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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
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Best of the Best
Barron’s Exams for Real Estate Licensing (11th Edition)
Barron’s
Exams for Real Estate Licensing (11th Edition)
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Most Comprehensive
Bottom Line

Updated 11th edition that includes online digital flash cards, 9 full-length practice tests, and answer explanations.

Pros

Detailed examples of real estate law, finance, and contracts. Explains vocabulary well so test takers have comprehensive understanding. Full-scale preparation with flash cards and mock exams to help in every phase of studying. Great for salespeople, brokers, and appraisers.

Cons

Very thin paper makes it hard to highlight without bleeding.

Best Bang for the Buck
Real Estate Math Express Practice Exams and Rapid Review
Real Estate Math Express
Practice Exams and Rapid Review
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Concise Refresher
Bottom Line

Condensed study guide that focuses on the challenging mathematical aspects of the real estate exam.

Pros

No fluff in this study guide; you'll only receive info on key concepts that are actually important. Can work through the book and practice questions quickly. Low price point. Especially good for those who need a math refresher.

Cons

Only 110 sample questions. Is an "overview" type of guide rather than a comprehensive one.

Dummies Books Real Estate Exams for Dummies (4th Edition)
Dummies Books
Real Estate Exams for Dummies (4th Edition)
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Extensive Overview
Bottom Line

Good overview of real estate exam basics. The latest info is included in this test prep book.

Pros

Offers info relevant to the exams administered in all 50 states. Includes 4 extensive practice exams with realistic questions. Includes thorough, helpful discussions of many different real estate concepts. Includes online practice tests.

Cons

Doesn't provide enough detail for some people, especially when dealing with certain states.

Jim Bainbridge Real Estate Pearson VUE Exam Preparation
Jim Bainbridge
Real Estate Pearson VUE Exam Preparation
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Helpful & Easy to Understand
Bottom Line

Good information on the principles needed to understand real estate practices throughout U.S.

Pros

Provides practice exam answer key with plenty of detailed explanations so you understand why an answer is right or wrong. Helpful review materials for the math portion of exam. Glossary of important terms to know.

Cons

Only one practice exam with just 80 questions. May not provide enough detail in some areas.

On the Test PSI Exam Prep for Real Estate
On the Test
PSI Exam Prep for Real Estate
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National Test Focused
Bottom Line

Covers a variety of materials in a well-organized manner. Materials are not appropriate for all states, though.

Pros

Touches on all key aspects of preparing for the real estate exam. Author has extensive experience with testing programs. Can work through the book quickly, as materials are to the point. Focuses primarily on info for national test.

Cons

Only 80 questions on the practice exam. Doesn't go into much detail in any particular area.

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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.

Features

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.

Accessories

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

Inexpensive

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.

Mid-range

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.

Expensive

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.

Tips

  • 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.

FAQ

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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