Today, we are going to take an in-depth look into the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Series 6 exam.
This exam is a natural progression for candidates who have completed the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam and want to operate in a specific niche.
If you’ve wanted to know more about the exam and whether it’s something you should consider writing, this article will cover the following:
When it comes to learning critical pieces of information about the exam and whether it’s something to consider, you’ve come to the right place, that’s for sure.
The Series 6 Exam Rundown
There are many critical aspects to the Series 6 qualification exam that we will cover, but before we get to that, let’s just conduct a quick overview.
For a start, this is an introductory level exam aimed at candidates who want to become security industry professionals.
Those who pass the exam receive their securities license which enables them to purchase and sell packaged products related to:
- Variable annuities
- Mutual funds
- Variable life insurance
- Municipal fund securities
- Unit investment trusts (UITs)
These are the kinds of investment products that are offered by investment companies and variable contracts products representatives and financial planners, amongst others.
These are the typical Series 6 jobs that candidates will look to fill in their career as financial advisors.
Note that they cannot sell the following:
- Direct participation programs
- Corporate securities
- Municipal securities
Unlike the co-requisite SIE exam, individual candidates may not sit for the Series 6 test.
They must have sponsorship, either by a FINRA-member firm or through a self-regulatory organization (SRO).
If you are sponsored by a FINRA-member firm, they will need to open a Form U4, also called the Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration form.
What employment options are there for someone who has taken the Series 6 exam?
Well, there are quite a few.
For example, registered representatives can offer information about investments, help with retirement planning and provide various other forms of financial guidance.
They can also pursue their career in mutual funds and insurance product sales.
Where do they work?
Well, in several different types of companies including:
- Investment firms
- Insurance companies
How does the Series 6 top-off exam differ?
You’ve probably heard of the Series 6 top-off exam.
This allows those who don’t yet have their Series 6 license but who are working in the field already to obtain one.
Format Of The Series 6 exam
The exam is broken down by FINRA into four functions.
These functions are as follows:
- Function 1 description: Seeks Business for the Broker-Dealer from Customers and Potential Customers
- Function 2 description: Opens Accounts After Obtaining and Evaluating Customers’ Financial Profile and Investment Objectives
- Function 3 description: Provides Customers with Information About Investments, Makes Recommendations, Transfers Assets and Maintains Appropriate Records
- Function 4 description: Obtains and Verifies Customers’ Purchase and Sales Instructions; Processes, Completes and Confirms Transactions
Question allocations within each function
Much like all FINRA exams, all functions of the Series 6 exam are weighted differently in terms of question allocations.
And some contribute far more questions to the exams than others.
While knowledge of all these functions is critical if you’d like to pass, you are going to have to give more focus to those functions that will contribute to a larger percentage of exam material.
Let’s look at how many questions each function contributes to this exam content outline.
In the exam of 50 questions, 12 will come from function 1.
That’s around 24% of the total exam, which is just off a quarter of all questions which makes function 1 the second biggest contributor to exam questions overall.
Questions here will cover:
- The areas of regulatory fundamentals
- Business development
Eight of the 50 exam questions are taken out of function 2.
This makes it the second smallest contributor overall to the exam and only 16% of all questions will come from this section.
They will cover information such as:
- Evaluating the financial information of customers
- Investment objective identification
- Understanding investment products and providing information on them
- Making recommendations on the best investment products for different clients
The main contributor to the Series 6 exam is function 3.
Half of all questions – 25 in total – are found in this function, so yes, spending quality learning time here is a prerequisite to passing, that’s for sure.
Function 3 covers:
- Accounts (opening, closing, maintaining, and transferring)
- How to keep records of various accounts
The last part of the Series 6 exam puzzle, function 4 also contributes the least to the exam in terms of questions.
In fact, there are only five questions taken from here, amounting to just 10% of the overall exam.
They will cover the following:
- Obtaining customer purchases and sale instructions
- Verifying customer purchases and sale instructions
- Confirming customer purchases and sale instructions
Just to recap, functions 1 and 3 make up 74% of all exam questions.
While the information contained in them is critical, there’s still 26% of the exam taken from functions 2 and 4.
They shouldn’t be underestimated as around a quarter of questions a candidate will have to answer come from them.
Series 6 exam questions format and exam duration
FINRA exams use a multiple-choice question format and the Series 6 is no different.
As we’ve already mentioned, the Series 6 exam consists of 50 of these questions that count towards your scoring.
That said, there are 55 questions in total to answer as five extra questions are added to the exam, but candidates won’t know which count and which do not.
Those 55 questions must be finished within an hour and a half (90 minutes).
That gives candidates more than a minute and a half per question.
Exam cost and pass rate
The Series 6 exam is one of the cheaper ones offered by FINRA.
In fact, it only costs $40 to register for.
All payments are made upfront as part of that registration process and once that is done, candidates can schedule their exams.
Those who have passed the exam can work as broker-dealers, in investment firms, banks, or insurance companies.
Once, you’ve registered for the exam, you have a 120 day period to schedule a day to take it.
When it comes to a passing score, candidates need to get 70%.
While that doesn’t seem like too much trouble, this is an extremely difficult exam.
That’s shown in the fact that only around 59% of first-time candidates will pass the exam on their first attempt.
To make sure you reach the 70% needed for a pass, you will need to get 35 out of 50 questions correct.
For some, reading through the coursework is enough to achieve this.
But to ensure you give yourself every chance of being one of that 59% who passes the first time, candidates should add extra exam prep to their learning including:
- Using flashcards
- Taking various practice exams
- Working through third party study materials
If you are consistently passing various practice exams, you should be well set to achieve a passing grade for the Series 6 securities license.
Series 6 Exam Registration
All potential Series 6 candidate must register their intention to take the exam with FINRA.
You can do so by clicking here.
The Series 6 exam cost is $40.
Should you fail, to write again, you will need to pay another $40 for each attempt.
Part of the registration process will have candidates create a Test Enrollment Services system account.
This is a necessity as it is used at the Prometric Test Center where most candidates will write their exams to obtain their Series 6 certification.
For candidates who would prefer to take the Series 6 test online, there is an option to do so.
In fact, FINRA offers all their financial series exams with an online option.
During the registration process, candidates will need to indicate their preference when it comes to taking the exam.
Should you choose the online option, there are a few things that you need to bear in mind.
All candidates have to first download the ProProctor online testing system.
This runs the test on your laptop for you.
And yes, you will need to use your own laptop or computer or one from your sponsoring company to take the test.
You will also need to adhere to the following prerequisites.
For example, the laptop or computer you write the exam on will need a movable camera or webcam.
This will help exam observers check that no cheating takes place, mostly by seeing that a candidate doesn’t have any crib notes with them.
A stable internet connection is a necessity as well.
You certainly don’t want to have connection problems during the test at all.
Scheduling your exam and cancellation policy
Your exam can be scheduled from the moment you have registered and paid for it.
Note, however, that from the registration date, you have 120 days to write it.
While that period of four months might seem like plenty of time, don’t leave it to the last minute to find a perfect date to write the Series 6.
FINRA does have a cancellation policy should you need to cancel or reschedule.
But there is a timeframe in which candidates much act if they don’t want to be charged a cancellation fee.
Candidates who reschedule more than 10 days away from their exam won’t have to pay the $30 fee.
Those that opt to change within 10 days of their original date will have to pay $30 to do so.
If you cancel or reschedule your exam three days or less before the original date, you will have to pay $60.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about FINRA’s exam cancellation policy which covers the Series 6 as well as the Series 7 exam and all others that they offer.
The Day Of The Exam
Let’s look at the process candidates go through on the day of the exam.
We will cover both writing at a test center and online.
Writing at a testing center
These points below are the things that are most critical when a candidate writes at a test center:
- All candidates must arrive at least half an hour before their scheduled exam time
- Should you arrive 30 minutes later than your starting time, you cannot write the exam but can reschedule the test with costs.
- If you arrive early and are set up to begin, your exam can start
- Remember to bring the email confirmation you were sent and the address you registered with.
- All candidates must bring valid identification
- All candidates will be asked to turn out their pockets to show they don’t have any additional information on them
- All stationery is supplied by the testing center including pens, paper, and a four-function calculator.
- The time will not be paused once candidates have started their exam
Candidates who pass receive their passing score once they are done.
Those who fail won’t know their score but will receive additional information regarding how they performed in each section.
This helps to show them the areas they need to work on to achieve a pass the next time they attempt the test.
Obviously, writing the FINRA Series 6 Exam online is different than going to a testing center.
Here’s what you can expect:
- Your surrounding will be checked to see that you don’t have notes to help you stashed anywhere. This check is performed through the webcam.
- Candidates will be validated by providing their identification which is captured through the webcam.
- All candidates will also have to show they don’t have additional information on their person by turning out their pockets and opening up their sleeves.
- Only move from your position if you have been given authorization from the invigilator.
- All questions can be returned to and adjusted if need be.
There are other rules too that apply to candidates who write the test online.
If you’d like to find out more, click here.
Rewriting the exam
These exams are hard, there’s no doubt about that.
Candidates fail, especially those taking the test for the first time.
If you do fail, there’s no doubt that you are going to want to rewrite the exam.
Remember, each rewrite is going to cost you $30 a time.
You also must remember the period you have to wait between exams: 30 days between your first, second, and third attempt and 180 days for any attempt after that.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article that gives you more of an idea of what the Series 6 exam is all about.
It’s important to note, however, that other than passing the exam, there are various regulatory element programs to undertake as part of your continuing education.
When it comes to preparing for and writing the Series 6 exam, it’s best not to take it lightly.
The pass rate of 59% for first-time takers certainly proves this.
Remember too, that not just any candidate can take this exam.
You will need to be sponsored to do so.
If you have any further questions about the Series 6 exam, make sure you leave a comment below and we will get back to you.
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