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Buying guide for Best real estate exam prep books

Have you always dreamed of working for yourself, setting your own goals and schedule, and making a fabulous income? If so, a career in real estate may be what you seek.

Becoming a real estate agent requires a significant investment of time and effort, and it also takes funds to complete the training program. Once you are in the field, there is no limit to your growth potential. However, before you can get started, keep in mind that passing the state licensing exam is not an easy task.

Entry into the lucrative world of real estate requires arduous preparation. While real estate licensing requirements vary from state to state, all states require prospective real estate agents and brokers to pass the state’s written exam.

A real estate exam prep book is a condensed study guide designed to help you gain a comprehensive understanding of real estate principles and practices.

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When shopping for your real estate exam prep material, consider study guides that include flashcards, vocabulary lists, and mock exams.

Key considerations

Professional requirements

The professional requirements for becoming a licensed real estate agent vary from state to state. In some states, accredited pre-licensing educational courses are required before candidates qualify to sit for the exam. In other states, students are only required to take specific educational courses within a specified time after they take and pass the state real estate agent licensing exam.

State laws are subject to change. Several states are rapidly upgrading license laws and prerequisites for both real estate agents and brokers. Contact the Real Estate License Commission in the state (or states) where you plan to practice to determine current requirements.

Organizational skills

Being a sales agent or broker requires processing a heavy load of administrative data. On any given day, a real estate agent may be required to do any of the following.

  • Update listings of homes sold and those new on the market
  • Inspect properties for sale or rent
  • List and market properties
  • Prepare legal documents, rental agreements, and lease records
  • Develop and maintain an accurate electronic filing systems
  • Organize property showings, arrange appointments, and schedule meetings

Real estate involves applied mathematics

Contracts and agreements must be accurate. Brushing up on your math skills with the help of real estate exam prep books, especially those that focus on the typical math problems found in real estate transactions, can make all the difference.

Study in the most impactful way

Time is valuable. Select a real estate exam prep book that provides study materials in the format that works best for you. An exam prep book broken down into concise, simple categories can help you pick and choose what to focus on in any given study session. For some, this is essential.

Adequate preparation for your state’s real estate licensing exam requires a thorough understanding of both federal and state rules and regulations regarding the following.

  • Real estate contracts
  • Property ownership
  • Transfer of property
  • Land use regulations
  • Laws of agency
  • Fiduciary duties of a real estate agent
  • Financial analysis
  • Property valuation
  • Property inspections
  • Elements of real estate practice

Test breakdown

State real estate licensing examinations, also known as PSI (professional service industries) exams, contain 100 to 160 multiple choice questions focused on general real estate concepts. More than 75% of the questions specifically focus on state licensing laws. Tests are administered in two parts, and candidates must pass both parts.

As you study, it is important to practice answering as many potential state exam questions as possible. Some prep books provide both national and state-specific practice problems and mock exams. Look for real estate exam prep books that simulate the difficulty, content, and style of the PSI exam.


Mock exam questions

High-quality real estate exam prep books provide a diverse array of questions covering all segments of real estate practice. Low-quality prep books offer a small sampling that does not reflect the in-depth information required to properly prepare for the exam.

Mock exam questions mirror the ones that are presented on the actual state exam. Make sure to use a real estate exam prep book that offers state-specific questions. State-related questions will make up the largest portion of your exam.

Online study component

Look for real estate exam prep books that come with an online study component. Log in to participate in lectures, practice using electronic flashcards, or print out supplemental worksheets and mock tests.


Flashcards: Barron's Real Estate Exam Flashcards
Flashcards are one of the most helpful study tools. Small enough to fit in your pocket or purse, these handy cards allow you to study on the go; you can use your free minutes here and there to hone your knowledge base. Practice daily to memorize key formulas.

Business dictionary: Dictionary of Real Estate Terms
Understanding the terminology of contracts, leases, deeds, and mortgages is imperative when it comes to functioning as a real estate agent. As you prepare for your state’s real estate licensing exam, keep a business dictionary handy to familiarize yourself with terms you don’t already know.

Quick vocabulary guide: Real Estate Agent Exam Success: Master the Key Vocabulary
Before you can pass the state license exam and function as a successful real estate agent, it is necessary to know the technical jargon of the industry. Speak with confidence with the help of this quick-reference real estate vocabulary guide.

Real estate exam prep book prices


Real estate exam prep books in the budget-friendly price range are quick study guides. However, they barely begin to scratch the surface of the in-depth information you will be required to know to pass the test. In this price range, expect to pay $5 to $10 for a paperback pocket guide.


Authored by recognized experts in the real estate industry and offered by respected educational publishers, real estate exam prep books in this price range cost from $10 to $30 for a softbound paper book. A hardcover version of the same prep book normally sells for about three times more than the paperback version.

Real estate exam prep books in the medium price range provide a comprehensive representation of the rules, definitions, and principles of real estate.


In this price range, real estate exam prep books are offered as part of costly pre-licensing educational courses. Textbooks, electronic flashcards, study guides, guest speakers, and mock exams are part of the course cost. Pre-licensing classes vary in duration, from two-week “crash” courses to courses that offer personal one-on-one mentoring and training sessions. Pre-licensing courses cost from $140 to $500.


  • Choose a real estate exam prep book that includes both federal and state-specific information and practice questions.
  • When purchasing a study guide to prepare for your state’s real estate licensing exam, look at the date of the latest publication. Federal and state real estate laws are subject to change. Make sure you purchase the latest edition possible.
  • Be selective when searching for real estate exam prep books. The quality of the material will influence how prepared you are for the exam.
  • When taking the state licensing exam, leave your cell phone at home. If your phone rings or you look at it during the test, you will be disqualified from the exam.
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While most real estate exam prep books are offered as softbound paper books, several are only available electronically.


Q. Is there a national real estate license that is good in all states?

A. No. There is no national real estate license. In most states, you must pass the real estate exam in each state in which you will be conducting real estate transactions. Because education and experience requirements vary from state to state, be sure to select a state-specific book for studying.

Notably, some states have reciprocal licensing agreements. This means you can secure a license in one state and use it in another state without having to take an additional examination. 

Q. What do I need to take with me to the real estate exam?

A. All states require two of three forms of identification: a valid driver’s license, state ID, or U.S. passport. The second form of identification must have your pre-printed legal name and signature.

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