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Everything You Need to Know About the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam

June 26, 2023


SIE Exam Information, Facts and How to Pass

If you are reading this, it is likely you are seeking a career in the financial services industry and wanting to learn more about the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam. The SIE exam is administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Passing the SIE exam is one of the first steps to becoming a licensed professional in the securities industry.


FINRA’s licensing requirements are mandatory for most professional positions in the financial services industry. Passing the SIE exam shows you understand basic concepts related to the markets and their functions, industry terminology, common formulas, financial products, laws and regulations, and other important information.


What is the SIE exam?

The introductory level SIE exam assesses a candidate’s knowledge of basic securities industry information. To become a registered representative, you must pass both the SIE and the appropriate representative level qualification exam.


In 2018, FINRA launched the SIE exam, along with updated representative level exams (now commonly referred to as “top off” exams) that relate to professional specialties across the financial services industries. These top off exams demonstrate competency in specific sectors of the securities industry.


Who can take the SIE exam?

The SIE exam requirements are simple and straightforward: anyone 18 years of age or older can sit for the exam. You do not need to be sponsored by a member firm to take the SIE. However, to take representative level qualification exams you must be sponsored by a member firm. Having your SIE exam completed before you start applying for jobs can give you a competitive advantage. It shows prospective employers that you are a proactive self-starter who is ready to prepare for and pass representative level exams under their sponsorship.


What are the best ways to prepare for the SIE exam?

One of the best ways to prepare is to register for a SIE exam study package.  Another great resource for a complete and comprehensive approach to SIE exam training can be found in our free eBook – it outlines the SIE exam process from preparation to passing your exam. Learn more about the SIE exam and our product offerings here.


What is the SIE exam pass rate?

The data from FINRA states that 74% of SIE exam test takers pass on their first attempt.


To develop a solid plan for passing the SIE exam, continue reading the information and recommendations below.


How Hard is the SIE Exam?

The degree of difficulty of the SIE exam is largely dependent on your current knowledge and education in the financial services industry. You will find it challenging if you go into the test without proper preparation. However, with the right exam training, you can be one of the individuals who successfully passes the SIE exam on your first attempt. Learn more about the SIE exam difficulty here


What topics does the SIE exam cover?

The SIE exam tests your knowledge and comprehension of the securities industry. Topics  cover markets, terminology, common formulas, regulations, laws, products, and other concepts related to the financial services industry.


The four sections of the SIE exam are:

  1. Knowledge of Capital Markets: 12 questions
  2. Understanding Products and Their Risks:  33 questions
  3. Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts and Prohibited Activities:  23 questions
  4. Overview of Regulatory Framework:  7 questions

What is the format of the SIE exam?

The  format is multiple-choice and includes 85 questions (75 scored questions and ten pretest questions). To pass, you will need to score 70%.


How to enroll for and schedule your SIE exam

FINRA is the regulatory agency for the SIE exam, and Prometric is FINRA’s third party testing partner. Below are step-by-step instructions on how to enroll and schedule your SIE exam:

  1. Register on Create a Test Enrollment Services System (TESS) account and pay your exam fee.
  2. Obtain your Central Registration Depository (CRD) number: Once you have a registered account with FINRA, you will receive a CRD number. You will need  this when scheduling your exam.
  3. Go to The SIE exam is administered by Prometric and taken at their testing centers across the United States.
  4. Create an account with Prometric and schedule your exam: You have a 120-day window to schedule your exam on the Prometric website after registering with FINRA.

How long do I have to complete the SIE exam?

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


We recommend timing yourself when taking the SIE practice exam. By  tracking how long it takes you to complete the practice exams, you will be able to maintain a good pace during the official exam.


How much does the SIE exam cost?

The exam fee is $80 and is due when you enroll with FINRA.


I am a college student – should I take the SIE exam before graduation?

Yes! Passing the SIE exam will increase your marketability in the financial services industry. Prospective employers will recognize you are ambitious and eager to begin your career. Once you are confident that you are prepared to pass, we recommend taking the SIE exam. This can be a great way to catch the eye of future employers when they are reviewing resumes to identify standout candidates.


Does your SIE exam score expire?

SIE exam scores are valid for four years.


Does passing the SIE exam help me earn a securities license?

Yes, passing the SIE exam is one of the first steps toward obtaining your securities license. Typically, the next step is to pass a representative level qualification exam.


What are representative level or “top off” qualification exams?

Passing qualification exams permits individuals to engage in securities activities defined by the specific registration. Once you have an employer sponsor, you will be advised which exam to take. In order to take a representative level exam, you must be sponsored by a member firm of FINRA.


The current registration categories for representative level exams are:

  • Series 6:  Investment Company Representative
  • Series 7 General Securities Representative
  • Series 22:  Direct Participation Limited Representative
  • Series 57:  Securities Trader
  • Series 79:  Investment Banking Representative
  • Series 82:  Private Securities Offerings Representative
  • Series 86 & 87:  Research Analyst
  • Series 99:  Operations Professional

Remember, the SIE exam does not have a sponsorship requirement - you can take the SIE exam any time you are ready.


Consider Combining Your SIE exam With Series 6 or 7

Learn more here:

Integrated SIE and Series 6 Exam Prep Course & Training Materials

Integrated SIE and Series 7 Exam Prep Course & Training Materials

SIE exam study tips

The right study tools will help prepare you to be successful on exam day by providing helpful study tips. Here are a few study tips to get you started: 


  1. Terminology. If you are not already working in the industry, chances are you need to study the terms used on this exam. And a word of caution, some of these terms have multiple meanings.
  2. Formulas. Even though the SIE exam is multiple-choice, it is not advisable to guess on questions with mathematical solutions. Learn the common formulas used by securities professionals.
  3. Time Management. It is important that you set time aside to study for your exam so you can pass on your first attempt. You may lose months of potential employment by having to retake the exam.
  4. Plan of Action. A plan of action will help you organize your study time effectively and efficiently. A SIE exam study guide or online training program will provide you with the study tools and materials to succeed.

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

Are SIE study aids worth the investment?

Many people find the SIE exam challenging. Using the right online preparation tool provides the best opportunity for passing the SIE exam.


Why should I trust ExamFX to help me pass the SIE exam?

We have a proven track record of offering user-friendly, innovative eLearning tools to help students pass the SIE exam. ExamFX is considered a leader in licensing training by offering its customers the most innovative study tools and learning formats. In fact, we have helped over 6 million people prepare for career-changing exams.


If you are ready to take the next step by preparing to pass the SIE exam on the first try, contact ExamFX today.