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Studying for the Real Estate Exam? Don’t Forget to Sleep on It!

Student studying Have you ever studied late into the night (or all through the night) for an exam, only to find yourself unable to remember most of what you thought you'd memorized? Your mother may have told you, "It's because you didn't get your rest." Well, she was right, but for more reasons than she could have imagined.

Recent neurobiological research indicates that there are physiological reasons why a good night's sleep before the real estate exam is a better use of your 8 hours than another round of cramming. You may be saying, "Sure, better sleep makes for better health, which aids in learning," and of course you're right. But what we're talking about is a little more specific. As it turns out, your brain is only capable of certain functions relating to information processing and consolidation while you're asleep.

Studies have found that not only does the brain process factual information while we sleep, it actually organizes that information into a relational landscape, allowing us to not just remember the facts, but also understand how those facts interact so we can see the bigger picture. This kind of learning enhances your memory of facts as well, because your mind has a deeper, more conceptual understanding of how those facts work.

So, how can this knowledge—and a good night's sleep—help you prepare for the real estate exam? Imagine you're studying real estate financing. You've learned in your study session that the shorter the loan term is, the higher the monthly payments are. Now let's say you're presented with this question on the exam:

Which one of the following figures will be larger?
a) The amount of principal applied from the first payment on a 5% 15-year $400,000 mortgage
b) The amount of principal applied from the first payment on a 5% 20-year $400,000 mortgage
c) The amount of principal applied from the first payment on a 5% 30-year $400,000 mortgage
d) The amount of principal applied from the last payment on a 5% 30-year $400,000 mortgage

If you were to answer the question right after learning the material described above, you might choose option a), because you know that a 15-year mortgage is paid off sooner because the monthly payments are higher. However, if you answer this question after learning the material, followed by a good night's sleep, you'll be more likely to choose the correct answer, option d). This is because your mind, in its sleeping state, has had an opportunity to process the relationship between principal balance, interest, and monthly payment. Once you have the conceptual understanding of how they work together, you know that the monthly interest calculated on a new loan is a much higher figure, since the principal balance is higher when the loan is new. Accordingly, the remainder of the payment left for principal will be much higher on an old loan because the interest portion of the payment is very low.

Of course, this is a very simplified example of relational knowledge, but it's a good illustration of the way sleep allows the brain to build on factual knowledge obtained while awake. So, if you really want to nail the real estate exam, be sure to schedule plenty of sleep time into your study schedule. Here are some other practical tips for getting the most out of your study time and your sleep time.

Remember, Rockwell Institute is here to answer your questions about taking the real estate exam.