Ready. Set. Wait.

If you’ve finished training for your securities licensing exam but your test date is weeks away, you may feel like you’re running in place. As Prometric maintains social distancing practices at its facilities, testing center availability is limited, and many candidates facing an extended break between training and testing are concerned they’ll forget what they worked hard to learn.

We’ve compiled our faculty’s best strategies to help you stay fresh on the material, and on track with your study habits. Knopman Marks’ exam pass rates are the industry’s highest. You can feel confident that if you follow our tips, you will perform your best on exam day, even if that day doesn’t arrive as quickly as you would like it to.

Your top priority is to consistently engage in some type of review, including flashcards, video lectures, or short practice quizzes. “You want to commit to an approach that will help you stay connected to the material,” says Howard Kaplan, Knopman Marks faculty, adding that your review strategy will change the closer you get to exam day.

If You’re Preparing for Two FINRA Exams Simultaneously

For candidates who need to study for a second exam (such as Series 7) before they have taken the first exam (such as SIE), it can feel daunting to maintain knowledge for two exams at once. We recommend that you focus on one exam at a time.

  • When training is done for the first exam, spend a few days focused on learning and studying that content. We recommend you wrap up studying for the first exam before starting review for the second. Start pre-work for the second exam 24 to 48 hours before that training begins.
     
  • Once you’re done with training for the second exam, spend a few days with focused review to get comfortable with the material. From there, your focus should shift to whichever exam will be taken first.
     
  • If you’re also working full-time, be mindful of the time of day you’re studying; be realistic about when you can actually do it. If you work in investment banking and generally work late into the night, study every day from 8:30 am-9:30 am, before other deliverables arrive. If you’re on a trading desk very early in the morning, try to study at night, shortly after dinner.

If Your FINRA Exam Is More Than a Month Away

Spend 30 to 45 minutes every other day reviewing your lecture notes and supplements, including the class summary, and revisiting the textbook as needed.                                                                                                 

  • Develop a consistent review practice. “Never go more than two days without doing something,” advises Ian Franklin, Knopman Marks faculty. “Otherwise it becomes two steps backward, one step forward, as you try to remember everything you learned a few days ago and then face challenges maintaining forward momentum.”
  • Create a new set of notes using your original notes as a guide. The process of refreshing your notes will help keep them top of mind and more readily accessible.
  • Fine-tune weak areas. “A good practice is to take a short quiz on a weak area, such as options, followed by a quiz on all topics,” says Marcia Larson, Knopman Marks faculty.  “Take advantage of every opportunity to fill in knowledge gaps,” she adds.
  • Leave some unused questions so you can practice new content in the days before the exam. For example, the final benchmark exam should not be taken until a few days before your test.

If Your FINRA Exam Is a Few Weeks Away

The game changes when your exam is in two to three weeks. Now daily review is important. Focus on taking quizzes on your weaker topics.

  • Block time on your calendar to study for at least one hour per day. Keep things interesting by alternating these review options:
    1. Skim the textbook, focusing on bolded notes and alerts – these are heavily tested.
    2. Read class summaries, review charts, flashcards, and supplements from the Training Center. These are chock-full of highly testable information, especially the class summary.
    3. Review class notes from video lectures.
    4. Complete quizzes and exams several times per week.
  • Take at least one full-length quiz per week that’s the same length as your upcoming exam. You want to practice pacing yourself.
  • Watch the videos in the Training Center, as a fresh voice will remind you of what’s really important to remember for your exam.

If Your FINRA Exam Is Days Away

When you’re a few days out, it’s game on! Plan on two study sessions each day.

  • Schedule sessions when you can have some quiet time. Read, review, and drill down into the nitty-gritty.
  • Read your notes and especially your class summary for 30 minutes or so before bed every night. “Be faithful to this activity,” says Howard Kaplan, Knopman Marks faculty. “It will create a mental boost and alert your system that it’s all hands on deck.”
  • Focus on full exams with careful review of anything you missed. Be sure to take the benchmark exam starting two to three days before your exam date.

If Your FINRA Exam Is Tomorrow

If you followed our tips, you will be primed for exam-day success. Still feeling nervous? Check out these tips to meet any challenge head-on. Get a good night’s sleep and walk into your exam feeling refreshed, focused, and confident.

3 Worst FINRA Exam Review Mistakes

  1. Letting more than two days in a row go by without doing any prep. This will slow your momentum.
     
  2. Waiting until the last minute to try practice questions. It’s important to get “low scores” out of the way early and use the questions missed as a learning tool.
     
  3. Convincing yourself that you already did the heavy lifting. You completed the training but you haven’t crossed the finish line yet. You still need to study. Don’t wait until the weekend before your exam to kick your review into gear. This is not a winning strategy.

Find more study pitfalls here.

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. See tips for FINRA remote testing here.

For FAQs about testing centers and booking your exam, visit our regularly updated FINRA Exam Contingency Resource Center.

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Written by Suzanne Riss
Suzanne Riss is an author and a Digital Marketing Strategist consultant at Knopman Marks Financial Training. Previously the award-winning Editor-in-Chief of Working Mother magazine, she is a fierce advocate for issues facing working moms and an authority on work/life trends. Her expertise has been tapped in interviews by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, the Today Show, and CNN. Suzanne is currently completing her third book, A User’s Guide to the Future of Work.