How to Pass the California Real Estate Exam

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
If you aspire to be a real estate salesperson or broker in California, you must pass an exam before you may be licensed. Read on to learn about the exams and tips on how to ace them.

How To Ace Your California Real Estate Exam

To pass a California real estate exam, you'll need to know what you'll be asked on the exam, use appropriate prep and study resources to master your knowledge of that content, and brush up on test-taking best practices, so you'll perform to the best of your ability on test day.

Understand the Exam

The California real estate exam for salespeople is 3 hours and 15 minutes long and has 150 questions. The broker exam, meanwhile, is a 5-hour test with 200 questions. While the broker and salesperson exams differ in terms of length and difficulty, both tests focus on seven key areas:

Content Area Percent of Each Exam
Practice of Real Estate and Disclosures 25%
Laws of Agency and Fiduciary Duties 17%
Property Ownership and Land Use Controls and Regulations 15%
Property Valuation and Financial Analysis 14%
Contracts 12%
Financing 9%
Transfer of Property 8%

Detailed descriptions of both exams may be downloaded from the website of the California Bureau of Real Estate (, which administers the California real estate exams.

Master Content Knowledge

Many resources are available to help you master the skills and knowledge you'll need to pass your California real estate exam. First, you may want to obtain two books recommended to test takers by the California Bureau of Real Estate: the Reference Book - A Real Estate Guide and Real Estate Law. Both books are available either online or in-person at one of the California Bureau of Real Estate offices.

Along with these books, you'll find a variety of prep and study options from which to choose. These include in-person prep classes, online courses, and even downloadable mobile apps designed specifically to help you prepare for your exam. Before you begin preparing with any of these options, make sure you are maximizing your time by studying effectively. This short How to Improve Study Skills lesson offers tips and advice.

Overview of Online Courses

If you want flexibility to prep for your exam when you have time, without skimping on the quality of your study time, online courses may be the right choice. For example, offers comprehensive self-paced online courses for both the broker and salesperson California real estate exams. Both courses cover all exam content within multiple chapters that are further broken down into short lessons that you can access 24/7 on your computer or tablet. Each course also features both a practice final exam and short practices tests for each chapter:

Use Effective Test-Taking Strategies

The California real estate broker and salesperson exams are delivered electronically at testing locations. When you arrive at your testing location, you'll want to be not only armed with thorough content knowledge, but also calm and confident in your test-taking abilities. These resources can help you prepare:

  • Because all questions on the broker and salesperson exams are multiple-choice, check out this quick lesson on Strategy for Multiple Choice Questions.
  • If you are among the reported 40 to 60% of people who suffer from anxiety when it comes to taking exams, check out this short lesson that provides steps and strategies for Overcoming Test Anxiety.

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

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