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How to Ace the Series 65 and Series 66 Exams

If you want your career to involve designing financial plans for a fee or offering fee-based accounts, you’ll need to take the Series 65 or Series 66 Exam to be in business. Though these exams are challenging and require a significant time commitment, we’ve simplified the review process with our expert tips and proven study strategies.

Both exams focus on securities products, financial planning concepts, and regulation. However, while the Series 65 can be taken by individuals who haven’t taken other securities exams, the Series 66 Exam can only be taken by candidates who have or will be taking the Series 7. By passing the Series 66, Series 7, candidates earn the investment advisor representative credential and don’t have to take the Series 63 Exam.

Series 65 and 66 Exam Overviews

 Series 65Series 66
Number of Questions130 (no experimental questions)100 (no experimental questions)
Time Allowed3 hours2 hours and 30 minutes
Passing Score94/13073/100
Co-RequisitesNoneSIE and Series 7
Testing OptionsPrometric Center or online at homePrometric Center or online at home
Study/Prep Time2 to 4 weeks (about 20 to 30 hours)4 to 8 weeks (about 75 to 100 hours)


Series 65 and Series 66 Exam Topics Compared

Both tests address the same topics, but the emphasis is different. The Series 65 includes more product, economics, and suitability questions to ensure that candidates have mastered applicable concepts included in the Series 7. The Series 66 is more heavily weighted toward state law and investment advisor regulation.

 Series 65Series 66
Economic factors and business information15% 20 questions5% 5 questions
Investment vehicle characteristics25% 32 questions20% 20 questions
Client/customer investment recommendations and strategies30% 39 questions30% 30 questions
Laws, regulations, and guidelines, including prohibition on unethical business practices30% 39 questions45% 40 questions

How to Study for Series 65 and Series 66 Exams: Tips from Knopman Marks Instructors

Knopman Marks provides industry-leading training for both of these exams. Our At-a-Glance Study Guides for the Series 65 and Series 66 (download below!) will give you a strong foundation for firsttry exam success.

Tips from Series 65 and Series 66 Instructors

Follow our exclusive tips from Knopman Marks instructors to gain an edge as you study:

  1. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of the Series 65 or 66. They’re equally or even more challenging than the Series 7. Plan on reading the textbook twice to put yourself in the best position to pass.
  2. Consider these exams to be marathons. You’ll need to schedule regular study sessions and prioritize them on your calendar to build up your stamina and be prepared. With the demands of work, a commission-based practice, or life in general, it can be more challenging to simply allocate enough study time than to master the content. By following the advice in our Study Guides, you’ll have a proven plan as well as the peace of mind that comes from knowing when you’re ready to pass the exam.
  3. Understand “the why” on calculation and return questions. In addition to running the numbers, you need to be able to interpret what these calculations do and do not show for application questions. Often you won’t be asked to make the calculation; instead, you’ll be asked about the steps in the calculation or which calculation to apply to a scenario.
  4. Err on the conservative side. When making investment recommendations, exam candidates tend to select answers that are more aggressive than what the regulators are looking for.
  5. Use the study tools. The textbook’s callouts, appendices, and glossary are all valuable study aids. Be sure to use them.

Looking for More Series 65 and Series 66 Exam Resources?

  • Download Knopman Marks’ At-a-Glance Guides. These straightforward guides detail study techniques, recommended time commitments, last-minute prep, and more.
    Download Series 65 Guide

    Download Series 66 Guide

  • To learn more about how to prepare for the Series 66 from two Knopman Marks experts, check out this video. Learn more about these exams here.
  • Join Knopman Marks faculty for a free webinar in August that will provide expert coaching on the Series 66 Exam.

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.