Post Content

    There’s no doubt that the Securities Industry Essential (SIE) exam has changed the securities and financial services industry for the better.

    Introduced by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in 2018, it’s helped consolidate the whole exam series they offer.

    And in today’s article, we are going to take an in-depth look at some stats and facts about the SIE exam pass rate, and much more.

    Most notably, this includes:

    The overall SIE exam pass rate and the passing score for first-time takers
    Other critical facts about the exam you need to know
    Some ideas on how to best prepare for the exam
    And much more

    So if you are looking for information about the SIE exam when it comes to pass rates, as well as other interesting tidbits that will benefit you, make sure you read on.

    SIE Exam Overview

    Before we get to things like the SIE exam pass rate and other critical pieces of information when it comes to this FINRA exam, let’s start with an overview.

    First up it’s important to note that anyone can take the SIE exam.

    Prospective candidates include amongst others:

    • People looking to change their careers and enter the financial and securities industry
    • College students wanting to start their careers in that industry

    The only real pre-requisite is that you are 18 years of age or older.

    Think of this exam as one in which you can show a prospective employer that you have some basic knowledge of this diverse industry.

    The SIE exam is a building block and the first step that leads to many other FINRA securities exams.

    These other qualification exams – like the Series 7 exam – all pertain to certain areas of work within the securities business.

    You cannot enroll for them, however, without passing your SIE exam first.

    Many FINRA member firms, like a securities trading corporation, for example, will sponsor their interns for the SIE.

    Once they have completed their SIE exam prep and hopefully passed it on the first attempt, they then focus on a particular area of the industry to further their careers.

    To qualify in those areas, they then take the relevant exam that follows on from the SIE. 

    The SIE exam covers four key areas of information that are necessary for whatever course they choose to follow afterwards.

    These are:

    • Knowledge of Capital Markets (contributing 16% of all exam questions)
    • Understanding Products and Their Risks  (contributing 44% of all exam questions)
    • Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts, and Prohibited Activities (contributing 31% of all exam questions)
    • Overview of Regulatory Framework (contributing 9% of all exam questions)

    Other quick facts you need to know about the SIE exam

    In total, you will have 85 questions to answer of which 75 will count towards your overall mark.

    Candidates obviously don’t know which questions are those that matter, so all of them should be answered. 

    As for a time frame, the exam must be completed in an hour and 45 minutes (105 minutes).

    That gives candidates around 1 minute and 20 seconds per question on average.

    It doesn’t seem like a lot but it must be remembered that this exam is multiple choice.

    Those booking for their SIE exam will pay $60 to write and must take it within 120 days after enrolling.

    Should you fail, you will need to pay another $60 each time you rewrite. 

    Note, however, that you cannot just book again and have another go.

    For your second and third attempts, you will need to wait a period of 30 days before you can book again.

    If a candidate fails for a third time, that waiting period goes to 180 days between any further attempts they make.

    It might seem harsh but for me, this is a way that FINRA makes candidates realize that passing on the first or second attempt is a must. 

    It underlines that they should take the exam seriously by preparing properly. 

    We will cover SIE exam preparation a little later in this article.

    SIE Exam Pass Rates

    We’ve taken a thorough look into what the exam is all about in our overview.

    But now, we need to talk about the SIE exam passing score.

    And that’s broken down into two critical stats:

    • The passing rate of first-time exam takers
    • The overall SIE exam pass rate

    Both of these will help give you an idea of the overall difficulty level. 

    Passing rate of first-time takers

    While this is probably something you would have expected, candidates taking the exam for the first time have a lower pass rate than the overall figure.

    How hard is the SIE exam then based on this pass rate? 

    Well, with just 74% of first-time takers coming away with a pass, I guess you have your answer.

    Put it this way, one of every four people to take the exam will fail their first attempt. 

    That’s a pretty high number, don’t you think.

    So even if you think you’ve done enough studying, always make sure your preparation is as complete as it can be. 

    You certainly want to be in that 74% don’t you?

    And that will only come with the right preparation and taking SIE practice exams, using flashcards to test your knowledge, and more. 

    Overall SIE exam pass rate

    Even the most prepared candidates can have a bad exam and fail.

    Luckily, now that they have an idea of what it’s all about, they can prepare better in those areas in which they struggled.

    FINRA also provides those who have failed with a breakdown to see the areas of the exam that caught them out, which is a great help in making sure they pass the second time.

    That too reflects on the overall SIE exam pass rate which stands at around 82%.

    But again, while 82% might seem pretty high if you break it down, it reflects just hard this exam is.

    For example, take a batch of 50 people who have taken the exam.

    9 of them will never get their SIE certification.

    That’s pretty significant, don’t you think?

    Pass rates of the SIE and other top off exams combined

    We thought it would be interesting to look at pass rates when it comes to the SIE exam combined with another exam that follows on from it.

    Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most popular:

    • SIE followed by the Series 6 exam: Overall pass rate of 80%
    • SIE followed by the Series 7 exam: Overall pass rate of 84%
    • SIE followed by the Series 79 exam: Overall pass rate of 96%

    SIE Exam Preparation

    We’ve harped on about it quite a bit so far, but the facts are clear.

    Candidates who don’t prepare for the SIE exam thoroughly will fail. 

    It is a tough test of your understanding of all the key concepts that you need to enter the securities industry. 

    Is it the hardest FINRA exam out there?

    No, that would be the Series 7, for sure. 

    But just breezing through the coursework and watching a few online video lectures and tutorials on Youtube isn’t enough for most candidates.

    In fact, for the coursework alone, it’s recommended that candidates spend at least 50 hours working through it.

    That’s not factoring in other critical exam preparation methods such as:

    • Flashcards
    • Practice test prep 
    • Exam prep courses
    • Additional exam questions
    • Using study guides
    • And more

    There’s plenty of resources on this site too, that will help you get ready for your SIE exam. 

    Put the time in and you will reap the rewards, that’s for sure.

    Increasing your chance of passing the first time

    What we’ve covered above in terms of exam preparation is really a no-brainer for all candidates.

    If you aren’t taking practice tests, using exam prep courses, using other study guides, or trying flashcards to test your knowledge, your preparation might be found wanting.

    So those are a must.

    But there are other things that you can do to ensure that when it comes to the SIE pass rate, you are on the positive side of it. 

    Here’s a couple of extras you can build into your prep:

    Draw up a study schedule

    Some of us are disciplined enough to work without a study schedule and that’s fine.

    But if you are someone who needs a strict routine to keep your studies on track, a study schedule is simply the best way to go. 

    You can make it as comprehensive as you’d like, that’s really up to you at the end of the day.

    But bear in mind, you should be putting at least around 50 hours into studying for the SIE exam.

    Your schedule should also include time to cover all the coursework, regular revisions thereof, and of course, all the potential practice exams and other prep work you need.

    Don’t cram

    Even if you have knowledge of the securities and insurance industry, you really shouldn’t cram for an exam like this.

    There’s so much information that you will need to know and for most candidates, cramming won’t help them get to the point where they have it all.

    Delve deeper

    For candidates looking to enter the industry with no prior knowledge, putting in even more effort to learn what it is all about is essential.

    If you come across concepts in the coursework that you don’t understand, research further.

    The web is a treasure trove of information and you can find podcasts, Youtube videos, and more that can help you when you are stuck with a particular phrase or concept. 

    If you are failing practice tests, you aren’t ready

    While this goes without saying, many people opt to take online exams despite failing practice tests for them.

    Even if you are failing by one point, it’s a fail and if that was the real exam, you’d have to do it again.

    As a rule of thumb, you should take as many practice tests as you can and reach the point where you are passing them each time.

    If you aren’t, you don’t know the coursework thoroughly enough and therefore need to revisit it. 


    Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

    We’ve provided you with the information you need regarding the Securities Industry Essentials exam pass rate, for both first-time exam takers and overall.

    But we’ve also highlighted other crucial pieces of information that could help you make a success of the exam the first time up.

    And that should certainly be the aim of any candidate who attempts this exam, right?

    While paying another $60 to write it again will hit you in the back pocket, it’s the waiting period between exams that for me, is the hardest part of failing first up.

    That’s not something any candidates want.

    So make sure you are in the 74% of people who pass the first time!



    1. Kaplan

    2. Knopman Marks

    3. Investopedia

    4. FINRA

    5. ATutor

    6. WebCE


    Scroll to Top