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How to Study for Your Real Estate Exam

Simple tips to prepare you for exam day

by Jeff Sorg, OnlineEd

canstockphoto10272435failpassbuttonsOkay, now what? You’ve poured your heart into reading the course, taking learning assessments, and working through the practice exams.  But now that you’ve scheduled your exam, what should you do? Well, it’s really quite simple.

The best way to prepare for your state multiple-choice test is to have a well-implemented study plan. And you’re going to need to focus on the concepts, not just memorize what we tried to teach you. The state licensing exam changes regularly, and, believe it or not, exam questions are kept secret from course providers. Are you surprised to hear this? Well, don’t panic.

You need to know the course concepts – not just memorize the answers to questions you’ve become familiar with throughout the course. In other words, if you don’t know why the answers to some of your exam prep questions are what they are, then you need to go back and find out. Here are some other tried and true tips for you to follow before exam day.

Understand, don’t memorize

Your ability to do well on your state licensing exam relies on your ability to understand rather than memorize your course reading material. Understanding a concept and memorizing a concept are two very different things. For example, with no understanding of Spanish, someone may be able to memorize the first paragraph of Don Quixote in Spanish perfectly. However, would this person even understand what the passage is about? Probably not. Multiple choice questions often ask us to do translations in our understanding of learned concepts. Accordingly, you will do better on your test by understanding the course concepts rather than memorizing questions and answers.

We could include many tips and statistics about which answer option of a multiple-choice test question is most often correct, but multiple-choice tests will almost always reward an understanding of the test’s structure or the test writers’ psyche. If you haven’t studied, we suggest now would be a good time to go back through the course.

Note the hard to remember and commonly occurring facts

When reviewing content and practice tests, it’s a good idea to keep Hard to Remember Facts and  Commonly Occurring Facts sheets. Your Hard to Remember should include concepts and ideas that are difficult for you to understand. Your Commonly Occurring will include concepts and ideas that you have deemed important due to their frequency in the various tests. Regardless of which kind of sheet system you prefer, understand that it is meant to guide your studying. While it may feel rewarding to remind yourself of your strengths, it’s generally a bad idea to include things that you already have mastered on either of these two sheets. Studying what you already know will waste a lot of your time.

Sleep is just as important as studying

Sleep is just as important as studying. First of all, sleep is instrumental in transferring short-term memory to long-term memory. If you’re planning on putting in a respectable study session, you first need to plan on a respectable sleep session. Sleep contributes significantly to your ability to recall information on the day of your test. Even if you feel like you know the material, you may underperform because you didn’t get enough sleep. Sleep is also necessary for cognitive thinking ability. If you mix your study sessions with sleep sessions, your short-term memory will strengthen, and you will likely retain the knowledge needed to ace your exam.

Skip and come back

It’s also important to have a “pass-through and skip plan.” This method is used to prioritize questions by allocating thirty seconds to each question and then moving to the next question if you cannot answer the question. By going through the questions and prioritizing, you will see which you have answered promptly and which will need extra time. This is particularly important to timed tests; you don’t want to spend 15 minutes on just one question and leave 20 unanswered when your time runs out.

Don’t change your answers

Statistics have shown us that revising our already-decided-answers has often led us to change the correct answer to an incorrect one. In other words, there is no point in going over your answers again and again if you are confident in the care used to find your original answer. Answer the question, move on, be done!

Pay attention to the words

Of course, reading each question is necessarily important for finding the right multiple-choice answer. Some words in the question might even flip the meaning of an incomplete sentence in a multiple-choice question. Be sure to keep watch for words like Always, Except, and Never or any negative words such as No, Not, and Neither. Also, watch for those tricky double negative sentences. Double negatives are two negative words used in the same sentence that turn the sentence into a positive. Here’s an example, “Which example is not uncommon?” The meaning of this question actually means, “Which example is common?”

Eliminate the known incorrect answers to increase your odds

Finally, use the process of elimination to help you zone in on the correct answer. This process means if the correct answer isn’t immediately obvious, then start eliminating the answers you know to be completely false. This process will dramatically increase your odds when you have to “guess” between a couple of answer options. Here’s how this works: when there are four answers, you only have a 25% chance of guessing the correct answer. If you know one answer is absolutely false, then eliminate it. Your chances of guessing the correct answer have now increased to 33.3%. If you can eliminate two as absolutely false answers, you have increased your odds of guessing the correct answer to 50%. If you don’t know which is correct, eliminate what you know isn’t correct, then make your guess between the remaining options.


OnlineEd® is a Registered Trademark. For more information about OnlineEd and their education for real estate brokers, principal brokers, property managers, and mortgage brokers, visit www.OnlineEd.com.

OnlineEd blog postings are the opinion of the author. Nothing posted in this or any other article is intended as legal or any other type of professional advice. Be sure to consult an appropriate professional when professional advice is needed. Excerpts from articles not originating with Jeff Sorg/OnlineEd are reprinted with permission; remain the author’s sole property; no permission to reprint articles or portions thereof not arising from this blog but reprinted here is given or implied. Information in this posting is deemed correct as of the date of publication. Still, the author is not guaranteed to be accurate, or information may have been obtained from third-party sources and cannot be further verified for correctness. Due to the fluid nature of the subject matter, regulations, requirements and laws, prices, and all other information may or may not be correct in the future and should be verified.