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FINRA Exam Tips: How to Read Questions and Select Answers

Whether you’re just getting ready for your first pass at the SIE, or are gearing up for the notoriously tricky Series 24, you can apply certain principles to any FINRA exam. Follow along with Knopman Marks instructor Dave Meshkov as he breaks down the details that go into the fine art of answering FINRA questions.

Watch Now: The Art of Answering Questions

5 Study Tips:

  1. Keep the Objective in Mind
    Questions on the SIE and other FINRA exams – especially long-form questions – can easily trip up test-takers who forget the question’s central goal. You’ll see some very attractive options that perfectly fit the tone and context of the question, but that completely fail to answer its primary objective.
  2. Group Potential Answers into “No,” “Yes,” and “Maybe”
    Cutting down on the number of choices helps you better pick between those that are left. As you evaluate answer choices, give each a yes, a no, or a maybe. Cut out the “no” options and move on to considering the remaining answers individually.
  3. Understand the Key Terms Behind the Question
    Problems on FINRA exams fall into one of several categories, and it’s crucial that you understand which category you’re dealing with before selecting an answer. Think about the question as more of an in-depth statement that you can dissect. Pull the key terms and reflect on why each term might be relevant to the possible answers. Get as precise as you can as well. It’s good to understand that a question deals with risk, but understanding whether you’re looking at business risk, credit risk, or inflation rate risk is going to get you much closer to a correct answer.
  4. Analyze the Language Used in Answer Options
    Be particularly wary of answers that project an absolute in the wording, such as “always” and “never.” While you shouldn’t disqualify these answers while assigning “yes,” “no,” and “maybe” status, keep in mind that they make sweeping statements and don’t allow room for edge cases or exceptions, which is rarely the case in life.
  5. Select the Standout
    Once you’ve gone through your potential answers, it’s time to pick the best fit. If you have just one “yes,” then you have found your answer. If you have more than one “yes,” go back to those key terms you dissected in the previous step. Choose which “yes” answers the question best.

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.