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How to Register for the SIE Exam

The Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam is a new introductory exam administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for anyone seeking to enter or re-enter the securities industry. Launched on Oct. 1, 2018 with FINRA’s restructuring of its representative-level exams, the SIE Exam covers the foundational concepts that lead into qualification, or “top-off,” exams such as the Series 6 or Series 7.

Who Should Take the SIE Exam?

Anyone looking to pursue a career in securities, including students, will now start with the SIE Exam as the first stepping stone. The purpose of the SIE Exam is to provide an entry point for the industry and minimize overlap in the qualification exams. While qualification exams require association with a FINRA member firm, the SIE Exam does not.

Keep in mind, however, that you will eventually need a sponsor in order to sit for one of the subsequent qualification exams. Passing the SIE Exam alone will not qualify you to join a firm and practice in the business.

If you are already a registered representative, you do not need to take the SIE Exam to maintain your current registration or to add a new registration.

SIE Exam Registration in Three Steps

Registering for the SIE Exam is fast and easy. All you have to do is:

Prepare to Pass

While registering for the SIE Exam is simple, studying, of course, takes a little more time and effort. Create an exam plan in seconds and cover every concept on the SIE Exam in bite-sized lessons with Wiley’s 2019 SIE Exam Review Course. Start your free trial today.


Success Hub


SIE Exam Information, Facts and How to Pass

If you are reading this, it is likely you are seeking a career in the financial services industry and wanting to learn more about the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam. The SIE exam is administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Passing the SIE exam is one of the first steps to becoming a licensed professional in the securities industry.


FINRA’s licensing requirements are mandatory for most professional positions in the financial services industry. Passing the SIE exam shows you understand basic concepts related to the markets and their functions, industry terminology, common formulas, financial products, laws and regulations, and other important information.


What is the SIE exam?

In 2018, FINRA launched the SIE exam, along with updated representative level exams (now commonly referred to as “top off” exams) that relate to professional specialties across the financial services industries. In order to become a registered representative, you must pass both the SIE and the appropriate representative level qualification exam. The introductory level SIE exam demonstrates knowledge of basic securities industry information, while top off exams demonstrate competency in specific sectors of the securities industry.


Who can take the SIE exam?

The SIE exam requirements are simple and straightforward: anyone 18 years of age or older can sit for the exam. You do not need to be sponsored by a member firm to take the SIE. However, to take representative level qualification exams you must be sponsored by a member firm. Having your SIE exam completed before you start applying for jobs can give you a competitive advantage. It shows prospective employers that you are a proactive self-starter who is ready to prepare for and pass representative level exams under their sponsorship.


What are the best ways to prepare for the SIE exam?

One of the best ways to prepare is to register for a SIE exam study package.  Another great resource for a complete and comprehensive approach to SIE exam training can be found in our free eBook – it outlines the SIE exam process from preparation to passing your exam. Learn more about the SIE exam and our product offerings here.


What is the SIE exam pass rate?

The data from FINRA states that 74% of SIE exam test takers pass on their first attempt.


To develop a solid plan for passing the SIE exam, continue reading the information and recommendations below.


How Hard is the SIE Exam?

The degree of difficulty of the SIE exam is largely dependent on your current knowledge and education in the financial services industry. You will find it challenging if you go into the test without proper preparation. However, with the right exam training, you can be one of the individuals who successfully passes the SIE exam on your first attempt. Learn more about the SIE exam difficulty here. 


What topics does the SIE exam cover?

The SIE exam tests your knowledge and comprehension of the securities industry. Topics  cover markets, terminology, common formulas, regulations, laws, products, and other concepts related to the financial services industry.


The four sections of the SIE exam are:

  1. Knowledge of Capital Markets: 12 questions
  2. Understanding Products and Their Risks:  33 questions
  3. Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts and Prohibited Activities:  23 questions
  4. Overview of Regulatory Framework:  7 questions

What is the format of the SIE exam?

The  format is multiple-choice and includes 85 questions (75 scored questions and ten pretest questions). To pass, you will need to score 70%.


How to enroll for and schedule your SIE exam

FINRA is the regulatory agency for the SIE exam, and Prometric is FINRA’s third party testing partner. Below are step-by-step instructions on how to enroll and schedule your SIE exam:

  1. Register on Create a Test Enrollment Services System (TESS) account and pay your exam fee.
  2. Obtain your Central Registration Depository (CRD) number: Once you have a registered account with FINRA, you will receive a CRD number. You will need  this when scheduling your exam.
  3. Go to The SIE exam is administered by Prometric and taken at their testing centers across the United States.
  4. Create an account with Prometric and schedule your exam: You have a 120-day window to schedule your exam on the Prometric website after registering with FINRA.

How long do I have to complete the SIE exam?

You will have one hour and 45 minutes to complete the SIE exam.


We recommend timing yourself when taking the SIE practice exam. By  tracking how long it takes you to complete the practice exams, you will be able to maintain a good pace during the official exam.


How much does the SIE exam cost?

The exam fee is $60 and is due when you enroll with FINRA.


I am a college student – should I take the SIE exam before graduation?

Yes! Passing the SIE exam will increase your marketability in the financial services industry. Prospective employers will recognize you are ambitious and eager to begin your career. Once you are confident that you are prepared to pass, we recommend taking the SIE exam. This can be a great way to catch the eye of future employers when they are reviewing resumes to identify standout candidates.


Does your SIE exam score expire?

SIE exam scores are valid for four years.


Does passing the SIE exam help me earn a securities license?

Yes, passing the SIE exam is one of the first steps toward obtaining your securities license. Typically, the next step is to pass a representative level qualification exam.


What are representative level or “top off” qualification exams?

Passing qualification exams permits individuals to engage in securities activities defined by the specific registration. Once you have an employer sponsor, you will be advised which exam to take. In order to take a representative level exam, you must be sponsored by a member firm of FINRA.


The current registration categories for representative level exams are:

  • Series 6:  Investment Company Representative
  • Series 7:  General Securities Representative
  • Series 22:  Direct Participation Limited Representative
  • Series 57:  Securities Trader
  • Series 79:  Investment Banking Representative
  • Series 82:  Private Securities Offerings Representative
  • Series 86 & 87:  Research Analyst
  • Series 99:  Operations Professional

Remember, the SIE exam does not have a sponsorship requirement - you can take the SIE exam any time you are ready.

SIE exam study tips

The right study tools will help prepare you to be successful on exam day by providing helpful study tips. Here are a few study tips to get you started: 


  1. Terminology. If you are not already working in the industry, chances are you need to study the terms used on this exam. And a word of caution, some of these terms have multiple meanings.
  2. Formulas. Even though the SIE exam is multiple-choice, it is not advisable to guess on questions with mathematical solutions. Learn the common formulas used by securities professionals.
  3. Time Management. It is important that you set time aside to study for your exam so you can pass on your first attempt. You may lose months of potential employment by having to retake the exam.
  4. Plan of Action. A plan of action will help you organize your study time effectively and efficiently. A SIE exam study guide or online training program will provide you with the study tools and materials to succeed.

Learn more about how to study for the SIE exam here.

Are SIE study aids worth the investment?

Many people find the SIE exam challenging. Using the right online preparation tool provides the best opportunity for passing the SIE exam.


Why should I trust ExamFX to help me pass the SIE exam?

We have a proven track record of offering user-friendly, innovative eLearning tools to help students pass the SIE exam. ExamFX is considered a leader in licensing training by offering its customers the most innovative study tools and learning formats. In fact, we have helped over 6 million people prepare for career-changing exams.


If you are ready to take the next step by preparing to pass the SIE exam on the first try, contact ExamFX today.

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The SIE is an entry-level, medium-difficulty exam, meant to be challenging but approachable to anyone - including people that do not have a traditional finance background. Calculated from the first 16,000 individuals to take it, the SIE Exam pass rate came out to be 74%, right in line with FINRA’s expectations.

It is expected that experienced students can study for about 25 hours and pass the exam, while those who are just learning the material for the first time should expect to spend 50 hours to be suitably prepared.

The SIE Exam tests three major skills:

Problem solving

You will be expected to use logic and the evidence presented to deduce the correct answer from multiple choices. This isn’t too different from what you’ve already done with the SAT or in school – the difference is the subject matter and remembering which rules or calculations apply.


Finance has math – there’s no way around it. Fortunately, the math in the SIE is straightforward and more a matter of how you apply it rather than doing complex calculations. It's the standard PEDMAS: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction.


It’s maybe not everyone’s favorite part of the test, but you will need to memorize some key regulations and other information to pass.

Achievable has adaptive, memory-tracked flashcards built into our course to ensure you'll remember all the material you've learned on test day.

Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Introduction

Below is a list of policies and procedures for candidates taking the FINRA Series Exams.

Identification Requirements

Please present one form of government-issued, valid identification, bearing both a photograph and a signature. No photocopies or faxes of identification or of name change documentation will be accepted.

Rules of Conduct

FINRA requires that you read, understand and electronically agree to remain compliant with the Rules of Conduct prior to beginning your scheduled exam.

Personal Items

No personal items, food or drink, including coffee and water, are permitted inside the testing room. Personal items include, but are not limited to: pens, pagers, cellular phones, watches, hats, non-medical electronic devices, outerwear, purses and wallets. If testing at a Prometric test center, personal items must be kept in your assigned locker or returned to your car prior to the start of your exam. As the testing vendor is not responsible for any personal items, they encourage you to bring only your identification into the Center. If testing online, personal items must be left outside of the room you test in.

Religious Apparel

Religious items such as head coverings, rosary beads, kabbalah bracelets, etc., are permitted in the testing room after being visually inspected by the Test Center Personnel. Similar to any other clothing or jewelry, any religious items allowed to be worn in the testing room must remain on at all times. Removed religious apparel must be stored in your locker.


Test Center Delivery:If you need a calculator for your testing session, please see the Test Center Personnel. You will be provided with a non-programmable, non-printing calculator (Exception only for the FDIC Series 91 and Series 92 exams).

Online Test Delivery:A physical calculator is not permitted. A four-function calculator is available on screen as part of your exam.

Scratch Paper/Pens

Test Center Delivery:Erasable note boards and dry erase markers will be provided to you upon admittance to the testing room. The white boards and markers must be returned at the end of your exam.

Online Test Delivery:Scratchpaper/erasable note boards are not permitted. The system provides an electronic scratch pad to make notes.

Unscheduled Breaks

Test Center Delivery:Unscheduled breaks are permitted; however, the time on your exam will continue to count down. You will be asked to sign the logbook and show your identification both when exiting and re-entering the testing room. Per FINRA testing policies, you are not permitted to leave the building during an unscheduled break unless required to do so to use the bathroom facilities. You will not be permitted to access any study materials, make any phone calls, access electronic media or your locker during an unscheduled break. If you need to access an item stored in the test center locker during an unscheduled break, such as food or medicine, you must notify the Test Center Personnel before you retrieve the item. You are not permitted to access any personal item as referenced above.

Online Test Delivery:Unscheduled breaks are permitted; however, the time on your exam will continue to count down. You must notify your proctor if you need to take an unscheduled break. Upon return from an unscheduled break, a security check will be performed. Per FINRA testing policies, you will not be permitted to access any study materials, make any phone calls, or access electronic media during an unscheduled break.

Appointment Length vs. Test Time

For all FINRA appointments, an additional 30 minutes is scheduled to allow for the completion of the tutorial presented prior to your session and the post-exam survey. For test center delivery, the additional time for these activities cannot be used toward completing the exam itself or writing on your center-provided note board. For example, if you are scheduled to take the SIE exam, your SIE appointment will be scheduled for 2 hours and 15 minutes. Once you have been signed in and have completed the tutorial, the first test question will be presented, and a timer with 1 hour and 45 minutes will appear on the monitor. At this point, you can begin to answer test questions.


Test Center Delivery:Upon completion of your exam, your result file will be electronically encrypted and returned to FINRA. You will be provided with a printed copy of your pass/fail results. Your firm's Compliance/Registration Department should receive official notification of your pass/fail results or completion status within 48 hours. If you have questions regarding your results, please contact your Compliance/Registration Department for assistance.

Online Test Delivery:Upon completion of your exam, you will not receive your official result report. Your pass/fail result will be displayed on screen. Then, within three business days, your official results will be sent to the email address provided at the time of your appointment scheduling.

Special Accommodations

If you require special accommodations, you cannot schedule your test via the internet. If you have not received or would like to request approval for an accommodation, please call FINRA's Candidate Services Team at: 800-999-6647 and select Option 2 to request accommodations. Please note that any request to bring any personal belongings into the testing room or during online test delivery must be approved prior to scheduling your appointment. Personal belongings include but are not limited to: prescription medications, medical devices, etc.


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Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam

The qualification tests for several occupations in the financial services industry, formerly known as the Series exams, have been streamlined into one initial exam called the Securities Industry Essentials Exam—or the SIE Exam. Back in 2015, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) streamlined its testing structure by consolidating the fundamental knowledge shared across several of the Series exams into the SIE. Candidates can then take an additional "top-off" qualification exam for the specific field they hope to enter.

Key Takeaways

  • The SIE dramatically altered the structure of the various existing qualification exams.
  • You do not need to be affiliated with a FINRA member firm in order to take the SIE.
  • If you already passed one of the FINRA exams and are registered as a representative you do not need to take the SIE.

Changes in Securities Industries Essentials Exam (SIE) Qualifications

The SIE had a major structural impact on the qualification exams. The SIE replaces portions of every previous exam, including the Series 6, Series 7, Series 22, Series 55/56 (replaced by Series 57), Series 79, Series 82, Series 86/87, and Series 99. These tests were shrunken, becoming qualification exams that focus on the specialized knowledge needed for each particular qualification.

Top-off exams are offered for the following representative categories:

  • Investment Company Representative (IR) – Series 6
  • General Securities Representative (GS) – Series 7
  • DPP Representative (DR) – Series 22
  • Securities Trader (TD) – Series 57
  • Investment Banking Representative (IB) – Series 79
  • Private Securities Offerings Representative (PR) – Series 82
  • Research Analyst (RS) – Series 86 & 87
  • Operations Professional (OS) – Series 99

Overall, this was clearly an effort to remove some of the duplicated information in the tests, but it also opened the door to a much more important change to the process of qualification, which is no longer having to be associated with a FINRA member firm to take the SIE.

Under the former FINRA rules, you generally needed to be employed or otherwise sponsored by a FINRA member in order to take the exams. The SIE removes this requirement, although you still have to be associated with a FINRA member firm to take the top-off exams. This means that an individual can choose to start on the path towards a FINRA qualification on their own.

Successfully taking the SIE doesn't guarantee anyone a successfully break into the financial industry, but it is safe to say that passing it prior to looking for a job may give you an edge as a prospective employer only needs to sponsor the top-off exam to get you qualified for a particular role.

FINRA supported the idea that recent graduates and people looking to get into the industry should take the SIE on their own. They’ve made it more attractive by extending the validity of the SIE to four years, giving a generous window for passing participants to then find a firm to sponsor the top-off exams. FINRA member firms are able to see who has passed the exam via the Central Registration Depository (CRD).

SIE and Top Off-Exams as Replacements

In their original Securities and Exchange Commission filings, FINRA targeted the fall of 2016 to early 2017 for a rollout of their highest volume exams. This proved to be a bit optimistic. There were several shifts in the scheduling, one resulting from the requests of member firms and industry associations for more time to set their own processes in accordance with the new structure. The SIE and top-off exam rollout took place on October 1, 2018 and was accompanied by the retirement of multiple low volume exams, such as the Series 42 and Series 62.

Originally, March 2018 was targeted for the implementation of the SIE and top-offs for Series 6, 7, and 79. October 1, 2018 became the date for a complete overhaul rather than a phased-in approach. Adding to some of the confusion was part of the attempt to modernize; the Series 55 was replaced by the Series 57, although it still appeared in the original notice for the SIE updates. That update was simply a standard part of FINRA reviewing and tweaking curriculum, rather than part of an overhaul of any core knowledge.

Structure of the SIE Exam

The SIE exam structure is largely based on the general knowledge components of the exams it replaced that portion for. In January 2018, FINRA provided more details on the structure. The sections and question count are as follows:

The Makeup of the SIE Exam
of Exam Questions
Number of
Exam Questions
(1) Knowledge of Capital Market16%12
(2) Understanding Products and Their Risks44%33
(3) Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts, and Prohibited Activities31%23
(4) Overview of Regulatory Framework9%7

The 75 questions are actually 85, since there are 10 randomly distributed pre-test questions that do not count towards the score on the exam. Candidates have an hour and forty-five minutes to complete the entire exam. A full outline of the SIE content is currently available on FINRA's website.

How does the SIE affect me?

If you already passed one of the FINRA exams and are currently registered as a representative, you are considered to have passed the SIE already. If you passed one of the exams and are not currently registered, you may need to take the SIE depending on how many years elapse between now and your next registration. And, of course, if you passed the exam but your registration has lapsed, you will need to take the SIE and the new top-off for that qualification before being reregistered. This is pretty much the same as it has always been, except you would be taking two exams instead of one. In fact, the exams are designed to take the same total time as the previous versions. For example, the SIE and Series 7 top-off exam take the same amount of time as the previous Series 7 exam.

For member firms, the cost of the top-off exams is less than the previous exams because the content was shifted to the SIE. So, if an individual has passed the SIE prior to joining a firm, it is a good indication that this person already has the basic aptitude and wherewithal to pass a top-off exam. And, of course, the cost of getting that individual registered is reduced because they paid out of pocket for the SIE. All of which will likely help make a candidate more attractive to a firm.

If I had a Series 7 and it lapsed, do I have to take the new SIE or am I still covered?

If your license lapsed—assuming two years have passed since you were last registered—you have to retake the Series 7. You need to retake the SIE only if four years have elapsed since you last passed it or were last registered.

Is there an order for taking the SIE and the top-off? Should I take them together or separately?

The SIE is designed to come first, but the SIE and its associated top-off exams can also be completed over the same time period. In fact, you can take SIE and Series 7 top-off on the same day—just like the previous Series 7.

Can I become a registered representative without a corporate sponsor by passing the SIE Exam?

You need to take a top-off exam in order to become a registered representative, which you cannot take without a corporate sponsor.

Will the new SIE be harder or easier than the old Series 7?

The overall content covered over the two tests—the SIE and the Series 7 top-off exam—will be nearly identical to the previous Series 7.

How long is the SIE valid and does it have to be renewed?

The SIE is valid for four years. It needs to be renewed if four years have passed since you were last registered.

What is the wait time if I fail?

The wait time is 30 days for the first and second attempts, then six months if you fail the third attempt.

The Bottom Line

If you were already sponsored to take one of the qualification exams, go for it. These changes won't impact you at all. If you expect to be sponsored in the future, the overall content you need to master won’t change even though you have to do it in two chunks. If, however, you are not currently sponsored or in the industry, the SIE will open the door for you to start down the path of a financial career without having to associate with a member firm first. This change gives you a choice you didn't have before.

SIE Exam. Taking the FINRA sample test 2021

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