How Hard Is the North Carolina Real Estate Exam and How to Pass It the First Time?

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Taking the real estate licensing exam doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. You can give yourself an edge by becoming familiar with what you’ll see on the test and learning strategies to best prepare for it.

This post is packed with information to help you do both.

Continue reading to get started now.


Best Way to Pass the North Carolina Real Estate Exam

How to Study for the North Carolina Real Estate Exam

Completing a 75-hour pre-licensing course is the base education requirement for getting a real estate license in NC. Taking this course is one of the best ways to study for the exam.

The North Carolina Real Estate Commission itself indicates that the course is the most thorough preparation for the state section of the test, as well as the national portion.

The course, which you can take in one of the accredited real estate schools in North Carolina, teaches both industry fundamentals and state-specific information you need to pass the exam.

You can choose to take this course via classroom, online, or live-streamed delivery formats.

If you’re unsure which is best for you, consult our guide on the pros and cons of real estate classes online vs. classroom courses.

Some providers also offer structured study programs that get you ready for the exam. You get access to tools like flashcards and question banks.

Taking practice runs through mock exams can help gauge your knowledge level and timing, while allowing you to be familiar with the real estate exam difficulty level.

Also, consider the following tips as you get ready for the test:

  • Use a timer to break study time into short intervals with regular breaks.
  • Map out what you will review, and vary the material to keep studying fresh.
  • Use acronyms to make it easier to remember large amounts of information.

It doesn’t hurt to have a study buddy, either. You can share knowledge and motivate one another.

Having a study partner can also introduce you to new learning techniques and give you another perspective on the course materials and how to pass the NC real estate exam.


What to Study for the North Carolina Real Estate Exam

To make the best use of exam prep time, you need to know what to study. The Commission publishes a booklet called Real Estate Licensing in North Carolina.

This source material should be at the top of your list of where to get an idea of what is on the real estate exam.

Among the wealth of helpful information you’ll find in this booklet is a section that describes the licensing exam in detail. It includes a content outline that shows the following:

  • Major subject areas covered on the exam
  • Number of questions by subject for each section
  • Section number for the pre-licensing course syllabus

The course syllabus goes into even more detail, describing the subtopics for each of the 22 content areas covered on the exam.

It also provides a list of additional resources for review, including North Carolina Real Estate Licensing Law and Real Estate Commission Rules.

Using this information, you can cross-reference your course textbook and ensure that you focus adequate study time on areas that constitute the majority of the exam.


7 Tips for Passing the North Carolina Real Estate Exam

You can diligently study and know the material inside and out.

But when the big day finally arrives, you still have to get past that last hurdle: taking the test. Here are some tips for a successful exam day.


1. Use your time wisely.

If you can’t figure out the answer within the time limit you’ve budgeted for each question, skip it. Answer what you know.

This way, you’ll move through the test more quickly. You can then return to the difficult questions on a second pass.


2. Make sure you answer what’s being asked.

It sounds like a no-brainer, right? But it’s easy to make assumptions or get sidetracked by extra information. Figure out precisely what the question is asking and answer that.


3. Go through all the answers every single time.

Even if you think the first answer is the right one, read all of the choices anyway. Do this for every question. Answer options can be partially correct. Make sure you pick the best one.


4. Work backward to arrive at an answer.

If you’re unsure about an answer, use the elimination method to boost your chances of getting it right. Reject the choices that you know are clearly wrong and see where that leaves you.


5. Take your time.

The test is timed. Rushing through it, however, is counterproductive. Monitor your time but don’t panic. The exam is not a race. Ignore other test takers and use all the time you need.


6. Don’t keep score.

Resist the urge to try and calculate your score as you progress through the test. This can distract or discourage you and negatively affect your overall performance.


7. Keep an upbeat attitude.

Staying positive throughout the test can help you to remain relaxed and think more clearly. That can increase your chances of getting a passing score.

Get more useful tips when you read our article on how to pass the real estate exam the first time.


What Is the Cost of Taking the North Carolina Real Estate Exam?

You must apply for your license and complete a background check to be eligible to take the exam.

Therefore, you’ll pay $100 for the exam application, $56 to register for the exam, and $30 or so for the criminal background check.

Read our guide on the background check for an NC real estate license to know how the process is done, as well as tips on applying for a license in the state should you have a past conviction such as misdemeanor.

Plus, you’ll need to factor in the cost of the pre-licensing course, which is at least $500.

Read our article on NC real estate license costs to get an idea of the financial investment involved when obtaining your license in the state.


How Hard Is It to Pass the North Carolina Real Estate Exam?

What Is the NC Real Estate Exam Pass Rate?

Compared to the real estate salesperson exam in other states, North Carolina’s broker exam is reportedly one of the nation’s toughest entry-level licensing tests.

The state-specific section is said to be particularly challenging.

How many people pass the real estate exam the first time they take it? The pass rate has varied over time.

However, candidates taking the exam generally have about a 50/50 chance (or less) of passing it.

You can find statistics for students who took the exam within 30 days of finishing the pre-licensing course in an annual exam performance report published by the Commission.


How Many Questions Are on the North Carolina Real Estate Exam?

The real estate exam for soon-to-be real estate agents in North Carolina has a total of 120 scored questions in two parts.

Your knowledge of fundamental real estate principles is tested in the national portion, which has 80 questions. The other 40-question section focuses on state real estate laws.

You may also see 10 to 15 pretest questions on the exam. These items don’t count for or against your score. They are included as trial questions to help in the development of future exams.

The questions are interspersed throughout each portion of the test. Five are typically included in the North Carolina-specific section, and 5 to 10 are in the national portion.

The test consists of multiple-choice questions with four possible answer options. Those taking the real estate exam have four hours to complete the test, with 90 minutes allotted to the state section.


How Many Math Questions Are on the North Carolina Real Estate Exam?

According to the Commission’s Real Estate Licensing in North Carolina booklet, there are eight mathematical questions in the national portion of the exam.


What Score Do You Need to Pass the North Carolina Real Estate Exam?

You must pass each section independently. You need to answer 57 of the 80 scored national questions correctly to earn a passing score.

Twenty-nine correct answers get you a passing grade on the state-specific part. You’ll see your real estate exam results displayed on the screen at the end of the exam, letting you know if you passed or failed.


What Happens if You Fail the Real Estate Exam in North Carolina?

How Many Times Can You Fail and Retake the North Carolina Real Estate Exam?

You’re not limited in the number of times you can retake the exam. However, you do have time restrictions. There’s a 10-day waiting period between retakes.

You must also pass both portions within the 180-day exam eligibility period. If that time expires and you haven’t passed the exam, you’ll have to reapply.


How Long Do You Have to Wait to Retake the North Carolina Real Estate Exam?

You must wait a minimum of 10 calendar days after a failed exam before you’ll be allowed to retake it.

To know the time commitment involved in completing all the steps in the licensing process, read our guide on how long to get a real estate license in North Carolina.


Do You Have to Pay to Retake the North Carolina Real Estate Exam?

Yes, you’ll have to pay two fees each time you reschedule and retake one or both portions of the exam. The application fee is $100, and the exam fee is $56.


Your Next Steps After Passing the Real Estate Exam in North Carolina

Just as the licensing exam can be difficult, getting your real estate career off the ground is sometimes challenging.

Once you pass the exam, you will receive your license which you will have to activate together with your sponsoring broker.

Read our article on choosing the right real estate brokerage to work for when making your selection, and then browse our directory of the top real estate brokerages in North Carolina to find the best one.

As you begin your career, know the next steps after passing the real estate exam to ensure that you’re off to a good start.

A smart move to take is to familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of being a real estate agent to get a picture of how your career will go.

It’s also wise to learn how to join a real estate team. When part of one, you can meet more experienced agents who will teach you more about the industry.

To help you build and grow your real estate career quickly, we at Real Estate Bees created a directory for real estate professionals.

It’s designed to help you get more exposure for your business, including receiving leads. Create a free profile by signing up here.


If you want to contribute your expert advice on a topic of your expertise, feel free to apply to our Expert Contributor Program.


About the Author

Kristina Morales is a REALTOR® with over 20 years of professional experience. She actively practices real estate in Ohio but also has practiced real estate in California and Texas. Conducting her real estate business in three states has allowed her to gain unique experiences that make her a well-rounded realtor. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Business Management and her MBA with a concentration in Banking and Finance. Prior to real estate, Kristina had an extensive corporate career in banking and treasury. She ended her finance career as an Assistant Treasurer at a publicly traded oil & gas company in Houston, TX.

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