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Test-taking Tip: Too Much to Memorize? Mnemonics Make it Easy.

Real estate student As we've said before, when preparing for the real estate exam, it's important to have a conceptual understanding of what you're being tested on. There will be times, however, when straight memorization is called for. With this kind of material, mnemonics can be very useful as a memory aid.

When it comes to the overall effectiveness of mnemonics on exam performance, experts disagree. And this is understandable—the type of mnemonic being used, the type of information being studied, and the student's learning context all make a difference.

Experts do agree, however, that when rote memorization is called for, memory aids like acronyms and acrostics can be very effective. You can think of mnemonics as your go-to tool for remembering the facts and formulas that you need to answer some questions.

Here's an example of how an acronym can help you pass the real estate exam. Suppose you're presented with the following question:

Mary has a contract with Dimitri for the purchase of Dimitri's home. Mary submitted a $5,000 good faith deposit with her offer of $450,000. The offer states the manner of acceptance shall be by personal delivery of the purchase agreement with Dimitri's signature within 30 days after the date of the offer. Mary and Dimitri are both single and between the ages of 30 and 45. After reviewing the contract, Mary's lawyer tells her it may be unenforceable. Which of the following is the most likely the reason for Mary's attorney's opinion?

a) The offer is for $450,000 and the house is worth between $458,000 and $462,000.
b) The offer was signed and faxed back to Mary 45 days after the offer was made.
c) The agreement is contingent on a specific type of financing, but it doesn't state that Mary is preapproved for the financing.
d) The agreement fails to state that the parties are unmarried persons dealing individually for their sole benefit.

Because you've studied diligently, you know that this is a question about the elements of a valid contract, even though it doesn't explicitly ask for them. Happily, you've devised an acronym to help you remember all of these elements: the word CALCIUM, minus the vowels, gives you the first letter of each element. (Capacity, lawful objective, consideration, and mutual consent.) You go through the given scenario and tick off each one, noting that each element has been satisfied. When you get to the answer options you notice a potential problem with the manner of acceptance, thus calling into question the element of mutual consent. Although you're not asked to list the elements of a valid contract, you need that list to determine your answer. Your simple mnemonic device has done the trick.

It's important to remember not to get too bogged down in devising memory aids for yourself. With much of the information you have to study, you'll know it well enough that you won't need any extra help. But for those long lists of dry information, try a simple, memorable mnemonic that will stay with you tomorrow and all the way to exam day!

Remember, Rockwell Institute is happy to answer all your test-taking questions.