How Hard is the Texas Real Estate Exam?

How Hard is the Texas Real Estate Exam?

Starting a real estate career in Texas is an exciting venture. One of the primary milestones on this journey is the Texas Real Estate Exam. While challenging, proper preparation and understanding of the exam content can simplify the process. In this article, we’ll delve deep into the intricacies of the exam, provide helpful study tips, and offer insights into the questions you might face.

Breaking Down the Texas Real Estate Exam

If you’re gearing up to tackle the Texas Real Estate Exam, getting a grasp on its structure and content is the first step. Here’s what you need to know:

Exam Content

The Texas Real Estate Exam consists of two distinct sections:

  • National Section (85 questions, 5 of which are unscored pretest items): This portion dives into general real estate principles that are widely applicable throughout the United States.

  • Texas State Section (40 questions, 5-10 of which are unscored): This part is all about real estate laws and practices that are unique to Texas. Here, you’ll encounter topics related to property ownership, land use controls, valuation and market analysis, financing, the transfer of property, and the practice of real estate, with a particular focus on Texas-specific regulations and standards.

Exam Segment Number of Questions Time Limit (minutes)
National Portion 80 150
Texas State Portion 40 90

Time Limits

Time management is crucial when sitting for the Texas Real Estate Exam. Here are the time constraints you’ll be working within:

  • National Section: 150 minutes

  • State Section: 90 minutes

Given the set time limits, it’s essential to pace yourself to ensure you address every question, including those you might find challenging.

Now that we have a general overview of the exam structure, let’s delve deeper into the specific content areas and topics you can expect on both the national and state sections. This knowledge will be instrumental in guiding your study strategy and ensuring your success.

National Real Estate Exam

As mentioned above, the Texas Real Estate Exam is a blend of both state-specific content and national real estate principles. While mastering the Texas portion is crucial, it’s equally important to be well-versed in the general principles that are applicable across the nation. Consisting of 80 questions – 5 of which are unscored pilot questions for future reference – the national portion forms a substantial part of the exam. To help you navigate this, let’s take a closer look at some of the pivotal sections:

A foundational knowledge of real estate begins with understanding what constitutes real property, how it is legally described, and how it can be used. This section delves into:

Real vs. Personal Property: Knowing the difference is crucial. While real property is immovable (like land and structures attached to it), personal property, also known as chattel, is movable (like furniture or vehicles). When selling a property, it’s vital to determine which items are included in the sale and which are not.

Legal Property Descriptions: In real estate, precision is paramount. Property boundaries need to be explicitly defined to avoid disputes. There are various methods to do this, and one common method is the “metes and bounds” system. This system describes a property’s boundary by detailing the precise path and distances around it, often referencing physical features or landmarks.

Land Use and Regulations: Real estate doesn’t operate in a vacuum. It’s governed by laws and regulations, often designed to ensure the best use of the land for the larger community. Understanding concepts such as zoning (which determines how parcels of land can be used) and eminent domain (where the government can take private property for public use, with compensation) is pivotal for a real estate professional.

Example Question: Which of the following best describes “metes and bounds”?

  • A method of calculating property taxes based on landmarks.

  • A system of land description that details property boundaries using physical features and directions.

  • A type of legal contract between a property seller and buyer.

  • An insurance policy covering natural landmarks on a property.

Correct Answer: A system of land description that details property boundaries using physical features and directions.

Explanation: “Metes and bounds” is a system used to describe land boundaries. “Metes” refer to measurements of distance, while “bounds” relate to known or fixed points and physical features of the land. This method does not relate to taxes, contracts, or insurance but rather is a precise way to detail and describe property boundaries.

Forms of Ownership, Transfer, and Recording of Title

This section explores the foundational structures of property ownership. Ownership types are diverse, and understanding each is crucial:

Sole Ownership: This is when a property is owned by a single individual or entity. The owner has complete control over the property and can transfer or bequeath it freely.

Joint Tenancy: A form of co-ownership where each owner has an equal interest in the property. Upon the death of one owner, their interest automatically passes to the surviving co-owner(s).

Tenancy in Common: Another co-ownership form, but unlike joint tenancy, the ownership shares need not be equal, and there’s no automatic right of survivorship.

Beyond ownership forms, candidates must understand the processes involved in transferring and recording titles. This involves recognizing the significance of deeds (legal instruments transferring ownership), understanding title searches (which ensure a title is clear of claims or liens), and acknowledging the role of public records in legitimizing property ownership.

Example Question: Which form of property ownership does not have the right of survivorship?

  • joint tenancy

  • tenancy by the entirety

  • sole ownership

  • tenancy in common

Answer: tenancy in common

Explanation: Tenancy in common allows multiple owners to hold interest in a property, but unlike joint tenancy, there’s no automatic right of survivorship. This means an owner’s interest doesn’t automatically pass to the other owners upon their death.

Property Value and Appraisal

Valuing property accurately is both an art and a science. This section zeroes in on the methodologies and factors influencing property valuation:

Appraisal Process: An organized method of deriving a property’s value, often conducted by a licensed appraiser. It involves inspection, research, and application of appropriate valuation methods.

Valuation Approaches: There are three primary ones:

  • Comparative: Comparing the subject property with similar properties that recently sold.

  • Cost: Based on how much it would cost to replace the property, less depreciation.

  • Income: For investment properties, this approach looks at potential income generation. Factors such as location, property condition, market conditions, and economic trends also play a pivotal role in determining property value.

Example Question: Which valuation approach is most suitable for a unique property with no recent comparable sales?

  • comparative

  • cost

  • income

  • sales comparison

Answer: cost

Explanation: For unique properties, it might be challenging to find recent comparable sales. In such cases, the cost approach, which considers the replacement cost minus depreciation, can be the most suitable method to determine value.

Real Estate Contracts and Agency

Contracts are the lifeblood of real estate transactions. They legally bind parties to certain obligations and create a roadmap for property-related interactions.

Formation: Before a contract becomes legally enforceable, several elements must be present, including offer, acceptance, consideration, legal capacity, and mutual consent.

Types of Contracts:

  • Purchase Agreements: These are the most common contracts in real estate, outlining the terms and conditions for property sales.

  • Lease Agreements: These determine the terms under which a tenant will occupy and use a property, including rent amount, lease duration, and other responsibilities.

Breach and Remedies: If one party fails to uphold their end of a contract, they are considered in breach. Remedies can include compensatory damages, specific performance (forcing the breaching party to comply), or contract rescission.

In the world of real estate, agency is paramount. It determines the relationship between agents and their clients:

Agent Duties: Agents owe their clients loyalty, obedience, disclosure, confidentiality, accounting, and reasonable care.

Types of Agency Relationships:

  • Exclusive Agency: One agent is given the rights to represent the client, but the client reserves the right to sell the property on their own without paying a commission.

  • Exclusive Right to Sell: One agent has exclusive rights to represent and sell the property. No matter who sells the property, the agent earns a commission.

Agency Termination: Agency relationships can end when the contract expires, mutual agreement between both parties, completion of the agency’s purpose, or breach of the agency agreement.


Real Estate Practice

The theoretical foundation of real estate is vital, but so is understanding its practical application.

  • Listing and Selling Procedures: From accurately pricing properties and marketing them effectively to negotiating with buyers and finalizing sales, agents must be adept at every step of the selling process.

  • Property Management: Beyond buying and selling, many real estate professionals manage properties for clients. This encompasses tenant relations, property maintenance, and financial management.

  • Role of Technology: The digital age has revolutionized real estate. Agents today use advanced software for listings, virtual tours, and CRM systems for client management. Understanding these tools is essential for modern real estate practice.

Example Question: Which agency relationship gives an agent the exclusive rights to represent and sell a property, ensuring a commission regardless of who sells it?

  • open listing

  • exclusive agency

  • exclusive right to sell

  • non-exclusive listing

Answer: exclusive right to sell

Explanation: In an exclusive right to sell agreement, one agent has the sole rights to represent and sell a property. This ensures they earn a commission, irrespective of who facilitates the sale.

Property Disclosures and Environmental Issues

The integrity of a real estate professional is often showcased by their commitment to transparency. Being candid about a property’s condition ensures trust and avoids potential legal issues:

Property Disclosures: Agents are mandated to divulge both apparent defects, like a broken window, and latent defects, such as a hidden mold issue or foundation problems.

Environmental Concerns: Several environmental issues can affect a property’s value and safety:

  • Lead-based paint: Older homes, particularly those built before 1978, might have lead-based paint, which can be hazardous if ingested.

  • Asbestos: Used in older homes for insulation and as a fire retardant, asbestos can be harmful if inhaled.

  • Wetlands: Properties near wetlands can face restrictions on development and usage.

Example Question: Which environmental concern was commonly used for insulation and as a fire retardant in older homes?

  • radon

  • wetlands

  • lead-based paint

  • asbestos

Answer: asbestos

Explanation: Asbestos was widely used in older homes due to its insulation properties and its effectiveness as a fire retardant. When disturbed, it can release harmful fibers which, when inhaled, can cause health issues.

Financing and Settlement

Navigating the financial aspects of real estate transactions is crucial. This segment sheds light on:

Real Estate Financing: This encompasses understanding different types of loans, from conventional to FHA and VA loans, the lending criteria of banks, and the overall loan qualification process.

Settlement or Closing: This is the final step in a real estate transaction. It involves finalizing the mortgage agreement, transferring property title, and settling costs like closing costs, prorations for property taxes, and title insurance.

Example Question: Which type of loan is backed by the federal government and assists military veterans in purchasing a home?

  • Conventional Loan

  • FHA Loan

  • VA Loan

  • USDA Loan

Answer: VA Loan

Explanation: VA Loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and are specifically designed to help military veterans and active service members purchase homes, often with favorable terms and lower down payments.

Real Estate Math Calculations

Mathematics plays a significant role in real estate:

  • Interest Rates: Knowing how to calculate monthly mortgage payments based on different interest rates is essential.

  • Property Taxes: Understanding how to determine annual property taxes based on tax rates and property values.

  • Appraisal Values: Calculating potential property values based on recent comparable sales.

  • Commission Rates: Determining the commission amount based on property sale prices and agreed commission percentages.

Example Question: If a real estate agent sells a property for $400,000 and has an agreed commission rate of 5%, how much will they earn from the sale?

  • $10,000

  • $20,000

  • $15,000

  • $25,000

Answer: $20,000

Explanation: To calculate the commission, multiply the property’s sale price by the commission rate: $400,000 * 0.05 = $20,000.


Texas Real Estate Exam

As mentioned above, the Texas-specific portion of the real estate exam contains 40 questions, 5-10 of which are pilot questions that will not count towards your final score. Because you won’t know which questions are unscored as you take the exam, it’s imperative to approach every question with equal seriousness and preparation. To assist you in this endeavor, let’s delve deeper into the distinct sections of the Texas real estate exam, highlighting key topics and offering strategic insights.

Commission Duties and Powers

The Texas real estate governing body ensures that the industry operates with accountability and in the best interests of the public. Given the complexities of real estate, this body sets the gold standard for practice and ensures professionals adhere to these standards. Its vast powers cover everything from the very composition of the commission to overseeing the advisory committees that provide industry insights and advice. But it’s not just about setting rules; it’s about enforcing them. When professionals or the public raise concerns, the commission has a robust system for complaints. These can range from initial investigations to more formalized hearings and appeals. Should professionals stray from the mandated path, penalties await. For example, operating without the necessary licenses or other breaches can lead to sanctions. And, as a testament to the commission’s commitment to the public, there’s the Recovery Trust Account, designed to compensate parties who have been wronged.

Example Question: What is the primary purpose of the Recovery Trust Account in Texas real estate practices?

  • to fund the real estate commission’s activities

  • to compensate parties who’ve been adversely affected due to real estate malpractice

  • to provide loans to aspiring real estate agents

  • to manage funds from property sales

Answer: to compensate parties who’ve been adversely affected due to real estate malpractice

Explanation: The Recovery Trust Account serves as a safety net to offer financial compensation to aggrieved parties who’ve suffered due to malpractices in real estate transactions or actions.


Obtaining a real estate license in Texas is a process that requires diligence, knowledge, and commitment. Every aspect of a property transaction, from the handshake agreement to formal inspections, has regulations and standards, and thus, professionals must understand which activities require official licensing. The path to acquiring a license is multifaceted, encompassing personal character assessments, securing appropriate sponsorships, educational commitments, and, of course, passing the rigorous examination. Yet, the journey doesn’t end upon receiving that license. There could be hurdles along the way, like potential license denials, but the system allows for appeals. As with any profession, real estate mandates continuous growth, which in this context means ongoing education, adapting to changes (like switching sponsorships), navigating periods when one might not be active in the field, and maintaining one’s professional identity, including the use of assumed names.

Example Question: Which of the following is NOT a typical step in the Texas real estate licensing process?

  • passing a background check

  • securing a property portfolio

  • completing mandatory education hours

  • taking and passing the licensing examination

Answer: securing a property portfolio

Explanation: While building a property portfolio can be an important step in an agent’s career, it’s not a requirement for obtaining a license in Texas. The licensing process focuses on character, education, and examination success.

Standards of Conduct

In the Texas real estate industry, professionalism goes beyond mere transactions; it’s about the ethical and moral compass guiding an agent’s actions. The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) has laid out rigorous standards to ensure agents practice with the highest level of integrity and professionalism. A keen understanding of these professional ethics is fundamental. TREC has stipulated clear grounds for disciplinary actions against agents, so straying into areas like unauthorized practice of law can lead to severe repercussions. Furthermore, agents must be adept in managing trust accounts as per state guidelines, ensuring client funds are kept separate and inviolable. The financial aspects of real estate in Texas, including fee splits, rebates, and the specifics of advertising, are all regulated to maintain fairness and transparency.

Example Question: In Texas, if an agent mishandles funds intended for a trust account, which body would likely take disciplinary action?

  • National Association of Realtors

  • Texas State Treasury

  • Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC)

  • Federal Trade Commission

Answer: Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC).

Explanation: The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) oversees and enforces the standards of conduct for real estate professionals in Texas. Any mishandling of trust account funds would fall under their jurisdiction for disciplinary action.


At the heart of Texas real estate lie the relationships between agents, brokers, and clients. These relationships are governed by a set of rules and ethical standards unique to Texas. Agents are mandated by TREC to provide complete and transparent disclosures to their clients. When acting as intermediaries—representing both buyer and seller—agents must adhere to TREC guidelines, ensuring neither party is disadvantaged. Additionally, the relationship dynamics between brokers and agents are pivotal in Texas. Brokers bear the responsibility for their agents’ actions, necessitating continuous oversight and mentorship. And while brokers may rely on assistants, Texas has specific rules defining the scope of activities unlicensed assistants can perform.

Example Question: In Texas, if an agent is representing both the buyer and the seller in a property transaction, they are acting as a(n) _____?

  • double agent

  • intermediary

  • dual representative

  • affiliate broker

Answer: intermediary

Explanation: In Texas, when an agent represents both the buyer and the seller in a property transaction, they are acting as an intermediary. This role requires them to provide certain disclosures and ensure fair representation for both parties.


In Texas real estate, contracts aren’t just paperwork; they are legally binding documents that ensure both parties in a transaction uphold their end of the agreement. Texas-specific contracts, forms, and addenda have been carefully crafted and promulgated by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) to standardize real estate transactions and safeguard the interests of all involved. Beyond these standardized documents, understanding the Statute of Frauds is essential. In Texas, certain agreements, including those related to real estate, must be in writing to be enforceable. Additionally, agents must be well-versed in seller disclosure requirements. Texas law mandates sellers to disclose known property defects, ensuring transparency and protecting buyers from potential pitfalls.

Example Question: In Texas, why is the Statute of Frauds significant to real estate professionals?

  • It mandates ethical behavior in negotiations.

  • It dictates commission rates.

  • It requires certain agreements to be in writing to be enforceable.

  • It provides guidelines for property inspections.

Answer: It requires certain agreements to be in writing to be enforceable.

Explanation: The Statute of Frauds ensures the legality and enforceability of contracts in Texas. For real estate professionals, it’s crucial because it mandates that certain types of agreements, including those about property sales, be documented in writing.

Special Topics

The Texas Real Estate Exam delves deep into specific aspects that make Texas real estate unique. One must understand community property rights, a legal principle that treats properties acquired during a marriage as jointly owned by both spouses. Additionally, Texas offers homestead protections that safeguard a homeowner’s primary residence from certain types of creditors. These protections also come with tax exemptions, providing financial relief to homeowners.

Another vital area is the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which guards consumers against false, misleading, or deceptive business practices. Aspiring professionals should also be knowledgeable about matters of wills and estates, especially as they pertain to property inheritance. The landlord-tenant relationship, governed by Texas-specific rules, touches on rights, responsibilities, and remedies for both parties. The exam also covers foreclosure processes, detailing the rights of lenders and protections for borrowers, as well as the complexities of short sales. Further enriching the exam’s scope are topics like recording statutes (which prioritize recorded interests), Mechanic’s and Materialman’s liens (which protect those who provide labor and materials for property improvements), the Veterans Land Board (supporting Texas veterans in land and home purchases), nuances of Home Owners Associations, and the principles of equitable interest.

Example Question: What is the primary purpose of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act in Texas real estate?

  • to provide tax breaks to property sellers.

  • to protect consumers from misleading business practices.

  • to regulate the commission of real estate agents.

  • to govern the relationship between landlords and tenants.

Answer: to protect consumers from misleading business practices.

Explanation: The Deceptive Trade Practices Act is designed to shield consumers from businesses that might engage in false, misleading, or deceptive practices, ensuring a fair and transparent real estate market in Texas.

Is the Texas Real Estate Exam Hard?

After diving into the specifics of the Texas Real Estate Exam, it’s only natural to ask, “How challenging is it, really?” Many aspiring Texas real estate professionals grapple with this very question. The challenge of the exam isn’t merely its content but how comprehensively one prepares for it, the depth of one’s background knowledge, and innate test-taking abilities. To offer some perspective, let’s analyze certain metrics and feedback in light of the exam content we’ve discussed.

Pass Rates: Historical pass rates provide a tangible metric to gauge the exam’s difficulty. Over the past years, the first-time pass rate for the Texas Real Estate Sales Agent Exam hovers around 60%. This means that for every ten test-takers, approximately six pass on their first attempt. The rest might require one or more retakes to achieve a passing score. While a 60% pass rate might seem daunting, remember that it also means a significant majority do succeed on their initial try.

Typical Challenge Areas: Feedback from candidates suggests that there are certain sections of the exam that are perceived as more challenging. These often include:

  • Contracts: Given the legal implications and nuances of real estate contracts, many find this section demanding.

  • Standards of Conduct and Ethics: The intricate scenarios and potential pitfalls in this section can be tricky to navigate, especially for those new to the field.

  • Special Topics: Texas-specific regulations, like community property rights or the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, can throw off those who haven’t given them enough focus during their study sessions.

External Factors: Another aspect to consider is test anxiety. Some individuals might be well-prepared content-wise but struggle with the pressure of the testing environment. This can adversely impact performance, making the exam feel more challenging than it is on a content level.


How to Excel on the Texas Real Estate Exam

Achieving success on the Texas Real Estate Exam doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right strategies, resources, and mindset, you can confidently tackle the test and pave the way for your real estate career in Texas. Here are some tried-and-true tips to guide you:

  1. Comprehensive Study Plan: Before diving in, chart out a study plan. Allocate specific days for topics like Commission Duties, Contracts, and Special Topics. Ensure you have a balanced mix of reading, practicing, and reviewing in your routine.

  2. Leverage Official Resources: The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) offers several resources, including study guides and sample questions. Familiarize yourself with these to get a clear sense of the exam’s format and content.

  3. Practice Exams: Regularly test your knowledge with real estate practice exams. This will not only highlight areas you’re strong in but also pinpoint topics that might require further revision. Adjust your study plan based on these insights.

  4. Join Study Groups: Sharing knowledge and discussing challenging concepts with peers can offer fresh perspectives and insights that you might have missed on your own.

  5. Deep Dive into Problematic Sections: As we’ve mentioned earlier, sections like Contracts and Special Topics can be tricky. Dedicate extra time to these, ensuring you truly understand the intricacies.

  6. Real-life Applications: Try to relate theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios. For instance, if you’re learning about seller disclosure requirements, think about how it would play out in an actual property transaction. This approach can make abstract concepts more tangible.

  7. Manage Test Anxiety: Being well-prepared is the best antidote to test anxiety. However, also consider relaxation techniques like deep breathing or visualization exercises to keep nerves in check.

  8. Day-Before Rituals: Avoid cramming the night before the exam. Instead, review your notes lightly, get a good night’s sleep, and eat a balanced meal before heading to the test center.

  9. Exam Strategy: Read each question carefully during the exam. If you come across challenging questions, mark them and move on. This ensures you don’t spend too much time on one question and miss out on answering others. Once you’ve gone through the entire exam, circle back to tackle the marked questions.

  10. Post-Exam Review: If you’re taking the exam for the first time, whether you pass or not, spend some time reflecting on the experience. Which sections did you feel most confident in? Which questions posed challenges? This review will be invaluable if you decide to retake the exam or for guiding others in their preparation.

Success on the Texas Real Estate Exam boils down to preparation, strategy, and mindset. Armed with a solid study plan and the right resources, you can navigate the intricacies of the exam and embark on a fruitful career in Texas real estate.

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