A Sneak Peek...

 
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No matter where you live, we can meet and you can tour the Puyallup, Washington, market center! Through the magic that is iPhone cameras and YouTube, I'm bringing the tour to you. So grab a snack, get comfortable, and spend a few minutes hearing some of my story and the highlights of a career with Keller Williams. Click here to watch!

It's Rude to Talk About This...

 
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There's a list of things that we're not supposed to talk about in polite conversation, right? And money is one of them. But sometimes things need to be said and we have to get real and get honest because when we do we can help other people save money or make more of it.

The former is the reason for this post.

When I meet with aspiring agents, or with people who are starting to consider real estate as a career, I share the information that I think is critical for them to know. And some of that is about the costs associated with studying for a license. (There are others associated with actually being an agent, but I'll address those in another post.)

The online course I recommend, and the course we follow in our office when we teach the live version of the class, is Rockwell. It's not cheap. It runs approx. $489 plus tax.

Yeah.

That face you're probably making now is the same expression I see on the faces of many of the people I meet with during career orientations.

And some of them look at other education providers, many of which are less expensive than Rockwell.

So why do I recommend such a relatively expensive study program?

It's really, honestly because I think Rockwell is the best. That's all. The curriculum is comprehensive and strong; you get access to online courses AND textbooks with quizzes and final exams; and their test prep (the CRAM section and 12 sample exams) set you up for success on the real thing like no other system I've reviewed.

I have had students who chose one of the less expensive options succeed on the exam. But more often than not, I'll get an email or call from them because they're frustrated by the material or because they took the licensing exam and failed after weeks or months of studying. They then usually end up paying for the Rockwell courses, so when it's all said and done they've paid the $489 plus another $200-$300 for the other course and a failed licensing exam.

Not a huge savings after all.

Success rate-wise, Rockwell boasts an 86% and 87% first try pass rate on the National and State exams, respectively, in Washington. The average for the others is 58% and 63%, National and State. So, if you're a person who prefers statistics to anecdotal data from an agent and blog writer, that's for you :-)

(By way of a disclaimer, I'm not on Rockwell's payroll, they don't send me free stuff and they have no idea I'm writing this post.)

As always, feel free to leave your comments and questions below or watch my 1+1=4 Math Video here. Thanks and I'll check back in here again soon!

 

A Thing That Made Me Go Hmm...

 
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Something really weird happened to me the other day. Well, not weird, maybe. But unexpected. Surprising. Something that made me say to myself, "huh...really?" And those of you going through the studying process right now are going to know exactly why this thing made me pause and you might even not believe me when I tell you it happened. But here it is... An aspiring agent at a party asked me how long it took me to finish my licensing exam and I had no recollection of it. What's more, I could not remember a single detail about the test itself. Still can't.

I remember anxiously waiting in my car in the parking lot; then anxiously waiting to check-in for the exam; and then anxiously waiting some more for the computer to boot-up and the first question to appear on the screen.

I remember my hands shaking a bit--all that adrenaline, I guess. And I remember the woman who sat next to me in the waiting room telling me that whatever test she was there to take (it wasn't the real estate one) was one she had failed a couple of times before.

I remember the proctor coming in and out of the room a couple of times. And I remember hearing people get up and leave.

But I honestly do not remember anything about the test itself. Crazy, right? That you can spend so much time studying for something, and have so much energy and emotion rolled up in it...and then have it just disappear from your brain. It feels like something that should be burned into my consciousness.

But it isn't.

If you're studying right now, maybe that's comforting for you to hear. That however massive and anxiety-producing that test is for you now, one day it will be a very distant, very hazy memory.

And one day may mean three weeks out from test day :-)

 
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One of the joys of my role on Rebecca's team is that I get to reach out every day to people who are studying for and getting ready to take their exam. And when they tell me they're nervous, or that they're overwhelmed by the process of preparing for the test, I get to say "I've been there and made it through, and here's how I did it." My hope is that it helps them the same way it helped me when Rebecca mentored me through the process.

 
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You'll probably forget the details of your exam too, just as I've forgotten mine.

But remember some things. Remember the anxiety and the long nights and the pep talks. Remember the frustration of trying to get your brain to learn so much new stuff, and the joy you felt when you heard you passed. Remember the things people told you that helped make the whole thing a bit easier. Remember the studying plan you followed that led to your success.

Those are the important things to remember. Because when a nervous aspiring agent asks you how long it took you to take your test, that's not really what they're asking. Okay, it's what they're asking but I don't think it's what they're really after.

What they want is to know the experience in some way that makes it not so intimidating. They want to stand face-to-face with someone who can tell them they've been there, done that and bought the t-shirt. They want to normalize this experience--to make the unknown, known. And they think that if they just can ask the right question; if that person could just give them that one detail that makes the whole thing less shrouded in mystery; then they'll feel okay.

Of course you and I both know that the only way to know the experience is to go through it. So, in that way you can't give them what they want. But...

You can remember. You can sit in the corner of the room at a summer party with them and be a living, breathing example of someone who was just as intimidated as they are and got through it. You can sit with them in that anxious space and then give them something encouraging to grab on to. You can tell them the things you did to calm your nerves, or structure your study time. If you didn't pass the first time you took the test, you can tell them that too, if you want. And then tell them how you tried again.

That, I think, is the meaning we can make out of the studying process. Yes, we study to get our license and so that we can be knowledgeable, responsible brokers. That's definitely true. But there is often so much emotion wrapped up in this, that making meaning out of the journey is important too.

Wherever you are on your journey, I hope it's a joyful and fulfilling place to be.

The End of the Studying Road!

 
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Hi all! Erin guest-blogging for Rebecca again today about being an aspiring/new agent. There was a clue in there about how my broker's exam went...Did you spot it? Yep, I said "new agent," which means I passed my broker's exam! It is such a huge weight off of my shoulders and I cannot tell you how happy I am not to be spending all of those hours studying anymore. It was interesting material, but man oh man, knowing you're going to be tested on something takes almost all of the fun out of it :-)

Today I thought I'd share a bit about my test experience and the things I did study-wise that I think helped me the most.

After I finished my clock hours, worked through all of the course material and taken all of the final quizzes, here's what I did next.

Took a Baseline Sample Exam. Rockwell has 12 sample exams and I took one to get a baseline of how close I was to being ready to take the test and where my areas of weakness were. I can't remember my exact score on that, but I think it was something like 86%...

Anyway, the sample exam will show you the questions you got wrong (very helpful), but also will break down the test by topic area (very, very helpful). So, it would tell me which chapters and sections I scored a below passing grade on. I wrote those down after the first sample exam, and those were my points of extra study attention for that first day.

Scheduled my Exam. I spoke to Rebecca shortly after I took that first sample exam and told her my score. I took the sample exam on a Thursday and then my first opportunity to take the exam was the following Monday afternoon. There were a couple of other days/times, but the only other one that would have worked for me was about 10 days away. Rebecca said, and I believe this is a direct quote, "You're ready. Take it on Monday." So I did.

You would think that having the exam on the calendar would up the stress factor, but weirdly it decreased it. I think knowing that it was going to be over by Monday afternoon and having a set date to work back from in terms of arranging my study time, really helped.

Reviewed Areas of Weakness. As I said, I took the sample exam on a Thursday and wrote down the 8 or so places where I failed the practice exam. That sounds worse than it is, really, because there were like one or two questions per topic area. So "failing" it often meant missing one question on that topic.

So, after each sample exam I would write down those areas of struggle and review them. I'd review them first in the textbook and then again in the Rockwell Broker's Cram lesson. What happened for me was that after each subsequent sample exam, the number of areas of weakness decreased. Makes sense, right? By the last sample exam, I was scoring in the high nineties, and once even 100%, so by the end there were very few areas left to review.

Took Every (and I Mean EVERY) Sample Exam and Quiz. There were 12 sample exams on Rockwell and I took every single one of them. I worked back from the date of my broker's exam and figured out how many I needed to take each day in order to take them all by noon on test day. This was probably the most helpful thing I did because it got me used to how questions on the exam would be structured and helped me identify places where wording baited me into picking the wrong answer. They were GREAT preparation. I also took every quiz in the Broker's Cram lesson along the way. By the time I finished the last sample exam I felt really confident.

Reviewed Every Sample Exam Result. When I finished an exam I would look at the questions I got wrong first and I would make sure I understood where I went wrong and why the correct answer was correct. Then I would review the whole exam, looking at the questions I got right too. Here's why: sometimes I was just guessing between two answers I was unsure of and happened to pick the right one. So, I made sure I knew why each correct answer was correct, regardless if whether I got it right or wrong on the test.

Accounted for Memorization. The sample exams often repeated questions, as did the quizzes. They tell you not to rely on memorization, but the reality is that I did remember some answers after I'd seen them a couple of times. So, what I tried to do was when I recognized a question and remembered what the answer was, I would go through each of the other answers and say why it was the wrong one. When those terms or concepts then appeared on the final exam in a different context/in a different question, I knew what they meant and could apply them in whatever context they appeared. So even if that exact sample exam question didn't appear on the real exam, it still helped me prepare for the real exam. Does that make sense?

Made a Few Flash Cards. There were a few areas where I continued to have a hard time, so I made some flash cards and would review those for 5 minutes or so throughout the day. Formulas were one and then I also did a few for laws that I was having a tough time differentiating from one another. In all, I probably had about a dozen or so.

Read the Tips for Multiple Choice Questions Rockwell Provided. These were great. I wish I'd known them when I was in college. Highly recommend you read these over if you can. They're located in the Broker's Cram lesson, I believe...

Okay, on to the day of the test. I took my last practice exam at about 10:30am and my test was at 1:30pm.

It took me about 10 minutes or so to settle down once the test began. My hand was shaking a bit on the mouse at first, but that stopped fairly quickly. I made sure to read each question carefully--that was key. I also tried to answer the question before I looked at the possible answers (this obviously works better on some questions than on others). I then read each answer carefully. There were a few I was uncertain about, so I marked them for review and then moved on.

Because I was so nervous for the first handful of questions, I decided to review all of my answers. This is something Rebecca told me not to do and I totally understand why. BUT I made some rules for my review. I only changed an answer if I realized that I had misread the question. If it was a question where I was just torn between one answer and another, I kept the answer I chose originally. I think I changed 2 answers and I think they were math-related. All were from the first quarter of the exam, as I recall.

Then I was done. I went out of the room and the proctor accessed my results and told me that I passed. So, huge relief there.

If you're studying right now, I wish you the very best of luck! And if you've already got your license, please share any of the study/exam preparation tips you found helpful below.

My Top 10 Study Tips

 
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I've written in the past about how I'm working through the study materials, both online and textbook. I realized it was kind of a general approach, and that there were some additional, specific, tips I have for successful studying. Here are my favorites, direct from me to my fellow aspiring agents... Skip the Study Guide. As I worked through the first four lessons, I was copying and pasting information from the Rockwell slides into a Word document--essentially creating a study guide for myself. It was actually a lot of work, believe it or not. What got me to stop doing it was a combination of a couple of factors. First was that I noticed that I was having to refer to my study guide for answers to the pop quiz and final quizzes associated with each lesson. I wasn't retaining much of the information. Second, the textbooks arrived, so I knew I could refer to printed materials for review time that way. And finally, Rebecca told me about the "Cram" course on Rockwell. It's part of the test prep and sample exam feature and it walks you through the crucial concepts. So, I essentially had an electronic study guide at my fingertips. But this one was better than the one I was creating because it focused on the most important topics, rather than studying everything in preparation for the exam. And here's the real litmus test--I did just as well, or better, on the quizzes when I didn't have the study guide to refer to than when I did.

Teach it to Someone Else. I found that having to explain concepts or terms to someone else, helped cement those things into my memory. And the people I "taught" weren't aspiring real estate agents. They were my mom, or my best friend or my brother--anyone I could get to sit still and listen to me.

Take Breaks. You may remember that I wrote about setting a goal for the number of hours each week and day you are going to devote to studying. Well, in addition to that, I'd limit the number of hours you devote to studying at one sitting. I set mine at 2 hours before I took a break to rest my eyes...And my brain :-) I found that if I tried to push it further than that, I stopped paying attention. My mind wandered. I was tempted to go online and read the news or check my email. I didn't retain much of anything. And my eyes would get really tired and eventually my head would hurt. In addition to limiting study sessions to no more than 2 hours total, I got up every 40 minutes and stood or walked around the house for a few minutes to get my blood flowing and keep my muscles from stiffening up.

Get Some Context. I work part-time for Rebecca in her real estate office, and I do some work for her from home. The time I spend doing those things and talking to Rebecca about some element of her business, have given me invaluable context for the things I'm learning about as I study. I'm exposed to the "language" of real estate and I'm seeing and hearing about the real-world, practical application of the concepts in my textbooks. If you don't work for a real estate agent, maybe there are ways you can get a similar experience. Chances are someone you know, knows an agent. Maybe you could invite them for coffee and conduct an informational interview. Ask them about some of the things you're most interested in or challenged by with respect to your studies. Do an inventory of your skills. Are you a great writer? If so, maybe a local agent would love some help with content for their website, or writing a blog, or managing social media. Offer your help for free a couple of hours per week in exchange for getting some experience in the industry. There are legal limitations in terms of the kinds of activities you're allowed to do without a real estate license though, so make sure whatever you propose or whatever they suggest, comply with applicable laws.

Pay Attention to Your Study Space. Give yourself the gift of a comfortable space that's conducive to studying. Make sure you have enough light to see properly. Get yourself a comfortable chair and a desk with enough space for your computer, notebook and whatever else you need close at hand. If you need it quiet, set-up in a room with a door away from the activity of the house. If your house is always noisy, find somewhere quiet, such as a college library, to do your studying. Have some water nearby, turn your phone off (or switch it to silent). Make sure your space is supporting your goal and is a place you won't avoid because it's not functional or it's physically uncomfortable.

Conduct Periodic Reviews. I didn't wait until I finished working through all of the material before reviewing it. After completing 2 or 3 lessons, I'd look through those slides again and make sure I could pass the lesson quizzes. That way, I wasn't trying to memorize all 18 Fundamentals Lessons all at once. It reinforced the material and didn't take much extra time.

Take ALL of the Pop Quizzes. I took every single pop quiz in Rockwell. And because I did, I spotted the areas where I missed little details that made huge differences in my understanding of the concepts. When I got a question wrong, I made sure I understood where my thinking went off track, so that I could pass the final lesson quizzes. I learned that reading the questions is really important. One word can change the whole meaning, so you have to pay attention to what the question is actually asking. The quizzes also helped me get comfortable with how the exam questions would be structured. During my periodic reviews, I made sure that I completed the pop quizzes again too. Again, just reinforcing the information.

Get Out. I used to do this when I worked full-time in an office and noticed fatigue and/or lack of focus setting in. Go outside for 5 minutes and stand on your deck, walk around the neighborhood. Breathe in fresh air. Get your eyes away from the computer screen. It makes all the difference when you come back. You need a variety of sensory stimulation in order for your brain to work properly and for you to feel your best. So much of what we do now is on computers, phones, tablets or kindles. We have to make an effort to step away and spend some time in the kind of environments our bodies were made to enjoy.

Prioritize Sleep. This is good advice for all of life, but is especially true when you're trying to learn something new and/or when you're preparing for a big test. There is also some evidence that if you study for a few minutes before you go to sleep, your brain will retain that information better than if you'd studied it that morning. If you are going to try that, I'd recommend studying from your textbook or other notes rather than online. Screen time before bed is associated with a difficulty falling asleep and more restless sleep. I'd also recommend doing your reading somewhere other than bed. Read in the awesome study space you set up for yourself for a few minutes, and then hit the hay.

Take the Sample Exams. Take as many as you can. Seriously. If you're going to fail or get something wrong, you'd rather do that on a practice exam than on the real deal. The practice exams often have the very questions you'll see on the real exam, or at least questions that are close enough that acing them will leave you in good shape for the big day. Also, I found that the more practice exams I did, the less anxious I got about the exam experience in general. I've been out of college for a long time, so taking tests is not a normal part of my recent history. Studying and keeping calm in an exam situation are muscles that can atrophy a bit, so practice is key. Once I'd passed a couple of practice exams, I felt much less nervous.

There you have it. The 10 or so studying rules I lived by. Feel free to share your tips or questions below!

 

 

Today Was Not a Great Day

I sat down today to write a post I've had planned for a week now, but instead I'm writing this one. I'm writing this one because, today, I am burned out. And frustrated. And tired. And today, this whole thing feels impossible. Or maybe not impossible, but close to it. And today I tried really hard to study. And today I just couldn't. Today I am overwhelmed. And maybe you are too. Or maybe you aren't today, but you were yesterday. Or will be tomorrow. Anyway, it seems dishonest or disingenuous to me to write a post with study tips when I'm struggling so much.

So, I'm not going to write that post. Instead I'm writing this one.

I'm writing, in part, because writing is how I express myself. It's how the jumble of thoughts and feelings get out of my brain and I release myself from the burden of carrying them around with me.

That's my first tip for recovering from a bad day. Whether you're a write-it-down kind of person, like me, or whether you're a talk it out person--do that thing. Vent your fears, or frustrations in whatever (healthy) way appeals to you.

But I'm also writing it down because that's how I figure out whether this is just a bad day, or whether it's the culmination of many days of doing too much with too little rest.

I chose to share it on the blog because there's nothing worse than struggling with something and thinking you're the only one. Or thinking that because it's a struggle, it's a sign you've made a huge mistake and never should have pursued whatever the thing is that you're overwhelmed by at the moment.

So, if you're having a rough day or a rough week: I'm with you. This is hard. Learning all of this stuff is not easy. Becoming a real estate agent brings with it huge responsibilities, and it makes sense that studying to become one would be a huge responsibility too.

Social media, including blogs, often only show the parts of our lives we want other people to see. The pretty parts. The parts where it looks like we've got it all together. The parts where we make it all look easy. And effortless. But that's not life.

Sometimes life is pretty. And easy. And effortless. And sometimes we do have it all together. But sometimes we don't.

I don't. That doesn't mean this was all a big mistake. Or that I'm failing.

If this is more than just a bad day for you too, it's okay to re-structure how you're studying. I think I committed to too many hours, given the other things on my plate. I probably should have added in an extra week or two into my plans, to avoid burnout. I also didn't incorporate days off (despite advice to the contrary).

Where to Go From Here?

I'm at the tail end of my studying process, but I'm going to make some changes for these last days.

I'm taking days off each of my remaining weeks. I might look at some flash cards if I find myself with a few minutes of time waiting for a friend or for an appointment or something. But I'm going to have two days where I don't have any scheduled study time.

I'm rewarding myself with some of the things that bring me joy and/or relaxation. I loaded a non-real estate book onto my Kindle and I'm giving myself permission to read it a little bit each day. On one of my days off, I'm going to read a lot of it!

I scheduled a massage at a day spa. Sitting at my study desk all these hours is wreaking havoc on my back and shoulders. So, Monday I'm going to my favorite day spa for a massage.

I'm committing to taking a break when I first notice my attention start to wander during a study session. If my concentration is going, it's time for a 5-minute break.

I'm cleaning-up my sleep habits. Screen time stops at least an hour before bed. No caffeine in the evenings. No more pushing to stay awake long after my eyes are telling me they want to be closed.

And finally, I'm changing my plans for the day before the exam. I was going to have a big cram session that day, but I'm re-thinking that now. My current plan is to take the day before off from my other jobs and have a relaxing day at home. I'm going to get a workout in, eat well and get as much rest as I can get. Then the morning of the exam, I'll review those few concepts that continue to challenge me before heading off to the testing center.

Have you had any tough days as you go through this process? What are you doing to take care of yourself and make sure you get through it in a healthy way? Please share any tips you have below!

 

 

Signs Online Studying Is Right for You

Hi there everyone! I'm jumping on the blog again to talk study strategies for aspiring real estate agents. As you may remember, I chose to study for my real estate licensing exam entirely online. But you also have the option of taking a live class. Both are legitimate. Both have impressive exam pass rates to recommend them. So, how do you know which one is right for you? Here are a few signs that online is best choice for you. You Rock at Time Management and Organization. You know how to design an effective study schedule and you know you will stick to it without outside supervision/structure. You can break down the large amount of content into manageable pieces, without getting overwhelmed by the whole. You are confident that you can accurately estimate how long each piece will take and then extrapolate that to determine a realistic target exam date.

You're Independent. You will show up for your studying shifts even if no one else knows you did. You know how to dig deeper on concepts or terms that you don't understand, and find the information you need online or in your textbooks. But you also know when you need to ask for help from an expert, how to do that, and aren't afraid to do so.

You Want to Go at Your Own Pace. Which, by the way, could be quicker or more slowly than an in-person class is likely to go. You don't want to be rushed through lessons that challenge you (for me that was Real Estate Math!), and you don't want to be held back on sections that you find easy or straightforward. It would frustrate you equally to sit in a class and have to listen to concepts you already understand explained multiple times; or to feel like the only person in the room who was struggling with a concept.

You Have an Accountability Partner Already. You have someone who has agreed to check-in with you regularly. Someone who knows the study goals (hours and exam date) you've set for yourself. Someone to whom you will have to confess if you don't reach them. Someone who will call you on it if your target exam date comes and goes and you're still re-reading lesson 5 from the Fundamentals course.

You Need Flexibility. Whether it's because of your work schedule, family or other obligations, you can't commit to being in a classroom on the same night every week for an extended period of time.

You're Comfortable with Technology. You're comfortable with computers and navigating online course formats. You know how to pace yourself so that you give your eyes a break from the screen. The idea of sitting in front of a computer for 90 hours over the course of a couple of months studying this stuff doesn't make you shudder.

You Don't Need Face-to-Face Time. It doesn't help you to discuss concepts with classmates, and/or you have people in your life who are happy to listen to you talk about what you're learning so that you can cement the concepts in your brain. You are okay with hours of independent work and you don't crave a sense of camaraderie in this process.

There Aren't Any Live Courses Available/The Timeframe of Live Courses Isn't Convenient. This one is pretty self-explanatory.

I want to close by saying that none of the qualities I've listed above are objectively better or worse than their opposites. They're just different. Different people work best in different environments, but it's not a value judgement. The idea really is to be honest with yourself about yourself and then pick strategies that will set you up for success.

If you have study tips or if you have questions please share them in the space below and we'll do our best to respond. Thanks!

 

Adding One More Thing Into an Already Full Life

 
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The older I get the more difficult it seems to take on new adventures. Not because I don't want to. Not because I'm lazier than I was before. Not because I'm not as smart or dedicated as I used to be. Not because my work ethic has changed. So, why is it so much harder now to do this whole real estate thing than it would have felt a decade ago? What's changed, if it's not me?

I think it's because the rest of my life is already full. And I mean that practically, not emotionally. I have a job. Well, two jobs, technically. I have family commitments. Social commitments. Financial commitments.

I'm tired at the end of every day. I go from one thing right into the next, often only knowing where I'm supposed to be because my day planner tells me. If you have kids, I can't even begin to imagine how impossible it might feel to add in: One. More. Thing.

I don't claim to have the answers that will work for everyone or make this experience easy. But, I can share some ideas. And maybe one of those ideas will help you. Or maybe it will spark another idea that will be the difference between whether this whole thing seems like a pipe dream or whether it starts to look so achievable that you can see your name on that real estate license.

I think one of the big keys is to be realistic about how much time you can devote to studying. This is dense stuff. And if you're going into it with little or no knowledge of the ins and outs of the real estate biz (I did!), it's going to be a lot of information to cram into your brain. Maybe it will take months instead of weeks for you to get through the material. Better to spend one or two hours on it a day, than to try to cram in two or three times that in order to finish in a few weeks. Whatever it is, I would emphasize taking that number and then figuring out how long it will take you complete the requisite study hours. Having a target date to work toward helps you stay accountable, but it also reminds you that this won't last forever! A refrain I've repeated to myself many times over the weeks I've been studying.

Give something else up, temporarily. There are only so many hours in the day. If you've got a full schedule already, chances are something is going to have to give in the short-term so you can find those hours to study. You could get up an hour early and spend that time with a cup of coffee and your study materials. (Make sure you're still getting your 7-9 hours though!) Or maybe you sacrifice your lunch hour at work a couple of times a week. Or maybe TV time has to go and you use an hour of that for studying. That's what I did some days. (There are some studies that suggest that information we learn before bed sticks with us better than information we learn earlier in the day anyway.)

No matter how many hours you do, be consistent. Working on it a little every day (or over several days) is way better than trying to hit your 10 hour/week goal on one day.

Write down your study time goals on a calendar or in a journal and then cross off the hours as you complete them. I don't know about you, but I need visual representations of progress to stay motivated. Crossing off one study session was really gratifying. I also set rewards for myself each week. If I met my study goal that week, then I got to go to a movie, or buy new music for my iPod. One reward at the very end was a spa day. Whatever little or big things would be nice rewards for you, plan some of those regularly.

Be sneaky with studying. Take some flash cards with key terms or concepts everywhere you go. Keep them in your coat pocket, your car, your purse, or the bag you take to work. When you find yourself with time on your hands--say sitting in a waiting room or waiting for a friend to show up for a coffee date--break out your cards and do a few minutes of studying. It all adds up!

Give yourself permission to say "no," and then do it. You will inevitably be invited to something or asked for help on a day and at a time that conflicts with studying. It's okay to say "no." And you're probably going to have to in order to save your sanity. There are obvious exceptions--work requirements, family commitments, etc.--that aren't really voluntary. But don't spread yourself too thin by agreeing to optional activities if you're already managing a jam-packed life and study schedule.

As always, please share any tips you have for fitting studying in to a busy life below. Thanks!

 

 

How to Succeed at the Studying Game

 
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Last week FedEx delivered a small box to my front porch. I had started on the Rockwell courses online several days before and was feeling pretty good about myself. I was moving through the lessons, taking notes, and thinking I ought to be ready to take the exam in a few weeks. No problem. And then... This cardboard box thudded onto my doorstep. And it was full of books.

Heavy books.

Dense books.

Books heavy and dense not just with paper and ink and words.

But heavy with reality. Heavy with responsibility. Heavy with the realization that I wasn't going to skate my way through this in a couple of weeks. Not by a long shot.

Before the books arrived I wouldn't have told you that I was taking this process lightly. At all. I knew it was a big deal. I knew it was important. I knew those things in theory. But in practice--well, that was another matter.

And that's where I found myself last Friday--vacating the land of theory and thrown headfirst into the land of practice.

I'm not going to say I freaked out about it. That wouldn't be accurate. But I did think, "holy moly, how do I do this?" Do I read the books and then do the online lessons? Do I do the online lessons first and then read the chapters? Do I figure that with a multiple choice exam I have a 25% chance of guessing the right answer, and just cross my fingers?

When I emailed Rebecca I don't think I sounded panicked, but I think she got the gist because she emailed me back and said, "let's talk."

So, we did. And she gave me a path to follow for studying, which I'm going to share with you now.

The Method. I'm doing  all the online coursework first. Working through each lesson, taking all of the pop quizzes and chapter tests.

Rockwell has a feature called, The Cram with Sample Exams. So, now I'm working through that and then reading the chapters in the book that correspond to the areas of information that I don't have as strong of a grasp on.

Here's my advice for structuring this process, outside of how you approach the material.

Set Realistic, Time-Bound Goals. Take the total study time in hours and then look at your schedule. Figure out how many hours per week you can realistically devote to studying. If you have a full-time job it's probably less than if you are working part-time or not working at all. If you have children or other family commitments, that probably decreases your study time too. In my case, I decided I could do 20 hours per week. Then I literally penciled into my calendar the hours each day when I would be studying. I made it an appointment and didn't schedule anything else during those periods.

Identify the actual hours on the actual days you'll be studying. Picking 20 hours a week as a goal is useless if there's no way you can realistically complete that many hours.

Set an Exam Date. So, I couldn't actually schedule my exam until I finished my required study hours. But, I counted out how many weeks it would take me to work through the material, given the weekly goals I set for myself, and then picked a week when I planned to take the exam. And I wrote it on my calendar and told my accountability coach (see below) what it was.

Track Your Time. I noted in an Excel spreadsheet when I clocked in for studying and when I clocked out. I also made note of the lesson I worked on that day and if it was particularly difficult or if I scored lower on the final quiz, I made a note to study that topic more in the book or revisit it online during my review period.

Create External Accountability. Find someone who will serve as a check on your adherence to your study plan. I email Rebecca every Friday afternoon and tell her whether I met my study goal for the week. It's really easy to skip a study session if there's no one who will know if you do.

Pick the Right Studying Method. I love the online method because I can go at my own pace and I can study from home. But if you thrive in a classroom setting, or if you know you'll get distracted by other things if you study from home, then you might want to pursue a live class option. There is no right or wrong--it's really just about being honest about what really works best for you. Picking a method because it's what you wish worked best is a recipe for frustration.

Leave Time for Review. But Not Too Much. I built in a week and a half after I finished working through the requisite hours for general review, and for concentrated review of those sections that particularly challenged me. But I also know that I'm a perfectionist, so if I didn't limit my review time I'd keep studying for months and maybe never feel ready to take the exam.

Hope this information helps you! If you have questions or comments, please feel free to share them below.

 

Hello Fellow Aspiring Agents!

 
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Hi everyone! My name is Erin and I’m guest blogging for Rebecca. Nice to (virtually) meet all of you! Like many of you, I’m in the process of studying for my real estate exam. I literally just finished lesson 9 of Real Estate Fundamentals this afternoon on Rockwell. And... ...it's been really interesting. But the sheer volume of information I need to learn can feel overwhelming sometimes. So, if you're looking at your giant pile of text books and wondering how to tackle it or whether you'll ever get through them too, you're not alone :-)

Rebecca thought that the questions that have, and will, come up for me as I navigate this process might be universal. And I thought that, since I have access to Rebecca and all her amazing insights and experience, I could ask her those questions and then pass along the info to all of you.

In addition, I’ll write about my study strategies and other things unique to this process and share them here. The goal is that these posts will help you wherever you are in your journey—whether you’re just thinking about becoming a real estate agent; whether you’re in the trenches of studying like I am now; or whether you’re a newly licensed agent.

If you have questions, please post them below so that I can incorporate answers into future posts. And if you're a licensed agent already, please share any advice or info you think might be helpful to us aspiring and newbie agents. Thanks everyone! I'm looking forward to going on this journey with all of you.