To be a real estate salesperson or broker in Virginia, you have to pass a licensing exam administered by PSI Examination Services. The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, or DPOR, has contracted with PSI to provide testing locations. The PSI exam tests a candidate's broad knowledge of local and national real estate principles and laws. Because the exam is closed book, you must effectively study to pass. If you have a high school diploma or equivalent and have completed the required prelicense education, you can take the PSI exam.
Obtain the number of hours of prelicense education that DPOR requires. You should not register for the exam until you have completed all coursework. Some larger real estate brokerage firms offer prelicense courses. You can also search online for real estate schools offering self-study and classroom courses. Be sure to choose a DPOR-approved school.
Download the Real Estate Candidate Information Bulletin from the PSI website. The bulletin provides examination information and license qualifications for salespersons and brokers.
Complete the examination registration form. If you mail the form, you must send the examination registration fee in the form of a money order, certified check, cashier's check or company check. PSI does not accept personal checks. You can use a credit card to pay the registration fee online or by telephone. After you receive notice of PSI's acceptance of your registration, call PSI to schedule an exam date and choose a testing location.
Read the Bulletin's "Tips for Preparing For Your License Examination."
Purchase additional study materials. Although prelicense classes provide a good foundation for understanding real estate principles, you might choose to supplement those materials with books on real estate fundamentals. You can check the PSI website for available books.
Make a list of the topics covered on the exam outlined in the bulletin's "Description of Examination." As you study, write down questions you have about each topic and look for the answers in your books.
Take the sample test in the bulletin and score your answers. Read each question again and study the correct answer. Look in your study materials at the sections that cover the questions you missed.
Review the practice tests you took in your prelicense courses. If you studied in a classroom, talk with your fellow students about examination content. Verbalizing principles can help you remember them.
Get plenty of rest the night before the examination. If you live farther than an hour from your test site, consider spending the night in a nearby hotel. Eat a healthy breakfast before the exam.
Bring two forms of identification to the examination center; one must be a government agency-issued photo ID. Arrive at least 30 minutes before the examination start time. You are not allowed to bring a cell phone into the center; you may bring a calculator.
Follow the computer tutorial before starting the exam, if you are taking the examination by computer. You can spend up to 15 minutes on the tutorial as long as you finish before the scheduled examination start time.
Read each exam question carefully and pick the best answer. Pace yourself and save enough time to review each of your answers before submitting the test. Verify that you have chosen one answer for each question. Even if you don't know the answer, it's better to guess than leave it blank. If you're taking the paper-and-pencil examination, completely mark the circle of each answer.
If you take the exam by computer, the computer will tell you immediately if you passed. If you take the pencil-and-paper exam, PSI will mail your results.
Jane Allison Austin is an attorney and real estate broker who has been writing since 1995. Austin was the legal contributor for "Middleburg LIfe" and has written on health care for "Radius Magazine," a physician-owned quarterly. Austin has been an elder care attorney and executive with a national Medicare-certified home health care company. She holds a Master of Arts in international relations.