“My life is over . . . I just failed my real estate exam!”


February 27, 2019

I just failed my real estate exam!”

Throughout our New Jersey real estate pre-licensing classes, we tell students, “Our biggest and most important goal is to help you pass the state exam so you can begin your real estate career.” Then as they graduate, we send them off with one simple request: “When you pass the state real estate exam, please call us and give us the good news.”

There are few moments when an instructor feels more joy than when those calls come in! Last Saturday, five students called to say, “We passed the exam on our first try!” It made my weekend!

Why did you fail?

Why do people fail the state exam? Contrary to what we heard students say throughout the course,

“I’m terrible at math.”

“I feel so stupid.”

“I just cannot grasp these strange concepts.”

People rarely fail the state exam because of their mental abilities. I can honestly say that I have never met a stupid student. Maybe we’re just lucky that Garden State Real Estate Academy attracts smart people!

So why do people fail the exam?

One reason is that they wait too long to take it after graduating from real estate school. I believe that when, on their last day in school, the instructor reminds them that they must pass the state exam within one year of that day, some people just put it on the back burner. After all, I have a whole year to sit for the exam. The problem is, many of the unusual concepts they have just learned; many of the little tips and tricks the instructor has taught them as memory-joggers, will start to fade away the longer they wait.

Another reason is they don’t study in the hours and days prior to the exam. This is not an easy test. It is not an exam where one can “wing it” and pass. Our advice is to study, study, and then study some more, literally up to the point where you are reviewing the topics learned right in the car prior to walking into the test center.

Setting priorities

Sometimes people do study, but they study the wrong things. At Garden State, we provide students with the general topic areas from which the greatest number of questions will come. So if you are sitting in the test center parking lot and only have 15 minutes before your appointment, don’t waste time reviewing an area where there will only be two questions; go over subjects where there will be 15 questions!

But what if . . .

You may be reading this and thinking, “It’s too late! I already failed.” Maybe twice or three times. Garden State Real Estate Academy has a tool that may help you. On a monthly basis, we have a full-day seminar on Saturday which covers all the subject areas where students have the greatest difficulty on the state exam. You can see when the next pre-exam cram class is at www.GSREacademy.com.  And when those students leave, we give them our “Potpourri Quiz,” a 135-question sheet that allows you to quickly study every area that the state exam will cover. Think of it as flash cards all on several easy-to-read sheets of paper.


A student called me just yesterday to say she had passed the state exam on her first try. Then she said something that gave me the warm fuzzies: “Thank you so much for calling me out whenever I kept saying how I know I’m going to fail the math questions. It helped me to go into the exam with a much more positive attitude, and there’s no question that helped me get through those 110 questions.”

One of the easiest ways to fail the exam is to go into the room with a foreboding feeling that you will probably fail. Leave that negative self-talk at the door!

If you do fail the state exam, wait 24 hours and schedule another one. It only costs you $35. Then use the time before that next exam to study in the way I’ve suggested above.

And remember: when you pass your real estate exam, no broker will know whether you passed with a 70.1% or a 100% score (neither will you!). And not a single client has ever asked whether I passed my real estate exam on the first—or tenth—try 30 years ago.

Go luck! You can do it!

David C. Forward is a licensed real estate broker and instructor and was first licensed as a Realtor® 30 years ago. He is School Director of Garden Real Estate Academy, has won numerous awards for real estate sales, is a much-requested public speaker who has addressed audiences on six continents and is the author of 14 books. David can be reached at Support@GSREacademy.com

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