I Failed the Series 7 Exam: Now What?

By: Kaplan Financial Education
September 16, 2019
Man Who Failed Series 7 But Retook it and Passed

So, you failed the Series 7 exam. You might be a little down right now, but you don’t need to feel that way for long. Most brokerages and investment firms offer you at least two opportunities to pass the exam and get your license. So, sign up for a retake. If you think positively as you prepare and follow the six tips in this article, you can increase your odds of success when you take the exam again.

Failing the Series 7: The Good News

Yes, there’s good news. You have already put in a great deal of study time, so it’s unlikely you need to study that much again. Also, you don’t have to fear losing what you learned because of long cycles between exam dates. You can retake the exam as early as 30 days after you fail. For these reasons, it should be much easier to balance your work, family, and study commitments this time around.

You are also likely to have learned what your weak spots were based on how you felt about the questions when you took it the first time. In addition, you probably won’t feel as anxious and panicky on exam day, which could cost you a passing score, because you now know what you can expect. Unsure about how to prepare for your retake? Here are six tips that can increase your odds of passing when you take it again.

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1. Take time to reflect on why you failed the Series 7 exam.

What were the reasons you failed? Did you feel the questions were more in-depth than you expected or that the questions focused on topics that were unfamiliar? Did you have high scores for certain types or categories of practice questions, only to find that the exam had different kinds? Did you rush your study time, perhaps only putting in a week or so of study right before the exam? Maybe you thought you didn’t need a Series 7 exam prep package or practice. Don’t feel embarrassed if one (or more) of these is why you didn’t pass because these are all common reasons for failing. In fact, it’s good to be honest, because that can guide your study plan for the retake.

2. Create a study plan based on why you didn’t pass.

Now that you’ve done an inventory of what might have caused you to fail the Series 7, you can create a study plan to address your issues. If you didn’t put in enough hours, make sure your plan includes them this time around. If you sailed through some topics and stumbled on others, focus on the ones that tripped you up. However, you should also make sure that you dedicate some time to reviewing the others just to keep them fresh in your mind. If you tried to “go it alone,” consider investing in a Series 7 test prep this time around.

3. Make sure that your study materials are up-to-date.

Securities rules and regulations change frequently and test topics can reflect them almost just as fast. Try to keep up with the latest information from FINRA, starting with their notices web page. Check to make sure that any guides you have or review packages you purchased are based on the most recent information. Although some providers update their packages and guides regularly, it’s good to do a little homework to make sure that what you’re studying is current.

4. Start studying as early as you can.

You can’t cram for the Series 7. If you tried that last time, it is most likely the main reason why you didn’t pass. So, get in a study routine early. A steady, regular study method will increase your retention dramatically. And if you didn’t cram, good for you, but you should still start studying as soon as you can. You will some breaks to let concepts percolate. Also, you'll need time to sleep, because that’s very important for peace of mind on exam day.

5. Take practice exams.

Some test takers fail the Series 7 exam because they spend too much time on reading and memorizing calculations and concepts. In this article that lists 7 strategies for passing the Series 7 exam, it says to balance studying between manuals and practice questions, which is sound advice for first-time exam takers. For this second time around, you should practice much more than you read. You should take practice exams, which closely replicate the real exam in degree of difficulty, weighting, and format. Most are updated to address the latest regulations, and you receive a score with diagnostic feedback.

6. Read the whole question.

You’d be surprised at how many people failed the Series 7 because they missed something important in some of the questions. So, for each question, be sure you read it in its entirety and don’t start to answer until you’ve also read all the answer choices. Then read the last sentence of the question again before starting to eliminate answers. Here’s another valuable tip: if you have read the question thoroughly, and there are at least two answer choices you cannot eliminate, consider choosing “all of the above” if it’s an option.

Ready to give it a try again?

If you failed the Series 7 exam the first time, remember that it’s a challenging exam, and you are not alone. If you follow the tips in this article and invest in exam preparation packages and study tools, you will improve your odds of passing it on your second try.

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