Six Steps to Passing the Real Estate Appraiser License Exam the First Time

A few months ago, one of the trainee appraisers in our office was preparing to study for the state licensing exam. He sent an email to the other appraisers asking for advice. I passed both the state license and state certification exams the first time, so I figured my study strategy was sharing. I created a six step process to follow and sent it to him. He subsequently passed the license exam his first try.

I decided to share my six step process with readers of Appraiser Career Center hoping it will help you pass the first time as well!

Here is my method for passing the Ohio licensed and Texas certified exams both the first time (applicable to other states as well):

  1. Review the attached PSI exam booklet. The one I attached is for Ohio but the requirements are all the same. Review the exam outline to understand the kind and amount of questions that will be on the licensed portion along with a few practice questions.
  2. Read, review and complete all practice questions within Fundamentals of Real Estate Appraisal 12th Edition by William L. Ventolo (2015-05-04). It is available on Amazon.
  3. Review test questions on the software from It’s $60 one year of access. The questions on here were nearly verbatim to those on the test.
  4. Get the USPAP manual and memorize what each Standard is and know a little detail about each. These are free questions on the test because they are memory questions. The learnappraising software has practice USPAP questions but I found it easier to learn them from the actual manual then practice via the questions on learnappraising.
  5. Don’t skip the income approach: capitalization, GRM and other methods.
  6. You will need a financial calculator for the math heavy amortization problems. Learn to use the awful, ancient and expensive HP 12C or go modern and easy like I did and use the Texas Instruments BA II Plus.

I studied for two full weeks before taking the test each time; probably about 2 hours each day including the weekends (and sometimes more on weekends). You may need more or less depending on how quickly you can read and review everything.

Good luck and let me know when you pass!

(I included two links to products on Amazon where if you make a purchase through those links I receive a commission on the sale. It’s at no cost to you and you can remove it by searching the product separately in Amazon or your site of choice.)


  1. carolina

    Hello, I wonder if you read all the book you are recommending (Fundamentals of Real Estate Appraisal 12th Edition by William L. Ventolo (2015-05-04) is a pretty thick book, thank you.

    1. Chris Dolland, Certified Real Estate Appraiser

      As I recall, I reviewed all of it (review meaning skimming), but really read/studied the income approach portions because I was much less familiar with it. I did do all questions/exercises as part of my reviewing. I recommend at least reviewing everything and then slowing down to read/study the topics/concepts you are less familiar with.

  2. Ben

    Hi Chris, do you have any recommendations for the math and formula portion of it? I’m using compucram for studying but there isn’t a good bank of questions or a list of formulas to know and practice. Thanks

    1. Chris Dolland, Certified Real Estate Appraiser

      LearnAppraising has the best review questions for the income approach and other math/investment problems. Fundamentals of Real Estate Appraisal, the book I often recommend, has good math review questions as well. The questions on LearnAppraising will be the closest to those on the test. I know you’ve already purchased CompuCram but if you’re concerned about these questions it’s probably worth it to purchase. The math questions are basically free questions if you know the formulas and know how to use the HP-12C or the TI-83 Plus.

    2. Chris Dolland, Certified Real Estate Appraiser

      LearnAppraising also has some helpful “cheat sheets” you can download which summarize some of the methods and formulas.

  3. Lizfrenchie

    Hi Chris,
    I am going to order the calculator you suggested. I have been very disappointed in the hp12c and glad to know there is an alternative. I wonder why they don’t recommend that calculator with the McCissock course. I would like to know what the biggest advantage of the BA II is? Looks like the shape is better. I plan on taking the exam in May. I was going to purchase the $200 course with McCissock but am seriously thinking of following your guideline instead for the $60 course and the other materials.
    I am glad you have this forum. I am currently finishing up my appraisal courses in Texas and working as a trainee.

    Liz Woodall

    1. Chris Dolland, Certified Real Estate Appraiser

      The BA II is more user friendly for the same formulas you’d tried to complete on the HP12C. I’m not sure why it isn’t recommended by some of other courses. It could be tradition, and that those teaching the course are older aged and don’t care to use or adapt to new and easier to use technology. Not once in everyday residential appraising have I ever needed to use either of those calculators. You’ll need it just for the exam and then forget about it, unless you decide to go commercial.

      If you know the questions on Learn Appraising, you should have no problem passing the state exam. It’s cheaper and highly effective.

      Good luck on your exam and let me know if you have any questions!

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