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

SIE exam candidate researching the exam on her laptop

Posted By: Doug Vincens
Updated: August 21, 2018

Updated: October 2, 2018

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.)

What is the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam?

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.

Do I need to have a sponsoring employer to take the SIE exam?

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.

Can I take the SIE exam while I am still in college?

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.

When will FINRA implement the SIE exam?

The SIE exam is now available at all Prometric testing centers.

Do I need to take the SIE exam if I already have a securities license?

Based on FINRA Regulatory Notice 17-30, the following individuals are considered to have passed the SIE exam:

  • Individuals who registered as representatives before October 1, 2018, and who continue to maintain those registrations on or after October 1, 2018.
  • Individuals whose registration as a representative was terminated between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2018, provided they re-register as a representative within four years from the date of their last registration

All other individuals seeking representative-level registration must pass the SIE exam, unless they obtain a waiver.

Is the SIE Exam a paper or computer-based exam?

Like all other securities licensing exams, the SIE is administered by computer at a Prometric testing center.

What topics are covered on the 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.

How many questions are on the SIE exam?

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 Markets16%12
Understanding Products and their Risks44%33
Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts and Prohibited Activities31%23
Overview of Regulatory Framework9%7
TOTAL100%75

How can I use the SIE to my advantage in my career?

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.

Do I earn a securities license for passing the SIE exam?

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.

What happens after I pass the SIE exam?

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.

If I do not pass the SIE Exam, what is the wait time before I can retake it?

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.

How long after passing the SIE exam can I wait to take a top-off exam and earn a securities license?

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.

How does the SIE exam change the way the existing securities licensing exams are offered today?

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 CategoryAs 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 AnalystSeries 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.

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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.

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.

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