Posted By: Doug Vincens
Updated: January 2, 2019
If you’re planning to earn your first securities license in the near future, you’ve likely heard that FINRA recently created an exam called the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam. We are receiving an increasing number of questions about this exam. This article answers the most frequently asked questions, equipping you with the information you need to plan for this next step in your career. (You can further equip yourself with an SIE exam prep package.)
The SIE exam is FINRA's general industry exam. It tests basic knowledge of products, risks, the structure and function of the securities industry and its regulatory agencies, and regulated and prohibited practices. Although ideal for university students and career changers, anyone can sit for the exam without prior association with a firm.
No. FINRA does not require sponsorship with a firm to sit for the SIE exam. However, to become registered with FINRA and seek a representative level role with an employer, candidates must also pass a revised, specialized knowledge qualification exam (or "top-off"), applicable to their job function with the firm.
Yes! With a low exam fee ($60) and no firm sponsorship requirement, the SIE exam is ideal for university students who want to get a head start on a financial services careers and, most importantly, stand out to potential employers by proving their mastery of basic industry knowledge and the ability to pass a high-stakes examination.
The SIE exam is now available at all Prometric testing centers.
Based on FINRA Regulatory Notice 17-30, the following individuals are considered to have passed the SIE exam:
All other individuals seeking representative-level registration must pass the SIE exam, unless they obtain a waiver.
Like all other securities licensing exams, the SIE is administered by computer at a Prometric testing center.
The range of topics covered on the SIE exam include:
The SIE exam has 75 multiple-choice questions, plus 10 additional experimental questions. The breakdown is as follows:
|Sections||% of Exam||# of Exam Questions|
|Knowledge of Capital Markets||16%||12|
|Understanding Products and their Risks||44%||33|
|Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts and Prohibited Activities||31%||23|
|Overview of Regulatory Framework||9%||7|
The SIE gives you a head start on a financial services career. Current or potential employers are more likely to notice you because you can prove you have a grasp of basic industry knowledge and the ability to pass a high-stakes examination.
Passing the SIE exam alone does not qualify you for registration with FINRA. You must also pass a revised, specialized knowledge qualification exam (or "top-off") applicable to the desired job function with a firm, and meet other registration requirements. Note that FINRA calls the SIE and the "top-off" exams "corequisites," which means you have to pass both as part of the licensing process, but you can take them in any order. For example, you can take the Series 7 exam before the SIE, but you will still have to take the SIE at some point to be licensed.
To become registered with FINRA and seek a representative level role with an employer, you must also pass a revised, specialized knowledge qualification exam (or "top-off") applicable to your job function with the firm.
The rules for retaking the SIE exam are the same as for all FINRA series licenses. After your first attempt, you are required to wait 30 days before retaking the test. After your second attempt, you again have to wait 30 days to retake the exam. After your third failing attempt, you are required to wait 180 days before retaking the exam.
After passing the SIE exam, you have up to 4 years to pass the representative-level "top-off" exam for registration with FINRA and association with a firm.
The SIE exam acts as a corequisite exam—to become registered with FINRA and seek a representative level role with an employer, candidates must also pass a revised, specialized knowledge qualification exam (or "top-off") applicable to their job function with the firm. FINRA has changed the number of questions required for these new exams from the current exams as you can see in this table:
|Registration Category||As of October 1, 2018|
|Investment Company Represent (IR)||Series 6: 50 Questions|
|General Securities Representative (GS)||Series 7: 125 Questions|
|DPP Representative (DR)||Series 22: 50 Questions|
|Securities Trader (TD)||Series 57: 50 Questions|
|Investment Banking Representative (IB)||Series 79: 75 Questions|
|Private Securities Offerings Representative (PR)||Series 82: 50 Questions|
|Research Analyst||Series 86 + Series 87: 100 Questions + 50 Questions|
|Operations Professional (OS)||Series 99: 50 Questions|
These representative-level exams test knowledge relevant to day-to-day activities, responsibilities, and job functions of representatives. Learn the specifics in our article about Series 7 and our other article about the Series 6, 79, and 99 Exams.
We hope this article answers all of your questions about the SIE Exam and how it affects your securities licensing process. If you're looking for more information, you can access our SIE Information Center. We've also created FAQs for universities and businesses to answer SIE-specific questions.
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.