How to Pass Your Appraiser License Exam the First Time

How to Pass the Certified General Appraiser Exam


If you’re ready to upgrade your license and start appraising commercial property, you’ll need to pass the Certified General Appraiser exam. To help you get ready, we’re breaking down what’s on it, the pass rate, and some study tips.

An overview of the Certified General Appraiser exam

The Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) of The Appraisal Foundation developed the National Uniform Licensing and Certification Exam in 2008 to meet Title IX of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) of 1989. This exam is supposed to ensure a consistent knowledge and experience base across the profession, regardless of state or territory, and all appraisers are required to pass the corresponding level of the exam before becoming a Licensed Residential, Certified Residential, or Certified General Appraiser.

The National Uniform Licensing and Certification Exam is technically three individual exams. There is a level for each license or certification, and appraisers only need to take the exam that corresponds with the license or certification they are working ot achieve. In this case, you’ll only need to take and pass the Certified General exam (as well as meet the other education and experience requirements) to gain your certification.

The Certified General Appraiser exam consists of 125 questions and respondents have six hours to complete the exam. The exam will test your knowledge the following areas:

  • Real estate market, including types of influence on real estate value, date of value premise, investment analysis, tests of highest and best use, and analysis of highest and best use
  • Property description, including description of land or site, description of improvements and building components, legal interest, rights to use, and property taxation
  • Land or site valuation
  • Sales comparison approach, including identification of comparable sales, units of comparison, elements of comparison, and reconciliation to indicated value by the sales comparison approach
  • Cost approach, including sources of cost information, cost components, depreciation, and reconciliation to indicated value by the cost approach
  • Income approach, including sources of income generation, occupancy/vacancy analysis, and expenses

What is the pass rate for the Certified General Appraiser exam?

In 2022, the pass rate was 50 percent which may seem daunting. However, with the right preparation, you can improve your chances of passing the exam on the first try.

Study tips for the Certified General Appraiser exam

Now that you know a bit more about the exam itself, we wanted to share some tips to improve your confidence and readiness to take the exam.

Create a realistic study schedule

Trying to cram everything you need to know over the course of a few weeks is going to leave you stressed, exhausted, and likely without the certification you want. Instead, create a schedule that suits your lifestyle, factoring in your hours working, commuting, family responsibilities, and leisure time (yes, you’ll still need some of that!). Maybe this looks like an hour every morning before you get ready for work or a two to three hours a few nights a week, but make sure it’s something you can stick with!

Read your class materials

You had to take at least 100 additional hours of qualifying education to be eligible to take the Certified General Appraiser exam, and a lot of what you learned will also be covered on the exam. Make sure you read back through your class materials to re-familiarize yourself with what you need to know.

Create flashcards

Getting the vocabulary right is essential to passing the Certified General Appraiser exam, and one of the easiest ways to learn it is through flashcards. Whether you use an app on your phone or make them out of index cards, these can be a quick way to get studying in even when you’re in a bit of a hurry.

Know your calculations

While the exam is multiple choice, many of those questions will pertain to depreciation, cost, and other things that will have you breaking out the calculator. Make sure you know how to solve these calculations so you’re not having to guess your way through the exam.

Ready to upgrade your license?

If you’re not sure if you’re ready to take the next step in your career, or you have some more questions, we can help. Download our free resource, Your Guide to an Appraisal License UpgradeYou’ll get insight into the top reasons why appraisers level up their license, salary insights, and helpful tips to make the process as easy as possible.