Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam Frequently Asked Questions for Universities

By: Kaplan Financial Education
April 5, 2019
college student raising her hand to ask questions about the SIE exam

FINRA introduced the new Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam on October 1, 2018. The SIE exam is a game-changer for universities and students hoping to jumpstart a career in financial services before they graduate. Kaplan has been following the news ever since FINRA first began talking about it. Along the way, our university partners have relied on us for the latest information on the SIE exam, and how it will impact their school and students. We developed this article to provide answers to the questions we hear most often—and to keep you and the rest of your faculty informed.

What Is the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam?

The SIE exam is FINRA's new general industry exam. It tests basic knowledge such as products, risks, the structure and function of the securities industry and its regulatory agencies, and regulated and prohibited practices. The SIE exam is the first step for anyone earning a Series 6, 7, 22, 57, 79, 82, 86/87, or 99 license, if they do not already possess one of those licenses. Passing the SIE exam alone does not qualify an individual for registration with FINRA. They also need to pass a specialized knowledge qualification exam (or "top-off") applicable to the desired job function with a firm, and meet other registration requirements. FINRA calls the SIE and the top-off exams "corequisites," which means that both have to be passed to earn the license, but can be taken in any order. In other words, it's possible to take a top-off exam before the SIE, but they will still have to take the SIE.

What opportunities does the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam offer a university?

This exam is ideal for universities to implement as part of their curriculum or as a professional development program. Doing so could increase job placement opportunities for students, add a new revenue stream, and enhance relationships with financial services employers.

What do my students need to know about the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam?

With a low exam fee ($60) and no firm sponsorship requirement, the SIE is ideal for university students who want a headstart in a financial services career. By proving their mastery of basic industry knowledge and demonstrating that they can pass a high-stakes examination, students will stand out to potential employers. We’ve created a FAQ for candidates as well, designed to answer all of the questions your students might have about the new exam.

How will the SIE exam impact our students?

Individuals who are able to add the SIE to their resume and, more importantly, demonstrate general industry knowledge, will stand out to potential employers during job interviews and within post-hire training programs.

What are the prerequisites for the SIE exam? Can students take it any time?

The SIE exam is open to anyone aged 18 and older, including students and prospective candidates interested in demonstrating basic industry knowledge to potential employers. Because you are not required to be sponsored to take this exam, students do not need to be hired by a firm in order to sit for this entry level exam.

Which topics will be covered on the new SIE exam?

The range of topics covered on the SIE exam include:

  • Knowledge of Capital Markets
  • Understanding Products and their Risks
  • Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts and Prohibited Activities
  • Overview of the Regulatory Framework

Will any topics be added to the top-off exams now that topics are being removed to create the SIE exam?

The revised representative-level qualification exams will test knowledge relevant to day-to-day activities, responsibilities, and job functions of representatives.   In February 2018, FINRA released the content outlines for the top-off exams.  In additional articles, we have outlined the breakdown of each major exam and explained the differences between current and future Series 7 exam, as well as the Series 6, 79, and 99 Exams.

Could our university offer SIE exam preparation as part of our curriculum?

Yes! In fact, Kaplan partners with universities to offer Securities Licensing Exam Prep to students, alumni, and their local community. Through these partnerships, schools enter into a Marketing Service Agreement and receive payment in exchange for promoting the courses. Kaplan builds co-branded custom portals for students to enroll. In addition to SIE Exam Prep, partners are also able to offer additional Kaplan exam prep packages for other licensing exams, such as Series 65.

How does the SIE exam prep course fit into an undergraduate business degree?

A career opportunity is the ultimate goal for most undergraduate business students. Building a curriculum around the topics covered in the SIE exam can fast-track your students’ path to earning a series license and starting a career in finance. Kaplan has taken these topics and has incorporated them into a simple path to teaching securities industry essentials in your financial course. These topics include:

  • Knowledge of Capital Markets
  • Understanding Products and their Risks
  • Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts and Prohibited Activities
  • Overview of the Regulatory Framework

Kaplan will work with your university to offer SIE Exam Prep and receive the course curriculum. We build co-branded custom portals for university partners' students to purchase materials, and allow you to manage the program. To learn more about the SIE Exam, access our SIE Information Center.


We hope this article has helped clear up confusion and answer any questions you have about the SIE Exam, and how it will affect your university.  If you're looking for more information, we've also created FAQs for candidates and businesses to answer SIE-specific questions. 

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.