Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education

Changes to the Series 52 & Series 53 Content Outlines Approved

Posted by: William James
Date: August 12, 2015


On Friday, July 31, 2015,  the MSRB announced an SEC-approved change to several of its Content Outlines for its professional qualification examinations, including the Series 52 and 53. The changes to the outlines become effective on August 31, 2015. 

Initial Review

With regard to the Series 53, the number of topic areas in the upcoming Content Outline is unchanged. Its contents remain at 6 areas and the naming of each area also remains unchanged. The allocation of the number of questions however has changed but only a bit. For example, “Sales Supervision” is currently 29 questions but on the effective date it will drop to 25. Whereas, “Trading” will move up to 10 questions from 8.  

Because the topic areas and their titles remain unchanged and that the Board is moving far more swiftly in effecting the change of a Content Outline than I can remember, my early sense is that the Board is changing the outline principally to bring its rule citing into alignment with recent changes to the MSRB Rulebook. For instance, Rule G-3(e) is now G-3(f). The Board is obligated to keep its Content Outlines in harmony with its Rulebook. Since the concepts within the rules remain largely unchanged and the test does not often refer to the rule citation, printing them only in the Content Outline to support a referenced topic, it is likely the test will not change in any substantive way. Taking an early, limited, but granular comparison of the current and new outlines, supports my sense that the coming change will have minimal impact.

I am now undertaking a comprehensive review of the new Content Outlines. Although lengthy, 94 pages of outlined material for the Series 53 alone, the process of review is straightforward. The review will be somewhat blunted due to confidential changes made to the Series 53 submitted to the SEC.  Specifically, the selection specifications for the weighting for 5 of the 6 topic areas. I suspect the Board’s Qualifications Department has come up with a proprietary algorithm for the selection of questions weighted on difficultly. As I get a clearer idea of the changes, I will get back to you.