What is the SIE Exam Passing Rate?

By: Kaplan Financial Education
October 16, 2019
SIE Exam Passing Rate Celebrated by 4 Students

If you’re taking the FINRA Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam, you might be wondering about the passing rate. And you probably want to know how hard the exam is. Although more than three-quarters of those who sit for the SIE exam end up passing it, it’s still challenging. Let’s take a look at the data and then see what you can do to increase your chances of passing.

SIE Exam Passing Rate

You need a score of 70% or better to pass the SIE. As of August 31, 2019, the overall passing rate of the SIE exam was 82% out of 67,445 exams administered. Of the 58,264 candidates who were taking it for the first time, the pass rate was 74%. The rates for those taking the SIE with the Series 6, Series 7, and Series 79 exam were as follows:

  • SIE and Series 6: 80%
  • SIE and Series 7: 84%
  • SIE and Series 79: 96%

Thinking about taking the SIE exam? Our free Candidate's Complete Guide to the SIE Exam is packed with useful information.

How Hard Is the SIE Exam?

The SIE exam is not easy. You should be prepared for a challenge. You are expected to know about capital markets, securities products, and regulations, as well as how to trade securities and what products are prohibited.

Although the exam requires some math and a few calculations, mostly you are being tested on how well you read the exam questions and your understanding of finance and securities concepts. Knowing definitions will not be enough. You should also be prepared for one word being used to mean different things and, conversely, several different words being used to mean the same thing. For examples and more details, read our article on frequently encountered SIE exam roadblocks.

Despite the challenges, you can be part of the 82% passing rate if you know the topics and prepare properly.

SIE Exam Questions and Topics

The SIE exam consists of 75 multiple-choice questions plus 10 unscored questions, and you have an hour and 45 minutes to complete it. The topics and the number of questions assigned each are:

  1. Knowledge of Capital Markets: 12 (16% of the exam)
  2. Understanding Products and their Risks: 33 (44% of the exam)
  3. Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts, and Prohibited Activities: 23 (31% of the exam)
  4. Overview of the Regulatory Framework: 7 (9% of the exam)

As you can see, the second and third sections make up 75% of the exam, so you need to do well on both those sections. But don’t overlook the other two. They are important because you will need to know how to apply those concepts in future securities licensing exams.

SIE Exam Study Tips—How to Increase Your Odds of Passing

These tips will help you develop the knowledge and confidence necessary to increase your odds of passing:

  • Layout a study plan. Use the SIE Exam Content Outline from FINRA as a starting point. An SIE exam prep package is even more helpful for developing your study plan and determining how many hours to study. Because the SIE exam was just implemented in October 2018, guidance on how many hours of study to put in varies widely. Some say 20 hours. Others say 100-150 hours. Kaplan advises no less than 50 hours, and you should add more hours if you don’t have a financial background.
  • Develop a steady, regular study routine. A routine can increase your retention dramatically. Balance your studying between reading and practicing with breaks in between that enable concepts (and how to apply them) to percolate. Relying solely on frantic cramming a few days before the exam is not recommended because you aren’t tested on memorization.
  • Be sure you have a thorough understanding of finance and the markets, and are keeping up with trends. Take some extra study time to listen to podcasts or youtube videos about investing. Subscribe to updates from financial news sources online. Visit online discussions of finance, the stock market, and securities on quora and reddit. Build your confidence by answering practice questions and taking practice exams.
  • Practice questions and exams enable you to assess how well you understand and apply critical concepts. You’ll be able to address weaknesses and become accustomed to the kinds of questions you’ll be asked on the exam.

Ready for the Challenge?

If you’re interested in taking the exam, check out our SIE exam preparation packages. You can also find answers to the most commonly asked questions about the exam in this SIE FAQ.

Free Download:A Candidate's Complete Guide to the SIE Exam

After identifying nine series exams with common content (6, 7, 22, 57, 79, 82, 86/87, 99), FINRA decided to restructure their licensing process. The common content is now tested in the new Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam. Download this free guide to learn more about how the new securities licensing process works, the rationale for the change, SIE tested exam content, and how it could change hiring and recruiting practices.