All That You Need to Know About the California Real Estate Exam

By Ciprian Morariu Published: November 8, 2023

The California real estate exam is the only challenge to overcome to get your real estate license and practice in the state. Passing the exams signals the start of a lucrative career in real estate. However, the only way to cross this hurdle is to be fully prepared and confident about cracking the test. 

This post will take you through all the details about the California real estate license exam. We will examine the importance and purpose of the exam, the eligibility norms, exam content and questions, and finally how to prepare for this crucial test. 

California real estate license exam

Key Takeaways

  • Introduction to the California Real Estate Exam
    • Overview and Importance
    • Purpose of the Exam
  • Requirements for the California Real Estate Exam
    • Educational Requirements
    • Experience Requirements
    • Pre-licensing Course
  • What is on the California Real Estate Exam
    • Exam Content
    • Categories of Questions
    • Sample Questions
  • How Hard is the California Real Estate Exam
    • Exam Difficulty
    • Pass Rates
    • Study Tips and Strategies

Introduction to the California Real Estate Exam

Overview and Importance

The one thing that aspiring real estate agents worry about the most is to pass the California real estate license exam before practicing in the state. The issue arises from the fact that the outcome of the exam will shape their careers and future growth. However, there is nothing to fear as with the right preparation and quality study materials it is not difficult to crack the exam. 

The first step that must be taken is to understand how the exam works, the structure of the test, the type of questions that will be put, and more. If you master these aspects, it will set you up nicely for the exam day. 

For aspiring salespersons, the question is how to take the real estate exam. First, sit for a real estate license exam at an in-person testing center. The test contains 150 multiple-choice questions and you must complete it within three hours. A minimum of 70% score must be reached to sail through the test.

If you choose to give the test on computers electronically, the score will be informed to you soon after you finish and leave the center. For manual written examines, they get the results by email in a week. 

Purpose of the Exam

There are several reasons for going through the state-approved 135 hours of coursework and taking the California real estate exam. The purpose of the exam is to test your knowledge about the real estate industry so that you can be a success in this field. 

There are a lot of rules and regulations that govern real estate transactions regardless of whether it is buying, selling, leasing, or renting property. And if you are not thorough in your knowledge about them you will not do justice to your clients. 

Further, if you check what is on the real estate exam in California, you will find that a lot of focus is on the legal side of the real estate sector. In the exam coursework, you will learn about the legal implications of drawing up contracts and documents, areas where even a slight mistake in your career can have severe adverse consequences. All these and more will be tested to the fullest in the California real estate license exam.

The 135 hours of coursework has everything that you need to know to pass the exam. You will learn about real estate best practices, ethics, estate laws, and the functioning of agencies. 

Summing up the purpose of the California real estate exam, it is to check your knowledge about the real estate sector in the state. It is also to push you towards a well-paying career as your own boss.  

Requirements for the California Real Estate Exam

Educational requirements

You do not have to attend college to join the mandated 135 hours of coursework required to appear for the real estate exam and become a salesperson. It is not necessary to have a college degree but a high school diploma or its equivalent helps to have the necessary mindset to tackle the real estate exams. With basic education or better still an associate or Bachelor’s degree in business or finance, you will stay relevant and competitive in this field.  

However, to sit for the California real estate license exam, the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) has set out certain requirements. You must complete three 45-hour college-level courses for a total of 135 hours of pre-licensing education. 

You do not have to enroll in a university or attend in-person classes. State-approved course providers like RealEstateU have online courses that cover every topic needed to pass the exam. Study from anywhere anytime on any Internet-enabled device.    

Experience requirements

No previous experience in the real estate industry is required to become a real estate agent in California. All that you have to do is to complete the 135 hours of pre-licensing coursework and pass the California real estate exam. 

To be a broker though and get a license, you must have two years of full-time salesperson’s experience within the previous five years. Merely having a salesperson’s license for two years does not qualify you to sit for the broker’s exam. You must prove that you have been actively engaged on a full-time basis as a salesperson for two years. Submit certifications from responsible brokers or a former broker.  

Let us check now the definition of full-time work. It is 40 hours per week of activities related to a real estate license. Part-time activity of 20 hours per week as a salesperson will also count but in that case, four years of such affiliation will be required as experience for a broker’s license. 

Pre-licensing course

You must go through 135 hours of pre-license courses before being eligible to sit for the California real estate license exam. The coursework will take you through all the topics necessary to crack the real estate exam. 

You may choose an in-person classroom course or an online one which has built-in flexibility and convenience to study on the go. While there are several course providers to choose from, research the web and know what each has to offer before selecting one. 

Typically, all course providers have several packages on offer. While the basic ones have e-textbooks and audio instructions, the high-priced ones provide several facilities. These include interactive support from instructors, digital flashcards, career success tools, and even animated video libraries. Select a package that aligns with your learning style and suits your budget too. 

Most importantly, choose a course that has lots of practice questions to work on. Not only will you know about the type of questions to be faced on exam day, but it will also give a boost to your confidence to perform well in the test. 

We at RealEstateU offer online courses and an app that is convenient for anytime anywhere studies. Our package prices are the lowest in this niche, the base one starting at an incredible $99. 

California real estate exam

What is On the California Real Estate Exam

Exam content and categories of questions

The one question that often bothers aspiring salespersons is what is on the real estate exam. The test evaluates your knowledge of regulations, laws, and real estate practices in California. Subjects covered include financial, political, economic, ethical, and legal principles related to the real estate industry. 

The California real estate exam for salespersons has 150 multiple-choice questions. The minimum passing score is 70% which means that you have to correctly answer 105 of them. This translates to a passing score of 70%. 

The exam is held at a test center designated by the DRE. If you choose to take the exam electronically on a computer. The result will be informed to you soon after you complete the exam. If you go the pen-and-paper route, the result will be emailed to you after a week. 

The major subjects and categories as well as the weight given to each of them are detailed below. 

  • Practice of Real Estate and Disclosures: 25% of the exam (37-38 questions)
  • Laws of Agency and Fiduciary Duty: 17% of the exam (25-26 questions)
  • Property Ownership and Land Use Controls and Regulations: 15% of the exam (22-23 questions)
  • Property Valuation and Financial Analysis: 14% of the exam (21 questions)
  • Contracts: 12% of the exam (18 questions)
  • Financing: 9% of the exam (13-14 questions)
  • Transfer of Property: 8% of the exam (12 questions)

While the exam content and the categories of questions might appear intimidating to you, it is not so if you prepare from the best pre-licensing coursework. Try out the online pre-licensing real estate courses from RealEstateU and easily pass the California real estate license exam. 

Sample questions

The real estate exam has multiple-choice questions with four options to choose from in every question. The trick to pass the exams easily is to practice hard with sample questions. These samples simulate the real test and hence you get the confidence to face exam day. 

A measure of a top pre-licensing course is the number of sample questions offered. The more you get, the better is the course provider. The questions at the end of each topic also let you evaluate how well you are prepared on that subject and whether you should focus on it more. Any course that you choose will have sample questions to practice on. 

Is the California Real Estate Exam Difficult to Pass

Exam difficulty and pass rates

Before taking the California real estate license exam, it is natural for you to wonder how hard is the exam and whether you will be up to it. The exam is challenging but with a lot of hard work and practice, you can make it as a successful real estate agent. 

The level of difficulty of the real estate exam is not standardized across the USA. However, among the tougher ones, California is on the top of the list. This is borne out by the results of the exam where in the last two years, the pass rates have been a shade below 50%. 

However, do not be discouraged by this statistic as you can cross the hurdle with focused and dedicated studies. The exam has been intentionally made difficult with a purpose. It is to ensure that you are fully knowledgeable about the industry and ready to become a licensed professional.

This is not meant to discourage you to take the exam. If you fail to crack the exam the first time around, you have opportunities to retake the test multiple times within two years of the application for a license.

Study tips and strategies

The real estate exam in California is quite difficult but you can make it easy to pass by following these tips and strategies. 

  • Understand the exam requirements so that you know what is expected of you. 
  • Create flashcards of key concepts. Not only will it help to understand them better but you can fall back on them during the revision phase.
  • Go through the full coursework and do not leave out any parts. You never know what you will get in the exam.
  • Practice hard on mock questions and simulations. It will give you an idea of exam day and what to expect. 
  • Network with other professionals for tips. Remember, they have successfully passed the exam before. 

These tips should help you pass the California real estate license exam with ease.