(How to) Passing the RES exam

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In this post, James recounts his experience on passing the Real Estate Salesperson (RES) exam, which according to trainers, have had a 30% pass rate in the last few sittings.

At that rate, the percentage is even more abysmal than most finance and professional accreditation courses out there!

Need tips on passing your RES? Contact us and when there’s enough requests we can set up a help-group.




I don’t know how true that is, but having sat through the paper myself, it certainly isn’t easy. And I feel for those who have a hard time getting through the economics concepts, land law and stuff like that.

There was quite a bit of memorization, a little bit of financial calculator usage and knowing a lot about HDB, URA, BCA, Ministry of Law regulations etc (that change almost every half a year).

Anyhow, James will tell us how the whole experience went. And for those interested to take the exam that is only getting more difficult (it is only held 3 times a year and the official passing mark is 60%), this might be helpful.

Passing the RES exam

So I’ve passed my RES exam on the first try.

Many of you out there may be wondering how to pass the RES exam and I’ll share my experience with you.

I did my RES exam with Hastor and training was held at Braddell.

There are a lot of other RES exam providers out there for you to choose. A list of training providers can be found on the CEA website.

I was working full time while studying for the RES exam so there was a whole lot of rushing to finish work before heading to the class venue.

There was 2 months of doing this twice over the weekdays and once every weekend.

Read also: Free home reports for your buying and selling decisions. Need tips on passing your RES? Contact us and when there’s enough requests we can set up a help-group.

Needless to say, the rushing around, expenditure on cab fares and reading of the RES material was not easy.

CEA also requires minimum 75% of participation. And those who are more than 15 mins late will not get their attendance marked.

Talk about going back to school. This time in a real estate school.

So in the first few sessions, I madly rushed down to class hoping to meet the 15 min grace window.

But as you know in school, friends tap or sign in for each other 😉

Do try to be early, but if work, family or other commitments crop up, your trainer might be lenient and kind enough to overlook it (a few times).




In any case, do attend all the sessions because the trainers, at least in my case, give very good information.

The RES exam is split into two papers – very intelligently named Paper 1 and 2.

Paper 1 tests on Competency Units 1 and 2.

Paper 2 tests on Competency Units 3 and 4.

Also read: 3 analyst reports on CapitaCommercial Trust. Need tips on passing your RES? Contact us and when there’s enough requests we can set up a help-group.

Competency Unit 1 is titled Real Estate Agency Industry Overview & Basic Land Law Concepts while Competency Unit 2 is titled Dealings with Interests in Land.

Competency Unit 3 is titled Regulation of Real Estate Agency Industry & Real Estate Marketing while Competency Unit 4 is titled Property Transactions.

I took paper 1 on a Saturday from 9:30am to 12pm and paper 2 on a Sunday from 9:30am to 12pm.

I remember the evening before the exam, I was out with friends, playing games, enjoying myself without a care in the world regarding the RES exam.

Kidding. I was mugging quite a bit. Poring through the lecture notes, chatting with classmates and the trainer on WhatsApp (my trainer was good as he set up a WhatsApp group and was very responsive to questions) and cramming my brain with RES course material.

I had an eventful night. I didn’t sleep much.

The next day, when I woke up at 7:30am, I noticed 100+ messages on the RES chat group.

Some people didn’t sleep. Wait no, a lot of people didn’t sleep. They must have been out partying 😉

I quickly perused the messages, answering in my mind some of the questions posed by fellow students and making sure the answer was the same as the one our instructor gave.




Thankfully, most were similar. I had a good feeling about the exam.

Suiting up, I headed out for the exam venue at SMU.

NTUC tipped us to bring a jacket as the hall would be pretty cold. I checked my bag for my sweater and great, it was there.

Also read: Capitaland buys Pearl Bank apartments. Need tips on passing your RES? Contact us and when there’s enough requests we can set up a help-group.

Making sure I had 10 2B pencils (kidding, I had 2), a few erasers and my financial calculator, I scooted out for SMU.

Upon reaching the exam venue, I saw a counter manned by 3 staff, 2 sitting in front of their computer and a third asking passers-by if they were there for the RES exam.

Being a public venue, I reckon most of the exam takers wouldn’t be immediately certain the counter was for RES exam takers.

Nevertheless, I went up, produced my IC, and was told to double check my exam room and was given my table number.

Crunch time and no turning back.

It was still half an hour to the start of the exam and even though NTUC told us to be seated 30mins before the exam, I knew this was standard exam instructions and it wouldn’t matter if I went in 5 mins before the start.

I don’t recommend you doing what I did, but I like going through the exam material as much as I can before entering the exam hall.

Call me Kiasu but I like the RES material fresh in my mind.

Also read: Proptech taking over the property industry. Need tips on passing your RES? Contact us and when there’s enough requests we can set up a help-group.

You might want to try this strategy if you’re taking the RES exam. Just make sure you don’t go in 15 mins late.

NTUC is very very strict on later comers. I’ve not heard of any late comers being denied entry, but you don’t want to test this system, especially now that the RES exams only happen 3 times a year.




Pin drop quiet in the seminar room (SMU calls it that, but your venue may call it a training or lecture room or something similar).

The format is very similar to secondary school, poly, ITE, uni exams.

Before entering, the exam proctor checks that phones are turned off. Yes, turned off, not even silent or airplane mode.

I knew that CEA takes this very seriously.

Putting the brick (sorry, turned off phone) in my bag, I searched for my seat.

Seated like everyone else, I put my pencil, pen, eraser, calculator and identification documents on the table.

CEA is very strict and no calculator cases, eraser cases (the paper that wraps the eraser) are allowed.

The invigilator, one adult looking person who looks in charge and two other people who look like temporary staff gives out the papers.

One question book and one answer sheet.

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The question book was about 20 pages thick. The answer sheet was only one sheet and 2 pages.

The first page of the answer sheet was all ovals that you circle with the right answer. The next page had more ovals and fill in the black spaces.

Seated down, I tried to remember the tax rates, HDB family nucleus requirements and what estate in fee simple means. Whatever, can’t remember much. I’ll just wing the RES exam.

Come 9:30, the invigilator calls us to start.

Flipping through, I realized everything I could remember was last night’s hanging out session with my friends. Not a good start.




Nevertheless, I put my head down, got started and before I knew it, 12pm was here.

Handing in the paper, I knew I had to focus on tomorrow’s RES paper 2. Putting aside the thoughts on whether I did well for RES paper 1, I headed home to make sure I knew how to tackle paper 2.

I won’t go into anymore details on how I tackled the rest of the RES exam but it’s generally the same idea as paper 1.

So there, it wasn’t easy, but the journey is worth it.

And with the entry to the real estate industry getting tougher, it is definitely worth your time and effort to get past this obstacle!

Drop us a comment on this page or on PropertyInvestSG’s Facebook page if you would like to find out or ask me or James more about the exam!

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1 COMMENT

  1. It’s really not easy, i failed the papers.
    I know i didnt prepare well, but in fact the exam is not easy.
    There are two mutiple choices which seemed all r correct…

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