If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already taken a securities licensing exam or two. So it’s on to the Series 63 – the final exam between you and the launch of your new career. If you’ve spoken to industry veterans about this exam, they may have said “it’s easy” or that “you’ll breeze through it.” But before you take the Series 63 for granted, you should know a few things about it so that you prepare efficiently and pass comfortably.

How Is the New Series 63 Different from Other Securities Exams?

The Series 63, 65, and 66 exams belong to the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA). The other exams you’ve passed, like the Series 6, Series 7, and Series 79, are FINRA exams. Although administered through the Prometric Center by FINRA with the other qualification exams, the Series 63 differs substantially. You’ll notice that the language of the questions is much more legalistic and that different terms are used to describe key roles and concepts. For example, you won’t see the term “registered rep” in the Series 63. Instead, a representative of a broker-dealer is called an “agent.” And did you know a state, a corporation, or another entity could be a “person”? You’ll also need to learn legal exemptions and exceptions that differ slightly by each situation and can be very confusing.

Some questions will include double negatives. It’s not uncommon to see wording like “All of the following are not true EXCEPT” along with questions that offer “multiple multiples” (i.e., the questions that include choices such as I and II are true; II, III, and IV are true, etc.). These types of questions are confusing by nature. Candidates tend to get them wrong because they failed to understand them even though they know the material.

How Long Does It Take to Study for the Series 63?

Something to appreciate about the Series 63 is that it’s a relatively short exam, requiring considerably less study time than other licensing tests. In fact, the study manual can be read cover to cover in just one or two days. You can complete all study tasks and be prepared to test in an average of 20–30 hours. You may also like the idea of a test with no math. However, be aware that the time allotted per completion of each question is slightly less than for other exams. Many candidates find themselves using nearly all the time allotted and may feel a little rushed.

How Hard Is the Series 63 Exam?

Don’t assume it’s easy to study for the Series 63 at the same time as you are prepping for another exam. And, above all, don’t make the critical mistake of assuming it’s a lay-up exam. The Series 63 has become more complex over the years. It takes practice to get used to the length and tricky wording of the questions. The best way to get comfortable is to study thoroughly and complete plenty of practice questions. If you complete 500 questions, you should be well on your way. You probably completed 1,000 or more practice questions for your other exams, so as you can see, you can be ready to pass the Series 63 in substantially less time.

Series 63 Key Facts

Time Allowed to Complete the Exam1 hour and 15 minutes
Number of Scored Questions60 (plus 5 experimental, unscored questions)
Passing Score72% (43 of 60 questions correct)
PrerequisiteNone. Exam can be taken before other qualification exams.

 

TopicNumber of QuestionsPercent of the Test
Regulation of Persons (broker-dealers, agents, investment advisers, and investment adviser representatives2440%
Regulation of Securities and Issuers35%
Remedies and Administrative Provisions610%
Communication with Customers and Prospects1220%
Ethical Practices and Obligations1525%

Your Checklist for Series 63 Success

The Series 63 Exam typically requires 20–30 hours of total prep, or 1–3 weeks if you are working full-time. Knopman Marks provides comprehensive resources to ensure you’re ready to pass. By following the steps below, you’ll be on track for success.

  • Read the book cover to cover.
  • Complete one 65-question online exam on all topics. Review the answer and explanation after each question.
  • Complete one 65-question exam on just chapters 1 and 5. These two chapters account for 60% of the exam. Review the answer and explanation after each question.
  • Listen to video lectures and take good notes, or attend a live class.
  • Complete one 65-question online exam on all topics. Review the answer and explanation after each question.
  • Complete one 65-question exam on just chapters 1 and 5. Review the answer and explanation after each question.
  • Study the Class Summary, the Series 63 flowcharts, and your notes from video lectures or class.
  • Complete one 65-question online exam on all topics. Review the answer and explanation after each question.
  • Complete one 65-question exam on just chapters 1 and 5. Review the answer and explanation after each question.
  • Re-read the textbook focusing on Units 1, 4, and 5. Skim Units 2 and 3.
  • Complete one 65-question online exam on all topics. Take this exam in “test mode,” reviewing the questions you got wrong at the end.
  • Complete one 65-question exam on just chapters 1 and 5. Take this exam in “test mode,” reviewing the questions you got wrong at the end.
  • Complete the Benchmark Exam. Your goal is to score 80% or better.

Five Key Tips for Series 63 Examinees

  1. Recognize whether the question is asking about state or federal regulation. You need to know that USA and NASAA are state level, while Act of 1933, Act of 1934, and Investment Advisers Act of 1940 are all federal law. The laws with years in their name are federal regulations.
  2. Remember that bigger numbers apply at the federal level. For example, federal recordkeeping requirements are longer, and fines are larger at the federal level than at the state level.
  3. Read carefully to determine whether the question is asking about a firm or an individual; e.g. is it the entity or a representative of the entity that is being discussed? Exceptions and numerical requirements within the law differ for firms and individuals.
  4. A number of questions focus on whether an individual must be registered to complete a type of transaction. Know that someone that represents a broker-dealer must always be registered, even if that person sells exempt securities or participates in exempt transactions.
  5. While obscure types of securities may be mentioned in the material, you won’t need to know how to define them or what features they offer investors. For this test, just know whether or not they are defined as securities under the USA. For example: an endowment plan is not a security, but you don’t need to know what it is.

Knopman Marks looks forward to helping you prepare for Series 63 success. We’re here to offer guidance and answer questions every step of the way. Good luck as you prepare to pass the first time around. We wish you the best in your new career.

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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.