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:

  • Series 6 exam overview
  • Series 6 pass fail rate
  • Series 6 exam structure
  • Series 6 exam FAQs

Other free series 6 study materials:

  1. Series 6 exam prep
  2. Series 6 study plan
  3. Series 6 study guide
  4. Series 6 practice exam
  5. Series 6 flashcards
  6. Series 6 cheat sheet
  7. Series 6 Exam FAQ
  8. Best Series 6 study materials

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.

Series 6 Exam Overview

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.

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

Series 6 Exam FAQs

What is the Series 6 exam?

The Series 6 exam is officially referred to as the Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representative Qualification Examination. It’s an entry-level exam in the securities industry that covers mutual funds, variable annuities, insurance products, tax and securities regulations, and retirement plans. The exam has 55 multiple-choice questions.

What is the Series 6 license?

The Series 6 license, also known as the Investment Company Variable Contracts Products license, is issued to securities industry professionals who’ve passed the Series 6 and SIE exams. The license is issued by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. License holders maintain the license through continuing education.

What does the Series 6 test cover?

The Series 6 exam covers an Investment Company Variable Contracts Products Representative’s job functions, daily activities, and responsibilities. It’s broken into the four functions of a company representative. The exam tests test-takers on insurance products, retirement plans, variable annuities, securities and tax regulations, and mutual funds.

How long is the Series 6 license good for?

The Series 6 license is valid for as long as you are working with a FINRA member firm or a self-regulatory organization. The license only expires if you are terminated or quit working and don’t get another job in a FINRA member firm or SRO within two years. 

How do you maintain the Series 6 license?

You maintain Series 6 license through continuing education (CE). After registration, you’ll renew your license in two years. After that, you’ll take FINRA courses every three years to meet the CE requirement. Your firm is also required to provide an education program annually, which you should complete.

What are the Series 6 requirements?

– Sponsorship with an SRO or FINRA member firm. That means you must be employed with a firm.

– Pass the securities industry essentials exam before, after, or the same as the Series 6 exam.

– Pass the Series 6 exam.

What does the Series 6 license allow you to do?

The Series 6 license allows you to sell a selected number of products. They include:

– Municipal fund securities

– Unit investment trusts

– Variable life insurance

– Variable annuities

– mutual funds

With the license, you’ll work with a broker-dealer and earn your pay through commission.

How can I prepare for the Series 6 exam?

Start by developing a study calendar or downloading one from our website. Ensure you have the right study materials. These may include Series 6 study guide, cheat sheet, and flashcards. You can enroll in a Series 6 exam prep course or leverage the free online resources. Take many practice exams.

How is the new Series 6 top-off different from the previous exam?

The previous Series 6 exam had 110 questions, where ten questions were pretest and not scored. The exam took 135 minutes to complete. The new Series 6 top-off exam has 55 questions, where five questions are unscored. The exam takes 90 minutes. The passing score is 70%.

If I fail the Series 6 exam, what is the wait time before I can retake it?

If you fail the Series 6 exam, you’ll have to wait for 30 days before you retake it. The same waiting period applies if you fail two consecutive times. Subsequent failures have a 180-day waiting period. Note: you are required to pay the full exam fee with every retake.

What are the pass rate and passing score for the Series 6 exam?

The pass rate for the Series 6 exam is 59%. That means 41% of test-takers fail the exam on the first attempt. The passing score is 70%. Exam-takers must score at least 35 questions correct out of the 50 scored questions. You can only fail 15 questions.

How hard is the Series 6 exam?

It’s a tough one, that’s for sure. Current statistics show that the pass rate is 59%. Anyone attempting this exam must make sure they prepare thoroughly. The Series 6 exam is designed to trick candidates. The questions are situational and often lengthy. You must be keen to pick the significant details.

How much does it cost to sit for the Series 6 exam?

The Series 6 exam costs $40. The firm is the one to register for the exam by filling and completing form U4. The cost is paid by the sponsoring FINRA member firm or self-regulatory organization. Once registered, the organization gives you a specific duration to study and take the exam.

How many questions are on the Series 6 exam?

The Series 6 exam has 55 multiple-choice questions. Five of the test questions are pretests and not scored. The pretest questions are spread among the actual exam questions.  You won’t know which ones they are. That means you must answer all the questions to the best of your ability.

Do I need to take the Series 6 top-off exam if I already have a different securities license?

It depends on the license you have. For example, you may need to take Series 6 if you want to sell life insurance or mutual funds. However, if you are not interested in selling the financial products that the Series 6 license unlocks, there’s no need for the license.

Is the Series 6 exam paper or computer-based?

The exam is computer-based. The exam is administered in a Prometric testing center. You can also take the exam at home, but there are several requirements you must meet. The Series 6 exam is a closed book. Therefore, cheating of any kind is severely punished.

Can I take the Series 6 exam before the SIE exam?

The SIE exam is a co-requisite for the Series 6 exam. That means you can only earn the Series 6 license after passing both. That said, you can take SIE before, after, or when taking the Series 6 exam. However, many experts recommend taking it before Series 6.

How do I earn a Series 6 license?

To earn the Series 6 license, pass the SIE exam. Next, pass the Series 6 exam. From there, you can register your license with FINRA and the broker-dealer you work for. The broker-dealer will hold your license for the duration you’ll be working with them.

What jobs can I get with a Series 6 license?

With the Series 6 license, you can work as a:

– Financial advisor/financial representative

– Life insurance agent

– Mutual fund sales representative

– Retirement planning specialist

These opportunities open up the many career paths you can pursue in the financial securities industry in the future.

What are the Series 6 exam functions?

There are four functions, and you can find them all listed in the article above. While each contributes a certain number of questions to the exam, 50% of the questions are from the third function. However, knowledge of all of the four functions is critical. 

How long to study for Series 6?

Experts recommend anything from 40 to 60 hours towards Series 6 exam prep. Candidates can enroll in exam prep courses, try flashcards, and take as many practice exams as they possibly can. The goal is to have a deeper understanding of the exam content.

What is the penalty for not showing up for the Series 6 exam?

If a candidate fails to show up to write an exam they had scheduled, they have to reschedule the exam. To write the exam in the future, they will have to pay the exam fee of $40 again and pick a new date.

How hard is the Series 63?

It has a pass rate of around 98%, so while it may not seem that hard, it is challenging. And that’s because you will only have around one minute and 15 seconds for each question, which makes it easy to fall behind.


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

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

With the Series 6 exam breakdown and what to expect, you’ll find it easier to navigate the many study materials and focus on passing the exam.

We’ve also answered several frequently asked questions that could have been getting in your way.

So, you only have one task, preparing thoroughly for the Series 6 exam.

Good luck!




Securities Institute of America


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