You’re probably looking to become a licensed broker or equivalent to be looking into the Series 7 exam. Series 7 exam, also known as the General Securities Representative Qualification Examination (GS), ensures your competence and readiness to start selling and representing security products.
To obtain your license for the General Securities Representative registration, you must sit for two exams. The first one is known as the General Securities Industry Essentials (SIE), which we won’t be covering in this article. The other one, which will be discussed in-depth, is the Series 7 exam.
Remember that these examinations qualify you for an entry-level license and are administered by FIRNA. Hence, if you want to obtain an investment role somewhere in the USA, your first step is sitting for both exams offered by the organization.
In this article, we’ll discuss the difficulty of the Series 7 exam, how to prepare for it, and the policy on repeating it.
What Kind of Questions Are on the Series 7 Exam?
Before further discussing the content of the examination and what types of questions you should expect, we need to highlight a few key facts. The Series 7 examination is considered more difficult than one would anticipate, and that’s mainly due to two reasons. One is the length of the exam, and the second one is the content covered throughout the test.
Here are a few common questions regarding the examination:
- How long is the series 7 exam? You are allowed 3 hours and 35 minutes to complete it.
- How many questions are on the exam? There are a total of 135 questions on the exam.
- How many questions are scored? There are 10 ungraded questions scattered throughout the paper, so only 125 questions are graded.
- What is the format of the questions on the series 7 exam? All questions are multiple-choice with 4 options.
- How is the exam administered? You will have to give the exam on a computer.
- What is the grading system? FIRNA uses the equating scores, which means the scale is changeable according to the difficulty of the exam.
- What is the fee for the examination? The price is $245, but you should check with your sponsoring FIRNA member as it could often be covered.
Now, what type of questions should you expect on the examination? Well, 4 main functions are covered in the exam. These are the topics along with their weighted percentage on the paper (to obtain the complete outline on the exam, check the Content Outline provided by FIRNA):
- Provides Customers with Information About Investment, Makes Recommendations, Transfers Assets, and Maintains Appropriate Records (73%)
- Obtains and Verifies Customers’ Purchase and Sales Instructions and Agreements (11%)
- Opens Accounts After Obtaining and Evaluating Customers’ Financial Profile and Investment Objectives (9%)
- Seeks Business for the Broker-Dealer from Customers and Potential Ones (7%)
As for the type of questions you’ll get, since they’re all multiple choice, it makes things easier. However, BECAUSE they’re multiple choice, some can be really tricky. Check out the Securities Institute of America’s sample exam to get how the questions are formatted.
What is the Passing Rate for the Series 7 Exam?
The series 7 passing exam score is 72%. Hence, you’ll have to get that score to receive your license. While that number might not be too intimidating, as it really isn’t, keep in mind that the exam covers vast topics and numerous data. Moreover, the questions are pretty lengthy and detailed, posing a problem.
But what is the passing rate for the series 7 exam? FIRNA states that it’s somewhere around 65%, but that number isn’t reliable. Other exam prep providers say that they have 90% or more of their students passing, but that also isn’t very reliable. However, the generally accepted average is 85%.
What Happens If You Fail the Series 7 Exam?
Don’t stress about failing the Series 7 exam; it is pretty straightforward. Think about the exam as a simple formality. You’ll be able to pass it with flying colors with simple, concentrated preparation. That being said, let us run you through the process of failing and repeating the exam.
If they haven’t already passed the exam on their first try, most people end up acing it on their second. Moreover, the score itself doesn’t matter, as all you’re required to do is pass the exam to qualify for the license. Hence, stop stressing out about the exam too much. Instead, focus on how you can effectively study for it.
So, how many times can you take the series 7 exam? There is no limit on the number of attempts you can have, which gives you more flexibility. However, you’ll have to pay the full fee of $245 every single time you sit for the exam. Since that’s not a small amount of money, we recommend you put all your efforts into passing on your first try.
Let’s run you through a scenario to find out the procedure if you fail the exam:
- You fail the Series 7 exam on your first try: you’ll have a 30-day cooling period then you can sit for the exam again after paying.
- You failed Series 7 twice: the same applies, so you’ll have to wait for 30 days before sitting for the exam and paying the fee.
- You failed the Series 7 exam three times: you will have to wait for 180 days after your third fail to sit for the examination.
- You fail the exam more than 3 times: after the third attempt, you will have to wait for 180 days every time before retaking the exam.
7 Helpful Tips to Passing the Series 7 Exam
Since the examination is expensive but relatively straightforward, you should aim to pass it on your first try. Hence, we provide you with a list of our best tips and tricks to help you prepare for your successful attempt:
Devise a Plan
Study plans are always the way to go for any examination. You’ll have a proper outline for how you should tackle the study material, and that will help you take it on quite efficiently.
The total time we advise you to take for your preparation is 100 hours, including all the studying, courses, and sample exams. Hence, if you take 2 hours out of your day for 50 days, you’ll be all set to go!
Invest in Study Material
We strongly recommend investing in the excellent study material and maybe even a full-on course. Investopedia offers numerous packages that will keep you set. Another great resource is the Securities Institute of America. Their passing rate is over 90%, and they offer three packages you can choose from.
We see this mistake quite often spread across different examinations. People usually aim to memorize the questions and answers instead of thoroughly understanding them. While that is one way of tackling the problem, it almost always is lost in vain. Exams such as the Series 7 don’t aim to address your memorization skills. Still, they want to ensure you can comprehend the topics at hand.
Don’t Focus on the Technical Parts
While that might seem counterintuitive, as corporate bonds sectors constitute a vital part of learning how to be an investor, it only makes up 20% of the exam. Hence, while you might be hell-bound to remember all the information, it isn’t that vital.
The new and updated Series 7 exam focuses more on customers and how to construct portfolios for clients. Hence, the focus has completely shifted, allowing you to have more of an understanding of the exam.
Understand the Curve of the Questions
The exam is formatted in an intelligent way to make things easier for you. The first and last 25 questions are often the easiest, which some find confusing. However, that will ease things for you as you’ll slowly get into the rigor of the exam and then slowly cool off at the end.
Check out the Series 7 Practice Exam website, as they offer 5 exams, each consisting of 25 questions. Aim to get at least 80% of the questions correct before your exam, and you’re good to go. Moreover, we advise you to solve a total of 1000 questions as practice before your exam date.
Calm but Confident
One of the most critical aspects of acing an exam is keeping your cool on the day of. See, if you have prepared adequately, there is no point in stressing out on the exam day, as you’ll be able to pass it with flying colors!
Wrapping Things Up: How Many Times Can You Take the Series 7 Exam?
The Series 7 exam isn’t as challenging as some people want you to believe. While it is an essential step to becoming a valid investor across the USA, it’s made for entry-level positions.
So, during your exam preparation period and throughout the test, don’t stress too much. Think logically, and be confident about your preparation and your skillset.