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How Hard is the SIE Exam?

June 26, 2023


The Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam tests a candidate’s understanding of general concepts in four key areas within the Securities industry.

SIE Exam Pass Rate

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) reports an SIE exam pass rate of 74% among 58,264 first-time test takers as of January 2019.


Although the average SIE exam pass rate is above 70%, don’t assume that it’s easy. Candidates who pass on the first attempt take the test seriously and are thoroughly prepared.


Learn more about FINRA’s SIE exam here.

SIE Passing Score

A passing Score for the SIE exam is a 70%.

How Many Questions are on the SIE exam?

There are 75 questions on the SIE exam.

How long is the SIE exam?

You have 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete the SIE exam. 


With 75 questions and a required score of 70%, the SIE exam doesn’t offer a large margin for error (in order to pass you must correctly answer at least 53 out of the 75 questions) in the hour and 45 minutes. If you have prior education or experience in the financial sector, you may already be familiar with some of these key concepts. If not, don’t worry; a well-designed online course and study program will cover everything you need to know.

Overview of SIE Exam Content

The information below will help you gauge your current level of readiness to sit for the exam.

1. Knowledge of Capital Markets (16%)

This section tests understanding of regulatory entities, agencies, and market participants. Questions will cover topics such as Self-regulatory Organizations (SROs), types of markets, economic factors, the Federal Reserve’s role, and other related topics.

2. Understanding Products and Their Risks (44%)

This section focuses on different types of equity, debt instruments, options, and packaged products. It also addresses the investment risks associated with each of these assets. Questions focus on the rules and regulations associated with various Securities products.

3. Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts, and Prohibited Activities (31%)

A significant portion of the exam covers understanding of the fundamental concepts of trading, including types of orders, trade capacity, compounds of return, and types of dividends.

4. Overview of Regulatory Framework (9%)

Candidates will be tested for knowledge of self-regulatory organizations, their requirements and processes. Employee conduct, reportable events, and several by-laws and rules also are included in this section.

Need Help Preparing for the SIE Exam?

You can increase the likelihood of passing the exam with the right preparation – and we are here to help.


To get started, check out ExamFX’s free eBook Getting To Know The Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam. This resource can help you fully grasp what to expect and provide the confidence to create a plan that ensures a passing score.


Our SIE online training course is an easy-to-use exam prep program that can help you pass on the first try. This affordable, interactive course includes the most up-to-date eLearning tools to fit all learning styles.


Additional benefits of our SIE online prep course:

  • 90 Days Access to our Interactive Learning Portal
  • Integrated course options (combination of the SIE with the Series 6 or Series 7 course)
  • Instructor Support
  • Video Lectures
  • Weekly Live Online Training
  • Pass Guarantee
  • 24/7 access

The SIE exam can be hard for some people but should not be too difficult to pass after studying. You will need to prepare prior to taking the SIE exam. If you don’t pass the test you must wait 30 days to take it again. If you fail three times, the waiting period to retake the exam extends to 180 days. The last thing you want to do is put your career on hold due to lack of preparation. We recommend you seriously consider using an online exam prep before applying to take the exam. Learn more about how to study for the SIE exam here.


Learn more about how to register for the SIE exam here.

What Happens After You Pass the SIE Exam?

A passing score on the SIE exam will help boost your professional trajectory in several ways. By proving you understand the core concepts in Securities, you can separate yourself from other applicants who haven’t yet taken this step. Employers will see you as ambitious; ready to jump in and start making an impact immediately. And you will be ready to prepare for your qualification examination, which corresponds to your particular field in the Securities industry. You will be able to take your qualification exam once you are sponsored by a FINRA member firm.


SIE exam difficulty depends on the steps you take to prepare; we hope to be a part of your journey toward a successful career in the Securities industry!