The COVID-19 pandemic has made taking a securities licensing exam more challenging than ever. With Prometric testing centers closed or operating at reduced capacity, exam dates have become a moving target, adding extra confusion and anxiety to the testing process. But a major improvement is on the way. FINRA is reinventing the traditional testing experience by offering remote testing on home computers or laptops.
Together with North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), FINRA has piloted online securities exam testing that will soon be available to candidates for the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE), Series 6, Series 7, Series 63, Series 65, and Series 66 exams.
The online exam pilot began in April 2020 and has been extended past its anticipated roll-out date of May 11. A full launch is expected in the near future, however, so you’ll want to get familiar with the new process if remote testing appeals to you. You can find the latest updates regarding online testing and other relevant news on Knopman Marks’ COVID-19 resource page.
3 Requirements for Taking FINRA and NASAA Exams Online
If you’d like to take your Series exam in the convenience of your home, you’ll need:
1) A quiet, well-lit, and uncluttered space with no distractions for remote testing.
- You will have to “show” your space to your virtual proctor, who expects a clean, well-lit work area with no paper, pens, or electronic devices in sight. Anything on your walls or within your testing area cannot include content that would provide an unfair advantage. You are also allowed no food or drink, and just two tissues at your workstation, but only if they were inspected by the proctor prior to the start of the exam.
- Pets, children, and other visitors must be kept out of your testing space.
2) The right hardware.
- You can test on a laptop or desktop computer. No dual-monitor configurations, like a desktop with two monitors or a laptop with a separate monitor, are permitted.
- You should have a movable web camera. You need this because your proctor will request a “tour” of your testing space.
- You’ll need a power source you can plug into. Your computer must be undocked, and your power source should be dependable.
3) Minimum system requirements.
- Take a minute to run a quick system check at https://rpcandidate.prometric.com/Home/SystemCheck, or make sure you have the following:
System Requirements for Prometric Remote Testing
|Operating System||Windows 7 or higher | macOS 10.13 or higher|
|Web Browser||Current version of Google Chrome|
|Screen Resolution||Minimum resolution of 1024 x 768|
|Internet Connection Speed||0.5 mbps or greater|
|Wi-Fi Connection||Position your device for the strongest possible connection or use an Ethernet connection to your router to be safe|
What Else You’ll Need for Your Online Exam
If you’ve passed the system check, you can download the ProProctor application for delivery of your online exam. The app is also found at https://rpcandidate.prometric.com.
Finally, be sure you have the following ready for the day you test:
- Your exam confirmation number—You’ll need to get this from your registration department or from FINRA if you’re not yet associated with a firm and are taking the SIE Exam. You’ll be asked to enter this number to launch your exam.
- Your ID—You’ll need to show your unexpired government-issued photo ID to the proctor before you can begin your exam.
What to Wear for an Online Exam
Good choices of apparel will help you breeze through the pre-exam security screening.
- Don’t wear large jewelry. You’ll be asked to remove it anyway.
- If you have long hair, pull it back so your ears are visible. The proctor needs to see that you have no earpieces, like Bluetooth devices, that could be connected to the outside world.
- If you wear corrective glasses, you’ll be asked to remove them for inspection. No darkening lenses or fashion eyewear is allowed.
- Don’t wear overcoats or heavy outerwear that make it look like you’re trying to hide something. If you wear a light sweater, jacket, or scarf and remove it, don’t put it on your lap or by your workstation. Hang it on your chair behind you.
- Avoid extra pockets. You’ll be asked to empty pockets and turn them inside out. You’ll also be asked to raise your pant legs above your ankles and raise shirt sleeves above your wrists prior to beginning your test.
Launching Your Online Exam
About 30 minutes before your confirmed exam time, you should sign in and go through security processes. Access your exam at https://rpcandidate.prometric.com. You’ll first enter your confirmation code and the first four digits of your last name.
Next, you’ll be asked to take a picture of yourself and submit a capture of your ID
After these steps, you’ll be introduced to a Prometric Readiness Agent who will appear on your screen and complete three security checks with you through video chat:
- Confirmation of your name, address and exam details
- A 360° scan of your testing area and work surface with your webcam
- A personal scan to check your clothing, ankles, and wrists
You’ll then be directed to click through a 12-step tutorial about remote testing conduct and confirm that no one (people or pets) will come into the room during the exam. Someone walking in while you are testing or you talking to another party during the exam could result in termination or disqualification. You will be monitored continually throughout your exam.
Following the 12-step tutorial, the Prometric Readiness Agent will introduce you to a new, invisible Prometric Proctor, who will monitor you throughout the exam. You’ll be asked to keep your face in the middle of the screen while testing so your proctor can see you. At any point during your exam you can speak with, wave at, or send a message to the proctor if you need help. Once you start, you’ll need to complete the exam within the allotted time frame.
Depending on the exam, a 10-minute break may be scheduled midway through (the shorter SIE Exam does not have a scheduled break, but the longer Series 7 does). Even if a break is not scheduled, you can ask your proctor for one if you need it, but your time clock won’t stop. If you use your break in the view of your camera you won’t have to go through the authentication and workstation security review again. If you do not, your proctor will direct you through the security steps again before you can resume.
Differences in the FINRA Remote Testing Experience
Several significant differences exist between the remote and in-person testing experiences.
- You cannot use scratch paper when testing remotely.
- An on-screen calculator will be available for your use, but you will not be permitted to use a physical calculator when testing remotely.
- You cannot skip a question and come back later for review. Once a question is answered, the answer is submitted as final and cannot be changed. When testing at a Prometric testing center, you can flag a question for review and return to it later.
- You can use a “strike out” feature in the application to help you eliminate wrong answers to a question. This feature is not available when testing at a Prometric center.
- You won’t get a confirmation or certificate with your result upon finishing the online testing. You’ll know whether you pass or fail, but email confirmation of your official result and score will come within three business days of exam completion. Per FINRA policy since 2018, you will only receive a score upfront if you do not pass the exam.
Going Remote for Your FINRA Exam
Please check our COVID-19 resource center and this blog for updates on the remote testing roll-out. As always, we’re here to help you with industry-leading exam prep materials and classes so you can pass your exam the first time.