“I Failed the Series 65 Exam. Now What?”

If it doesn’t go well the first time you take the Series 65, create a new plan of attack. Think about what you need to do to adjust your approach for a better outcome. By following tips and strategies from Knopman Marks instructors, you’ll boost your chances of success.

If You Scored 65 or Above

You’re almost there.

Get a new test date on the books as soon as possible while the material you do know is still fresh. A Monday is a good day for scheduling because you’re coming off a weekend of study time. With efficient review, you should be able to add the points you need with a 25- to 35-hour total time commitment. Study an hour every other night during the work week and allow for two to four hours of study each weekend.

Week 1: Build your study plan by reviewing the printout from your exam. If you score low in an area or two, go back to the book and skim relevant chapters. Slow down near any Knopman Notes and write a note in your study journal when you come upon things you don’t know. Review videos on the sections where you scored low.

Week 2: Take a 50-question exam on the law section and two, 50-question exams on the product sections. Review answers as you go – every new detail you learn can get you closer to success. If you can complete one full 130-question exam on the weekend, all the better. Review your results and attend to areas of weakness.

Week 3: Spend study time doing 20-question quizzes on weak topics, reviewing answers as you go. Continue working these short chapter quizzes until you score 75% or above. At the end of the week, review class notes from your prior attempt, along with class summaries and charts. Go back to the book to resolve areas of weakness you noted in your journal.

Week 4: Take at least three full exams, including a benchmark exam that provides an accurate distribution of the topics. Complete 800 to 1,000 questions overall, depending on how you’re scoring. During this last week, your average scores should be 75% or better. If they’re consistently in that range, you’ll likely pass this next round.

If You Scored Below 65…

You’ll get there, but you’ll need more time to fill in the knowledge gaps. Allow 12 to 15 hours per week of study time to be ready in 30 days. If you don’t have that much time to study, you may need to wait 45 days instead of 30 days to increase your comprehension of the material.

To complete your review in 30 days, you’ll need to study every other day for about two hours during the work week plus four to six hours on weekends. It’s important that you study at least every other day to keep the material fresh.

The first 25% of your time should be spent using the text to review areas where you performed poorly. Listen to recorded lectures again and take good notes. Then follow the plan outlined above, starting with week two. Plan on completing at least 1,000 questions, but more may be necessary if you’re not scoring at least 75%.

Dos and Don’ts to Pass the Series 65 This Time

Do …

  • Use a study journal to write notes about questions you previously got wrong.
  • Complete about 1,000 unused or previously incorrect questions.
  • Take at least three full-length exams (130 questions) in the week before you re-test. You need to build and test your stamina to maximize your chances of passing. It’s challenging to stay focused for three hours without practicing this kind of endurance.
  • Study every other day at a minimum, with daily review in the last week or two before testing.
  • Choose study materials that provide clear indications of your readiness to pass the test (such as the Knopman Marks online practice exams, mentioned above).

Don’t …

  • Don’t memorize questions; you need to understand concepts. Questions will look familiar, but you will not see exact replicas.
  • Don’t go on autopilot. Don’t think that repeating questions over and over again is the way to learn this material. Ask yourself why as you look at your correct and incorrect answers.
  • Don’t shortcut the process. Go all in, and you’ll get it done.
  • Don’t get off track with your study routine. Schedule study time on your calendar and stick with it.

Why Is the Series 65 So Difficult?

You’re not alone in finding the Series 65 Exam challenging. Here’s why so many find this exam especially tough:

  • It’s often harder to manage the study process than to master the content. Many people taking this test are trying to run a commission-based business and see clients at the same time.
  • Many Series 65 candidates haven’t taken a standardized test recently and find getting back into an effective study routine challenging.
  • It’s hard to keep focused for three straight hours to answer 130 questions that are long and sometimes ambiguous.
  • The exam is broad, encompassing state law, federal law, and product information. Some questions, particularly on the law, are nuanced and tricky.
  • Some people mistakenly think that if they know the Series 6 or Series 7 concepts, they’ll know enough to get by on the product portion of the Series 65. That’s not true. You’ll need to master plenty of new planning, suitability, and analysis concepts to pass – this in addition to state and federal law questions about investment advisers.

Remember, with diligence, the right study materials, and a consistent time commitment, you’ll improve your score and your chances of passing the exam. Learn more about our Series 65 prep HERE.

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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.