FINRA announced on January 12, 2018, that the content outline for the Securities Essentials Exam (SIE) will be filed with the SEC.  This means that after several years in the making, FINRA is moving forward with its exam restructuring program on October 1, 2018.  FINRA’s SIE content outline is available for review at https://www.finra.org/file/securities-industry-essentials-sie-exam-content-outline.

The new content outline supersedes a draft outline that was part of the preliminary SIE exam notice from May, 2015.  This new version has grown substantially in page length from the first version! Exam candidates will be accountable for demonstrating knowledge from a large body of industry rules, product and market information. Although FINRA expresses that the exam will require general knowledge only, we expect exam candidates will find the breadth of information covered in this exam of 75 questions to be challenging.

SIE Exam Facts

Number of Items75
FormatMultiple Choice
Duration105 Minutes
Cost$60
Passing ScoreTBD


SIE Topics and Question Count

Knowledge of Capital Markets16%, 12 Questions
Understanding Products and Their Risks44%, 33 Questions
Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts and Prohibited Activities31%, 23 Questions
Overview of Regulatory Framework9%, 7 Questions


Top-off Exam Outlines – Coming Soon

To become fully licensed after October 1, 2018, individuals must pass both the SIE and a specialized top-off exam tailored to their area of practice (e.g., investment banking, securities trading, operations). Though the SIE can be taken by persons that aren’t associated with firms, the top-off exams will be available only to associated persons of FINRA member firms.

The top-off exam outlines have not yet been released by FINRA, but are expected soon.  Like the SIE, these exams will be effective on October 1, 2018.

Knopman Marks will Keep You Informed

Check back regularly for updates on the SIE exam and top-offs.  We are committed to delivering the best exam prep material for these new exams, and are happy to help with any question you have about this new process.

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Written by Marcia Larson
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.