How to pass the SIE Exam

General SIE Exam Guidance

The SIE Exam tests candidates on securities industry knowledge and general concepts. Questions will cover specific rules, regulations, and securities laws, as well as broad characteristics and features of securities products (such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds) and investment objectives (such growth, income, and preservation of capital).

Returning to the book or video lectures when reviewing questions is key to developing the depth and breadth of knowledge necessary to pass the exam. With this strategy, you will see most topics at least twice. Just doing questions and reading the rationales is not enough.

Expect the actual exam to have questions that are long and ambiguous.

What is the Pass Rate for the SIE?

The passing score for the SIE exam is 70%, but as with any new exam this may change at any time.

How Hard is the SIE?

FINRA has made it clear that the SIE is not an “easy” test.

The content on the exam will be tested using easy, medium, and hard questions, and because many of the topics on the SIE (such as securities law, SEC regulation, and FINRA rules) are only tested on this exam, candidates will be expected to master these in ways that are similar to the current full Series exams.  We expect the difficulty of the SIE to be similar to that of the Series 7 with the caveat that it may feel easier because there is less content to master.

Exam Specifications

  • Exam length: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Number of questions: 75 + 10 ungraded (85 total)
  • Passing score: 70%

SIE Exam Topic Breakdown

SectionDescriptionPercentage of ExamNumber of QuestionsTextbook Chapters
Total100%75
1Knowledge of Capital Markets16%128-10
2Understanding Products and Their Risks44%331-7
3Understanding Trading, Customer Accounts, and Prohibited Activities31%238, 11, 12
4Overview of the Regulatory Framework9%713-14

Recommended Study Time

  • 40–60 hours
  • Questions to complete: 1,000 (approx.)
    • 1 assessment exam (50 Qs)
    • 10 online practice exams (850 Qs)
    • 2 diagnostic exams (85 Qs)
    • 1 benchmark exam (85 Qs)

Step-by-Step Guidance on how to prepare:

  1. Complete the assessment exam (50 Qs).
  2. Read the book.
    • Do not take notes. Read to gain exposure and familiarity with the content.
    • Pay special attention to Knopman Notes.
  1. Attend a live class or watch the online video lectures.
    • If you attend a live class, watch the additional recorded lectures in the training center.
      1. Advanced content—Deeper guidance, insight, and information
      2. Q&A review—Instructor-led practice Q&A.
        Watch all Q&A review videos.
        SIE online course
  2. Complete 10 online practice exams.
    • After selecting your exam topics, check “Questions I have not seen before” under “Select Question Pool” – this way each question is new.
    • Check “Show correct answer & explanation after each question” under “Exam Display Options” and review answer explanations immediately after answering the question. This improves comprehension and retention.
    • Return to the textbook, video lectures, class notes, and supplements to enhance and deepen your knowledge in difficult areas.
    • For EVERY question you miss or are unsure of, return to the book and review the section referenced in the explanation.

Final Prep (1 week before exam)

Continue to review your notes, study supplements, video lectures, and textbook. Complete additional practice exams in weak areas.

  1. Complete the first diagnostic exam (85 Qs) 8–10 days prior to your real test (target 75%).
  2. Complete the second diagnostic exam (85 Qs) 4–5 days prior to your real test (target 75%).
  3. Complete the benchmark exam (85 Qs) 2–3 days prior to your real test (target 80%).

As a new exam, the SIE will change and evolve more frequently than older exams, therefore our resources and supplements section will be frequently updated.

Good luck on your exam!

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Written by Dave Meshkov
Dave's mission (and job: Managing Director of Course Design) is to make FINRA exam training engaging, approachable, and dare he even say, enjoyable. Having trained and coached over ten thousand students to exam success he knows how to present complex subjects in memorable and understandable ways. Prior to joining Knopman Marks in 2011, Dave practiced bankruptcy law at Weil, Gotshal & Manages and served as a law clerk in a the Southern District of New York Bankruptcy Court working on the General Motors and Lehman Brothers bankruptcies. Building on his legal expertise and training allows him to keep all our courses updated with the latest legislative and rule-making changes. Dave currently trains for the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam and the Top-Off Series 6, 7, 24, 57, 63, 65, 66, 79, 86, 87, and 99 exams. He also delivers executive one-on-one training and shares his passion for learning outside of work as a ski instructor and yoga teacher. Dave graduated magna cum laude from Fordham Law School, and cum laude with a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.