How to Find the Best California Real Estate Exam Prep Course for You

Before you can become a real estate sales agent or broker in California, you have to pass a comprehensive exam about the laws and procedures governing the industry. California residents are required to have 135 hours of pre-licensing education before they can sit for the exam, and usually this involves a real estate exam prep course. There are a lot of options out there, and it can be difficult to know which one provides the greatest value. That’s why we put together this guide to the best California real estate exam prep courses.

Our team of experts looked at 18 popular California real estate exam prep courses to figure out which do the best job of helping their students pass the test the first time. We evaluated each of them based on their accessibility, study materials, student support and overall comprehensiveness. We also spoke with California real estate agents to learn which programs they recommend and why.

We ended up with three finalists that we felt confident recommending. Each of them is approved by the California Bureau of Real Estate, so they will count toward your 135-hour educational requirement. Kaplan was our favorite because of its interactive programs, variety of course formats and excellent student reviews. You may prefer one of our other picks, however, so we recommend exploring all your options before you make a decision.

A Full List of Every California Real Estate Exam Prep Course Worth Considering

Our three picks for the best California real estate exam prep courses are listed below, followed by the other 15 companies we considered. Click on the links to visit the websites and to read what we had to say about our finalists.

The 3 Best California Real Estate Exam Prep Courses

CompanyPricing Info
Kaplan Real Estate Education$39 - $1,099
Career Webschool$59 - $339
Chamberlain Real Estate School$40 - $364

The Other 15 California Real Estate Exam Prep Courses We Considered

CompanyLearn More
360Training.comVisit Site
Academy License CenterVisit Site
Affinity Real Estate & Mortgage ServicesVisit Site
Allied Business SchoolsVisit Site
CA Realty TrainingVisit Site
California School of Real EstateVisit Site
Duane GomerVisit Site
First TuesdayVisit Site
Lumbleau Real Estate SchoolsVisit Site
OnlineEdVisit Site
Premier SchoolsVisit Site
ProSchoolsVisit Site
Real Estate ExpressVisit Site
Real Estate TrainersVisit Site
RealEstateUVisit Site

The Most Important Features: Accessibility, Materials, Support and Customization

When choosing the best California real estate exam prep courses, we focused on four important areas: accessibility, materials, support and customization.


All of our finalists are approved by the California Bureau of Real Estate to provide the required pre-licensing training necessary to sit for the real estate exam. We preferred companies that gave students a choice in how they wanted to learn. All three companies offer a variety of self-study materials for independent learners, and Kaplan and the Chamberlain Real Estate School also host live courses in major cities for those who prefer a more interactive learning environment. Kaplan stood out here as the only one of our finalists to offer self-paced, live online and live in-person courses, so you can choose the one that best fits your schedule and learning style.


A real estate exam prep course usually consists of textbooks, practice questions and tests and sometimes online video lessons as well. We preferred companies that give you a choice between physical and online study materials, because not everyone wants to carry heavy books around with them. The best programs will give you access to several full-length practice tests to help you learn the test format and estimate your score. Each of our finalists did well in this area, but Kaplan outdid all the rest with video recordings, textbooks, CDs, practice questions and drills and a build-your-own-exam tool.


Access to knowledgeable instructors is especially important in a self-paced program where it’s up to you to learn the material on your own. Most courses will include email or forum support at a minimum, and the best will have live workshops or study groups where you can get your questions answered right away. Some companies, like Career Webschool, also show support with a pass guarantee. If you fail your real estate exam after completing the prep course, the company will give you either a full refund or a free course retake. There are certain requirements you must meet in order to be eligible for this guarantee, so make sure you read the fine print before you buy the course.


Some California real estate exam prep courses, like Career Webschool and Chamberlain Real Estate School, enable you to purchase course sections individually. This is a nice option if you’re just looking to try out a course before you make a full commitment. It’s also great if you already finished some of your required education hours elsewhere and you don’t want to get stuck paying for more than you need.

Choosing the Right California Real Estate Exam Prep Course Delivery Type for You

California real estate exam prep courses come in three different formats. The right one for you depends on your schedule, budget and preferences.

  • Self-Paced: You buy the materials and study them when it’s convenient for you.
  • Live Online: You log in to a virtual classroom at predetermined times and learn from a remote instructor.
  • Live In-Person: You meet at a physical location and learn in a traditional classroom setting.



  • Cheapest courses
  • Choose your own schedule
  • Go as fast or as slow as you want


  • Requires self-discipline
  • No personalization
  • Limited support

Who It’s Best For

A self-paced course is the best choice for those with busy schedules and independent learners who feel comfortable teaching themselves.

Live Online


  • Attend from anywhere
  • Can get personalized assistance
  • Schedule keeps you on track


  • Less interactive than in-person courses
  • Potential for technical difficulties

Who It’s Best For

A live online course is best for those who want an interactive learning environment and the freedom to study at home. It’s a great alternative to an in-person course for individuals that live in rural areas.

Live In-Person


  • Complete immersement
  • Familiar environment
  • Interact with instructor and classmates


  • Involves travel
  • Can’t adjust schedule
  • More expensive than online-only options

Who It’s Best For

A live in-person course is best for those who enjoy learning in an interactive group environment. These courses are usually only taught in major cities.

Full Reviews of the Best California Real Estate Exam Prep Courses

Kaplan Real Estate Education Review

Best for comprehensive instruction.

Kaplan’s courses blend comprehensive, state-specific study materials with interactive class sessions and study groups for a superior learning experience. It’s the only company on this list that offers courses in all major formats, though unfortunately, it doesn’t allow you the flexibility to choose your own elective class. Its programs have received high praise from former students, and it offers unique extras, like its interactive study groups and Real Estate Accelerator program, that you won’t find anywhere else.

What to Expect

Kaplan has four locations in California, and there are in-person courses starting every couple of weeks. The program is broken down into three 45-hour courses that meet for regular three-hour sessions a couple days a week. Evening classes are available to accommodate those that have to work on weekdays. Each of the three courses is scheduled individually, so you don’t have to take them all back to back if you don’t want to. When you sign up for the program, you’re given a list of all future course dates and you can choose the ones that best fit with your schedule. You can purchase the courses individually as well, but you’ll get the best deal when you bundle them together.

Your purchase buys you textbooks, an audio CD and six months’ access to the online question bank and full-length practice tests. If you purchased a live or on-demand course, you also get the 39 hours of instructor-led review, either in the form of pre-recorded videos or live class sessions. As you proceed through the course, you’ll take mini-exams to reinforce the content from each new chapter and full-length practice tests to measure how you’re doing. There’s also a tool that lets you build custom quizzes to help you focus on problem areas that you might need to review further.

All students get access to 24/7 email support, and questions are usually answered within 24 hours. In addition, there are weekly interactive study groups where students who aren’t enrolled in a live class can get their questions answered by one of Kaplan’s instructors. If you’re looking to take things to the next level, check out the Career Launcher package. This includes all of the resources mentioned above, plus the Real Estate Accelerator program. It’s a two-day boot camp that teaches you how to be an effective real estate agent, and you also get four weeks of follow-up coaching if you need it.

Kaplan Real Estate Education Details

California Real Estate Agent Flashcards$39
California Real Estate Practice Class$169
California Real Estate Practice OnDemand Course$169
Legal Aspects of Real Estate Class$169
Legal Aspects of Real Estate OnDemand Course$169
California Home Study Package$199
Real Estate Broker Exam Prep Classroom Package$199
Real Estate Broker Exam Prep OnDemand Course Package$199
California Real Estate Principles with Exam Prep Class Package$439
California Real Estate Principles with Exam Prep OnDemand Course$439
California OnDemand Package$499
Career Launcher Home Study Package$599
California Live Class Package$699
Career Launcher OnDemand Package$899
Career Launcher Live Classroom Package$1,099

Career Webschool Review

Best for affordability.

Career Webschool’s products can be purchased individually or mixed and matched to build a study plan that suits your needs. Its courses are all self-paced, but if you’re concerned about teaching yourself, you can always sign up for its Virtual Study Program, which consists of weekly interactive webinars where you can ask questions and clarify any misunderstandings. It’s also the most affordable company on the list, especially if you purchase a bundle, so it’s a great choice if you’re on a budget.

What to Expect

Career Webschool makes it easy to pay for only the materials you need. Each of the three 45-hour courses can be purchased alone or as part of one of several bundles. There’s also extras like the Mathmaster course for individuals who struggle with real estate math. Once you purchase your materials, you can begin studying them right away. You get six months’ access to the online tools, but if you find you need more time, Career Webschool will grant you up to three 60-day extensions at no charge.

The basic courses include a textbook or ebook that guides you through all the key topics that will appear on the exam. The Works packages give you even more bang for your buck with the California Real Estate xL tool. It employs adaptive learning technology to track your progress through the course and make custom study recommendations based on how you’re doing. As you answer practice questions and complete simulated exams, you’ll be able to measure your performance to see which concepts you need to review again.

The Works packages also include the Virtual Study Program. It’s similar to Kaplan’s interactive study groups where students can join together for live discussions about important topics that are likely to appear on the exam. There are separate webinars for national and state-specific topics. Career Webschool also shows its support through a Quality Guarantee that promises a reimbursement for your second exam fee if you fail the California real estate exam on your first try. In order to qualify for this guarantee, you must pass Career Webschool’s course with an 80 percent or better and take the real estate exam within one year of course completion.

Career Webschool Details

MathMaster Course$59
National Real Estate Exam Prep: The SMART Guide to Passing$59
California Real Estate Prep xL$79
Real Estate Practice Course$79
Salesperson California Finance Course$79
California "The Basic" Package$99
California Virtual Study Program$99
Practice and Finance Package$149
National Virtual Study Program$199
California "The Works" Package with Virtual Study Program$249
California "The Works Deluxe" Package with Virtual Study Program$339

Chamberlain Real Estate School Review

Best for flexibility.

Chamberlain Real Estate School offers self-paced California salesperson and broker pre-licensing courses that give you the freedom to learn how you want. Choose the exact classes you’re interested in and the type of study materials you prefer. There’s also an optional live two-day review course to help answer any questions you have after completing the pre-licensing program. Its rates are pretty affordable, and you can save even more by bundling materials together.

What to Expect

Chamberlain Real Estate School is the only company on this list that enables you to choose which elective course you would like to take, in addition to the required Real Estate Principles and Real Estate Practice courses. There are seven different options ranging from Real Estate Finance to Real Estate Property Management, and you can choose the one that’s most in line with your interests or career goals. All of them, with the exception of the Mortgage Loan Brokering & Lending course, are available online or as a series of physical textbooks, so you can choose the format you like best.

Build your own study program from scratch or go with its pre-licensing package. This includes three 45-hour courses, including an elective of your choice, plus practice questions and tests and a two-day weekend crash course. If you’re interested in the practice tests, it’s better to purchase them online rather than as a physical textbook. The online tool enables you to create your own exams by subject and each answer is thoroughly explained with links to important concepts discussed in the text.

The courses are self-paced, so it’s mostly up to you to teach yourself the material. But if you do need a little extra help, you can attend one of the company’s two-day weekend review courses. These are held once or twice per month at the Chamberlain Real Estate School in Campbell. Classes run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a break for lunch. During this course, an instructor will guide you through the important topics that are likely to come up on the California real estate exam and answer any questions you may have.

Chamberlain Real Estate School Details

Online Final Briefing Examinations$40
California Final Briefing Examinations$51
One Course$89
Two Courses$168
Three Courses$233
Two-Day Class Only$159
Two-Day Class + Practice Tests$199
Online Pre-License Package$350
Traditional Textbook Pre-License Package$364

Frequently Asked Questions About the California Real Estate Exam

Our goal is to create a comprehensive guide to the California real estate exam, so we answered some of the most common questions about the test below. If there’s anything we missed, feel free to reach out and let us know.

What requirements must I meet in order to take the California real estate exam?

You aren’t required to be a resident of California in order to become a real estate salesperson or broker in California, but you must be 18 years of age or older. If you have a criminal record, you may be denied a license. Those looking to take the real estate broker’s exam must also have at least two years of experience as a real estate salesperson in the last five years. Provided you meet the above criteria, all you need to do is complete the state’s required education hours.

Real estate salespeople must complete 135 hours of pre-licensing education. This is broken down into three 45-hour courses. Real Estate Principles and Real Estate Practices are required for everyone. The third course is an elective, and you can choose from the following:

  • Business Law
  • Common Interest Developments
  • Computer Applications in Real Estate
  • Escrows
  • General Accounting
  • Legal Aspects of Real Estate
  • Mortgage Loan Brokering and Lending
  • Property Management
  • Real Estate Appraisal
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Real Estate Office Administration

Real estate brokers are required to complete eight pre-licensing courses. Five of them — Real Estate Practice, Legal Aspects of Real Estate, Real Estate Finance, Real Estate Appraisal, and Real Estate Economics or Accounting — are required. Then, you must choose three electives, unless Economics and Accounting are both taken, in which case you only have to take two courses from the following list:

  • Advanced Legal Aspects of Real Estate
  • Advanced Real Estate Appraisal
  • Advanced Real Estate Finance
  • Business Law
  • Common Interest Developments
  • Computer Applications in Real Estate
  • Escrows
  • Mortgage Loan Brokering and Lending
  • Property Management
  • Real Estate Office Administration
  • Real Estate Principles

How do I schedule my California real estate exam?

Once you’ve fulfilled the requirements in order to sit for the exam, you can fill out an examination application form. You will be asked to provide proof that you have completed the required education hours from an approved company. At the end of the course, you should be given a certificate of completion that will suffice. You also need to pay the examination fee. It’s $60 for salespeople and $95 for brokers. You can also apply for your license fee at the same time if you’d like.

It takes about six weeks for the California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) to process applications. When yours is approved, you’ll receive an Examination Schedule Notice. Then, you can create an account online and schedule your exam for a date and time that’s most convenient for you. Tests are administered on select dates in Fresno, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento and San Diego. If something comes up and you need to reschedule your exam, you can do so by contacting CalBRE.

Make sure you arrive at the testing facility at least a half hour early. You must present a government-issued ID to verify your identity. You aren’t permitted to bring anything with you into the testing room. Cell phones must be switched off and all personal belongings must be stored in the provided locker until the test is complete. The exam proctor will provide you with a basic calculator for the math portion of the exam. For more information about applying for the exam or test-day procedures, visit the California Bureau of Real Estate’s website.

What does the California real estate exam cover?

The California real estate exam is a 150-question multiple-choice test covering the basic laws and procedures governing real estate transactions. Some of this information is state-specific and some applies nationwide. You must score a 70 percent or higher in order to pass the salesperson test and a 75 percent or higher to past the broker test. Each version of the exam covers the same key topics, including:

  • Practice of Real Estate and Disclosures (25%)
  • Laws of Agency and Fiduciary Duties (17%)
  • Property Ownership and Land Use Controls and Regulations (15%)
  • Property Valuation and Financial Analysis (14%)
  • Contracts (12%)
  • Financing (9%)
  • Transfer of Property (8%)

There are several subtopics in each category, though not all of them will be covered in every exam. CalBRE provides a detailed breakdown of content on its website, and it’s a good idea to make sure you are familiar with all of the topics listed before you sign up to take the exam.

The content may be subject to change depending on changes in the laws governing real estate. It’s important to make sure that the course you’re taking reflects the most recent regulations and procedures, so that you don’t waste time learning obsolete information. If a course is approved by CalBRE, however, this shouldn’t be a concern.

What if I fail the California real estate exam?

If you take the California real estate exam on a computer, you’ll be able to see your results as soon as the test is complete. Paper test takers will have to wait approximately five business days for their results to be mailed to them. Salespeople must score a 70 percent or better to pass and brokers must score a 75 percent or higher. You only receive a score report breaking down your performance if you fail the test.

You can retake the exam as many times as you like within the two-year period after your application is initially approved. If you’d like to take it again after the two years has passed, you must submit a new application and start the process over again. You can schedule a new exam by logging into your CalBRE account, paying the reexamination fee and selecting a new test date.

Before you take the test again, you should look at your score report and let it guide your review. It breaks down how you did in each of the exam’s sections, so this is a good place to start. Look back through your pre-licensing course materials and pay extra attention to the topics that tripped you up. Then, take some practice tests until you feel confident that you can get a passing grade.

Do I need to take the California real estate exam if I’m already licensed in another state?

Yes. Unlike many other states, California has no reciprocity agreements with its neighboring states, so you must complete its required pre-licensing education hours and pass its real estate exam regardless of whether you hold a license in another state. The application process is the same for out-of-state individuals, though you must fill out a Consent to Service of Process form when you apply for a license.

Real estate salespeople looking to operate in California must be licensed with a California broker. Brokers must maintain a California business address or fill out an Out-of-State Broker Acknowledgement form and submit it to CalBRE. Out-of-state license holders are subject to the same continuing education requirements as California residents.

If you live on the border of California and another state and you’re thinking about operating in both, you may want to consider preparing for both exams at the same time. That way, you get all of the studying out of the way at once and you’ll reinforce key concepts by going over them multiple times. Of course, you can always wait and take the exams one at a time too if you don’t feel you can juggle studying for two tests at once.