What to Expect on the Day of Your Securities Exam

By: Kaplan Financial Education
March 18, 2019
Man holding the door as he prepares to enter the FINRA securities licensing exam testing center

So, you're on the last mile of exam prep and will be taking a securities license exam soon. Good for you! After you schedule your exam with Prometric, make sure all your hard work studying pays off by understanding what to expect on the day of the exam. This will go a long way to reducing test anxiety.

When to Arrive

Be sure to show up about 30 minutes early for your exam time. It is a good idea to map out where the testing center is and figure out how long it will take you to get there. If you arrive late for your scheduled appointment time, you may have to deduct the amount of time you were late from your test time. If you do not want to take the test at a reduced time, FINRA will charge a cancellation fee or you could be required to pay for a new enrollment to reschedule your appointment. FINRA does have a separate inclement weather policy should the weather make it unsafe to travel to the testing center.

What to Bring and What Not to Bring

At all testing centers, you will be required to show one form of valid government-issued ID containing a photo and signature. Your photo and signature will also be taken there on the spot. Depending on your testing center, you may need to provide an electronic fingerprint or digital palm scan and go through a metal detector wand test as well. They will also ask you to turn your pockets completely inside out to ensure they have been emptied of all personal belongings.

After check-in, you must put all personal items in a storage locker. For greater peace of mind, do NOT wear or bring anything valuable to the exam. Cell phones, handheld computers, and other communication devices or electronics are prohibited from being taken into a testing room or being used during bathroom breaks. Once your belongings are stored away, you will then be escorted into the testing lab with only your picture ID and locker key. The testing center will provide you with a four-function calculator, two dry-erase boards, and dry erase pens for notes and calculations and they will explain the testing protocol to you.

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In the Securities Exam Testing Room

There may be cameras present in the testing room. You are expected to be quiet; any suspicious signs of cheating will disqualify you from the exam. Any violation of FINRA Test Center Rules of Conduct could lead to disciplinary action by FINRA, another self-regulatory organization, or the SEC; and could even result in the candidate being banned from employment or association with any securities dealer.

There will be a computer provided in your testing cubicle. Prior to the exam, you will participate in a tutorial presentation. This presentation will explain the functions of the computer, provide a sample multiple-choice question, and give directions on how to select an answer. If you want to find out how the testing process works now, you can take the FINRA tutorial for Qualification Exams here.

Then the exam will begin!

After the Securities Licensing Exam

Once you complete the exam, your unofficial results will be displayed on the computer screen explaining whether you passed or failed. It also will provide a score profile indicating your performance on the major areas of the exam. You will also get a printout of your results from the exam center. FINRA will post your official results with the Central Registration Depository (Web CRD) or report it to your regulator within three business days following your exam.

Your exam results are final – no adjustments or special considerations will be made to your score. The exam and the exam questions are not available for review following the exam for security reasons.

If you fail the exam, there will be a waiting period before you can take the exam, per FINRA Rule 1070(e). Generally, you can retake the exam after 30 days of the previous exam. If you fail the exam three or more times in succession, you will have to wait 180 calendar days to attempt the exam again.

Have Other Questions?

Check out FINRA’s Exam Day page to learn more about what you should expect going into the exam.


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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.