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How Series 6, 79, and 99 Examinations Have Changed Now the SIE Exam is Live

Posted by: Doug Vincens, Securities Product Director
Published: October 2, 2018

Now that all new representative-level applicants must take the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam, the Series 6, 79, and 99 exams are now specialized knowledge examinations (a revised representative-level qualification examination) for their particular registered roles. As a result, these exams test knowledge relevant to the day-to-day activities, responsibilities, and job functions of those individuals.

Series 6 Breakdown

FINRA has changed the major job functions that are performed by an Investment Company and Variable Contracts Products Representative (Series 6):

  • Function 1: Seeks Business for the Broker-Dealer from Customers and Potential Customers, 12 questions, 24% of exam items
  • Function 2: Opens Accounts after Obtaining and Evaluating Customers’ Financial Profile and Investment Objectives, 8 questions, 16% of exam items
  • Function 3: Provides Customers with Information About Investments, Makes Suitable Recommendations, Transfers Assets and Maintains Appropriate Records, 25 questions, 50% of exam items
  • Function 4: Obtains and Verifies Customers’ Purchase and Sales Instructions; Processes, Completes and Confirms Transactions, 5 questions, 10% of exam items

The fee for the Series 6 is $40 (when combined with the $60 fee for the SIE, it is the same $100 fee as previously), and the exam has 50 scored questions. Consistent with FINRA’s practice of including “pretest” questions on examinations, the Series 6 examination includes five additional, unidentified pretest questions that do not count towards the candidate’s score. The amount of time candidates have to complete the examination is 1 hour and 30 minutes.

All candidate test scores are placed on a common scale using a statistical adjustment process known as equating. Equating scores to a common scale accounts for the slight variations in difficulty that may exist among the different sets of exam items (questions) that candidates receive. This allows for a fair comparison of scores and ensures that every candidate is held to the same passing standard regardless of which set of questions they received. Currently, a score of 70 percent is required to pass the examination.

Download A Candidate's Complete Guide to the New SIE Exam now to learn more about the new proposed licensing process and SIE exam content.

Series 79 Breakdown

The Series 79 exam is designed to assess the competency of entry-level Investment Banking Representatives and seeks to measure the degree to which each candidate possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform the critical functions of an Investment Banking Representative.

FINRA has reorganized the content outline by dividing it into three major job functions that are performed by an Investment Banking Representative. The following are the three major job functions, denoted Function 1 through Function 3, with the associated number of questions:

  • Function 1: Collection, Analysis and Evaluation of Data, 37 questions, 47% of exam items
  • Function 2: Underwriting and New Financing Transactions, Types of Offerings and Registration of Securities, 20 questions, 27% of exam items
  • Function 3: Mergers and Acquisitions, Tender Offers and Financial Restructuring Transactions, 18 questions, 24% of exam items

The questions on the revised Series 79 examination emphasize tasks such as advising on or facilitating debt or equity offerings through a private placement or public offering, and advising or facilitating mergers and acquisitions, tender offers, financial restructurings, and asset sales.

Each function also includes specific tasks describing activities associated with performing that function. There are three tasks (1.1–1.3) associated with Function 1; six tasks (2.1–2.6) associated with Function 2; and six tasks (3.1–3.6) associated with Function 3. For example, one such task (Task 1.3) is conducting due diligence. Further, the content outline lists the knowledge required to perform each function and associated tasks (e.g., due diligence processes on both the buy- and sell-sides). In addition, where applicable, the content outline lists the laws, rules, and regulations a candidate is expected to know to perform each function and associated tasks (e.g., SEC Rule 135a).

The fee for the Series 79 exam is $245 (when that is combined with the $60 SIE fee, it adds up to the fee for the former Series 79 exam), and each candidate’s exam consists of a total of 85 questions (75 scored and 10 unscored). Also included are 10 additional, unidentified pretest items that do not count toward the candidate's score. Candidates are allowed 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete the Series 79 exam.

The passing score for the Series 79 exam is 73%. All candidate test scores are placed on a common scale using a statistical adjustment process known as equating. Equating scores to a common scale accounts for the slight variations in difficulty that may exist among the different sets of exam items that candidates receive. This allows for a fair comparison of scores and ensures that every candidate is held to the same passing standard regardless of which set of exam items they received.

Series 99 Breakdown

The Series 99 content outline is divided into two major job functions that are performed by an Operations Professional. The two major job functions, denoted Function 1 and Function 2, with the associated number of questions are:

  • Function 1: Knowledge Associated with the Securities Industry and Broker-Dealer Operations, 35 questions, 70% of exam items
  • Function 2: Professional Conduct and Ethical Considerations, 15 questions, 30% of exam items.

The questions on the Series 99 examination emphasize tasks. There are nine tasks (1.1–1.9) associated with Function 1 and four tasks (2.1–2.4) associated with Function 2.

For example, one such task (Task 1.1) is opening and maintaining accounts. Further, the content outline lists the knowledge required to perform each function and associated tasks (e.g., types of retail, institutional, and prime brokerage customer accounts). In addition, where applicable, the content outline lists the laws, rules, and regulations a candidate is expected to know to perform each function and associated tasks [e.g., SEA Rule 15c3-3 (Customer Protection—Reserves and Custody of Securities)].

The fee for the Series 99 exam is $40 (when combined with the $60 fee for the SIE, it is the same $100 fee as previously), it has 50 questions, and the test time is 1 hour and 30 minutes (90 minutes). Currently, a score of 68 percent is required to pass the examination. All candidate test scores are placed on a common scale using a statistical adjustment process known as equating. Equating scores to a common scale accounts for the slight variations in difficulty that may exist among the different sets of exam items that candidates receive. This allows for a fair comparison of scores and ensures that every candidate is held to the same passing standard regardless of which set of exam items they received.

Consistent with FINRA’s practice of including “pretest” questions on examinations, the Series 99 examination includes five additional, unidentified pretest questions that do not count towards the candidate’s score.

The exam consists of 50 multiple-choice items, and each item consists of four answer choices.

Want to Further Your Knowledge?

Now that you've gotten a deeper look at the new Series 6, 79, and 99 exams, learn more about how the SIE exam has impacted the Series 7 licensing exam

A Candidate's Complete Guide to the New SIE Exam Free eBook - Kaplan Financial EducationA Candidate's Complete Guide to the New SIE Exam

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

Download Now