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study tips for FINRA exams

10 Steps for a Successful FINRA Exam Prep Experience

FINRA exams offer a challenge to most any candidate, from recent test-savvy college graduates to seasoned career professionals. But, you can position yourself for success by taking advantage of proven study steps that have worked for many candidates before you.  Check out these 10 steps that will help you make your exam prep experience successful and ensure a passing score.

  1. Get Familiar with your the study resources:  When you unpack your study package and tear off the plastic wrap, be sure to read the guidance provided before you jump in so you know the breadth of alternative resources you can access.
  2. Put together a plan: Success on this exam is not random; work backwards from your targeted test date, and devise a program that will help you peak at the right time – your test date.
  3. Read the book for context, not deep and lasting knowledge:  Don’t shortcut this step – read the book cover to cover.  Just don’t spend extra time going over and over the tough parts and highlighting all the detail.
  4. Solidify your understanding through practice questions: don’t underestimate the time needed to complete them.  If you are taking Series 7, make sure you practice a minimum of 1000 practice questions, plus several practice tests.  Estimate about 3 – 4 hours for completing 100 questions and reviewing rationales.
  5. Be sure to read the rationale of practice questions carefully: whether you got the question right or wrong.  Rationales are a succinct reviews of critical text information, and also direct you to the source material in your test manual if the answer just isn’t making sense.
  6. Use memory short cuts and gimmicks wherever you can: you don’t need to “show your work” on a FINRA exam, and you won’t be penalized for shortcuts.
  7. Learn from the experts: Take a class if you can, but don’t schedule your exam for the day after it ends.  Instead, give yourself a week or so to digest and apply the new information.  Ask relevant questions only while in class. Learning more than you need to know isn’t going to help you or others in the class.  If you aren’t able to take a live class, be sure to take advantage of online training options.  The experts that present live and virtual classes keep you focused on the most testable information so you are not wasting your time.
  8. Train like an athlete: Don’t underestimate the energy required to complete a long and wordy exam.  Candidates taking a Series 7 have 6 hours of testing– 250 graded questions – in two 3-hour segments! Candidates taking Series 79 have 175 questions in 5 hours.  5-6 hours of testing requires extreme focus and more energy than you expect, so make sure you practice the full test-taking experience.
  9. Don’t expect to know every question:  There will be questions from left field that surprise you, so don’t freeze and lose your confidence. No one gets a perfect score on FINRA exams!
  10. Don’t take the test too soon:  If you are not scoring close to the target score on practice exams, consider postponing your test.  You can do so without penalty if you contact the exam center more than 10 days in advance.

Knopman Marks Financial Training is here to help you every step of the way to FINRA exam success.  Check back often to learn more about us and other important updates.  Check out our 25th anniversary video to learn more about us and our commitment to your success. Questions?  Contact us at [email protected] with any questions.

Marcia Larson is Vice President, Faculty, at Knopman Marks Financial Training, New York, NY. She has extensive experience in financial licensing and regulatory training, having authored, developed and presented courseware for numerous securities and insurance exam preparation and continuing education and compliance programs. Before joining Knopman Marks, Marcia was Director of Annuity Products and Business Development at CUNA Mutual Group, where she developed and marketed industry-leading annuity products and retirement solutions and implemented distribution relationships. She was previously VP, Securities Products for Kaplan Financial, managing securities training products and subsequently, international training and businesses development. Marcia has trained thousands of financial industry exam candidates throughout their careers, and also college students as an adjunct professor. Marcia was a summa cum laude graduate of Wartburg College with degrees in Business Administration and Piano Performance. Marcia also holds the designations of Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®), Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS), and Fellow Life Management Institute™ (FLMI®). She currently teaches the SIE, Series 6, 7, 24, 50, 52, 63, 65, and 66 exams.