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Taming the Beast: Skills for Mastering the FINRA Exam Experience

There is no doubt that ‘knowledge is power’ when it comes to achieving a passing score on a FINRA exam.  You need to know the material, and there is no shortcut to putting in the time and doing the work.  But, it never hurts to pad your score with some extra points that can be earned simply from applying good test taking skills to the exam experience.  You can elevate your score by as much as 10% if you are a good test taker – definitely enough to make the difference between a passing score and taking the exam a second time!

To get you thinking about your test taking skills, let’s focus on a simple, but sometimes underestimated, step.  While it sounds easy and straightforward, by focusing on and practicing this skill, you will see definite improvement.


 One of the greatest FINRA exam challenges for most test takers is the wording of the questions.  They can seem complex and even convoluted sometimes, causing people to jump to conclusions.  That’s why our first tip is simply Read the Full Question (RTFQ) AND Read the Full Answer (RTFA).

In applying this tip, first read the question stem, slowing down when you get to the last line.  That’s where you will see the specific focus and any qualifiers like EXCEPT or NOT that can be easy to overlook.  Then — even though you may think you know the answer — force yourself to read through all 4 answer choices.  Remember, this is a test of the best answer, and sometimes choice A or B might be pretty good distractors.  But if choice D is a more complete answer, and you don’t bother to read all the possibilities, you may jump the gun and make a foolish mistake.

If you have trouble getting into the RTFQ and RTFA habit, a good practice technique is to read questions aloud, or silently mouth the words.  Applying this strategy forces you to encounter every word in the questions – and one word can make a big difference — instead of reading a phrase at a time.

How many times have you reviewed your work and realized you lost points because you read a question wrong?  You will greatly minimize your reading errors by putting RTFQ and RTFA into practice — NOW! Check back soon for more test taking insights from Knopman Marks Financial Training! As your FINRA test prep partner, we are here to help you make the most of your study time.  Questions? Email us at [email protected] for help at any time.

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.