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

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This post aims to help you succeed in the Iowa real estate exam by telling you what the exam is like, providing direction on how and what to study, and offering up test-taking tactics that can amp up your chances of success.

We will also discuss what you can do next should you fail your test.

Is the Iowa real estate exam hard? Let’s take a look and gain an understanding of the exam inside and out.

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Best Way to Pass the Iowa Real Estate Exam

How to Study for the Iowa Real Estate Exam

Your studies for the salesperson exam begin with pre-licensing education. In Iowa, the requirement is 60 hours of classes on real estate practices and law.

While you must complete that coursework at a school approved by the Iowa Real Estate Commission, you have leeway in how you can accomplish that.

There are three options available for accessing the course:

  • Live classroom instruction for traditional learners
  • Virtual classes delivered online by a live instructor
  • Self-study online courses where you learn on your schedule

Industry experts weigh in on the pros and cons of each method via our A-to-Z guide on online real estate classes vs classroom courses.

No matter which format you choose, you benefit by starting your study plan as soon as classes begin. Take notes, regularly review material, and do all exercises and assignments.

We also encourage you to join a study group if your class has one. Fellow classmates can help reinforce your understanding of the material and build accountability into your study efforts.

In addition, focusing on resources like an exam prep course and mock tests will strengthen your study foundation.

Most education providers offer these preparatory programs online, giving you access to a readiness assessment, topical review guides, vocabulary worksheets, and interactive flashcards.

Practice exams are a standard component, too. These are often customizable and mimic the actual real estate exam difficulty level and timed-test experience.

It’s also essential that you put effective study methods into practice. Here are some expert tips in that regard:

  • Pick a productive study environment.
  • Study in manageable blocks of time vs. long sessions.
  • Set a regular schedule to establish a routine.
  • Focus each session to achieve a specific goal.
  • Engage with the material in various ways.

 

What to Study for the Iowa Real Estate Exam

Before you dive into a refresher of 60 hours of pre-licensing coursework, you need a plan of attack. The best one is to study the material based on its prevalence on the test.

And that begs the question of where to get an idea of what is on the real estate exam.

The testing company the Iowa Real Estate Commission contracts to administer the licensing exam, PSI Services, is the most useful source of that information.

PSI provides you with a Licensing Information Bulletin that tells you how many and what topics the test covers. Even more helpful is the number of questions for each subject.

The booklet says that the national portion of the exam covers 10 content areas. A little over 40 percent of your score comes from these areas: contracts, agency, and real estate practice.

Make that 12 topics for the Iowa real estate laws and Commission rules section, with more than half of the questions focused on the following four content areas:

  • Contracts – 7 questions
  • Agency – 6 questions
  • Property Disclosure – 5 questions
  • Disciplinary Actions – 4 questions

Given that you’ll know where the questions come from, you can use this information to structure your study sessions and appropriately allocate time.

The PSI booklet also lists additional possible study materials for the national portion of the exam. Reference it in the context of the two content outlines to bolster your study success.

 

7 Tips for Passing the Iowa Real Estate Exam

Good test-taking skills can make a positive difference in your performance on the exam. Here are seven things you can do once you sit down to take the test.

 

1. Get control from the start.

One of the worst things you can do is let something you don’t know rattle you. Shrug it off instead. Go to the next item and circle back later. That can help you stay confident.

 

2. Stay in the present.

Focus on one question at a time and avoid fretting about what’s coming up next. If you lose concentration, pause for a few moments to collect yourself.

 

3. Budget your time.

It’s a given that you’ll answer some questions faster than others. It’s best to calculate how much time you have for each question, so you don’t linger too long on ones that challenge you.

 

4. Focus on what’s being asked.

Multiple-choice formats often have more than one wrong answer that seems correct except for a word or two. Pay close attention to what the question is asking, so that you pick the best choice.

 

5. Avoid overthinking.

All the information you need is contained in the question. You don’t need to assume or infer anything else. Instead, you simply need to answer based on what you’ve read.

 

6. Watch for “gotcha” words.

The real estate exam format sometimes uses words like “not” or “except.” In those cases, you’re looking for the false answer.

 

7. Do a final review.

Ensure you have time to review your test at the end. Confirm that you’ve answered all questions and selected your intended answer choice.

For more tips, read my article on how to study for the real estate exam.

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QUESTION

What Is the Cost of Taking the Iowa Real Estate Exam?

You have to meet the pre-licensing education requirement before you can sit for the exam. Therefore, you must add the enrollment fee to the cost.

Pricing for the 60-hour real estate course in Iowa ranges from $250 to $480, depending on the school and the course access method.

In-person classes are the more expensive option. Most online and virtual classroom courses are comparably priced.

The exam registration fee is $95 per attempt.

You must also factor in the cost of the real estate license background check, which is $51. You can find out if you’re eligible to get licensed by reading our guide on getting an Iowa real estate license with violations on your record.

For all the costs for obtaining a real estate license, refer to our guide on how much a real estate license in Iowa costs.

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How Hard Is It to Pass the Iowa Real Estate Exam?

What Is the Iowa Real Estate Exam Pass Rate?

Unfortunately, the Iowa Real Estate Commission doesn’t publish reports on how many people pass the real estate exam the first time they take it.

Some education providers post pass rates for their individual schools on their websites. These figures vary, but the mid-70 percent range is typical.

Looking at this from a national perspective, although the pass rates for the real estate salesperson exam vary by state, they usually hover around 50 percent nationwide.

 

How Many Questions Are on the Iowa Real Estate Exam?

The exam consists of 120 scored, multiple-choice questions. The longer portion tests you on the day-to-day knowledge you need to be a successful, competent agent. It has 80 questions.

The state portion has half as many questions and focuses on Iowa’s specific laws, regulations, and real estate practices.

You should also anticipate answering 5-10 pilot questions when taking the real estate exam. These are not scored and therefore do not affect whether you pass the test.

These questions allow the exam developer to pre-test and statistically validate the qualities of these items before adding them to future licensing tests.

 

How Many Math Questions Are on the Iowa Real Estate Exam?

Of the 80 items on the national part of the exam, ten percent involve math, which translates to eight questions.

They cover real estate math formulas and basics that you’ll use in everyday transactions. Examples include the following:

  • Figuring simple interest rates
  • Calculating commissions
  • Computing loan-to-value ratio

 

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

To receive a passing score report, you must correctly answer 70 percent of the 120 questions. Here’s how that breaks out by each part of the exam:

  • National portion: 56 correct
  • State section: 28 correct

When you pass the real estate exam, you can then complete and file your application and wait for your license to get approved.

Note that part of the requirements is to choose a real estate broker to work for. You can find one through our directory of the best real estate brokerages in Iowa.

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What Happens if You Fail the Real Estate Exam in Iowa?

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

Some states limit the number of attempts you get to pass the exam. Iowa doesn’t. You can keep taking the test until you pass it as long as you’re within the eligibility time window.

Specifically, your course completion certificate must be less than a year old when you retake and pass the salesperson exam.

 

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

Your real estate exam results are displayed on the computer screen at the end of the test. So, you’ll know right away if you fail. However, you’re not allowed to schedule a retake that day.

A couple of days is the minimum time applicants wishing to become Iowa real estate agents must wait before retaking the exam.

For example, if you fail on Monday, you can call on Tuesday or schedule an appointment online to retest on Wednesday if a seat is available.

 

Do You Have to Pay to Retake the Iowa Real Estate Exam?

Each time you retake the salesperson exam, you’ll pay the registration fee of $95.

 

Using this information, you can develop a plan of action for making the best use of your study time and efforts.

You can also learn all about how to get an Iowa real estate license and how long it takes to get a real estate license in Iowa by reading other Iowa-related posts in our Knowledge Base.

These resources can help you better understand the licensing process and how long to get your real estate license in the state.

Once you get your real estate license, you can then focus on what to do after passing the real estate exam. You may also consider joining a real estate team to be able to meet experienced agents to guide your career.

The best part about rubbing elbows with these industry experts is that they will clue you in on the pros and cons of being a real estate agent as a career.

Don’t forget to take advantage of our other resources designed to give you an edge once you’re licensed, particularly in terms of enhancing your credibility as a real estate agent.

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.

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

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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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