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Series 6 is a popular licensing exam for candidates entering the securities industry.

Often sponsored by self-regulatory organizations or other FINRA member firms, it’s a natural progression for candidates from the Securities Industry Essential (SIE) exam.

So today, we are going to take a deep dive into this Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) exam.

In particular, we will focus on:

Content outline
Pass rates for the Series 6 exam
Passing score candidates need to achieve
Basic exam prep ideas

It’s information all candidates who want to take this FINRA exam must know and it’s all here at your fingertips to hopefully help you pass the first time. 

So let’s begin then.

Series 6 Exam Overview

The right way to start an in-depth article like this is by giving a brief overview of what the FINRA series exam is all about. 

Perhaps you’ve already completed the SIE exam and are looking at the next step in your career path.

Or maybe you haven’t even reached that step yet but are researching how careers in the securities industry are mapped out.

Whichever it is, an overview can help clear everything in your mind before we get into the more series business of pass rates or exam questions.

To start, before you can take the actual exam for the Series 6 coursework, it is recommended that all candidates pass the SIE qualification exam first. 

Unlike the SIE exam, however, test takers have to be sponsored.

That means they must be the registered representative of a broker-dealer, life insurance company, or other similar financial company to take this exam.

Candidates who have passed this exam are able to purchase sell products such as:

  • Variable annuities and life insurance
  • Mutual funds and municipal fund securities products 
  • Unit investment trusts (UITs)

Candidates can work for investment companies, financial planners, and variable contracts products representatives as well as in other areas of the industry.

With that in mind, let’s look at the four functions covered by this securities exam.

They are:

  • Function 1 description: Seeks Business for the Broker-Dealer from Customers and Potential Customers (24% of total Finra 6 exam questions)
  • Function 2 description: Opens Accounts After Obtaining and Evaluating Customers’ Financial Profile and Investment Objectives (16% of total Finra 6 exam questions)
  • Function 3 description: Provides Customers with Information About Investments, Makes Recommendations, Transfers Assets and Maintains Appropriate Records (50% of total Finra 6 exam questions)
  • Function 4 description: Obtains and Verifies Customers’ Purchase and Sales Instructions; Processes, Completes and Confirms Transactions (10% of total Finra 6 exam questions)

Other quick facts you need to know about the Series 6 exam

When you compare it to the Series 7 exam (225 questions), it is much shorter in length.

Coming in at just 55 multiple choice questions in total, it’s more on par with others like the Series 63 exam (60 questions). 

Only 50 of those questions will count towards your overall score.

The five additional questions won’t,

But there is no way of knowing, so candidates have to answer all of them.

But what about the time frame for completion?

Well, candidates have 90 minutes to complete this exam which equates to around a minute and a half for each question.

Some will take longer and others just a few seconds.

Don’t worry, there’s more than enough time to complete all of them.

Once candidates have booked for the exam – which costs $40 – it must be written within 120 days from the registration date.

Should a candidate fail, they can rewrite the exam 30 days following the date of their failure.

After their third attempt, a period of 180 days must be left between each rewrite.

While a period of six months is certainly lengthy, clearly FINRA has instituted this to ensure candidates approach test-taking seriously and at least pass on their first or second attempt. 

Series 6 Pass Fail Rate

While this exam is only 55 questions in total, there is no doubt that Series 6 requires an effective study plan.

Will you pass on your first try?

Well, that’s a goal for each candidate to work their way towards by using their study time effectively.

Also, make sure you supplement the coursework with additional materials like video lectures, practice questions, and more. 

To pass, a score of 70% is necessary. 

That’s pretty much the standard with FINRA exams.

But if you look at the pass rate for first-time candidates, it’s sitting at around 59% which puts the FINRA Series 6’s difficulty level near the very top.

To achieve the 70% pass rate, candidates will need to score 35 correct answers out of the 50 questions.

Exam structure

According to Investopedia, if candidates understand how the exam is structured, that will go a long way to helping them achieve their 70% pass on their first attempt.

There’s no such thing as good luck here, only clever preparation. 

So how does the structure work?

Well, the exam starts with easier questions first, those that candidates should know the answer to.

As the test goes on, however, the questions will get harder.

The hardest questions candidates will face occur at around the halfway point as the difficulty level gradually builds up.

But following that, there is a drop-off again towards the end of the exam.

Knowing this and making sure you get off on the right foot by getting early and later questions correct makes passing the Series 6 far easier. 

When it comes to exam questions, these typically cover various scenarios which will test a candidate’s knowledge fully.

Most questions are fairly detailed and look at areas such as:

  • Activities on a day-to-day basis
  • Responsibilities of those that carry a Series 6 license
  • Limited representatives and their job functions
  • And more

When it comes to Series 6 vs Series 7 difficulty, however, Series 7 is far tougher.

Series 6 Preparation

We always get questions like “How do I pass the Series 6 exam?”

There are no hard and fast rules here other than making sure you are as prepared as you can be. 

It’s recommended that candidates taking on the Series 6 exam put in at least 40 to 60 hours of study time before they even attempt it. 

And while every individual will use their Series 6 study time differently, there are a few simple ideas that we cover below for you to consider. 

Increasing your chance of passing the first time

To start, studying for Series 6 by following just the coursework often isn’t enough.

For some, it may be but for most of us, using supplementary study techniques is necessary.

That includes extras such as:

  • Using Series 6 flashcards
  • Taking as many Series 6 practice tests as you can
  • Following Series 6 exam study guides
  • Going through extra exam prep courses

Over and above that, candidates can prepare thoroughly by using these Series 6 exam tips. 

Devise a learning schedule

Once you’ve registered for your exam, you have a 120-day period in which to write it.

That’s four months and certainly more than enough to cover all the coursework, take extra tests and work through study guides. 

But the best way to plan all of this is by drawing up an effective learning schedule.

For some, this might be very in-depth, while others will just need a framework in which to operate.

Whichever it is that works best for you, just make sure you prepare the schedule and stick to it.

Another top tip is to include revision time as the exam approaches to help refresh your memory. 

Remember, 40 to 60 hours of study time before you attempt the exam is the amount recommended for those looking 

Cramming won’t work

40 to 60 hours of recommended study time doesn’t lend itself to cramming, that’s pretty obvious.

And while some of us thrive under pressure and love to cram, it’s going to serve you so much better to ensure you are prepared properly. 

If you’ve reached the point where you have to cram, you haven’t utilized the learning schedule you should have drawn up effectively enough.

Use internet resources

There is so much excellent information online that you can use to help you prepare properly.

Use it to your advantage and as part of your preparation.

For example, search for podcasts about the Series 6 exam, or look at Youtube videos that cover it.

Of course, don’t forget the practice tests and other exam prep that you can find.

Exam prep courses generally aren’t free but they will go a long way to help ensure that you are part of the 59% that pass the 6 Series exam the first time. 

Candidates failing practice tests won’t pass the exam

I cannot stress enough just how critical practice exams are to pass Series 6. 

They really will give you the best idea of just how your Series 6 studying is going and if you are ready for the exam or not. 

Take as many as you can!

This is not only to see where you are struggling for knowledge but also to give you an excellent idea of the types of questions you can expect. 

And once you are passing the practice tests, you should be ready for the real thing. 

Understand the concepts

While the exam will have questions where you will need to know certain formulas to answer, understanding concepts is far more important to achieving an overall pass.

In other words, memorizing all the formulas shouldn’t be necessary if the concept behind them makes sense to you. 

Read carefully and take your time

While listening to your overall gut feel isn’t a bad way to approach multiple-choice exams, you should make sure you read the question fully. 

If you haven’t your gut feel might be wide of the mark. 

An excellent way to give yourself a fighting chance is to narrow down what it is the question is asking and then immediately ruling out the wrong answers.

It sounds simple enough but many people just jump straight on the answer they think is right without thoroughly checking out the question or the answers properly.

If you are struggling with the question, it makes sense to move on and come back to it when you have the time.

Don’t let a tough question cause problems with overall exam time management either. 

Conclusion

Thanks for taking the time to read through this article about FINRA’s Series 6 exam.

There’s tons of valuable information here that you should take heed of as you prepare. 

Is the Series 6 hard?

Yes, without a doubt.

But with the correct preparation, there is no reason for any candidate to not pass it on their first attempt.

But it’s not to be taken lightly and the overall passing rate of 59% surely shows that too.

If you have any questions or queries, please don’t hesitate to leave us a comment below and we will get back to you promptly. 

Good luck!

FAQ

References

1. Kaplan

2. FINRA

3. Securities Institute of America

4. Investopedia

5. Securities Training Corporation

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