cover the following categories:

  • Property Ownership, Land Use Controls, and Regulations (15% of exam)
  • Laws of Agency and Fiduciary Duties (17% of exam)
  • Property Valuation and Financial Analysis (14% of exam)
  • Financing (9% of exam)
  • Transfer of Property (8% of exam)
  • Practice of Real Estate and Disclosures (25% of exam)
  • Contracts (12% of exam)

The majority of this information is covered in your pre-licensing program. We like to compare real estate schooling to a baseball game. Real Estate Practice, Principles, and your elective (we recommend Finance) will get you to 1st base, 2nd base, and 3rd base. 

But, you’re still not home yet. To get home, you’ll have to study above and beyond what you learn by taking a State Exam Prep course or seeking outside knowledge. Great analogy, right?

Also, I want to remind you that that the California real estate exam consists of:

  • 3 hours
  • 150 questions
  • You must pass with a 70% or higher

With that said, what’s the final verdict on how hard the real estate exam is?

Final Thoughts on if the Real Estate Exam is Hard

The real estate exam in California can be hard if you make it hard. Some people will grasp the information easier than others. Some people will study longer and smarter than others. Some people will take our real estate crash course or state exam prep.

All of these elements will make the real estate exam easier. There is a proven study plan outlined in this article and in our real estate exam prep and crash courses that have helped thousands of students pass the exam and become real estate agents.

In short, you can do things right now to make the exam easier for you. Why wouldn’t you?

TL;DR: How hard is the real estate exam? The exam can be hard for people who aren't prepared for it. But, you can take the right actions to make it easy for you. Getting ready for the real estate exam might be hard, but it beats failing on your first try!

Dec 9, 2021
7 min