How to Pass the Massachusetts Real Estate License Exam

How to prep for and pass your upcoming license exam

Jacqueline Kyo Thomas

Jacqueline Kyo Thomas


After investing 40 hours of your life to become a real estate agent, you don’t want anything to stand between you and your real estate license. But of course, something does: the Massachusetts real estate license exam. You’ve got to pass through the gates of fire in order to finally become a licensed real estate salesperson. If it sounds like a legendary journey, that’s because it is. Not everyone who attempts the license exam makes it. So, this begs the question:

How do you pass the Massachusetts real estate license exam?

We’ve created this guide to answer that question. We’ll discuss exam prep and testing strategies to make sure that you’re prepared for the arduous task.

Before reading this guide, it may be helpful to check out our previous post about the Massachusetts real estate license exam. Click here to brush up on the basics, such as where to take the exam and how much it costs.

Are you ready to start prepping for your real estate license exam? Let’s do it.

Know Which “Advice” to Throw Out

Before you take the licensure exam, you’ll probably seek out “mentors” who’ve already been there and done that. It’s only natural to want advice from people who’ve actually taken the exam. Hearing about someone else’s first person experience will help you know what to expect when your time comes to take the exam.

However, not every piece of advice will help you on your quest, especially advice doled out from those agents.

Everyone knows those agents. You’ve no doubt met those agents who brag about passing the real estate license exam on their first try and in less than an hour.

Here’s the thing: You have four hours (240 minutes) to take your test. You don’t get brownie points if you finish early. Take your time on the test. Trying to compete with others on speed will cause you to miss easy answers.

Also, don’t trust anyone who tells you that the exam is easy. It’s not. It becomes easier when you’re more prepared, but never easy.

Take a Practice Exam

Some of us are great at taking tests. Some of us aren’t. If you fall into the latter group, it doesn’t mean that you don’t know the material. It doesn’t mean that you’ll fail the real estate license exam, either.

Here’s the solution for those of us who struggle with taking tests: Take more tests. Practice tests. Studies show that test anxiety, poor time management, and cognitive fatigue can dramatically affect your ability to pass the exam.

To solve test anxiety, get more comfortable with idea of taking a test. Don’t just psyche yourself up for the test mentally. Actually take the test (in practice form) so that you’re familiar with the format and types of questions you’ll get asked on the real test.

Taking a practice test will also help you with time management. Set a timer and keep an eye on the clock as you answer each question.

*As for cognitive fatigue… *

Don’t Cram

Cognitive fatigue can impact your test. You know what contributes to cognitive fatigue? Cramming. Overloading your brain and your short term memory storage with real estate trivia won’t help you pass the test.

If it takes you 40 hours of class time to get introduced to this information, it’ll take you at least 40 hours in independent study time to learn it. Deeply learn it.

Remember that you’re not simply trying to pass the licensure exam. You actually need to know this stuff because it’ll pop up throughout your real estate career. Cramming the night before your real estate exam won’t do you any favors in the short term or the long term. In the short term, you’ll probably forget it anyway because the brain’s short term memory is notoriously unreliable. In the long term, even if you pass the test, you’ll wish you spent more time studying instead of learning “on the job” the hard way.

Schedule Your Study Time

You live a busy life. Most real estate agent hopefuls also work full time. In addition to taking real estate classes, you probably have things going on in your personal life.

With so much happening, it can be difficult to find time to study for your exam. But study, you must. A good strategy is to schedule study time into your daily planner. Make an appointment with yourself to study and really get to know the necessary material. By setting aside dedicated spots on your calendar, you’ll prioritize your study time and be less likely to skip today’s study session.

Take a Breather

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All study and no breathers can leave you gasping for air. Plan for brain breaks during your study time. For example, if you study for two hours each day, don’t force yourself to study for two hours straight. Instead, study for 25 minutes, and then take a five minute break (grab a snack or do a round of pushups). Repeat.

Taking a break from study allows your brain to relax and start processing what you’ve learned. Breaking frequently is effective because the brain can only focus intently for a relatively short period of time (this time varies based on age and other factors). If you try to push it, you won’t actually be focused, you’ll just be staring at the words. A five-minute break can actually recharge your brain and help you focus better.

Another idea is to focus on specific topics for each mini study session. For example: In session 1, focus on valuation and market analysis. In session 2, concentrate on property condition and disclosures. In session 3, brush up on contracts. You get the idea.

Focus on Vocabulary

Understanding real estate vocabulary terms will help you immensely while taking your licensure exam. Even if you’re not really sure of the answer, knowing what the term means will help you eliminate wrong answers.

The best way to learn key real estate vocabulary terms is to use flashcards. If you embrace technology, there are several websites that allow you to create online flashcards for free. Check out Quizlet and Cram.

If digital isn’t your thing, you can create flashcards the old fashioned way. To keep your flashcards in one place, consider using spiral bound index cards like these:

oxford index cards Image Courtesy of Amazon

Get a Study Partner

Studying alone can be boring, especially if you focus better when with others. Partner up with a fellow real estate agent hopeful to create a more engaging and interactive study time. Meet together once a week to focus on areas when you need help the most. Bounce ideas off of each other and share study resources.

In fact, who says you need to stop with just one study partner? Create a small study group and meet at the local coffee shop.

The relationships that you build with these individuals will pay off in the future. Real estate is all about networking, and it’s good to get a jump start on relationship building now.

The Day Before the Test

Let’s discuss what you should do on the day before the test.

First things first, make sure you know how to get to your testing location. There are five different locations to take the Massachusetts real estate license exam for your convenience. Find the location’s physical address so that you know exactly where to go. You also don’t want to show up late. Arrive at the testing facility no later than 30 minutes before the test is scheduled to begin.

Brush up on weak areas but don’t cram for the entire test. If you don’t know if by now, you won’t learn it in a few hours. Consider studying right before bed. Research shows that when you go over study material right before bed, your brain continues to think about it as you sleep.

Speaking of sleep, make sure that you get a good night’s sleep, too. You want to be completely alert during your test, not reaching for coffee and hating life.

Test Taking Strategies

The time that you’ve spent in class and studying has led to this very moment. It’s time to take your real estate license exam. Here are a few strategies to remember when taking your test:

  • Pace yourself. Try to spend an even amount of time with each question.
  • For multiple choice questions, always look at all the choices before choosing the answer.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, start eliminating the most glaring wrong answers. Continue until you only have two answers that could be true. Then, choose the one that seems most reasonable.
  • Skip questions that have you stumped and return to them at the end of the exam.
  • If you have absolutely no clue what the answer is, guess. Leaving it blank is guaranteed to be wrong, but if you answer the question, you have a chance of guessing correctly.
  • Once you’ve answered a question, don’t change your answer (unless you catch yourself making a silly mistake!). You’re usually right the first time.

Final Thoughts

Have confidence in yourself. Thousands of real estate agents have taken this very test, and they (eventually) passed. You can and will, too. Use the above tips to be well-prepared for the test. Also, don’t forget to check out this related post all about the Massachusetts real estate license test.

By the way, before you can take the licensure exam, you’ll need to sign up for classes first. We can help with that! Sign up for Massachusetts real estate classes here.

Interested in getting your real estate license?


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