I studied for my real estate license during months 3-8 of pregnancy, traveling to five different countries and working a full-time accounting job, and I passed on my first try.
I studied casually and stress-free for about six months from June through November. I did not study every day, and never for long hours yet I learned the material gradually and I passed the exam. Sometimes I studied for two hours in a day, sometimes one hour, sometimes 20 minutes, and sometimes I went days or even weeks without looking at it. I never stressed myself out or felt guilty for not studying because I knew I had quite a bit of time before I took my exam.
The benefit of learning casually, slowly, stress and guilt-free is that you actually learn the material. You don’t cram it in and forget it. You have time to learn what everything means rather than just memorize it for the exam.
I share with you below a flaw free way to pass, the prep service I used and how not feel an ounce of stress about it as you walk in that examination room.
Unfortunately, during this pandemic of 2019, 2020 and (sad to say but let’s be honest) 2021, it is a bit difficult for the process of taking this exam go any faster than 5-6 months and that does not include taking the courses required, so you might as well embrace it, go slow but steady and ensure you pass it on the first try by using my study tips.
My personal experience is below: (you may skip this and get straight to the study tips).
We found out I was pregnant in April 2020. It was at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic which made it quite difficult having a foreign partner from abroad who didn’t have a visa to live in the US so we could stay together. We managed to stay in my 350 square foot studio in Santa Barbara through lockdown for 88 days before the borders finally opened up and allowed us both to travel together over to England where he is from. I hadn’t met his parents yet and one of the main reasons for me going to England was to meet them and tell them about baby in person. The other main reason, if not already obvious, was not to be alone during this pregnancy in a time where you are supposed to be bonding your relationship not separating it by not knowing when you can be together again.
Nine years ago, in my last quarter of college at UCSB I also took and passed my real estate exam (after two attempts). At the time I was studying towards becoming a Certified Public Accountant. studying very hard for my final exams in school while also self-sabotaging myself as I studied for the real estate license exam. Real estate was always something I wanted to do as a “Plan B”. I grew up with my Dad owning several homes and collecting rent as a side hustle which eventually became his full-time hustle as he retired from the Mortgage business that he started.
It took me two tries at that time and even though I passed the exam – I ended up not following through with real estate prior to finishing college as I wanted to continue to get my CPA license. The exam itself cost $60 and after you pass you need to pay an additional $270 to get the license, as a student, I simply didn’t have that sort of cash to throw around for something I wasn’t sure I was going to even do.
So I threw what cash I did have (basically all of my savings) at a career I ended up not wanting to do instead. After passing my final exams at UCSB I signed up for and paid over $3000-$4000 to take my CPA exams. I didn’t end up passing. The first exam I took I failed by a few points and when I took it again I failed again by a few points and as I was getting real-life experience in the accounting world with the first accounting job I was realizing that wasn’t the way that I wanted to spend my life. So, I stopped studying and I just continued to work as an accountant for small firms without getting the CPA license. I felt a little bit of failure for not passing these, but these exams are very difficult, and you need more motivation to study as hard as you need to pass than wanting the initials “CPA” on your business card.
Back to the present time in England – after you find out you are pregnant what is the first thing that usually goes through your mind? For me it was: How are you going to make more money? How are you now going to support a whole family? There are a lot of unknowns about becoming pregnant. It’s scary (and exciting?) to be apart of an unplanned pregnancy.
I mentioned before that selling real estate was always my plan B. As I thought about second jobs that could be added to my current job, I reconsidered real estate.
My current job was way too good to give up to start a brand new career but I wasn’t making enough money to support anyone besides myself. I was basically living my dream life being able to work remotely and travel the world and I was not ready to give that up yet. I sacrificed a low-paying job for freedom and less stress, which I would do over and over again. I realize that to be successful in real estate you need to have your feet planted, but I thought, pass this exam now, get the license now, and when I am ready to plant my feet, I will not have to study for an exam while working full time while balancing being a new mom.
At the time, we were working with a few real estate agents helping us to find a home in California to buy. I met with and spoke with several agents who some of them, in my opinion, were just plain lame, who I didn’t trust with a 100-foot stick, this also inspired me to want to get into the business. I knew these people didn’t have a solid college degree and barely knew how to talk to people without coming off as cheesy and untrustworthy.
The day that I submitted my application in the mail to take the exam I started studying. I started studying on the side of working full time as well as traveling to England for four weeks, Italy for three weeks, California for five weeks, Croatia for eight weeks and a final four weeks in California where I made it a point to study daily for three full week before my exam date.
How to get your real estate license and pass on the first try:
1. Take the courses and pass the final exams
You need to take and pass a series of classes before you can sign up to take the exam. This is done at your convenience so can take as short or long as you want, a few weeks at the least. I took these classes nine years ago when I passed the first time around and with the exams being online, I will just say they don’t make it very difficult to pass them. I remember at the time I still knew nothing after taking these three courses. The site I used for these exams at the time was www.alliedschools.com which is still around and you may click this link for 15% off, but I know www.Prepagent.com also has these courses now, and I used them for the exam prep this time and really recommend them. Click this link for 20% off of prepagent exam prep. You can spend time doing research on which program to use or you can take the advice given, and use one of the two mentioned above, both were great.
2. Apply to take the exam
After you pass the finals, your next step is to go to https://www.dre.ca.gov/ and apply to take the exam. You do this by mail. The exam will cost $60 to take and the license will cost $270. You can pay for just the exam at the time or pay for both. I chose to pay for the exam only and will pay for my license now that I have passed. If you aren’t looking to start right away, you get up to one year from the date of passing to apply for the license (which is a question on the exam 😉
3. Start studying
Don’t wait for your official letter back from the DRE allowing you to schedule a test before you start studying. Start casually studying once you mail in that form. The whole process takes several months, and the more time you have to study and learn the material, the better the chance you will have to pass on your first try with less stress of time constraints.
How I studied: (The summarized version is at the bottom)
I paid $100 to get access to Prepagent’s portal of goodies for 1 year which included webinars (live and previously recorded), vocab lists, vocab cards, short videos, short recordings of the concepts, practice exams, and they even had private tutoring if you needed it for an extra cost. It was amazing!
Once I was a part of the prepagent family, I started by watching webinars which are about 40 minutes each, and as I watched, I took vigorous notes. The next day I would read over the notes.
Practice exams. They will say to start with memorizing the vocab – and not to start any practice exams until you have the vocab down. I disagree – You learn the vocab as you take the exams and as you get through the webinars.
The practice exams are the most important feature in my opinion. They have the practice exams separated out into each category and then a master category. I started with the vocab category. Sometimes I would take a 10 question exam and sometimes 100. It depended on how I felt and how much time I wanted to spend (or didn’t want to spend) studying that day. Sometimes those 100 question exams would take me three days to get through, and sometimes they took me two hours.
I mainly focused on the webinars, audio lessons and practice exams for the first few months. Learning the concepts, as well as how to answer practice questions.
I also casually would write down 5-10 vocab words in my notebook from time to time. I tried to do it daily because it wouldn’t take very much time, but I never was on track with that.
And finally, reading back the notes I had in my notebook 1-2 times per week in the first few weeks of studying was very helpful for me to solidify what I was learning.
4. Pick an exam date
Once you get your confirmation letter, and you pick your exam date, you can start to study a little more consistently. It’s much easier to study for something when you know you have an end date and goal in mind.
I work better in the mornings – I’ve taken an exam at 1 pm before and failed, and I’ve taken 2 exams at 8 am and passed both. Pick the time frame that best suits your brain and pick a realistic date. You can reschedule your exams, but it costs you $15 as well as more time than you probably want between studying.
5. Keep studying
They release exam dates a few months ahead. So I chose a date that was three months ahead. So by this time I had a good handle on a lot of the material without feeling like I was studying much.
How I continued studying:
I started watching the exam prep videos which are 2-4 minute snippets of explanation of each concept. I was already pretty familiar with the concepts in the videos by now, but they did a good job of explaining each concept in more detail and usually, I would pick up on something that I didn’t know before.
I listened to the audio lessons which were similar to the short clip videos except only audio. I listened and watched in my free time: while I was in the car, while I was making breakfast, while I was on the airplane – when I wanted to, it wasn’t all of the time like I am making it sound but I had it in the background often. I did do this almost daily though on my last three weeks of studying leading up to the exam.
I would write in my notebook 5-10 vocab words every few days, or even once a week from the vocab list.
I never opened the exam prep E-book.
I continued listening to webinars on subjects I wasn’t 100% sure on like “finance” and “agency” and didn’t take as many notes, as I was starting to know the info and didn’t need or want to. I just wanted to listen and absorb.
I kept taking practice exams!! You take a practice exam, and then you go over the questions you got wrong until you get them all correct.
I reread my notes I had been taking when I was on the airplane, or ferries or at night. I didn’t do it as often as I wanted to, but I did it enough to really benefit from it.
The Final 30 days before the exam
My final 20-30 days of studying were my “cram days” if you can even call them that. I was still only studying 1-2 hours per day, but more consistently(every day), and concepts were starting to be put together. It was all basically review at this point.
This was when I knew I wanted to study at least something every single day before my exam. My main tactics here were watching webinars, and taking practice exams, and learning a few vocab words each day.
I started every morning by taking 15 question exams for three different categories, and at some point in the afternoon on a break from work I would watch one 40 minute webinar and noting only the things I didn’t already know. Sometimes I got through all three exams and sometimes I got through one. I never guilted myself if I didn’t get through what I wanted to, anything was better than skipping an entire day. But I would attempt to get through four exams the next day if I only got through two one day – but if it didn’t happen, I didn’t stress about it.
As I made breakfast or cleaned my apartment or post-shower or even while I stretched on the floor – I would listen to webinars, audio lessons or exam prep videos in the background. I didn’t catch every word, but it was helpful to catch something every so often and to just be aware of the material that was a reminder to me. This was helpful when I didn’t have time to sit and watch or listen because of a busy day, but I still retained some information from doing this.
If I drove anywhere that was more than 30 minutes, I used my phone to also listen to audio lessons, even if I had heard them 10 times already.
I did the above for the first two weeks, studying 1-3 hours a day.
For the final two weeks before the exam, I upped the practice exams questions and mainly focused on those. I took exams every morning in the categories that I knew the least, in multiples of 30, 50 or 100. While still taking smaller 10-15 question exams on the categories that I knew the best, so I wouldn’t forget them.
I would go over the questions I got wrong as well until I almost recognized the answer before finishing the question.
I started taking master exams during these last two weeks also, between 15-50 questions as well as always listening to some sort of lesson in the background of my regular day.
On the last week before the exam, I was taking 100 question master exams daily and scoring between 78-85% and confidently felt like I knew a majority of the information – they say keep taking the exams until you are getting 85% scores consistently. I also read over all my written notes 1-2 times and I continued to listen to webinars for the topics that I wasn’t testing as well in.
I put in one long day of studying, 5-8 hours which I did TWO days prior to my exam to get in as much as I could as a refresher before the big day. I did NOT study the immediate day before the exam. I let my mind rest.
Seems like a lot, but it really wasn’t that much.
6. Test-taking tips
First of all, don’t be nervous if you can help it. You have been studying for at least 5-6 months now and you got this in the bag!
When you start to take the test, answer those questions that you 100% know first. Skip any and all that you are semi uncertain about and get back to them at the end.
Read the questions very carefully, slowly if you need to and multiple times to make sure you understand what they are asking. They have several questions that two answers seem to be correct, and you really need to know what they are asking to be able to answer it correctly or make your best guess on it.
Get enough sleep the night before. Eat Breakfast. Leave plenty of time to arrive early, preferably an hour early at least.
7. Take the exam
On the exam day, it was a 2+ hour drive for me. I made sure to get there at least an hour early so I could read some of my written notes before, and leave some time for traffic or to get lost without stressing out. I also listened to three webinars in the car on the way down. I went in confident that I could pass and that I knew enough.
As you can see I studied and I used just about every resource this prep agent course gave me. But I was never stressed out. I never had self-guilt if I skipped a day or if I only answered 10 quiz questions in a day. I just kept going and didn’t give up.
- Write 5-15 vocab words down a day and memorize/ read them – Every day.
- Watch one webinar or 30-40 minutes of Audio lessons/exam prep videos every day. Take notes and reread notes several times per week until you understand the concepts.
- Do 100 practice exam questions – and go over the ones you missed. Stick to one category until you know it then move on. Once you move on though, you need to still keep up on the previous categories so take a 10-15 question quiz on those each day in addition to your new 100 questions. – can also split up the q’s into 2x per day of 50. but always go over the ones you missed.
- Listen to audio lessons and or exam prep videos in your spare time in the background as you drive or do mundane tasks.
- Repeat for 15-30 days.